Kristina and I are finishing our vacation and ministry trip in Northern California this weekend. I will be speaking in Novato on Saturday night where we are installing a new pastor in the church we founded in 1976. On Sunday morning I will be preaching in San Rafael at the Church of the Open Door, which was the first church we helped to start in 1973. It is a privilege and honor for me to be able to continue to do ministry and share the love of Christ with these faithful believers who have been our friends for almost forty years.

This weekend, Lance Rauhoff will be speaking to Living Streams about “The Authority of the Believer.”

I have been thinking a lot about Josh Heller since his death last week. Josh came to Living Streams as a boy when his dad, Alan, joined our staff in 1992. During college, he commuted back to Phoenix each weekend from the University of Arizona so he could sing with our worship team on Sundays.

I went to visit Josh in the hospital the day he was diagnosed with stage four cancer. I read to him from Isaiah 41:8-13, which was the passage I had been reading in my One Year Bible that day. I thought it was an obscure passage, but I felt it would give him hope.

“But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be nothing at all. For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

As I finished reading, Josh looked up at me from his hospital bed. He then proceeded to quote the next verses from Isaiah 41:14-16 to me from his heart. “Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you.” declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. “See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff. You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away. But you will rejoice in the Lord and glory in the Holy One of Israel.”

At that moment I realized that Josh Heller was more than a faithful young man who had grown up in our youth group. He had become a man of God. He wrestled with the forces of hell and remained faithful to the day he died. I am proud to have been one of his pastors. I believe the Lord has said to Josh, “Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master.”

One of the greatest treasures in life is the friendships the Lord gives us. In Ephesians 3:18 the Apostle Paul prayed for the church, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…” Through Christ we inherit relationships rich in wisdom and love, yet our eyes have to be opened by God to appreciate this treasure. We have friends who are faithful, generous and encouraging towards us because of their love for Jesus. We have been visiting friends in California this week who we have known and loved for many years. I visit them, write to them and stay in touch, because they are part of a glorious inheritance the Lord has given to me.

You too have a rich inheritance in the body of Christ. I hope you will cherish those who love the Lord and love you. The Lord has put a great treasure in his people. If you take the time to cultivate your friendships, you discover your inheritance in Christ, and it is one of the greatest investments you will ever make.

Jim Dubé is preaching at Living Streams this weekend. Jim is a Bible teacher with a deep understanding of the Word of God. His past messages to our church and to our men’s ministry have been outstanding. When you hear his message to Living Streams this weekend, you will understand why we value his wonderful ministry.

Kristina and I were babysitting our grandsons last night while their parents went for a run. At dinner time, we headed towards Safeway to pick up some food. Matisse, 3½, rode his scooter, while Kristina pushed Soren in his stroller and I scrambled along trying to make sure Matisse didn’t get run over by a car. I told Matisse that we were going to get some chicken and afterwards we would get a treat. He replied, “Safeway doesn’t have chicken. It only has treats.”

Little boys prefer to skip the main course and get right to the dessert, even if they have to bend the truth a bit. Yet, even grandparents, who are made by God to give special love, know that there are times boys need to establish their priorities.

I asked one of my friends recently how his devotional life was going. He replied that he didn’t have much time for devotions. I was tempted to ask if God only gave him 20 hours a day instead of 24 like the rest of us. The truth is that we all have exactly the same amount of time every day. We simply have different priorities regarding how we spend our time. I like to spend time with the Lord because I need the refreshing of the Holy Spirit and I love the encouragement and insights I receive from the Word of God. Whatever your schedule is this week, I hope you will take time to seek the Lord. The treats in life are a lot sweeter if our hearts are filled with grace and peace.

David Stockton will be preaching for our Saturday night and Sunday morning services this weekend. David is an outstanding leader and a great Bible teacher. It is a blessing for us to work together and have his ministry such a vital part of Living Streams.

Kristina and I are on our annual vacation and ministry trip in California. I will be speaking in a couple of churches and visiting friends and our family in Marin County. I am also praying and preparing for upcoming sermons and ministry at Living Streams.

Vacations for me are a time to unplug from my normal routine and seek the Lord for fresh insights and revelation. To paraphrase Acts 17:26-28, God established where we should live, so that we will seek him and find him, though he is not far from each of us, “for in him we live and move and have our being.” The Lord is surrounding each of us, but sometimes it is difficult to recognize his presence. I love my life in Phoenix, but getting out of town often allows me to see and hear from the Lord in fresh ways.

David Stockton is preaching this Saturday evening and Don Worcester is speaking at our Sunday services. Don always brings the Word of God alive with his insights, humor and compassion. We are blessed to have a church with so many gifted teachers. May the Lord continue to refresh and reveal himself to you, right where you are.

There is probably no other issue for a parent that is more sensitive than how we discipline our children. Each family must work out the challenges of handling discipline with love. Families with several children soon realize that each child not only has a unique personality, but they each respond to discipline in a different way as well.

My sermon this Sunday is called, “Embracing the Lord’s Discipline” from Hebrews 12:5-12. In this passage, the apostolic author draws a correlation between a parent’s discipline of their son and the Lord’s discipline of us. The Lord disciplines everyone he loves whether we like it or not. His discipline is painful, but it has a great purpose. God is bringing us into holiness and maturity. When we submit to the Lord’s discipline, we grow and mature in Christ.

Summertime for a believer is not just a time to relax on vacation. If we are wise, it can be a season when we can embrace the direction and discipline of the Lord. I hope you will take some extra time in the days to come to draw near to your Father in heaven. If you can receive what the Spirit is saying to your heart, you will be comforted by his love.