From September 1 through 26, Living Streams is going to have an emphasis called Fast, Pray, Serve. We are calling for a season of prayer and fasting to prepare each member of our congregation for effective ministry and missions. We will have a prayer meeting every evening at 5:30 PM in the Lighthouse, and will specifically pray for each ministry in our church, as well as for each person who attends the meetings.

Everyone who does effective ministry has many spiritual battles to fight. No matter how long we follow the Lord, we occasionally wrestle with demonic forces, people who oppose us and the weakness of our own flesh. We never arrive at a place in life when we are invulnerable to temptations. We never become so secure in the Lord that we don’t have to wrestle at times with fear or anxiety. Growing in the Lord is a process of learning to trust God in a deeper way and learning to fight spiritual battles with the wisdom of the Word and the power of the Holy Spirit.

My sermon this Sunday is called “Characteristics of a Spiritual Warrior” From 1 Chronicles 11:1-19. The battles that King David and his men fought are filled with lessons that can be give us wisdom for the spiritual battles we fight today.

Through the wisdom and grace of God, I believe each of us can live a life of victory over the world, the flesh and the devil. My hope and prayer is that our worship services this weekend will give you grace so that you will be more than a conqueror through him who loves you.

I’m heading to Flagstaff later today for a retreat with the Living Streams elders, followed by our annual men’s retreat which starts Friday night. These retreats provide great opportunities for men to get together and connect with the Lord and each other on a deeper level.

I have been reading an excellent book called, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. One of the great concepts in this book is the reality that the spiritual giants we must fight provide an opportunity for our advancement. David went from being an obscure shepherd to serving in the court of the king when he fought Goliath. If we look at the obstacles before us with fear or frustration, we may miss the opportunity they are presenting to us.

I was able to put the principles of the book into practice when a person attacked me on Facebook the other day. Among his charges was that Living Streams should be doing more to help the poor. I was distressed when I first read the harsh rebukes in his message and I began to plan my response. I started thinking about the volunteers who give food to the poor from our Food Pantry four days every week. I thought about our Respite House that takes in homeless men while they recuperate from surgery. I remembered our benevolence ministry to people in need and our park outreach that feeds the homeless every month. I thought about how our Westfork Discipleship House took hundreds of men off the streets over the last twelve years. I thought about our missions to the poor in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. I remembered the hundreds of thousands of dollars we give every year to missionaries and ministries who are doing great work all over the world. After awhile, I was so encouraged by the generosity and good works of the members of our congregation that the offense from the attack was gone. The giant was slain.

Don Worcester is preaching this Sunday at Living Streams. Don always brings a great message from God’s word to our church. We would appreciate your prayers for our regular services, as well as the 200+ men who are joining our retreat at Lost Canyon this weekend. We hope to come together in the name and love of Jesus and be transformed by God’s great power.

I had just finished preaching at the Open Door Church in Petaluma a few weeks ago when a man I had never met before came up to me and said something that penetrated my heart. “The Lord has a message for you. Do not be afraid to take risks.”

Whenever someone says they have a message from the Lord, it gets my attention. I listen intently and I judge the word carefully. I use several criteria to judge prophetic words. Is the message sent in the love of Christ? Is it in accord with the word of God? Does it strengthen, comfort and encourage like I Corinthians 14:3 says prophecy should? If the answers to these questions is “yes,” then I want to hold the word in my heart and act on it in the appropriate way.

Almost all ministry seems to entail risk. We risk people misunderstanding us or disliking us when we share God’s word with them. We can risk our health at a hospital, or on the mission field. We risk our time and our finances when we give ourselves to God’s work. We risk our comfort, safety and even friendships when we pick up our cross to follow Jesus. Ultimately, the risks the Lord leads us to take lead to great rewards in God’s kingdom. We give up what we cannot keep to attain that which we cannot lose.

This Saturday night and Sunday morning at Living Streams we are honored to have Floyd McClung preaching for us. Floyd has had an apostolic ministry strengthening churches and establishing ministries all over the world for over forty years. He is the author of many books including, “The Father Heart of God.” He has lived in Afghanistan, Holland, and South Africa and led one of the most risky and exciting lives I have ever known. It should be a special blessing for Living Streams to have Floyd with us this weekend. I hope you will be praying for the Lord to speak through him with boldness and clarity and meet with us in worship through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Kristina and I are glad to be back in Arizona. Our trip to California included beautiful scenery, great fellowship and many ministry opportunities along, with family love and drama. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at Living Streams.

This Sunday my message is called “We can Reign in Christ” from Romans 5:6-20. These are challenging scriptures to understand. The primary focus of this passage is summed up in verse 17, “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.”

I love the idea that we are destined to reign in Christ. This dominion the apostle Paul is writing about is not just the place in heaven that we receive when we meet the Lord. We receive a gift of grace from Jesus that allows us to reign in life—right here on earth.  In this message, I hope to explain not only what it means to reign in Christ, but what it does not mean. The Lord occasionally gives us experiences that enable us to see his power work in special ways. These can be designed by God to help us understand that God’s grace is sufficient for us to reign in every circumstance. I hope to share a couple of these experiences with you on Sunday.

I hope you will take some time to meditate on Romans 5 and pray that the Lord will give me grace to preach these wonderful truths boldly and clearly.