After our 9:00 AM service one recent Sunday, I greeted Gary Naylor, who had a big smile on his face. “How’s it going Gary?”
“Great, I just got a new job.”
“What are you going to be doing?”
“I’m going to be driving a school bus full time.”
For the last couple of years Gary has had two or three jobs at the same time. He worked at Walmart, delivered morning newspapers and drove a school bus every week. The last time we talked, he told me about the opportunities he had to share his faith with some of the foreign nationals who worked with him at Walmart.
When I first met Gary, he and his partners owned properties all over Arizona. They bought hundreds of foreclosures, fixed them up and sold up to five a week for good profit. When the housing market crashed in 2007, Gary and his wife Jean lost all their properties, including their beautiful home in Phoenix where they raised their four sons.
At the conclusion of our 11:00 AM service that same Sunday, another man came forward with his wife to talk with me. We had never met before, but it was quickly apparent that he was bitter. He tried to convince me that there is a conspiracy by our government to persecute Christians. After a few tense minutes I asked him if he had a job. When he said that he was not working, I told him he needed to get a job. He became irate.
“Don’t you know we have a depression going on? The illegals have taken over all the work! I’m offended by you!”
I thought he might attack me any moment, so I started walking slowly out of the sanctuary. His wife gave me an apathetic shrug as I made a safe exit.
Driving home I couldn’t help but contrast the attitudes of these two men. Gary had lost millions and yet he still had his faith, his joy, and his wonderful wife. He was humble enough to do whatever work he could find. The visitor was a carpenter, too proud to do anything with lesser value. His bitterness led him into deception.
On vacation one sunny day in San Diego, I chatted with a landscaper who said, “What a beautiful day to be working. In another hour I’ll be doing a job where I can see the ocean!”
I don’t know if he was legal, but I do know that Jesus said, “The meek will inherit the earth.” (Mat. 5:5). Those who are humble and thankful for the gifts of life and work, will be blessed with access to the whole earth. That has been God’s plan from the beginning. We don’t control our circumstances, but if we enjoy the journey, it’s a lot more fun and fruitful.

Sunday Preview

August 23, 2012

I hope you are doing well. We had a wonderful retreat with 410 men from churches across the Valley last weekend. I was really proud of the men from Living Streams who organized and served at the retreat with wisdom and grace. The Lord touched us with power and brought refreshing times of worship, inspiring messages and great fellowship. Some men were saved, and many others experienced spiritual breakthroughs that will be life changing. God pours out blessings when believers gather in unity.

My message to Living Streams this Sunday is called, “The Lifestyle of a Disciple” from 1 Timothy 2. This chapter deals with prayer, our Father’s heart for the lost, our mediator and the role of women in the church.
1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” I have been trying to help a pastor from another church who has a major dispute with leaders in his congregation. Neither side understands the position and pressures of the other. Their struggle may tear their congregation apart. I’m praying the Lord will give them a wise mediator who both sides can trust so they can be reconciled.

Jesus Christ is the mediator who gave his life as a ransom so we can be reconciled to God. There was no way we would have been able to overcome sin without the sacrifice Christ made for us. For our reconciliation with God to have its full effect, we have to trust Christ completely. The more we learn to trust him, the more clearly we will see the goodness and glory of God.

Sunday Preview

August 15, 2012

It has been over 112° here in Phoenix every day the last week. Last night the weatherman predicted a 10% chance of rain. I was surprised when I woke up this morning and saw that it had rained during the night. It rarely rains around our house, even when rain is predicted. A powerful thunderstorm broke tree branches and created puddles along Central Avenue. Storm debris was scattered around our church campus when I arrived this morning.

There was also an unusual haze in the sky across much of the Valley this morning. The cool fog of particulate matter trapped by an inversion was a sign to me. God has unexpected blessing in store for all of us who love Him. Those who persevere through the heat of fiery trials will experience refreshing from unexpected blessings the Lord has prepared for us.

This weekend 400 men from Living Streams and other cooperating churches will go to the Thrive Men’s Retreat at Lost Canyon in Williams. I think this will be a wonderful time of refreshing from the Lord for those who attend. As our churches and our hearts unite, blessings from God can be poured from one man to another, imparting grace and enriching all of our lives. Don Worcester will be speaking in our weekend services at Living Streams. Don always brings an edifying message to the church. We would appreciate your prayers for God’s blessings as we seek Him this weekend.

Sunday Preview

August 9, 2012

One afternoon in Santa Rosa this summer, my friend, Mark Meyers, pointed to the sky and showed me a row of five white, spiral clouds with flat tops that looked as if they had been sculpted by the hand of God. Each of the clouds had identical columns, equally spaced and shaped like giant, carved sentinels. I told Mark that if a painter had painted clouds like that people would say that they were obviously fake; because clouds just don’t have identical shapes. Yet there they were, majestically floating by in a silent parade, testifying to us that sometimes God creates things that are so special they seem unbelievable. I think their Latin name is altocumulus castelanus—or just awesome in plain English.

That is the way it is with the Gospel. It is so spectacular that many people feel it is too good to be true. God chooses people like us who haven’t done anything to deserve his love. He reveals Jesus Christ to us. When we turn to Christ, God forgives our sins, fills us with the Holy Spirit, empowers us with grace, provides for all our needs, and opens the doors of heaven so we can live in eternal glory when we die. This reality doesn’t seem fair to many people who struggle to figure out what life is all about. But that is the reality we live in.
My sermon this Sunday morning is called, “The Glorious Gospel” from I Timothy 1:11-19. We will look at both God’s part and our part in the plan to redeem and restore people to the glory of God. I hope you will pray with me for a blessing of grace and revelation to come upon everyone at Living Streams this weekend.