Our vacation has ended. Kyle and Kimberly are married. Carmela and I officially have an empty nest. Time moves on. It was just a few years ago that we started our family and it seemed that life promised many years of family enjoyment and raising children. Now we are at the stage of watching our children raise their children – seeing them grow and mature in the Lord. Where did all the time go?

As some of you know, we do not get to see our children and grandchildren but once or twice a year. Yes, it is difficult to miss the many special moments in their lives. But I know that God has called Carmela and I to a greater calling – the service of the King.  While family brings us great fun and enjoyment, it is not the primary focus of our lives.  The glory of God and a call to His purposes is much greater. Jesus put it this way with some tough words when it comes to being His disciple, Luke 14:26 (NLT), “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.”

Recently I finished reading the book Stay Salt by Rebecca Manley Pippert. In my reading, there were many thought-provoking statements that I wanted to share with you. Why? Because I feel most of us “lack”. You may ask, “Pastor, what do you mean?”  We “lack” intentional engagement with others about the hope of the gospel. Often, we do not see ourselves as ambassadors of the King. We can be so caught up in the things of the world – family (ouch!), sports (they can often take priority over ministry), possessions (as though we need all the latest gadgets), our homes (as though this is our final home), politics (as though man has all the answers), etc. that we fail to keep the ‘main thing, the main thing.’

May these excerpts from Rebecca Manley Pippert’s book, Stay Salt, stir our hearts and minds to draw us back to the mission. First, let’s start with Romans 10:14 (NLT), “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?”


“We need to be praying and asking God through his Spirit to give us courage, wisdom, and a deeper love for him and for others.”

“When we look at how believers engaged in evangelism in the Bible, we see it comprising three things. Evangelism is the act of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in word (proclamation) and deed (actions) and invitation (calling people to trust Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior). Those three actions—speaking the good news, living the good news, and inviting others to follow Jesus—are essential to biblical evangelism.”

“It is God and only God who brings people to faith in his Son—wonderfully, he usually does that life-changing work through his people.”

“Where do we begin in being a witness for Jesus? First, look at the people God has brought into your life: neighbors, colleagues at work, people at the gym, parents of your kids’ friends, and so on. Then think about how to simply build real friendships with them.”

When people believe you genuinely care about them, they are more apt to open up and engage in conversation. The process may be long, but if we care, we will take the time needed.

Manley Pippert offers these suggestions as a guide to move a conversation with someone toward the gospel. This issue is a problem for many:

  • Pray – Prayer is our primary work. Always seek the Lord.
  • Find common ground – Look for areas you have in common to talk about.
  • Ask good questions – Challenge their thinking without being overly aggressive. Ask “why” questions.
  • Gently challenge someone’s worldview with further questions – Listen respectfully and take their responses seriously. Be slow to point out where they are wrong.
  • Agree where you can, then steer the conversation with God’s truth.
  • Point to the deeper problem with man – sin. Express the idea using the terminology they have already used.

I trust these excerpts give you some ‘food for thought.’ Are you actively on mission? Yes, how we live matters greatly. But living daily ‘on mission’ to engage with others about Jesus should be on our radar as well.

Why? He matters more!

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian


I am sitting here in my study at church reflecting on the past year. All of our lives have been impacted by the ‘unexpected’ this year. Typically, in the past years of our lives there has been a certain amount of predictability. Yes, the ‘unexpected’ would come into our lives, but for the most part, our lives have been peaceful and predictable.

Perhaps because of all the ‘unexpected’, unsettling, and extreme happenings, the thought has crossed your mind – “Jesus, where are you in all of this?” Recently, I started reading through the Psalms. In some psalms you can hear the writer often echo the same question, “God, where are you? Help!” Have you ‘been there’ this year? If I am honest, I have asked that question as well.

As you know, I am a reader. A few weeks ago, I selected three books on Kindle that interested me. One was titled “Gentle and Lowly” by Dane Ortlund. I had read a review on the book and it was highly recommended.

I will have to admit, initially I had a hard time engaging with it. I persisted though and stayed the course. Then I came to chapter 8. This was in the midst of being laid up at home, suffering from Covid-19. The chapter was titled “To the Uttermost.” Under the title, the last part of Hebrews 7:25 (ESV) was quoted, “he always lives to make intercession for them.”

As I moved into the chapter, the Spirit of God pulled me into the truths that were being written. Ortlund stages the writing with speaking of justification. He states, “as a way of framing what intercession is and its present neglect, consider it in relation to the doctrine of justification. Much has been written and preached and taught about this glorious doctrine in recent years—as it should be. To be justified is to be declared righteous in the sight of God, fully legally exonerated in the divine court, based entirely on what another (Jesus) has done in our place.”

As a child of God, we can rejoice in the justification God has provided for us through His Son Jesus! But what Ortlund notes is, justification is what Jesus has done in the past through His death and resurrection. With this context, Ortlund then states “justification is tied to what Christ did in the past. Intercession is what he is doing in the present.”

What do you think of when you hear the word intercession? My mind immediately thinks of prayer. Some have thought, ‘Why would Christ be interceding for us? Wouldn’t that make justification incomplete?’ Ortlund explains intercession like this, “in general terms it means that a third party comes between two others and makes a case to one on behalf of the other. Intercession applies what the atonement accomplished. Christ’s present heavenly intercession on our behalf is a reflection of the fullness and victory and completeness of his earthly work, not a reflection of anything lacking in his earthly work. The atonement accomplished our salvation; intercession is the moment-by-moment application of that atoning work.” 

The insights from Ortlund opened my mind to understanding Christ’s intercession. Think about this. “His interceding for us reflects his heart—the same heart that carried him through life and down into death on behalf of his people is the heart that now manifests itself in constant pleading with and reminding and prevailing upon his Father to always welcome us.”

The explanation from Ortlund spoke to my heart. So much so, I read these insights to the Governing Board at our December monthly meeting. What impacted me was the reminder that, “his posture right now as he is in heaven, his disposition, his deepest desire, is to pour his heart out on our behalf before the Father. The intercession of Christ is his heart connecting our heart to the Father’s heart.”

In the first part of verse 25, the writer of Hebrews says, “he is able to save to the uttermost” (ESV). What is being said here? Ortlund explains, “’to the uttermost’ in Hebrews 7:25 means: God’s forgiving, redeeming, restoring touch reaches down into the darkest crevices of our souls, those places where we are most ashamed, most defeated. More than this: those crevices of sin are themselves the places where Christ loves us the most. His heart willingly goes there. His heart is most strongly drawn there.”

What a great truth to be reminded of! Jesus goes to the extreme places in our lives because He loves us. There is no limit of His love. We cannot become a too messed up, hopeless case for Him. He goes to the uttermost of our souls! As I read this a couple of weeks ago, it again gave me the assurance that my Savior is before the throne always interceding for me before the Father. And there is nothing in my life, too far out that His love will not reach.

As I came near to the end of the chapter in Ortlund’s book, he reminds us that Jesus is praying for us now. Even when we struggle with maintaining our prayer life with Him.

Then he makes this comment, “what if you heard Jesus praying aloud for you in the next room? Few things would calm us more deeply.” I pictured that in my mind and tears began to flow down my cheeks. To think, the Creator of the universe, the Creator of the large things and the microscopic, is praying for me! His love has no limits.

Oh my, what a fresh reminder of my Savior. He is not sitting up there, work done, and simply being a spectator of my life. No, He is always actively making intercession for me!

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian

*Quotes taken from Ortlund, Dane C. Gentle and Lowly, chapter 8. Crossway. Kindle Edition.


In the midst of my recent suffering with Covid-19, I finished reading the book of Job. Finishing the book caused me to ask questions and reflect. Questions like, “If in the beginning of Job God says of him, Job 1:8 (NLT) Then the LORD asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil” then why does God correct him in chapter 38?” Yes, Job was a God-fearing man of integrity, but not a sinless man.


Throughout the book, Job is thinking and assessing – ‘Why did this happen to me?’ He searches his heart and believes there is not willful sin that would bring this upon him. His three friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar try to console and correct Job in the process. They really believe Job has sinned and thus brought this suffering upon himself. We know their theology was wrong because in chapter 42:7-9 God speaks to them and tells them He is angry for not speaking accurately about Him.


Job spent a lot of time thinking and assessing his life and why something like this would come his way. What was missing in all of this we start to see in chapter 38. God addresses Job in 38:1-3 (NLT) Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind: “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.”  “Who questions my wisdom…”


Terence Fretheim states in his book, Creation Untamed:  The Bible, God and Natural Disasters, that “Trusting in God’s wisdom is the strongest counsel the Bible has to offer; it must suffice. One of the ways we trust God’s wisdom is by refraining from inquiring why God did such a thing to us, or even why He allowed it to happen. God is never uninvolved in cause, but neither should we assume that He is directly involved in causation.”


Job 40:1-5 (NLT) Then the LORD said to Job, “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?” Then Job replied to the LORD, “I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say.”


What are we to take from this? We are not to question God’s purposes and wisdom. Most often suffering deepens a believer’s faith. We should commit ourselves to honoring God and living for Him no matter what circumstances He brings into our lives. Our prayer during these times should be for God to strengthen us so we can endure the suffering and be faithful to Him throughout the trial.


Job’s trial concludes with this response to God, Job 42:1-6 (NLT) Then Job replied to the LORD: “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”


May we trust the Lord’s wisdom in our lives. Even when we do not have answers and do not understand, we must trust a sovereign, all-wise God.


Walking with you,


Pastor Brian


Over the past few weeks, the Covid-19 virus has hit much closer to home for our church family. If you contracted the virus, perhaps you have thought, “I wasn’t careless. I washed my hands, I stayed away from others (safely), and wore my mask! Why did I come down with this sickness?” I have found that you can make all the right plans and ‘follow the rules’ and life’s trials will still find their way onto your path.

As I have begun to read through the book of Job, it is clear that you can do all the right things – honor God, by being faithful and obedient to Him – and unexplained tragedy can still come your way. In Job’s case, from out of the blue, he loses all the possessions, family, and good health that he had been blessed with. How incredibly devastating! We have all tragically lost something we had enjoyed in life. I am pretty sure it was not the degree of loss that Job experienced.

Most often when something tragic happens to us, the first thought that enters our mind is, “What did I do to deserve this?” Many of us would say we are ‘rule-followers’ to some degree. We believe that if we live ‘by the rules’ then life will go much better and it will be somewhat free of challenge and conflict. Often that is true.

Example: if we drive at or around the speed limit, we will be safer. That is often true, but everyone else would have to ‘play by the rules’ to help that become a reality. Nature would have to cooperate as well in order for roads to always be safe. But as we know, sometimes no matter how well we ‘do the right thing’, the unexpected events of life can catch us off guard.

In chapter 3, Job laments. He mourns and grieves. It is the needed and normal thing to do when we suffer loss. He wishes he had never been born! Of course, if that really were the case, he would also never have enjoyed the blessings of the Lord. But in this moment, his grieving is so deep and painful, he would rather not have experienced the pain of loss than to be born. This is deep lament.

Over the next chapters (4-27), we have recorded the comments from Job and his three friends. They are trying to give an explanation and reason for why all these things happened to Job. Of course, the reasoning “There must have been great sin in your life.” was brought up and debated. Truthfully, they are not doing a good job of comforting Job!

The theology of the three friends was partially solid. They believed God was absolutely in control. They also believed God was fair and just. So far, I can agree with their beliefs. But then what we see is this; if those two are true of God, therefore, He always punishes wickedness and always blesses righteousness. Therefore, if we experience suffering, we must have sinned and are being punished for our sin. Our suffering, in one sense, is God’s discipline and because He loves us, He is disciplining us. Psalm 32 and Hebrews 12 do speak of God disciplining us in love because of our sin. But, is our suffering, always a result of sin in our lives, as Job’s friends seem to believe?

What his three friends are missing in their theology is what we read in Job 1, 2. They do not consider the unseen spiritual battle going on. They are totally unaware of a bigger story being written in Job’s life. We have the benefit of knowing that God allowed Satan to test Job’s faith in God.

In Ephesians 6, we read of the armor of God. In the reality of our spiritual battle, Paul challenges the believer to ‘put on the armor of God.’ Why? It is what keeps us standing firm when life’s unexpected challenges come our way. The piece of the armor I think of especially is the ‘shield of faith.’ Throughout the Old Testament we see God referenced as our shield (Gen. 15:1; Prov. 30:5; Psalm 3:3; Psalm 91). For the child of God, biblical faith finds its strength in the truth of God.

As you read through Job, you will find that Job, after all his lamenting and sorting through his thoughts and feelings, will hold fast to his integrity (27:1-6). Job also holds onto a theology of God that is different than that of his friends. Yes, he searches for reasoning and questions it all, but he never lets go of what he knows to be true of God (Job 26, 27).

Yes, ultimately, we suffer because we live in a world marred by sin. Yes, we can suffer the consequences of our sin or the sin of others. But also know that sometimes our suffering comes as part of the testing of our faith. The question is, who or what will we hold to when the suffering comes?

In HIS hands,

Pastor Brian


Recently, after reading through Nehemiah 8-10, a couple of prevailing thoughts came to my mind. First, I thought of Hebrews 4:12 (NLT), “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” We see the life-giving, conviction of the God’s Word on display!

God’s Word is different than any other book written in history. Why? Partially because of what Hebrews 4:12 states. But also because of 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 (NLT), “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” God’s Word is ‘breathed of God’ (from the Giver of life), therefore it is living. What we read in Nehemiah 8-10 illustrates this very truth.

First, consider verses 8 & 9 of chapter 8. “They read from the Book of the Law of God and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage. Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.”

I am convinced, as I am sure you are, that many who claim the name ‘Christian’ are not in the Word of God on a regular basis, if at all. Why do I say that? Well, because of the impact of its truth. Sure, anyone can ‘read the Bible’ and find it to be a curious, interesting read. Many can quote its verses and recall its stories. But if one comes desiring to know the truth, I believe the Spirit of God will illuminate the truth of the Word to a seeking soul.

My wife and I had a friend in college who was a single woman, had graduated from college, and began a career in teaching. When I met her, she had just purchased her second Corvette! I, being raised a conservative and practical young man from New England, had wondered how and why someone would make it their determination to have a Corvette. Why not a more practical car? When I asked her about it, her response was, “Once you have ridden in or driven a Corvette, you cannot settle for less – there’s no turning back!” At an earlier time in her life, a ride in a Corvette was life-changing for her! So much so, it altered her life to where it became one of her life’s goals – to own a Corvette!

This is what we see here in Nehemiah 8-10 with the people of Israel. The Word of God is read and explained, and it was life-changing! In these chapters it is clear this encounter with the Word, became life-altering. The initial response of the people was weeping, then confession. It is one thing to be convicted by God’s Word, but it should then lead us to confess our desperate need. Confession is agreeing with an accusation of guilt, “Yes, I am a sinner.” Or “Yes, I am guilty.” Once these Israelites were exposed to the truth, they were ready to confess. A life-changing encounter.

If you continue to read through the chapter, a prayer is recorded. The prayer includes praise to God the Creator. Then it goes on to include a history of all that God had done for the people of Israel – how God was faithful, powerful, and loving all along the way. In verses 15 & 16 there is admission of their ancestors’ pride and stubbornness. They refused to obey and had forgotten all that God had done. The prayer continues with acknowledging God’s forgiveness, grace, patience, and mercy. In spite of that, their ancestors continued to drift away from dependence on God to trusting themselves. Ultimately, it is that sin, self-dependence, that has put them where they were.

What follows in chapter 10 is a vow to obey the Lord – to get back on track. Repent and obey.

Why do we have a tendency to drift away from the Lord? Why do we find ourselves stuck in a place where we are dull to the Word of God? Let me suggest that the reason has been the same since Adam and Eve were tempted in the Garden of Eden. We believe we know better than God.  We believe we are the best one to determine what we need. In a sense, we believe we are autonomous. When we drift from what we know to be true, from what or who we know we should prioritize, we end up miles away, dull to the truth and values that we once held close. Typically, Christians do not choose this path intentionally. We miss one day, one week, three months, then 6 years of prioritizing our relationship with the Lord and His Word. That lack of priority then shows up in our marriage, our relationships, and our church.

Perhaps you do not feel you have drifted. Look at what takes up your day, your week, your schedule and ask yourself “Where is God in this?” Does His glory still determine your schedule? Does His Word, His calling, and your relationship with Him still determine what matters most in your life?

Take time to read Nehemiah 8-10 on your own – in your own time. It is a great read to reflect, evaluate, and return to what matters most in life.

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian


I finished the book of Ezra a week ago and have been reflecting on it. Perhaps some of you were not even aware there was such a book in the Bible! Sometimes we might overlook it and forget it is there.

Consider this background of Ezra given by the ESV Bible,

“The book of Ezra begins where 2 Chronicles ends. As prophesied by Isaiah (Isa. 44:28), the Persian King Cyrus had sent exiles led by Zerubbabel back to Jerusalem in 538 b.c. (Persia had defeated Babylon in 539.) Despite opposition from the non-Jewish inhabitants of Judea, and after encouragement by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, the temple was rebuilt (515). Then in 458, Ezra led the second of three waves of returning exiles.”

 I want to share a couple of ‘take-aways’ from my reading. Often when I read the scripture, I ask myself, “What does this tell me about God? What does this tell me about man? What should I learn?” That is the ‘lens’ I read the scriptures through.

The first thing that caught my attention was in the first fives verses. Let’s take a moment to look at them – Ezra 1:1-5 (NLT).

“In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, the Lord fulfilled the prophecy he had given through Jeremiah. He stirred the heart of Cyrus to put this proclamation in writing and to send it throughout his kingdom: “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Any of you who are his people may go to Jerusalem in Judah to rebuild this Temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, who lives in Jerusalem. And may your God be with you! Wherever this Jewish remnant is found, let their neighbors contribute toward their expenses by giving them silver and gold, supplies for the journey, and livestock, as well as a voluntary offering for the Temple of God in Jerusalem.” Then God stirred the hearts of the priests and Levites and the leaders of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of the Lord. And all their neighbors assisted by giving them articles of silver and gold, supplies for the journey, and livestock. They gave them many valuable gifts in addition to all the voluntary offerings.”

What stands out to you? I realize we are all wired differently, so we may each notice different things. Maybe you are a history person and went no farther than the first phrase, in the first year of King Cyrus of Persia. I was caught by something else – the activity of God. Or maybe you could call it the involvement of God.

There are people in the world who would call themselves deists. People that believe in God, but believe He is distant, disconnected, and does not intervene with His creation. Notice verse 1, the Lord fulfilled the prophecy he had given through Jeremiah. He stirred the heart of Cyrus to put this proclamation in writing and to send it throughout his kingdom. Clearly, we see God involved. Clearly, we see Him initiate and bring His plans to reality. Cyrus then acknowledges that it was God who ‘appointed’ Him to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem! God spoke to a foreign king to carry out His plans for His people!

Note that God is not finished in the process. Verse 5, Then God stirred the hearts of the priests and Levites and the leaders of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of the Lord. So, God then moved in the hearts of the leaders of His people to rebuild the temple as well!

Honestly, there was a smile on my face when I read those first verses! Isn’t that just like God? When all hope seemed lost and His chosen people were in exile in Babylon seemingly forgotten… but God. He never leaves or forsakes His own! He is so gracious and merciful. He even provides for our rescue!

The next part that stood out to me was Ezra’s commitment to study, obey, and teach the Law of God to the people when they settled back into Jerusalem. He would point them to the God who chose them. He would point to God’s deliverance, provision, and protection in the process.

As the people were settling in the land and getting reacquainted with their God, the leaders came to Ezra and said, “Many of the people of Israel, and even some of the priests and Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the other peoples living in the land. They have taken up the detestable practices of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites. For the men of Israel have married women from these people and have taken them as wives for their sons. So the holy race has become polluted by these mixed marriages. Worse yet, the leaders and officials have led the way in this outrage.” (9:1b-2)

 The people were living in sin – rebellion against God. Ezra mourned their sin, sought the Lord, and confessed their sin. He then spoke to the people and called them to repent of their sin, “so now confess your sin to the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and do what he demands. Separate yourselves from the people of the land and from these pagan women.” (10:10, 11)

 Can you imagine the scene? What would you do? These men were going to deal radically with their sin! They were going to leave their ‘pagan’ wives and families to obey God! They became so aware or convicted of their sin, that they would do what was necessary to obey and honor God.

Clearly, we see the provision of God in Ezra and His mercy to His people. But we also see a proper response of man to a holy God. There was confession of sin, repentance, and a decision to honor God.

How about you? Do you know God is involved in your life? Do you know He is offended by the sin in your life that you neglect to be honest about? May each of us see God for who He is and choose to live our lives driven by a desire to honor His name!

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian


The Mercy and Grace of God on Display (2 Chronicles 33)

Hezekiah was a great king. He was man who sought to obey the Lord and desired His leading. He was not a perfect man, but his life was marked by seeking the Lord wholeheartedly (31:20, 21).

After his death, the Bible says that his son “Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem” (33:1, ESV). The chapter goes on a tells us about His reign as king. Verses 2-9 (ESV), “And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had broken down, and he erected altars to the Baals, and made Asheroth, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “In Jerusalem shall my name be forever.” And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger. And the carved image of the idol that he had made he set in the house of God, of which God said to David and to Solomon his son, “In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever,  and I will no more remove the foot of Israel from the land that I appointed for your fathers, if only they will be careful to do all that I have commanded them, all the law, the statutes, and the rules given through Moses.” Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel.”

Read that last sentence again. “Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel.”  This is bad! My first question: how can the son of a righteous king turn out to be the complete opposite of his father? He was raised in a palace where his father honored the Lord God of Judah! Clearly, man has to make his own choice in how he will live out his life. In spite of his God-fearing upbringing, Manasseh chose his own way.

In verse 10 the Lord speaks to Manasseh and his people. God was gracious to give them warning — a chance to confess and repent of their sin and place their faith in Him, but they ignored his warnings. The chapter goes on to tell us of the consequences of ignoring the grace of God. Verse 11 (ESV), “therefore the LORD brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon.” There are consequences to sin. We know this because we have experienced them. Too often we ignore the invitation to repent and keep living the way we want.

Well, Manasseh, the king who led Judah in sin “more evil than the nations” around them, called out to God. Verses 12-13 (ESV), “and when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.” Note how he humbled himself and called out to God for favor. The heart of God was moved by his cry for mercy and delivered him.

The true evidence of his repentance was that he destroyed all the evil altars to foreign gods and the idol in the temple. Then he restored the altar of the Lord and encouraged the people to worship the God of Israel. You see more than ‘lip service’ from Manasseh here. You see actual repentance. ‘Turning from’, tearing down the idols of the past and ‘turning to’ the worship of the true God! You also see the mercy and grace of God who heard the prayer of humbled, repentant man, and gave him a second chance!

Today I praise God for His patience, mercy, and grace. Thank you, Lord, that you still desire to show your mercy and grace to those who are deeply lost in their sin. Lord, help us to repent and receive your mercy and grace.

In HIS hands,

Pastor Brian


As I look at the world today, I see leaders here in America and in other nations meeting and proposing plans and policy that they believe will bring needed change. Change that will be for the good and benefit of all. At times we sit back and hope that our leaders are acting on behalf of the people they represent. But what is all too often the case is most are more concerned about their own agenda – power and control. When selfish personal agenda is the driving force behind leadership, the inevitable result is conflict and failure.

At the close of 1 Chronicles we have recorded the ‘passing of the throne’ from David to Solomon. We get a look inside what happened and what was said. 1 Chronicles 28:4-5 (ESV) “Yet the LORD God of Israel chose me from all my father’s house to be king over Israel forever. For he chose Judah as leader, and in the house of Judah my father’s house, and among my father’s sons he took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel. And of all my sons (for the LORD has given me many sons) he has chosen Solomon my son to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel.”

Here David conveys what the Lord had told him and how someone from his family would sit on the throne in Israel forever. Solomon would be the son of David that God had chosen to carry the kingdom forward. David gives him instruction to “start off on the right foot”.

1 Chronicles 28:8-9 (ESV) “Now therefore in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the LORD, and in the hearing of our God, observe and seek out all the commandments of the LORD your God, that you may possess this good land and leave it for an inheritance to your children after you forever. “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.”

Two parts of these verses stand out to me:

  • observe and seek out all the commandments of the LORD your God”
  • know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind”

 Pursue and know the law of God and pursue and know God. David was encouraging his son to not just know right from wrong but know God personally and completely. David did not brief him on foreign relations and domestic needs. His starting point was the honor of God’s Word and the pursuit of knowing God. An acknowledgement that the primary ingredient needed to be to lead well and experience the blessing of God.

The other event going on here was the building of the temple of God. Solomon was tasked by God to be the one who was to have the temple built in Jerusalem. Recorded here are the instructions and provisions that had been made for it to be constructed. As king, David led the way by giving of his own wealth to the project. He also called on the various leaders throughout the land to contribute and the response was very generous.

Following the offerings to the temple, David offered a prayer of praise! In it he gives praise to God for who He is and what He has done. In his praise, we see God put in His proper place.

1 Chronicles 29:10-16 (NLT) “Then David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly: “O LORD, the God of our ancestor Israel, may you be praised forever and ever! Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O LORD, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.

  “O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.
  “O LORD our God, even this material we have gathered to build a Temple to honor your holy name comes from you! It all belongs to you!”

I love what is contained in these verses! I love how David ends verse 16, “It all belongs to you!” He acknowledges God is the source of all things. He is the starting point for all of us. He is the foundation on which we build our lives, make our decisions, and live out our lives. Starting and staying there can only bring the blessing of the Lord to each of our lives. Oh, that leaders would turn and embrace this truth. For only then can we truly be a blessed people.

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian


Per my usual, I was recently reading, and the author mentioned how God had created man for relationship, then added that the Creator desires for His creation to be dependent on Him. As we have heard many times before, when Satan tempted Eve in the garden, he raised questions about whether or not we can trust God. Can we depend on God to be who He says He is? Can we depend on God to do what He said He will do? In this deception, two simple things happened to humanity: man doubted God’s sufficiency (Can God be trusted with all things?) and we began to believe our autonomy (We can do this on our own!).

Currently, we are in world that is in turmoil. A microscopic virus has been used to control mankind by creating fear in vast numbers of people. “Is it real? Is it as bad as they say?” These and other questions are constantly being debated and mentally processed by many of us. Then we have protests and riots against racism popping up all around the country. Often the results of these actions leave those who observe asking “What really is the point being made? What is really going on?” Never in the history of our country have we seen such times of protest, increased attempts to control, and widespread fear.

What is rising from the narrative though, is the ‘assurance of hope’. If we vote for “this candidate” all will be well, and humanity will be the better for it. What is clear is, both political parties feel they and their plans are the answer to a better America, a better world. Pride and self-righteousness fuel bold statements that will end up being empty promises of a ‘better tomorrow.’ If mankind places its complete hope in the abilities and promises of man, we are certainly a creation doomed to fail.

In her book, Stay Salt, Rebecca Manley Pippert writes an observation of Jesus’ temptation in Luke 4.

“It is almost impossible to appreciate the depth to which Jesus humbled himself by assuming our human nature. What Jesus shows us so very vividly is that we are created to be God-dependent, not self-sufficient. That is why Jesus was never ashamed by his dependence upon God. He wasn’t embarrassed that he needed to pray for guidance, or ashamed that he became tired or hungry—because that is what it means to be human.”

Thinking on this statement, I was reminded that Jesus Himself, God’s Son, was dependent on His Father. His dependence on His Father was the model of how life was intended to be lived.

So why do I have 2 Chronicles 7:11-22 listed as the passage of reference today? Well, in this passage is the well-known and often quoted verse 14 – “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” The setting is Solomon’s dedication of the newly build temple in Jerusalem.

Solomon brings the Ark of the Covenant back to rest in the temple and offers praise and prayer to the Lord. Verses 12-22 record God’s response. Here we see the promise of God to continue to keep the covenant He made David to continue to establish His throne as long as they did not abandon Him.

In verse 14 we see the God’s conditions for restoration of the nation: “humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways.” What is common with these conditions is they are all admitting insufficiency. If a person/people were to actually “do” this, it would be admitting “I/we cannot do this. Your ways are best. I/we are not autonomous from You.”

Perhaps you have just said an agreeable, “Amen! That’s right pastor! Yes, it’s what needs to happen in the lives of our leaders in this country.” But it is also what needs to happen in you and me – daily. Just as we would love to have those who lead us “humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways”, the same is true for you and I – His people. Note the first three words in the same verse – “If my people.” 

People sometimes feel it is ‘weak’ to admit they need someone else to help them. Sometimes we don’t want others to think we are ‘not enough’ or we do not have the ability to do something. What I have learned and continue to learn is, in myself I am insufficient. But as the verse reminds us, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” – Philippians 4:13 (NLT). Paul is saying that He is also insufficient in himself to do what God has called him to. Only Christ is sufficient. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV) “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” This verse is so counter intuitive to our human way of thinking. But it is the key to true joy and success in life!

Yes, as His people, let us pray for our leaders in government and that they would repent and look to the Lord. But let us also take to heart these truths personally each day. Why? We were not made to be independent from, but dependent on God.

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian


As we have seen in the current sermon series on the Gospel of Mark, Jesus was a man that was quite different than we are. He was unlike other teachers and prophets that had come before Him. Since He walked on this earth, there still has been no one quite like Him. As we have seen, Mark wrote his account of the gospel to give evidence that Jesus Christ was the Son of God (1:1). He wrote of the many miracles and healings that He had done.

Unlike other great teachers in history, Jesus gave evidence that He was more than just another man with intriguing thoughts and ideas. He was the ‘God-man’ sent with more than teachings on ‘how to live a better life’. Mark 10:45 (ESV) tells us, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Note the underlying focus. Jesus was ‘others-oriented’. Deeper still, the reason for this – man is in need. Why else would Jesus come to serve, and give His life as a ransom?

What we have seen in the Gospel of Mark is Jesus’ example of being ‘others oriented’. Not just for those of us here on earth. But He came as part of His Father’s plan of salvation for mankind. And what motivated Him? Love.

As His children, we are called to live our lives ‘others-oriented’ as Jesus did – for the glory of God and for the salvation of others. This morning I read and reflected on these articles and I want you to take time to do the same.

Do You Orient Yourself to Others?

I Was Far Too Easily Pleased

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian