by pastor david
Colossians 1:18 "And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence."
It has been my privilege to be engaged in full-time, vocational ministry since 1975. After I served for eight years in Youth Ministry, my Pastor and mentor sensed the call of God to start a new church in Phoenix, Arizona. So on January 1, 1983, at the age of 31, I began to serve as the Senior Pastor of my home church – the church in which I grew up.
Being new to the role of Senior Pastor, I realized I needed to develop a Biblical Philosophy of Ministry that would stand the test of time and the challenges that a changing culture would most naturally bring. Consequently, I spent a great deal of time searching the Scriptures, discovering exactly what a Church ought to be and what a Pastor ought to be and do. The result of my studies was a multi-page document, which has served as a guide for my ministry all these years. It begins as follows:
“The expectations held by a congregation of its Pastor are often rather obscure and vary from member to member and from Church to Church. Therefore, I have undertaken the task of outlining the Scriptural goals and principles upon which I intend to serve this great Church.”
What followed was a list of thirteen principles that serve as a roadmap for ministry. Here is the first.
1. I will seek in my entire ministry to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and to promote loyalty to Him before seeking loyalty for Church, Denomination, or self (Colossians 1:18).
As I read that again, after all these years, I must ask myself, “Is this still true of me? Am I still seeking to exalt Christ in all my ministry and that above everything else? Is Christ still preeminent in ‘all things’"?
I am reminded of Matthew 6:33, where Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”. Am I seeking His kingdom or mine? Am I trying to build His kingdom or my kingdom?
The Greek word translated “preeminence” in Colossians 1:18 is, “prōteuōn”, which means, “holding the first place” . Does Jesus really hold first place in our lives? In our homes? In our places of business? In our communities? In our church?
It was the great missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, who said, “Christ is either Lord of all, or is not Lord at all”.
I hope you will do as I have been doing today and search your heart. Is there anything outside of the Lordship of Christ and His Kingdom? Is Christ preeminent in all your life? Do you love Him supremely? Are you loyal to Him and Him alone? If the answer to these questions is yes, then rejoice and give God the glory for the opportunity you have to surrender to Him.
First Corinthians 15:10
“But by the grace of God I am what I am”
On December 6, 2019, I will celebrate my 60th spiritual birthday. On December 6, 1959, in the Sunday evening service at the Welch Avenue Free Will Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio, Christ came into my life as Lord and Savior. I was only eight years old and yet I knew, without a doubt, that I was one of God’s children. It was One Glorious Moment of Grace.
However, when I think of all of God’s dealings with me, I realize that there have been and continue to be numerous Glorious Moments of Grace. They started back before time began when “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).
These Moments of Grace continued as God created mankind, in order to enjoy sweet fellowship with those who were made in His likeness.
Moments of Grace were obvious as God lovingly and patiently dealt with the wayward and wicked Israelites He had chosen to be His own special people (Deuteronomy 7:6).
No one would question that Christ’s death on the Cross for all the sins of all the world for all mankind for all time was a Glorious Moment of Grace!
God continues to demonstrate His Glorious Grace each day as the gospel continues to be spread around the world. (Titus 2:11) “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men”.
Every time we fail the Lord, doing what He forbids or failing to do what He commands, He pours out His Glorious Grace in loving forgiveness to those who demonstrate genuine repentance. (1 John 1:8-10) “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
This Glorious Grace will be evident when “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
These Glorious Moments of Grace will reach their pinnacle when God’s people are ushered into “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1) where “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain” (Revelation 21:4). Oh, what One Glorious Moment of Grace that will be!
Take a moment, right now, to thank God for His Glorious Grace – His unmerited favor poured out on undeserving sinners.
Proverbs 18:21A “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.”
America has a new obsession. We are now obsessed with saying everything that is on our mind. This is evident from massive protests in the streets to social media. Everyone wants to speak his or her mind and we think everyone else needs to hear it.
I have a news flash for you. Not everything that enters your mind needs to be spoken. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for freedom of speech but where did we get the idea that our puny little thoughts need to be broadcast around the world? What makes our ideas and opinions so important that everyone around us needs to hear them? Also, who told us that our opinions are always right and everyone else is wrong?
As I have been studying the Book of Proverbs, I have been looking specifically for God’s instructions involving the use of the tongue, and to be candid, I have been terribly convicted by what I have read.
For instance, let’s look at a few verses in Proverbs 17.
Nearly every chapter in the Book of Proverbs has similar warnings for each of us to heed. It would be a good spiritual exercise to read the Book of Proverbs looking for exhortations regarding your speech and highlighting them in your Bible. I agree with Will Durant who said, “Talk is cheap because the supply always exceeds the demand. One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say”.
From my exploration of Proverbs, I offer these recommendations regarding our speech and the proper use of our tongues.
1. Say only WHAT needs to be said.
Again, not everything you think needs to proceed from your mouth. (Proverbs 25:11) “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
2. Say only WHAT needs to be said, WHEN it needs to be said.
There are times when something needs to be said but the timing is all-wrong. Wait for the Holy Spirit’s prompting. (Proverbs 15:23) “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is.”
3. Say only WHAT needs to be said, WHEN it needs to be said, and the WAY it needs to be said.
Very often, we ruin what should be said by the way we say it. How something is said is just as important as what is said.
I’m certain you are beginning to get the picture. Surrender your tongue to the control of the Lord Jesus Christ and it will prove to be a benefit and blessing to the Kingdom of God.
May I ask one last question in closing? Why are we so anxious to spout out every opinion and idea that comes to mind but so hesitant to share the Gospel with our unbelieving friends and family members? Why are Jesus and the good news of salvation the only things about which we are reluctant to speak?
Oh God, help us be silent when we should be silent but speak when we should speak.
Second Corinthians 9:7 "God loves a cheerful giver."
Why do we give to the local Church? Why do we give our tithes and offerings to our local church? Well, that is a good question.
•Some might say, “I give because the Bible commands us to give and I want to obey God”.
•Others might say, “In the Covenant I signed when I joined the Church, I promised to give and I always keep my word”.
•Someone might add, “The Church needs the money to operate”.
All of these are valid reasons to give our tithes and offerings to the Lord through our local Church.
•The Bible does command us, in both the Old and New Testaments, to give our tithes and offerings to the Lord. (Malachi 3:8-12 and Matthew 23:23)
•It is also true that in our Church Covenant we promised, “To contribute, as the Lord directs, to the financial support of the Church by the systematic and sacrificial giving of tithes and offerings (1 Corinthians 16:1-4, 2 Corinthians 9)”.
•Any thinking-person also knows that the local Church needs money to pay for buildings, salaries, programs, insurance, etc.
But, isn’t there something else?
Isn’t there something more than just obligation and pragmatism that drives us to give one tenth of our income to our local church? Or, at least, shouldn’t there be?
In the Book of Exodus we read that God commanded the people of Israel to bring offerings for the building of the Tabernacle, a temporary place of worship. About this we read, “Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments” (Exodus 35:21). Note the phrase, “whose heart was stirred”.
Before the story is finished we read that, “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the Lord commanded us to do” (Exodus 36:5).
Finally, “The people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done – indeed too much” (Exodus 36:6-7).
Upon reading this Old Testament account, I am immediately reminded of a New Testament passage in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, which reads, “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver”. Imagine that – “a cheerful giver”.
•It is one thing to simply obey God with our money but it is quite another thing to give because we delight in doing so.
•It is one thing to give because we made a promise but how much better it is when we look forward to dropping that offering envelope in the box or plate.
•It is one thing to know we are helping to meet the financial needs of the local church; it is something all together different when we experience the joy of being a viable part of the local family of believers and enjoy giving our fair share.
Did you notice the words I used? “Delight” “Look forward” “Joy” “Enjoy”? Do these words describe you as you write that check and worship the Lord with your hard-earned money? Are you a cheerful giver? The word translated, “cheerful” is the Greek word, “hilaros”, which is related to our word, “hilarious”. Are you hilarious as you give your tithes and offerings or are you simply paying a “bill” each pay period?
Yes, I admit that it would be wonderful if the leadership of our Church had to ask you to refrain from giving because we have “too much,” as they did in the Book of Exodus. However, wouldn’t it be better if you gave systematically and sacrificially with an “hilarious” attitude? Wouldn’t you and your Lord, to Whom you are giving, experience much more joy if you were a “cheerful giver”?
“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”
Several years ago, I was teaching a class in a Bible Institute on the subject of prayer. I asked the class this question: “What should one do when he finds himself distracted during his prayer time?” An elderly gentleman, named Dale, who had participated very little during the previous lessons, spoke up immediately and without hesitation and said, “You should apologize to the Lord for being so rude”.
I have never forgotten that profound statement and the wisdom behind it. I am reminded of it often, as I am going about the daily practice of prayer. I often find myself apologizing to God for allowing my mind to wander away from my conversation with Him.
Let’s be honest. It is so very easy to be distracted during our prayer time, the result of which is disjointed, undisciplined, and often, unfinished prayers.
Why did Jesus rise “in the morning” a “long while before daylight”? Why did our Lord depart to “a solitary place”? Why did He choose to be apart, away, and alone during His private time with His Heavenly Father? Could it be that He knew that any other setting would be fraught with distractions.
Read through the Gospels and you will find Jesus withdrawing time and again, only to be interrupted by the clamoring crowds.
Let me ask you a few questions?
• Do you find yourself checking your email before you open your Bible in the morning?
• Do you have a number of conversations with people before you begin your morning conversation with God?
• If you get a text message during your prayer time, do you stop to read it?
• If, during your devotions, you remember something urgent you need to do, do you stop and finish your task before finishing your time alone with the Lord?
• What do you do when you get a phone call in the middle of your prayers?
• Does your family know when and where you will be spending time with the Lord?
The answers to the questions above will help you understand the many distractions that keep you from having the dynamic and effective prayer life you always wanted.
If we follow the example of our Lord Jesus, in Mark 1:35, we will apply several principles to our daily devotional time that will transform our prayer from mediocre to mighty.
1. Jesus had a specific time to pray.
(1:35a) “in the morning…a long while before daylight”
When do you pray? Apparently, morning is the best time to pray, according to Jesus.
• He asks for the first part of our week - the Lord’s Day.
• He asks for the first part of our income - our tithe.
• He asks for the first part of our day – the morning.
2. Jesus had a special place to pray.
(1:35b) “a solitary place”
The first thing He did when He arose each morning was to depart “to a solitary place” – away from the people He loved so much, away from the calling and ministry, away from everyone and everything except His Heavenly Father.
3. Jesus had a solemn reason to pray.
(1:35c) “there He prayed”
Jesus knew He would be unfit and ill-prepared for the task at hand, if He did not prepare Himself with this essential, spiritual exercise. Just look at the verses that follow. When His disciple found Him they said, “Everyone is looking for You” (1:37). His reply reveals the clarity for His ministry gained by that time alone with His Father; “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth” (1:38).
Oh, distractions! Each of us is plagued by them. However, if we follow the example of our Lord, we will better stay on task and enjoy the focused and fruitful time alone with the One who is more important to us than anyone or anything else on earth. I pray that we will all work hard at…
• Setting a specific time to pray
• Finding a special place to pray, and
• Having a solemn reason to pray.ay.
(1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV) “Pray without ceasing.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT) “Never stop praying.”
The First Epistle to the Thessalonians, from the pen of the Apostle Paul, is all about “Living in the Light of His Coming”. The emphasis throughout is the fact of Christ’s return to the earth for His church and our faith in that immutable fact. Paul is encouraging his readers to live in such a way as to welcome the return of the King; to walk in a manner pleasing to Him and to have a conscience that is not fearful at the thought of standing before our Lord.
As Paul made his closing remarks in Chapter Five, he tells those believers that they already know that “the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night” (5:2). In light of the imminent return of Christ, Paul then gives a number of practical instructions to guarantee their readiness for His return.
One of the most important directives given is found in (5:17 NKJV), where Paul simply and succinctly instructs his readers to “Pray without ceasing” or “Never stop praying”, as the New Living Translation reads. Obviously, that does not mean for us to go about our daily routine with our head down, our eyes closed, muttering a constant prayer under our breath. Nor does it mean that we are to cloister ourselves away in some monastery, secluded from the world, engaging in non-stop supplication.
What then does “Pray without ceasing” actually mean? To answer that question we must understand the prayer is both an act and an attitude. Not only are we to engage in prayer at specific times and places each day but also, we are to be in a constant attitude of prayer throughout the day.
There must be nothing in our lives about which we cannot pray.
When I think about praying, “without ceasing”, I picture myself walking through my day with Christ walking right by my side, step by step. There are times when we talk. There are times when we are silent. There are times when we laugh and at other times, we cry.
However, no matter where I am or what I am facing, whether comical or catastrophic, Christ is right there beside me, step by step. At times I call out to Him for help. At other times, I seek His advice. Much of the time is spent praising Him for who He is and thanking Him for what He has done in my life and family.
Even when there is no dialogue between us, I have His promise, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
(Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
Have you ever heard of the Second Law of Thermodynamics? It is really quite simple and something we can observe all around us.
According to Christiananswers.net, the Second Law of Thermodynamics can be described like this: “The Second Law of Thermodynamics describes basic principles familiar in everyday life. It is partially a universal law of decay; the ultimate cause of why everything ultimately falls apart and disintegrates over time. Material things are not eternal. Everything appears to change eventually, and chaos increases. Nothing stays as fresh as the day one buys it; clothing becomes faded, threadbare, and ultimately returns to dust. Everything ages and wears out. Even death is a manifestation of this law. The effects of the Second Law are all around, touching everything in the universe”.
You might be wondering why I would bring up such an obscure subject and you have every reason to do so. Well, I was thinking about this fixed law of science because God is not subject to this law. He does not fall apart, disintegrate over time, change, or fade.
As a matter of fact, several Bible passages validate the fact that God is immutable – He does not and cannot change. Malachi 3:6 is just one of many examples. “For I am the Lord, I do not change”. What a comfort this is for us today. The fact that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” brings immense peace in this changing, fluctuating, decaying world in which we live.
Everything we see and touch changes. Everything tangible demands constant maintenance and repair. This is true of our homes, our cars, our clothes, and even our bodies. Left to themselves, all of these and more will decay – but not God, not our Lord Jesus Christ!
As you think about these facts in greater detail, you also realize that God’s Word will never change. Psalm 89:34 “My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.” This means that…
Our God will not change. You may change. I may change. Society may change. The weather will change. But, God will not change! Right here would be a good place to praise the Lord! Amen?!
It is my prayer that these truths will encourage your heart and mind today, as they have mine.
“For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”
Far too often, we look at life from only a momentary and transitory perspective. We look at life now and fail to see life with the long view. We look only at the present and neglect to see the future.
In the Scriptures, we discover that God always takes the long view. For instance, the first prophecy of the coming Messiah was recorded all the way back in the Book of Genesis. The promise that the Messiah would be born of a virgin was given through the pen of Isaiah, hundreds of years before its fulfillment. These are just two of the many examples of God taking the long view.
If we follow the wisdom of The Architect of the Universe, we will do our best to always see our life with the long view. Life is short but the decisions we make each day will have long-lasting consequences, sometimes eternal consequences.
James asked, “What is your life?” Well, it certainly is brief but when you live with the “long view” in mind, the result of your short life will be eternal glory.
“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
What a great time of year this is! Christmas is a favorite time of year for many of us. However, for some, it is the most difficult and unpleasant time of the year. This is often true of those who have had some tragedy or traumatic experience close to or connected with the Christmas season.
For instance, I talked with a friend of mine some time ago whose young son died in 2013 on December 23, leaving a wife and three small children. My friend said he was getting more and more despondent as the anniversary date approached.
My own mother passed away on December 23, 1993. Our families had to have our Christmas dinner and gift exchange before we even had her funeral or buried my mother. Naturally, this time of the year can be difficult, as we think of the void left in our lives.
For some, the Christmas holiday is challenging, not because of the death of a loved one, but because of the death of a relationship – a spouse, a child, or a friend. That person who was such an integral part of your life is now absent for reasons beyond your control. This too makes “celebrating” quite arduous.
Having experienced this kind of despondency myself, may I suggest some strategies that have been helpful to me? When you think about your loved one or the loss…
1. Think about what you had, not what you lost.
2. Think of the good, not the bad.
3. Think of what that person was, not what you wish they were now.
4. Think of what they contributed to your life, not the void they left behind.
5. Think about what God gave, not what you have lost.
6. Think about the fact that you are here, with much to accomplish, not the fact that they are not here.
7. If the person was a Christian, think about meeting them again, not about how badly you miss them now.
8. Let Christ be the Lord of your emotions and, therefore, control the way you feel.
9. Give God the glory, no matter the situation.
“The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)
Please do not misunderstand me! I am not saying you should try to push your loved one out of your thoughts and memory – just the opposite. Think about them. Talk about them. Share your memories, but just do so from a positive platform and not from the mud of self-pity.
Perhaps you know someone who is experiencing this kind of grief right now. Whether you realize it or not, you can help him or her in tremendous ways. Here are a few suggestions.
1. Spend time with them. Don’t let them seclude themselves in self-pity.
2. Ask them about the person they lost or the situation that is causing the grief. They need to talk about it, even though, initially, they may be reluctant.
3. Don’t panic if they cry. Don’t say, “Please don’t cry”. This is their way of dealing with their grief and is very beneficial.
4. Listen intently. Don’t say, “I know how you feel” if you have never had the same experience.
5. As a matter of fact, don’t try to relate similar experiences in your own life. You are there to talk about them and not you. If you have had similar experiences, listening to them will be therapeutic for you as well. You can talk with someone about your situation at another time.
6. Be cautious about giving advice. They need a listening ear more than a therapist at this point. If you sense God does want you to give advice, make sure it is advice that aligns itself with Scripture.
7. Realize that all of these things are simply part of our responsibility as brothers and sisters in Christ and members of the family of God.
(Hebrews 10:25 - New Living Translation)
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourageone another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.”
Yes, Christmas time can be quite challenging for many people. I’ve heard people say, “I hate the Christmas season. I can’t wait till it’s over”. Well, it is really good to know that God understands and is ready and anxious to fill any voids that life may have created in your heart. Additionally, God can use you to help fill those voids in some brother or sister in Christ.
Let’s make Christmas an occasion for true giving - giving our time, giving a listening ear, giving a sympathetic heart.
(Matthew 5:11-12) “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Just imagine that you were taking a walk around your neighborhood and as you passed the fenced-in yard of a neighbor, his dog came running out, barking at you. How would you respond?
Would you say, “How dare that dog bark at me?” Or, “I’m offended that the dog barked at me!” Or, “Dogs should not bark at people.” Would you say, “Let’s get a campaign started to put an end to all dog barking”? Would you be tempted to send out a prayer request asking people to pray for you because you became the object of an animal’s growl?
You certainly would not. Why? Because barking is what dogs do. It is a part of their innate makeup – something they received from birth, over which they have little control. Dogs bark! Live with it!
That being true, then why are we so surprised and appalled when those who do not know Christ as personal Savior and Sovereign bark at us who are followers of Jesus? Why are we so caught off guard and offended when they rush up to our proverbial protective fence and growl at us? Why would we think that the person who does not know God through Jesus Christ would, in any way, agree with our belief system?
In the scenario above, the dog barked because, in his mind, you posed a threat to him. You were invading his territory and he was afraid. The reasons the unbelieving world barks and growls at the Christian are the same. They think you pose a threat to them (their lifestyle might have to change), you are invading their territory (your beliefs and worldview have no place in their culture), and they are afraid (they fear you might indeed be correct).
I have found that the best way to stop a strange dog from barking at me is to try to warm up to the animal. Let him know that you pose no threat and that you want to be his friend. Strangely enough, I think the same approach may work with barking, growling unbelievers.
How will we ever have the opportunity to share the Gospel with them if they fear us or if they perceive that we are a threat to them. How can we witness to them about the love of Jesus if we can’t even get close to them? They must get quiet enough to hear the Gospel for “it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16 NKJV).
Our task is difficult but simple. We must engage unbelievers in a conversation about Jesus and that cannot be accomplished from a distance. We must get close to them, without compromising our Biblical convictions, so they will listen to what Christ has done for us. At that point, it is the job of the Holy Spirit to “convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment” (John 16:8 NKJV). As I like to remind folk, “The Power is in the Proclamation”!
As we consider those barking antagonists, let me make a few suggestions.
1. Find some common ground with the individual, something non-threatening about which both of you can
2. Listen carefully to his or her story. Ask questions about him. People love to talk about themselves.
3. Share some of your story; your life before and after coming to know Christ.
4. Share as much of His (Christ’s) story as possible. This may not happen in a single discussion. You will probably have to invest time in that person in order to give the whole story of the Gospel.
5. Invite them to church or Bible study or even a casual gathering with some of your Christian friends.
6. Continue to be their friend, regardless of their response to the Gospel. This is a processing generation. It may take time for them to grapple with the truth.
7. Be available to listen and discuss any questions they may have in the future.
8. Pray fervently for their salvation and let them know you are doing so.
Sometimes dogs bark. Live with it. Sometimes unbelievers growl and make a lot of noise. Live with it! Warm up to them. Get close enough to share the good news of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.
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