Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Blog: June 21, 2011


You would think that we would totally understand what “church” is by now.  I mean, it’s been 2,000 years since Jesus gave His life on the cross to pay for our sin and be resurrected from the dead giving us victory over death.  So what’s the problem in figuring out what “church” is supposed to be?

First of all, the reason why we are continuing to struggle with this question is that the “church” became something it was never intended to be for so long that the very basics of being the “church” were overshadowed by the mechanism or function of the “church.”  More emphasis was put on creating positions in the church, raising money for the church and empowering the “church” (not spiritual power but worldly power) that the essence or the heart of the church was lost.  The very nature of the “church” was distorted by man for so long that its culture became the “norm” from generation to generation. 

Second, because the “church” became so engrained in its cultural mindset it has become more difficult to change the culture back to the churches original intent.   There is a saying in the nautical community that goes like this, “The bigger the ship the bigger area you need to turn it around.”  Turning a carrier around takes a much larger space than turning a destroyer around both in distance and time.  Because the church seems to have gotten off course for such a long time it will also take a long time to get it back to where it needs to be.

Third, because the “church” has become so comfortable in its cultural context it has lost its impact and influence in the community. This is obvious by simply looking at how society is moving further and further away from Biblical truth, values and morals.  I’m not sure if that will ever be reclaimed by the church but, in reality, that was never its intent.

Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 “… I will build My church.”  I seems to me that we need to turn the “building” of the church back over to Jesus and get out of His way.  That means a return to the Biblical expression of “church” as Jesus defined it.  The church is the body of Christ, His people, a Royal Priesthood, the saints of all time where there is “… neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ.” Galatians 3:28

Before I close this blog let me emphasize that the church has always been visible throughout its history. Though it has been clouded by greed, power, pride and self-sufficiency at times it has been victorious because it is sustained by the purpose and will of God through Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who have confessed their sin and committed themselves to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Generations past have “fought the good fight” so that we can enjoy the blessings of Christ today.  Our mandate is to continue the battle for truth, live the life of Christ and share the good news of His death, burial and resurrection with everyone we can.

Something to ponder: “What is “church?”  “What does it look like?”  “What does it do?”

Serving Christ together for His honor and glory alone!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Drought of 2011

    The drought of 2011 has been long, hard and cold.  This year in most of New Mexico we have experienced the lack of moisture to the extent that many historical weather records have been broken.  We have been under many fire watches which have closed more and more recreation sites in the mountains until adequate rain brings relief to the barren land.  Along with the drought we have experience strong and unending winds. This is what some call the annual transfer of dust and sand from Arizona to Texas via New Mexico.  Ranchers will tell you that the wind isn’t really blowing unless there are “rocks” in the air. Now that’s a strong wind!
    We have a tendency to recognize those times of physical drought much quicker than we do spiritual drought.  Spiritual droughts are those times when the refreshing presence and power of our Lord seem to be especially absent.  It isn’t that our Lord has abandoned us because He said He would never do that.  It does mean that there is an absent of the sense of His presence with us.  Yes, we all face those times to one extent or another but there are those special seasons when the sense of the lack His presence in our lives seems to linger and linger until we become desperate and even anxious. 
    I was talking with someone about the affect of the “Dust Bowl Days” of American history which began in 1930 and lingered until 1936 and, for some areas, even until 1940.  The result was that thousands of people left the prairie’s and headed toward California and other areas of the country.  Many who tried to endure the blast of wind struggled and even died.  Con men took advantage of the situation and went from place to place trying to sell “rain seeds” and other ridiculous inventions that would bring a change in the weather.  Men, women, families and towns fell prey to the deception that man could control the weather.
    Spiritual drought brings the same type of reactions.  As the drought lengthens we can become more desperate and either try to escape to somewhere else, or are enticed by spiritual con artists into believing that they have power or spiritual mechanisms that will bring the refreshing relief of Christ’s presence and power.
    It is important therefore to understand that “drought happens!”  Nothing is done or allowed without the will and purpose of our Lord driving it.  Drought should have the following affects on those who are Christ-followers:

1.       It humbles us. It reminds us that we have no control over the circumstances in which we live though we can control how we respond to them.

2.       It grows our faith.  We trust that our loving Lord controls all the elements on earth and we trust Him to provide for our needs.

3.       It strengthens our obedience. Christ never told us to “get going when the going gets tough.” He called on us to endure and persevere in the midst of even the greatest storm.

4.       It helps us hold to His Word.  Jesus said “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” and we are to live in that promise.

5.       It gives us a testimony that will help others see Jesus in us and through us no matter how bad the drought is or the wind blows.

6.       It draws us to Him for comfort, assurance and strength. 

“I will be with you, even until the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Leaving a Spiritual Footprint

My story: It was a clear and cool morning, the sun was up and I had just finished reviewing my Sunday morning message. I was excited and yet a little anxious because I was beginning a new short series titled, “Your Partnership in the Gospel,” based on Philippians 1:3-6. The focus would be, “The Gospel: The Reason we Exist.” It’s a series that would help all who gather with us for worship to know what we believe and why. It would help them understand who we are and why we are here. So I went down to unlock the trailer which was backed up to the garage so I could load the keyboard and a few other things and then head to the community center to set up for worship. As I walked around the side of the trailer my eyes were drawn to scattered trash and a turned over trash container. A trash bag had been torn open and some trash spread down an unmarked path among the trees. I had seen this type of devastation before and knew immediately what had happened. About five years ago while sitting at my desk in the office at 4:00 am (I couldn’t sleep) I heard a noise, outside in the drive. The motion light had come on and there was a bear dragging a bag of trash toward the trees. Not finding much to eat, the bear exited into the dark night. Oh yes… I knew the tragedy of an attack on a trash container and the scattered trash as tell tale evidence that a bear had visited us again. I approached the scene of the crime closely scanning the area to make sure our “visitor” had left. I slowly surveyed the ground looking for signs that the perpetrator had in fact done the dirty deed. Then I saw it, a paw print. It was about 4-5 inches across indicating that a small bear with a dumpster diving appetite had left his mark.

The evidence did not lie. As I have thought about that paw print and the evidence that proved that a bear (presently unidentified) had visited us, I thought about what evidence and what “foot print” we as believers make in our community. I am not suggesting that we leave trash spread around that annoys other people, but that we hopefully leave a positive imprint that brings joy and thanksgiving to our community. Forensic investigators will tell you that you leave evidence of your physical presence everywhere you go; a hair (for most people), skin cells, finger prints and other DNA that can be traced back to you as a totally uniquely designed and special person. As a Christian we not only have our “creative DNA” which is unique to individuals but also a “spiritual DNA” which is traced to our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. Everywhere we go and everything we do should leave evidence of His presence having been where our feet have trod, where our hands have served and where His words have been shared. Consider what footprint you leave for Jesus as you go about your daily activities and interact with those you encounter. Have a great week, God bless - PJ

Monday, June 28, 2010


    I don't know about you but I am really upset that we have a president and vice-president who seem to think that using profanity is OK in a public forum! Understand that my feelings on this subject have nothing to do with which party our president or vice-president represent. This has to do with character. This has to do with responsibility and leadership. Many people have no problem using or hearing profanity. Many adults use profanity and then are angered that children use it as well. I have seen parents cuss each other then yell at their children for using the same language, how hypocritical! Unfortunately, there are even many believers in Jesus Christ who use profanity and somehow justify it for themselves. There are thousands of words in the English language and it seems that too many people have regulated theirs to a small group of words which are vulgar and profane!

For some reason we have elected officials who think that profanity helps emphasize their anger toward something or someone. It's bad leadership, it's a bad example and it doesn't teach our children anything but disrespect for others. Disrespect for parents, for our civil leaders and for those in authority is a growing problem in our society and the use of profanity just makes that problem worse. It’s no wonder teachers don’t get respect from their students and parents don’t get respect from their children. . If respect isn’t modeled at home it won’t be evident away from the home.

Psalm 19:14 is a really wonderful verse to remember and pray each day: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” As followers of Jesus Christ our actions and our words are to be a testimony of His presence in our lives. Our words need to be carefully thought out before we speak them. Ugly, profane and disrespectful words are not to be part of our vocabulary if we are to truly represent our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

God bless – Pastor John

Monday, February 8, 2010

Death, The Catalyst for the Church

"On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea nd Samaria."  Acts 8:1b

It's snowing again and... well... I love the snow and the moisture it brings but it is quite cold.  One of the reasons I love New Mexico is that we get to have the four seasons.  I like the spring because it is new and fresh, things grow, trees get their leaves and flowers their pedals.  I like the summer because it is warm and the summer skies are beautiful. I like the fall because of the changing colors of the leaves and the cool freshness in the air and I like the winter because of the beauty of the snow.  Even in the winter here in New Mexico we can ski in the morning, play golf in the afternoon and watch a gorgeous sunset in the evening. It's a great place to live!

A lot of people don’t like the idea of things changing in their lives. Once they get used to something they like the security of it staying the way it is. For some it is the fear of the unknown and for others it may be the comfort of the past. I know that for years and years Trudy and I would go out to eat somewhere, especially places I had been before, and I would order the exact same thing over and over again. Why? I knew what I was getting and liked it and I didn’t need to try anything else. For some reason, as I have gotten older and at the encouragement of Trudy, I began to try different things and “venture” out into new culinary experiences. I discovered that I really liked trying some new things and have expanded my menu choices.

It is quite easy for followers of Christ to get comfortable in their spiritual lives and not want to venture beyond what their past and present commitments are. Often even an exciting and growing church can steadily work its way into a rut that slowly keeps getting deeper. Someone once said that when you’re in a rut long enough it becomes a grave. I think that is probably true.

Getting too comfortable was not a problem in the early church, not because it was so intentional in avoiding it but because God didn’t allow time for it to happen. The “gospel train” needed to keep moving. The huge impact of the preaching of the apostles and disciples in Jerusalem had touch the lives of thousands while, at the same time, infuriating the religious hierarchy. The result was that a “check mark” was put beside the first goal of the great commission, Jerusalem had received the gospel.

The catalyst that would move the gospel further into Judea, Samaria and the ends of the world would come through a totally unexpected event… the stoning of Stephen. Those who opposed the gospel might have thought that his death would stop the others from preaching Jesus, instead it scattered the body of Christ so that it would exponentially increase the spread of the good news of Jesus Christ. I love how God took the death of His saint Stephen and energized the body of believers to move forward and outward with confidence.

Do you ever feel like you’re in a rut? Do you ever feel like the rut is slowly getting deeper and deeper? Do you ever desire in your heart to move out of or even climb out of that rut? I want you to know that the Lord Jesus wants you out of that rut as well. He challenges us to move out of our comfort zone, to move away from the self-imposed sense of security we live in and join Him in His plan of touch lives for Christ.

As we study Acts chapter eight we will see the impact of Stephen’s death on the church and begin to look at another man who had been chosen to serve in the church, Philip, and how God used him as he moved forward with the gospel of Jesus Christ. May the Lord richly bless you!  – Pastor John

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

First let me say a word of appreciation and thanks to everyone who was involved in the two Christmas presentations we were blessed with this last weekend. Susan Brown did a wonderful job of working with the adult drama group to present the Saturday presentation, “The Guiding Star.” Everyone who helped with sets, sound, setup and acting were exceptional!

Melody Norris worked with the children and youth to present a wonderful presentation on Sunday morning titled “The Little Shepherdess, All Alone.” Thanks to the kids, their parents and those who helped to bring the Christmas message through the children. God has truly provided dedicated and gifted ministers to VGC.

Mending clothes is becoming a lost art for many families. There was a time when most families could not replace clothing when it was torn, burned or stained. They simply had to repair the clothes the best way they could. I can remember when I was a very young boy tearing holes in my jeans while playing and my mother having to fix them. It was bad enough when she was able to sew a tear together because most of the time the sewing job made the pant leg hang in a crooked way. Then she discovered “patches” you could iron on over a tear or hole to cover it up and keep the pants together. I hated to wear jeans where a patch had been ironed on it because the patch was a dark blue and my jeans were faded and worn. It really looked bad but I had to wear it anyway because we couldn’t afford to buy jeans very often. The other problem was that the patch was strong but the jeans it was ironed to would tear around the patch because the material was worn and weak. The only redeeming element was that those old jeans sure were comfortable, unlike the new ones which were stiff and hard to get broke in. Interestingly, most kids in those days were really sporting a look that is now acceptable in our society… jeans that cost $85.00 or more that come already torn and worn! We just didn’t know how fashion conscience we really were!

God sent His Son Jesus to deal with a torn and worn spiritual mindset that kept the people of Israel longing for something different. Many of the Jews were very faithful and sought to follow God’s law the best they possibly could. Even some of the Pharisees were faithful men who longed for the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Messiah. Others were caught up in trying to put patches on what they thought were holes in God’s law by adding to it and making it very difficult for the people to follow. Jesus did not come to “patch” the old but to make something new! He came to fulfill all the “law and the prophets” and provide a path to reconciling both Jew and Gentile to the Creator.

Too often we desire to have more devotion to or commitment to our Lord. New Year is a time when people make resolutions that they think will help them live better lives in the coming year. All the resolutions a person makes have no real significance if they are still attached to our old way of thinking and living. You can't put a new patch on an old habit and think it will be better! You can't put new wine into a brittle wine skin and think it will hold it. You also can't ask God to do a new work in you if you are still holding on to the sin in your life... or the attitudes of your heart... or the desires of your self-centeredness.

Jesus wants to come into your heart and "create" a new man, new woman, a "new heart." (Psalm 51) For Him to have superiority in your life you must give up the past and allow Him to bring in the new.

I pray your New Year will be filled with His presence, purpose and promise!

God bless,


Monday, October 5, 2009

"Be Healed!"

Healing is a controversial topic among Christians today. I often wonder why there is so much division over the subject of Biblical healing.  I suppose that it would be wonderful if God just healed everyone... but then I wonder what it would really accomplish? If everyone were healed we would lose one of the most powerful opportunities we have to grow in our dependence on Him.

True Biblical healing was never to rid the world of the pain of sickness, disease or dispare.  Biblical healing always took place to identify the healer with the source of healing who is God.  Jesus healed to confirm that He was truly the Messiah.  In John 9:1-5 Jesus was asked by His disciples "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." This healing drew attention to the Savior. 

There were many who were healed by Jesus and many who were not healed.  In Acts 3:1-10 we find a man who was lame since birth and had to be taken to a place outside the Beautiful Gate of the Temple each day where he begged for money.  How many times did Jesus walk by this lame man and not heal him? How many times did Peter and John walk by him and not heal him.  It wasn't until the man called to Peter and John and asked for money that the opportunity for healing too place.  It was through the healing that the man's attention and praise was lifted up toward the Lord and the opportunity for Peter to bring another message to the religious leaders was set up. We also learn that physical healing is not as important as spiritual healing, healing of the sin sickness we all have that separates us from our Creator.  It is through faith in Jesus Christ and His shed blood that we are healed of the consequences of our sin sickness and brought into a right relationship with the Father. Physical sickness is temporary, spiritual sin sickness is eternal and can only be cured through faith in the Great Physician Jesus Christ.

Does God heal today... certainly! God heals in His time, in His way for His purpose and not at the whim or command of His children who have a tendency to totally miss the fact that sickness and illness can be the very thing that draws someone to Jesus.

I have known many strong believers in Christ who had been tremendous witnesses for Jesus while undergoing treatments for things like MS and cancer. Their strong faith touched the lives of many doctors and nurses and health care workers who literally saw God's hand at work in their patients to bring healing as well as peaceful death. They witnessed the power of God through the witness of His children who continued to be His witnesses even to the end.

God does have a purpose in sickness and disease; He does have a plan in both healing and in suffering.  It's really all about Him isn't it?

Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

May the Lord bless you,