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    Pastor's Posts

    Pastor David's Blog

    Wednesday
    Mar012017

    Prayer and Fasting (Continued)

    Yesterday, we continued our “Tuesday” prayer and fast. We are intentionally coming before the Lord with two requests – denominational resolution and personal renewal. Unfortunately, neither one of these prayers is likely to be answered quickly, but I hope we will continue our fasting and praying until we see the hand of the Lord move in our midst.

     

    Today is the first day of the Lenten season.  Lent is the liturgical season leading up to the Resurrection. It serves as a way for us to identify with the struggles of Jesus’ earthly ministry as He headed to the cross. In spite of the fact that we use the phrase, “It’s just my cross to bear,” referring to something or someone that poses a challenge for us, few of us will ever actually be called upon to bear the cross. Jesus did it. He did it for you and me.

     

    For many, Lent conjures up the memory of “giving something up.” I recently read that rather than stop doing something you’re going to pick up again after Easter (like, I’m giving up chocolate for Lent), why not use the Lenten season to increase a spiritual activity that will draw us closer to God! Perhaps a little extra Bible reading each day is in order.  (You could start reading through Proverbs, one a day until Easter!) Maybe supplement your weekly fast and prayer time by adding five minutes of prayer only before lunch three days a week, praying for personal renewal.  These are two suggestions. I'm sure you can think of some other ways to "step up" your faith journey if you put your mind to it. Share your thoughts with others, and encourage them to join you!

     

    We have so much for which to be thankful. Be intentional this Lenten season to let God (and others) know just how thankful you are!

     

    Grace and peace,

     

     Pastor David

    Tuesday
    Feb212017

    Prayer and Fasting

    This past Sunday, I called our community to a season of prayer and fasting. For more than two years the leadership of Graham has been wrestling with serious concerns over the direction of the P.C.(U.S.A). Recently, the Presbytery of San Diego voted to graciously dismiss a congregation to another Reformed body. The vote was challenged and the synod courts overturned the will of the presbytery. My heart grieves. Tonight is the first time the presbytery meets following the synod decision. At noon today, several of us gathered in the sanctuary (and many others joined us in spirit), to pray for two things: resolution to the denominational issues, and renewed spiritual revival within each heart praying. We will continue to pray and fast weekly until our prayers are answered. To me, the very fact that so many have willingly committed to pray and fast over these two issues is proof that God is already answering the second prayer request! If you are so moved, please join us in this prayer and fast. If Tuesdays at noon do not work in your schedule, then, by all means, schedule your “Tuesday noon” prayer and fast at another time. There is no need to be legalistic about this. Fasting one meal a week while praying is a spiritual discipline found in Scripture, and I am excited to see what God will do in response to our faithfulness regarding these two issues. Thank you to all who accept this challenge!

                                 Grace and peace,

                                         Pastor David

    Friday
    Jan062017

    52 Great Questions From The Bible

    Greetings to all in this New Year!

     

    Having spent last year preaching from the book of Psalms, I was praying for direction with regard to this year’s sermons, and I began contemplating some of the questions I have come across in Scripture. That led me to wonder about how many questions of significance there were in the Bible. I began to work through Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, writing down important questions as I went along. As I wrote, I became more and more excited, thinking this would make a wonderful series for 2017. After working through the Old Testament, I counted 71 questions. Hmmm… I discovered another 31 questions in the New Testament for a total of 101 questions that stood out to me. Now, there are many more questions in the Bible, but my bigger problem was the year only has 52 weeks! I went through my 101 questions and highlighted 52 of them. I handed the list to my wife, Jody, and asked her to review my selections. Did I leave out a question that should be included? Did I include a question that could be eliminated? After conferring, we came up with a list of 52 questions, which would outline a year of preaching! 

     

    We have a tradition here at Graham, where by the first Sunday after Christmas is a “hymn sing.” Well, that happened to be January 1st.  When I checked, I discovered that although there are 52 weeks in the year, this year there are 53 Sundays! (The first day of the year and the last day of the year are both Sundays!)  So, I sat down and assigned dates to each of my questions, and for the first time in my ministry, I have outlined a year of sermons in advance.  I plan on publishing this list for the congregation this Sunday as I begin with the first question found in Scripture – “Did God really say…?”

     

    My hope is that people will take the lists, and read the questions, in context, before or after hearing the sermon to stimulate biblical literacy, and cultivate a deeper faith as we learn and grow together in become more faithful apprentices of Jesus.

     

    I am also posting the questions here… May God bless us as we work through 52 Great Questions from the Bible in the year 2017!

    52 Great Questions from the Bible

     

    Genesis: (3)

     

    3:1 “Did God really say…” (Trusting God’s Word) January 8, 2017

     

    3:9 “Where are you?” (Accepting responsibility)  January 15, 2017

     

    50:19 “Am I in the place of God?” (Trusting in God’s justice) January 22, 2017

     

    Exodus: (1)

     

    12:26 “What does this ceremony mean to you?” (Passover) (The importance of remembering) January 29, 2017

     

    Numbers: (2)

     

    14:11, (27) “How long will these people treat me with contempt?” (How do we treat our God?) February 5, 2017 (Scottish Heritage Sunday)

     

    20:4 “Why did you bring us to this terrible place?” (Trusting when it’s hard) February 12, 2017

     

    Deuteronomy (2)

     

    4:7 “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” (Reflecting on God’s nearness; not a distant God, but one who cares about, and is involved in our lives.) February 19, 2017

     

    10:12 And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving to you for your own good?” (A call to faithful obedience) February 26, 2017

     

    Joshua (1)

     

    4:6 “What do these stones mean?” (Covenant memorial stones) March 5, 2017

     

    Judges (1)

     

    6:14 “Am I not sending you?” (God uses even the least of us) March 12, 2017

     

    1 Samuel (1)

     

    17:26 “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (Faith in action) March 19, 2017

     

    2 Samuel (1)

     

    12:9 “Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes?” (The cost of sin) March 26, 2017

     

    1 Kings (2)

     

    3:9 “For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (Seeking God’s wisdom above all else) April 2, 2017

     

    12:6 “How would you advise me to answer these people?” (Discerning sources for wisdom) April 9, 2017 (Palm Sunday)

     

    2 Kings (2)

     

    5:13 “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?” (A simple act of faith) April 16, 2017 - Easter

     

    6:15 “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” (Angels amongst us! The reality of the supernatural) April 23, 2017

     

    Esther (1)

     

    4:14 “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Sovereign timing of God) April 30, 2017

     

    Job (3)

     

    2:10 “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Faithfulness in face of trials) May 7, 2017

     

    7:21 “Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins?” (Mistaking pain and suffering for sin) May 14, 2017 (Mother’s Day)

     

    38:4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” (Humility before the unfathomable God) May 21, 2017

     

    Ecclesiastes (1)

     

    1:3 “What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?” (Meaning of life, theology of work) May 28, 2017

     

    Isaiah (2)

     

    6:8 “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’” (God’s call upon our lives) June 4, 2017 (Pentecost)

     

    53:1 “Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?” (The coming of the Messiah, who is wounded for our transgressions and by whom we are healed.) June 11, 2017

     

    Jeremiah (1)

     

    18:5 “Then the word of the LORD came to me; ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?’” (The sovereignty of God) June 18, 2017

     

    Daniel (1)

     

    6:20 “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” (A God of miracles) June 25, 2017

     

    Jonah (1)

     

    4:4 “Have you any right to be angry?” (Accepting the grace of God, for all) July 2, 2017 (Patriotic Sunday)

     

    Micah (1)

     

    6:8 “And what does the LORD require of you?” (Love in action) July 9, 2017

     

    Habakkuk (1)

     

    1:2 “How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong?” (The righteous to live by faith, not sight) July 16, 2017

     

    Malachi (1)

     

    3:8 “Will a man rob God?” (Priorities in finances; keeping God first in all things) July 23, 2017

     

    Matthew (5)

     

    2:2 “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?” (Looking for Jesus: a contrast between the shepherds and magi vs. the religious folks and King Herod in Jerusalem) July 30, 2017

     

    6:27 “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Trust verses worry) August 6, 2017

     

    7:3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in

    your own eye?” (Judging, dealing with the lack of compassion in life) August 13, 2017

     

    13:27 “Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?” (The reality of a divided house) August 20, 2017

     

    16:15 “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” (Proclaiming Jesus as LORD; a proclamation all need to make personally) August 27, 2017

     

    Mark (2)

     

    8:36 “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Priorities) Sept. 3, 2017

    12:14 “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (Civic responsibilities) Sept. 10, 2017

     

    Luke (2)

     

    1:34 “’How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’” (Mary’s obedience) Sept. 17, 2017

     

    6:46 “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” (Dealing with our own hypocrisy)  Sept. 24, 2017

     

    John (5)

     

    1:38 “What do you want?  Where are you staying?” (The invitation to “live” with Jesus) Oct. 1, 2017

     

    11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (Life eternal through Christ Jesus) Oct. 8, 2017

     

    18:11 “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (Jesus’ destiny) Oct. 15, 2017

     

    18:38 “What is truth?” (Objective truth corresponds to reality) Oct. 22, 2017

     

    21:15 “Simon, son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” (Command to love) Oct 29, 2017 – Reformation Sunday

     

    Acts (3)

     

    2:7 “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?” (The miracle of Pentecost) Nov. 5, 2017

     

    2:37 “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” (The work of the Holy Spirit) Nov. 12, 2017

     

    16:30 “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (A clear answer regarding salvation) Nov. 19, 2017 - Thanksgiving

     

    Romans (2)

     

    6:1 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” (Abusing God’s grace; Cheap grace via Bonhoeffer) Nov. 26, 2017

     

    8:35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution of famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (God’s consistency and faithfulness) Dec. 3, 2017

     

    1 Corinthians (1)

     

    1:20 “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (The wisdom of God) Dec. 10, 2017

     

    Galatians (1)

     

    3:21 “Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God?” (The role of the Law in our lives) Dec. 17, 2017

     

    Hebrews (1)

     

    13:6 “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Living without fear) Dec. 24, 2017

     

    James (1)

     

    2:14 “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?” Can such a faith save him?” (Saved for good works; not by them, but for them) Dec. 31, 2017

     

    I am excited for the year ahead! I hope you are too!

     

    Grace and peace,

     

    Pastor David

     

    Wednesday
    Mar162016

    Essential Tenets and Reformed Distinctives

    In 2003, a group of elders and pastors from the Presbytery of San Diego got together and decided to create a document that outlined the essential tenets and Reformed distinctives that defined who we are theologically. The document was brought to the floor of Presbytery, and after robust dialog, it was approved. This is an important document that articulates what we believe, and why we believe it! The document follows the pattern set forth by the Barman Declaration, which not only outlines what is believed, but goes on to clarify what is rejected because of what we believe! When we install or ordain leaders in the local Church, they are always asked if they will be guided by the essential tenets of the Reformed faith as expressed in Scripture and in our Confessions. They say, "I will!"  If you have ever wondered what they were agreeing too, wonder no longer. Click on the link below and read them for yourself! Enjoy!

    Download The Essential Tenets and Reformed Distivctives»

     

    Wednesday
    Mar162016

    Basic Theology

    There is much misunderstanding these days about what it means to be "Reformed and Always Reforming." The tragic necessity of the Protestant Reformation returned focus of God's people to the basic principles of the early Church; that was reform. The ..."and Always Reforming" was an injunction to listen to the Word of God and correct what you have heard by continuing to listen to the Word of God! The following "five solas" (five solo principles) were foundational. Read them. It's good review!

     

    The Five Solas of the Reformation

     † SOLA SCRIPTURA †

    Scripture alone. When the Reformers used the words sola Scriptura they were expressing their concern for the Bible’s authority, and what they meant is that the Bible alone is our ultimate authority—not the pope, not the church, not the traditions of the church or church councils, still less personal intimations or subjective feelings, but Scripture only. Other sources of authority may have an important role to play. Some are even established by God—such as the authority of church elders, the authority of the state, or the authority of parents over children. But Scripture alone is truly ultimate. Therefore, if any of these other authorities depart from Bible teaching, they are to be judged by the Bible and rejected.

     

    † SOLUS CHRISTUS †

    Christ alone. The church of the Middle Ages spoke about Christ. A church that failed to do that could hardly claim to be Christian. But the medieval church had added many human achievements to Christ’s work, so that it was no longer possible to say that salvation was entirely by Christ and his atonement. This was the most basic of all heresies, as the Reformers rightly perceived. It was the work of God plus our own righteousness. The Reformation motto solus Christus was formed to repudiate this error. It affirmed that salvation has been accomplished once for all by the mediatorial work of the historical Jesus Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification, and any ‘gospel’ that fails to acknowledge that or denies it is a false gospel that will save no one.

     

    † SOLA GRATIA †

    Grace alone. The words sola gratia mean that human beings have no claim upon God. That is, God owes us nothing except just punishment for our many and very willful sins. Therefore, if he does save sinners, which he does in the case of some but not all, it is only because it pleases him to do it. Indeed, apart from this grace and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit that flows from it, no one would be saved, since in our lost condition, human beings are not capable of winning, seeking out, or even cooperating with God’s grace. By insisting on ‘grace alone’ the Reformers were denying that human methods, techniques, or strategies in themselves could ever bring anyone to faith. It is grace alone expressed through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ, releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from death to spiritual life.

     

    † SOLA FIDE †

    Faith alone. The Reformers never tired of saying that ‘justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone.’ When put into theological shorthand the doctrine was expressed as “justification by faith alone,” the article by which the church stands or falls, according to Martin Luther. The Reformers called justification by faith Christianity’s “material principle,” because it involves the very matter or substance of what a person must understand and believe to be saved. Justification is a declaration of God based on the work of Christ. It flows from God’s grace and it comes to the individual not by anything he or she might do but by ‘faith alone’ (sola fide). We may state the full doctrine as: Justification is the act of God by which he declares sinners to be righteous because of Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone.

     

    † SOLI DEO GLORIA †

    Glory to God alone. Each of the great solas is summed up in the fifth Reformation motto: soli Deo gloria, meaning ‘to God alone be the glory.’ It is what the apostle Paul expressed in Romans 11:36 when he wrote, ‘to Him be the glory forever! Amen.’ These words follow naturally from the preceding words, “For from him and through him and to him are all things” (v. 36), since it is because all things really are from God, and to God, that we say, ‘to God alone be the glory.’”