But, you know what is important for us to know...is that these people [in this genealogy] represent the fulfillment of a promise made by God. Why is that important? ...God made a promise to you, and God made a promise to me, that through His Son Jesus Christ, that He would save us... God made a promise, and God fulfilled that promise.

Vintage message from July 13, 2003.

When you’re reading this genealogy, you’re reading about a lot of shady characters. The bloodline of Jesus was not perfect, which it should be very comforting to you and I that God did not look for perfection even when He was birthing His Son onto the earth. He was birthing His Son on the earth because He knew we wereimperfect and in need of salvation…

This [genealogy] is a proof of God’s faithfulness. That rather than God just destroying this nation [of Judah], He takes a group of men into exile into Babylon, some of the royal family into exile into Babylon, in order that the bloodline of David would continue…

And what’s impressive to me about this genealogy is, whether men were faithful to God or unfaithful to God, whether men were true to God’s Word or not, even though they at times were very wicked, and some took Gentile wives, God fulfilled His promise. And then you get to the end here, and Matthew is very careful to say that Joseph was the husband of Mary, not the father of Jesus, and that’s very important…

So through both Mary and Joseph, her husband, Jesus is born and given the right to make the claim that He is of the bloodline of David and has the right to sit on David’s throne. And, by the way, this is what it’s all about. This is what it’s about for us. This is why we’ll study the gospel. This is why we’re going to study about the life of Jesus, and this is why it’s important for us to know Jesus, because Jesus then made a claim. He claimed to be the Son of God and the King that was given to us. And it all boils down to, what do we believe about Jesus? Did He have the right to be the King? According to Matthew in this genealogy, He had the right to be King. He had the credentials, as it were. His bloodline was pure…

But, you know what is important for us to know…that these people represent a fulfillment of a promise made by God. Why is that important? You know, God made a promise to you, and God made a promise to me, that through His Son Jesus Christ, that He would save us. If God can’t keep His promise here, how can we know that He’ll keep His promise there?… God made a promise, and God fulfilled that promise…

Matthew…followed the bloodline of Joseph back, and he can take you back to Abraham whom that promise was made to of a great nation, and to David, that a King would sit on a throne, and that King would be the Son of God, and that King would reign over you and I, and that King would also be our salvation. We’ve read the fulfillment of one promise. We’re going to read the fulfillment of many other promises as we go through Matthew.

Is it okay for the Holy Spirit to do a work in your life even if you don't like it?

Vintage message from July 20, 2003.

Forgiveness…this is something that I believe should be the earmark of every believer today. We are so quick today to judge one another, to condemn one another. I don’t care what the circumstances are… And righteousness dictates that we look at the circumstance, and instead of publicly humiliating and demanding the law take affect, look for ways to love and forgive…

Sin separates us from God. From the time of Adam, sin has separated us from the love relationship that God desired to have with us. God the Father created us to be in love relationship. He created us to have a place in eternity with Him, and Adam, when he sinned, made that impossible. Of course, God is great in that the impossible does not concern Him. He overcomes the impossible. He madeit possible by sacrificing His Son, Jesus, to give this Son to this world in order to accomplish the dealing with the issue of sin on this earth…

One of the things that I grapple with in life is the unfairness of life that happens around me. The things that God asks me to do sometimes seems just totally and completely unfair! “God, how could You ask me to do that? Why would You ask me to do that?” But yet God throughout history has asked men, from time to time, to do very, very, difficult things… And I have to ask the question: is it okay for the Holy Spirit to do a work in your life even if you don’t like it? Is it okay for the Holy Spirit to use you how He chooses to use you even if you don’t like it? Just a question. One that I don’t like answering because I’ve answered it too many times, “No, Lord. Don’t do this to me. I don’t want this in my life, Lord. Don’t do this to me…”

When we step forward to do God’s will, when we allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in our life, you will be amazed at what God can accomplish through you because you have simply allowed Him to do what He wants…

You and I still today have a responsibility to love, to forgive, and to honor God and His Word, to come into that love relationship with Him through His Word, to understand Who Jesus was — the fulfillment of prophecy given to us. Years before it even happened, He fulfilled it. He’s still fulfilling prophecy today because He’s forgiving men of their sins still today. You and I have a lot in our life that we can be forgiven for. We, in turn, need to love and forgive those around us and share the purpose for Jesus coming to this earth, and letting men and women know in our lives that they, too, can be forgiven. We can be like Joseph. We can step up in righteousness. We can be in right relationship with God simply by looking at those that have hurt us and endeavoring to love and forgive them.

To say "I don't hear God" means that you're not reading or studying His Word whatsoever. If you have opened God's Word and read it and studied it in any way, I guarantee you, you have heard God speak to you, and you have no excuse. None.

Vintage message from July 27, 2003.

What is important to you that you can offer to Jesus? What’s valuable to you that you should be offering to Jesus? You know what? If you’re wise, you will be seeking Jesus, and if you’re wise, when you find Jesus, you will worship Him, and if you’re wise, you will, then, offer Him out of that treasure that is yours, a gift. What’s valuable to you? What can you give up for Jesus, to be that gift to Him? He still, I think, desires to get gifts. I mean, I still like getting presents on my birthday. I just know that the gifts that He desires are the gifts that come from inside of us, not those things that we can give on the outside….

I hear all these excuses why people can’t serve God, and why people don’t hear God, and you know what it is? We’re just too distracted or unwilling to hear God when He speaks to us. I find many times we don’t hear God because God is asking us to do things we don’t want to do, asking us to give up things that we don’t want to give up, asking us to change our lives in ways that we don’t want to change, and so it’s easy to say, “Well, how am I supposed to know when God is speaking to me?” Well, first and foremost, it’s laid out right here for the most part. Everything that I’m supposed to do with my life, how I am to live my life, I can find in written form. I know I’m not supposed to steal. I know I’m not supposed to hurt other people. I know I’m supposed to love my neighbor. I know I’m supposed to do things that are good instead of bad. These are no-brainers. How do I know that God is speaking to me? Because He’s given it to me in written form, and then sometimes He confirms what His word in written form says by giving us His Holy Spirit that will speak to us. He’ll send an angel to speak to us. He’ll give us a sign that’s supernatural, and He’ll speak to us. But it is always, always going to tell us what is already in God’s Word. It will confirm that for us. To say “I don’t hear God” means that you’re not reading or studying His Word whatsoever. If you have opened God’s Word and read it and studied it in any way, I guarantee you, you have heard God speak to you, and you have no excuse. None…

The study of God’s Word is so important because it not only establishes a foundation for God to give us the understanding of what’s right and wrong, but it is that foundation for us understanding when God speaks to us personally, when His Spirit whispers in our ear, when we have that dream at night, when we hear the voice in our head. I don’t know how God speaks to you. I know how God speaks to me and I know how others have told me God speaks to them, but it is always confirmed by God’s Word, and it is important that we know that we can hear God, just as Joseph heard God. We can be right with God, just as Joseph was right with God. And just as Joseph responded we, too, need to respond to God when He speaks.

Salvation and growth in the Lord come with knowing Jesus, not just being acquainted with Him, but knowing Him personally.

Vintage message from August 3, 2003.

The Lord is coming, and we need to be prepared. If the Lord were to rapture us tonight, how many of us would really, actually be prepared for that? How many of us, let me put it this way, would want Jesus to take us from the activities that we are doing this evening or tomorrow during the day or tomorrow evening or any day, any particular point in that day, would you want Jesus to come for you and catch you doing what you’re doing? Makes you need to stop and take stock of who you are and what you’re doing. And you know what? In some cases there may need to be some repentance. Repenting means turning from. You confess that what you’re doing is wrong. You deal with it by turning from it and leaving it behind. Not doing it anymore. Trusting God, then, to forgive you for what it was that you were doing; the activities you were living within…

There are issues of the heart that need to be dealt with, issues of sin that need to be addressed, and they’re addressed by confessing those sins, and then turning from them. Openly coming before those that are your peers and saying, “I’ve blown it, and I want to stop blowing it, and so if you will help me, I will stop blowing it. If you will join with me and pray with me and be there with me…”

We, as Christians today, talk about producing fruit; that God desires for us to produce fruit. God desired for them [to produce fruit], even before the Spirit came. We talk about the fruit of the Spirit, but there was still fruit that needed to be produced even then, and that fruit was the fruit of repentance, in keeping with repentance, in understanding that you had sin in your life and needed to turn from that sin…

Don’t allow for yourself to be deceived in believing you can be saved by association: association with good works, association with a church, association with family. It doesn’t work that way. Salvation and growth in the Lord come with knowing Jesus, not just being acquainted with Him, but knowing Him personally, and allowing Him to have part in your life. Living inside of you. Then, when His Spirit comes in, you have that salvation.

God, have Your way in my life, even if my life has to be a little uncomfortable, even if I don't get the things I want.

Vintage message from August 10, 2003.

Does God love you when trouble starts? Does God lead you, sometimes, into trouble? Would God do that to you? Yes. You know what? Sometimes the only way to get the attention of the world is to step into the trouble that they’re living in, and God leads you there. God will allow you to be persecuted. God will allow you to be tried. God will allow you to be tested…

When you face trouble in your life, how do you respond to it? Have you ever thought about why you respond how you do to trouble when you face it? You know, I face trouble on and off all the time, and there are times when I face trouble that I lose my temper, I get mad, I say the wrong things, I do the wrong things, especially when I’m driving my school bus…but then I started asking, “Lord, why do I respond that way?” …Do you know why we respond, sometimes, harshly to the circumstances that we face? I believe it’s because we’re not prepared in our heart…

You know what, generally, you find when the enemy attacks you? He challenges you with what the truth is in your life. “Has God really said?”… And you know what? I don’t care how hungry you are. I don’t care if it costs you your life. There are just some things that you don’t want to buy into. There are temptations that you need to stand firm through…

It’s not just what God has said. You know, there’s a lot of things that God has said that we ignore. I’d venture to guess that every one of us in this room who have ever endeavored to read and study God’s Word knows that there are parts of God’s Word right now, today, that we ignore. I do it. I confess it freely. Now, I’m not going to take the time to go through and tell you every part of this that I’m ignoring. You might throw some rocks at me if I did, but I allow the Holy Spirit to also speak to me…

You can survive if God asks you to. You can do the impossible if God asks you to, but when He does, the enemy is going to come and tempt you and say, “Has God really said?”…

If you are truly wanting to live, if you are truly wanting to grow strong, if you are truly wanting to walk right with the Lord, then begin to eat His Word. Begin to dwell on it and take it into you and allow for that Word to make changes in you. And you know what? Even in those parts that you’re ignoring now say, “Lord, I know I’m not obeying You fully, but show me how to do that,” and in time the Holy Spirit will bring you to that place of showing you where you’re ignoring Him…

Do you want to have things right in your life? Do you want to have strength to endure for tomorrow? The only way it happens is when you honor God through His Word. It’s not going to happen by your cleverness. It’s not going to happen by your own strength. It’s not going to happen by going out and shouting at the devil. I’ve done that on a couple of occasions. It just gave me a sore throat. You know what? The only way you can face the devil, the only way you can face the challenges of this earth, the spiritual challenges that will also go on around you, is to be prepared in your spirit. For some it may require fasting. For some it may just require eating regularly God’s Word, and I would say for most of us, that’s what’s involved; is that we get into God’s Word and strengthen ourselves within God’s Word, to know God’s Word. Isn’t this what Jesus’s greatest defense was? Jesus didn’t stand there and say, “Hey, buddy, I just went forty days without eating. I’m strong in God!” No, it wasn’t anything about what He did. It was about the knowledge He had in God’s Word. That became His protection, and so when the challenge came, He was able to answer the challenge because His strength was in answering through God’s Word…

Sometimes God will ask us to endure, but we endure better through those times when we know God’s Word, and we’re able to answer the challenge that comes to our heart. When we say, but God’s Word does say this. Yes, I do have a place of importance in the kingdom. I am a child of God. But you know what? It is not about me. It is about what God wants to accomplish in this world. It is about God proving Himself to a world, and if He wants to use me in this way, so be it. God, have Your way in my life, even if my life has to be a little uncomfortable, even if I don’t get the things I want. God, show those around me You love them, that You can bring them through the hard times, too, by using me. He may give you good times. In those times, just as equally, you need to say these are from the Lord. This is a blessing that God gave me, but guess what? It is not about the blessing. It’s about God working in my life.

You know, it is not about heaven and it is not about hell. It is about a relationship! A love relationship that you can have that is far greater than anything you have in this world right now. It's good news!

Vintage message from August 17, 2003.

You and I, when we face temptation in the world, where we fall short is we are distracted by our own flesh. We are distracted by our own desires. We are distracted by our own expectations… Why do we do what we do in the world? Why do we do what we do in our lives and with our friends? Do we do it because we care for them? [Because] we want to see them walking closer with the God Who created them? Or are we doing what we’re doing to impress those around us?…

And we have that responsibility to study to show ourself approved, to read and know and grow within God’s Word, so that when the challenges do come, we can stand against it, and we can be strong through it…and have the love of God evident in our life and having God’s help when we’ve reached the end… So often, we’re trying to “name and claim” the blessing to get our needs met, when God wants to pour the blessing out on us without us even having to claim it. It’s what He desires to do for us because of His love for us…

And the amazing thing is when you hear God’s Word, when you begin to understand God’s Word, it’s just like a light blinding you out of a darkness. You then, all of a sudden, it’s amazing! So much light. You begin to see things that you’ve never seen before…

“Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.” That is an amazing message. What He was saying to this people is turn from your sin, stop living the way you’re living, for the kingdom of heaven is near. I want to talk a little bit about what the kingdom of heaven is. So often in our mind, in our imagination, we look forward to going to heaven. We look forward to dwelling in the kingdom of heaven. We tell people, “Get saved so you can go to heaven,” but technically that’s not accurate. Heaven has come to us. Salvation and eternity — what heaven’s all about — is in a relationship that we have with a Person. A relationship that Jesus came to fulfill for us through Himself so that we could be in relationship with the Father, a love relationship that so often we take for granted…

One of the things that I endeavor in teaching is to bring the hearer to a place of knowing how much God loves them… Jesus came preaching good news. You know, what? You no longer have to go to hell. You no longer have to die and be separated from the love of the Father. God the Father sent His love to you. It’s good news, guys. Good news! Something that needs to be shared! Good news! The kingdom is near, the kingdom is with us, the King is walking in our presence, and the news has gotten even better now! The kingdom dwells in us. The kingdom has made a home with us. That’s good news. You know, it is not about heaven and it is not about hell. It is about a relationship! A love relationship that you can have that is far greater than anything you have in this world right now. It’s good news! We don’t have to live in fear. We don’t have to live in condemnation. We’re all sinners. We’re in the same boat. We deserve to die and go to hell. But you know what? We don’t have to now! That’s the good news! God loves us! God loves you so much that He sent His Son for you, and He sent His Son with a message to you. A message that says, “I love you. Would you come and be in relationship with Me? Let Me deal with the issues of sin in your life, and just come and be in relationship with Me.” And then, [Jesus] not only preached this, but He proved it…

Jesus didn’t come into this world to condemn us, and He didn’t come into this world to throw it up into our face that we deserve to be condemned, but He came to this world to tell us that His Father loves us, and His Father loves us so much that He was going to deal with the issues of sin that keep us separated from Him. And even today, sin works the same. When you sin against God, even if you’re a believer — I’m not saying you’re going to lose your salvation — but there’s a separation that happens between you and the Lord Who loves you when you live in sin. There is this thing that happens in your life that keeps you from dwelling fully in His power, and then the enemy comes and challenges you because of the sin in your life. Jesus came to tell us, there’s good news. I can deal with that sin, I can deal with the issue of sin, and I can bring you into a place of love relationship, but you have to repent. You have to turn from it. You have to stop doing it. You have to make the choice…

He wanted us to choose. He wanted to give us freedom. Freedom from our flesh. Freedom from deception. Freedom from an enemy who would bind us to this flesh and to this world, and then draw us out of the relationship that we could have with the Father. The good news is, you can turn from that. Repent. Consider what you’re doing and turn from it if it is sin against God. Leave it behind. Let it go. God isn’t standing over you with a big stick waiting to hit you. He’s going to let you do what you want to do. If you want to sin, He’s going to let you. But do you want to have a strong, growing, vital relationship with the God Who created you? You need to let go of the sin. You need to walk away from it. You need to choose to repent…

Do you know what happens when we start living a fulfilled life in Jesus? When we allow His Spirit to dwell in us and function through us? We live lives that begin to be noticed, and word spreads that there is a people who truly do love the Lord their God. And it either will push some away or will attract those who are truly seeking.

Blessing, real blessing comes when we have an attitude of humility before God saying, "I can't do it on my own. Jesus, I need You."

Vintage message from August 24. 2003.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be blessed, blessed by God? Do you realize God desires to bless you in your life? He pours the blessings of heaven out on you… But the real blessings come when our heart-attitude changes… What does the title “Beatitudes” mean? Well, I’ve come to the conclusion, it is an attitude of heart. A lifestyle that starts when we begin to hunger for the knowledge of God. When you truly desire to be right with God, something happens in your heart, and humility begins to happen, a humbleness begins to happen; when you truly begin to want to know God and your responsibility before God…

Have you ever wanted more [of Jesus]? I want more every day. I wake up and I say, “Lord, how can I serve You better? How can I be right with You today? I need and want more…”

I’ve come to that place of realizing that God doesn’t want my arrogant pride. God doesn’t want my strength. God wants my heart, and He wants me to also share my life with you and let you know that I have need. That, you know what? I can’t do it by myself. I may have a lot of muscle, but I don’t always have a lot of this up here [points to head], and together we can think things through, we can share, and we can accomplish an amazing amount in the name of Jesus together, but it takes meekness. It takes walking away from that pride that we live in, and then we’re blessed because our heart is transformed…

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.” You know, I think this is where most of us fall short. Why we struggle in our lives the way we do. We hunger and thirst for a lot of things, and what we fail to understand is what we’re really hungering and thirsting for is that rightness that comes when you’re right with God. You know, you can’t be right on your own. You can not accomplish goodness on your own, but you’re blessed when you are hungry and you are thirsty and you come to that place of understanding what it is that I’m hungry and thirsty for is righteousness. And what is true righteousness? True righteousness is being in right relationship with God, and the only way to do that is by receiving and walking with Jesus, Whom He gave to us. That’s righteousness. Right relationship comes with Jesus, and then, when you ask Jesus into your life, you’re filled. If you are truly hungry and thirsty to be right with God, you then are filled with Jesus…

There is only one way to be pure in heart. There is only one way that you can be right in your life and be pure in your heart, and that is to be in love relationship with Jesus, growing in that love relationship, walking in that love relationship…

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.” Once we come into that relationship and we begin to understand Who Jesus is and what it is that He brought to this world, then we wantto bring peace to other people. We want to resolve the issues that cause our brothers and sisters to be angry with each other, and we step in, and we try to help resolve those issues. And the only way those issues are resolved is by telling them, “You need to be right with the Lord. Once you have Jesus in your life, that’s when the situations are resolved. And if we accomplish that, if we start stepping up to bat and share with people how they can solve their problems and be right with their brothers and their sisters, then we get the blessing of being called sons of God…

Do you know where real blessing comes from? The real blessing comes when we stand firm in the Name and the Person of Jesus, and we share with others how much we love Jesus, and we’re persecuted for it… When you are persecuted because you love Jesus, you’ve gained reward. God is storing up for you amazing treasure in heaven. Blessing that you can’t imagine now…

We need to share our lives, we need to humble our hearts, and the only way that can happen is when you come to this place before Jesus’s feet…but it takes you coming to Him. He did the hard work. He came to us, and He gave His life for us… Blessing, real blessing comes when we have an attitude of humility before God saying, “I can’t do it on my own. Jesus, I need You,” and that’s where righteousness happens.

Jesus didn't come to make us guilty. We're already guilty! He came to free us from the guilt, to forgive us of the sin, and to fulfill His Father's law which started with love.

Vintage message from August 31, 2003.

Blessing isn’t about stuff. Blessing is about attitude: about an attitude of heart. You know what? We all need things in our life. I think we all have far more things than we really need in our life. We can live with a lot less, and God will provide those things that we need. But I think we have developed a wrong theology within our society, that we then look at those things as the blessing. But the blessing truly is the strength that comes from God’s Spirit when He dwells in us and around us; when our attitude is right with Him…

What are the attitudes that Jesus is dealing with here that He’s talking about? You know, I’ve thought about it all week, and you can take all of these attitudes of heart [from the Beatitudes], and wrap it up in one word. Humility. Jesus came to be an example of humility to this world. He was humble before men… [Do] you know what truly being humble is? Being humble is looking to God, seeing who you are through God’s eyes, and accepting who you are because God loves you. You know, it’s okay to say, “Wow, God loves me. I’m a filthy, rotten sinner, but God loves me”… The most humble thing you can do in life is display to a world around you the excitement that comes because God loves you [and] God loves me…

The true blessing comes when your heart is right with God, and you’re standing before a world saying, “Guess what? I love and believe in God, and more importantly, He loves me! And I couldn’t have loved Him unless He had loved me first, and He gave everything so that I could have this love.” That’s humility…

Did you know that that’s part of what your responsibility in life is? If you know and love God, if you have a relationship with Jesus in your heart, that it is now a part of your responsibility to help preserve those that are in the world around you because guess what? The world around us is decaying, and part of how we stop that decay is by putting a preservative on it. We’re that preservative. When we share God’s love with the world, when we stand firm in what we believe about Jesus and Who He was, what He did for us, we become a preservative…

Jesus, in John, says, “I am the Light,” and so if you’re now the light, how does that happen? It only happens when you enter into relationship with Jesus. Remember, Jesus is talking to His disciples, those that He is in contact with, those that are walking with Him and learning from Him. You know what? You’re not going to shine very brightly if you’re not in fellowship with Jesus. You’re not going to shine very brightly if you are not regularly learning and sitting at the feet of Jesus. And if you don’t have a relationship with the Lord, guess what? You’re not going to shine at all. It’s like a flashlight without batteries. It can’t shine. It doesn’t work. But once you put the batteries in, it works great. Jesus is our power source…

So often we do good deeds so that people will see me. “Hey guys, look what I just did! I did a good deed!” That’s not what He’s talking about. You know, we do need to do good works, but we don’t do good works because we’re good. We do good works because we’re a light. We are displaying a life that has Jesus in it. We are displaying a life that has encountered the God of all creation, and He has become a great power source in our life. And because we, then, become a light ourself because of that Spirit that indwells us, we shine for people to see. The things we do display godliness. We’re not working so people can see us. We’re working so people can see God. When we are truly living as believers, when we are truly doing the things we’re doing because we love God, we’re not doing it for a show so people can see me… If you’re truly serving God, you’re going to do what needs to be done if nobody recognizes it or not that you did it. They’re just going to notice that it was done…

And this is our problem in the world. We don’t want to love [God’s way]. We want to bind people to a rule or a regulation, and if they don’t follow the rule or regulation, we condemn them. What does that have to do with love? You know what? If I see you breaking God’s law, I still have to live God’s law. And so, if I see you breaking God’s law, I’m going to love you. I’m going to remind you of God’s law, but I’m going to love you…

Jesus didn’t come to make us guilty. We’re already guilty! He came to free us from the guilt, to forgive us of the sin, and to fulfill His Father’s law which started with love. Rather than looking down on those that He was with, He built them up. Rather than discouraging those that He was with, He encouraged them — not to sin more. He encouraged them not to sin. But He encouraged them not to sin by forgiving them, by helping them through, and then showing them God’s love. The real law that was given. When God gave the law to Moses on the mountain, He was giving a letter of love to a people who were in desperate need. They took that letter of love and reinterpreted it, and then they bound each other to it. And they kept reinterpreting and reinterpreting and reinterpreting until pretty soon it had nothing to do with what the original writer of the law intended…

Jesus wants a heart attitude, and He wants that heart attitude to draw us into the kingdom of heaven, and He’s not going to kick us out of heaven because we break a law, but He wants us to understand what the law was for… It’s not about condemning, but it’s about bringing us into a relationship that allows for us to walk with the kingdom of heaven, in the kingdom of heaven, with the kingdom of heaven indwelling us. It’s like I said before: the kingdom of heaven isn’t a place we go. The kingdom of heaven is a relationship we have, and the only way to have the kingdom of heaven is to have a relationship with Jesus.

Do you know why I want to go to heaven? Because God is there. The One Who loves me. The One Who created me. The One Who desired me long before I desired Him is there. It's where it says He dwells, so I want to go there, because that's where He is. You know what/ If God wasn't in heaven...it wouldn't be heaven.

Vintage message from September 28, 2003.

God is looking into your heart. God desires to reward you for your relationship with Him and the motive of your heart and why you have that relationship with Him. It’s all about motive. I know a lot of people who only go to church so they can look religious so that God will be impressed so God will let them into heaven. And so, of course, you have to look at all of the religious things that you’ve got to do so that yo can really impress people and impress God. But Jesus is saying to these people, you don’t need to look religious. It’s not about what you look like on the outside. It’s about who you are on the inside. It’s not about how you pray to impress people… It’s not how you engage people with promises you make. Just say yes or no as He’s told us. And you pray because you love God your Father and He loves you. And if you feel the need to fast for someone, you fast because you feel that need. But understand, that’s between you and God. And then He rewards you. Now, what is that reward you’re going to get? I don’t know!But it’s a reward, and you’ll know it as a reward from God. I mean, the reward may be that He actually answers your prayer and blesses the people that you’re praying for or blesses the circumstance that you’re praying for. That may be the reward. But you know what the greater reward is? Having the relationship with Him in the first place. Standing with Him in eternity. And this is where the motives of men’s hearts are really exposed.

I know a lot of people who go to church so that they can go to heaven. They do good things so that they can go to heaven. They try to impress people so people will be in awe of them, so that maybe God will be in awe of them so that they can go to heaven. But let me tell you something. Good people do not go to heaven.So if you’re trying to get to heaven by being good, you’re trying to get to heaven by going to church, guess what? You’re not going to make it. This is what Jesus is teaching. You don’t go to heaven because of the external things you do. It’s not about going to heaven in the first place. The reward that you get is relationship with God your Father Who created you.

You know who goes to heaven? Bad people go to heaven. Isn’t that a shocker? Bad people go to heaven? Are you crazy? Well, we’re all bad! And, and I hope I’m going to heaven! That is my desire, so if I go to heaven, I know bad people go to heaven. I mean, it’s just sound reasoning to me, and if all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God — all have sinned — I know I read that somewhere — then only bad people go to heaven. And if youthink you can be goodenough to go to heaven, you’re not going to make it. And if it’s in your mind that you only want to go to heaven so that you don’t have to go to hell, your motive is wrong already. [Do] you know why I want to go to heaven? Because God is there. The One Who loves me. The One Who created me. The One Who desired me long before I desired Him is there. It’s where it says He dwells, so I want to go there — because that’s where He is. You know what? If God wasn’t in heaven, for all of the perfect description we get of it, it wouldn’t be heaven. It would be just another city that would decay and fall apart without God there. So, what’s the motive of your heart? Do you have a relationship with God?…

God desires to have you fully. Fully in love relationship with Him. Fully seeking Him. Fully serving Him. He, then, becomes your reward. He, then, becomes your [heavenly] mansion. He, then, becomes the gold and the precious stones. He is what your eyes desire to see.

Many people have had this experience when they get married. On their wedding day they don’t care about the surrounds, men in particular… But you know what? I’ve talked to many men, and the greatest sight there ever was, was the day they stood there waiting for their bride to come down the aisle, and all their eyes could see was that bride. Nothing else mattered. This is the relationship God wants to have with us. That all we can wait for, all we can desire, our heart is throbbing, waiting, to see Him, and Him see us. There is no greater treasure than to know the love and the fulfillment of love in seeing that one that you’re in love with come to you.

And this is what Jesus is trying to teach us. That our heart attitudes have to change. Our reasoning processes have to change. Being religious does not cut it. If we are religious and trying to make it to heaven that way, we are living hypocrisy. He desires us to be right with Him and have this love relationship with Him…

God loves you, God cares for you, God desires to meet your needs, yet we find ourselves so often striving to meet our own needs, and hope that God accepts it… Jesus wouldn’t tell you not to worry, if in fact you needed to worry. But He’s telling you, do not worry…

It’s about having your needs met, and God knowing. Do you believe that? That God knows what you need? This is what it comes down to. Does God know that you have need? Even before you ask Him, does God know that you have need? We’re not convinced of it… I have these lapses of memory that, wow, God fulfilled that need the last time, and I’ll go out, and I’ll strive all over again and try to make it happen. And I know we all fall into that trap. “Oh ye of little faith,” Jesus says. What is it that you really believe? Do you believe that you are more important to God that the grass of the field and the birds of the air? Do you know you are more important to God than all that He’s created? Because those things are going to burn up.

It is not my responsibility to make you do what's right. It's my responsibility to let you know that there's a God Who loves you, and that He will forgive you..., and, as much as I can, show you that love relationship [with God].

Vintage message from October 5, 2003.

[Jesus] looks out…and He says, “Do not judge.” You know, this is a problem that we, in the flesh, have regularly, every day. Sometimes every moment of the day. We’re judging… Jesus says, “Do not judge or you too will be judged.” Well, I’m afraid that we’re all pretty doomed to judgement, because I don’t know of anybody so far that I’ve met that does not judge in one way or another. So, He doesn’t stop there. He says, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Okay, guys, I know you’re going to judge, but let’s do it this way. You’ll be judged the same way you judge others. I better be very careful, then, how I choose to look at you and how I choose to judge you.

You know what? You can’t know a person from what they look like on the outside. You know, we’ve got this idea on our society, and of course the way our media is today, we are taught that everything that is slender and tall and beautiful is good. And we build our cars that same way, and we build our homes that same way, and we try to make everything look good, but everything’s that old and crinkly and ugly is bad. And so we look at people as they walk down the road and we judge them by how they look. We judge them because of a circumstance that they find themselves in — some guy sitting on the side of the road holding a sign saying, “Will work for food,” and we automatically start judging, “What a bum.” And I’m guilty. I have, from time to time, driven by and said, “If he would just get a job.” Well, you know, I don’t know his circumstance, and Jesus is letting us know that we need to be very careful how we allow for what we see with our eyes that enters into our mind and goes into our heart. We need to be very careful with how we allow that information to be processed and what we do with it.

You know, the only way you are going to truly be able judge a circumstance properly and with the right heart attitude is to get to know the person you’re judging. Do you want to be judged by God? We’re all going to be judged by God. Well, let me tell you, I want God to know me, and I want to know Him before He judges me. Just like I better be getting to know you and letting you get to know me before I judge you…

We so often have issues within our own life that are so much bigger and so much more important that we deal with now than the problems that we’re trying to deal with for our friends around us. And you know, He doesn’t say don’t deal with that sawdust. He’s just saying why do you deal with the speck first before you deal with the plank? “How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” See, He doesleave room for us to go to our brother and help our brother with those little issues that may be haunting them in their life, but we better be sure that we do not have any glaring issues within our own life that would hinder us from being able to deal rightly, fairly, and lovingly with our brother.

It is not about making people do what’s right. You know what? It is not my responsibility to make youdo what’s right. It’s my responsibility to let you know that there’s a God Who loves you, and that He will forgive you for whatever wrong you’ve done and, as much as Ican, show you that love relationship. Show you how God has forgiven me, and then be an example of what right can be. And you know what? The only example I can be to you of what right can be is to say, “You need to be in a place of asking God regularly, ‘Forgive me.'”

If you’re going to follow me around, let me tell you what you’re going to find. You’re going to find someone who blows it regularly. I shake my fist at people on occasion. I every now and again will allow my mouth to open and yell, “You jerk!” That’s what you’re going to see. But then, what you will also see is, “Oh, God! I’ve blown it. Ugh. Forgive me.” But you’ll at least see me trying to make it right… But it is about you and me working together to understand the love that God has for us and that love relationship that He’s chosen to draw us into. And so, Jesus is saying, be very careful. Don’t judge. If you can help it, do not judge. But if you are going to judge, at least deal with the issues in your own life first so that you can judge rightly when you encounter your brothers and sisters. Otherwise, you need to call yourself a hypocrite just as Jesus did…

Do you want a right relationship with the Lord? Do you want to be strong in your walk in the Lord? Then ask Him for it. Seek it. Knock. Go to Him regularly and knock on that door, that door for knowledge within His Word, that door that is love relationship with your brothers and sisters around you, to grow in fellowship, and to become stronger in your walk with Him…

Do you want to go to heaven? Then why do you let your neighbor go to hell? Have you ever thought of that? Do you want eternity with Jesus Christ? Why do you let the guy down the street rot without ever having approached him to say, “God loves you.” “Do unto others.” Do you want to go to heaven? Bring others to heaven. “As you would have it done to you.” Heaven isn’t about me. Heaven is about Him. Heaven is about God Who created, and desired to have lover relationship with that that He created…

We need to be fulfilling what is summing up all of the law and the prophets, and that’s loving others, reaching out to others, doing to others as we would have it done to us. Do we want God to love and forgive us? Then we better be loving and forgiving others. Do we want God to save us? The we better be telling others that they can be loved and saved. “Do unto others.” Reach out to others. Be a blessing to others. It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It is about the love of God that He wants to share with this world… It’s not about judging them, condemning them, looking down on them, but doing to them as we would want it done to us. Predominantly, wanting to be forgiven, wanting to be loved, wanting to be cared for, wanting to have our needs met.

What is the will of the Father? The will of the Father is for us to know His Son Jesus Christ and for us to walk in love relationship with Jesus.

Vintage message from October 12, 2003.

We are all trees planted in the orchard on this planet. According to God’s design, we were planted here as a tree to produce fruit. And we’re now not only looking for what can harm us and draw us away from understanding God’s Word and understanding God’s love and understanding God’s strength, but now we’re also having to look into our own lives. As we look around — and this is the thing, you know, He says early in chapter seven “Do not judge,” but now He’s telling us, sometimes you have to judge. But what is it we’re judging? I’m not judging you for who you are. I’m judging the fruitthat comes from you. If you step up and do good, I’m seeing good. It’s okay to recognize good and it’s okay to recognize bad. What’s wrong is to say, when you see the bad, “Ooo, you’re going to hell for that.” That’s our tendency. “You wicked person!” And so often what will happen is we’ll look at one bad thing and all of a sudden everything that comes from that person is bad. But you know what? I’ve seen fruit trees, I’ve seen how they grow, and in every tree there’s some fruit that comes, it’s immature and it falls away, but generally what that tree produces is good fruit. Now, if a tree is continually producing bad fruit, fruit that has no flavor or fruit that’s small or bitter…but, in general, the fruit that’s produced is good.

And so Jesus is giving us an understanding of how we can look at one another, and what we’re looking for when we judge. We are fruit inspectors. That’s what we’re judging. We’re not people judgers. I don’t judge you. I can’t tell you that you’re going to hell just as I can’t tell you that you’re going to heaven. I can tell you how to go to heaven. I can tell you what God’s Word says. If you want to go to heaven, this is what you need to do, and if you don’t do these things, that God’s Word says the re’s only one other place that God has created, and He says that’s were people will go. Am I telling you, you’re going there? No. I’m giving information. But your life will produce, through the span of your life, the fruit that indicates whether you’re good or whether you’re bad. And especially when it comes to wolves who want to come in amongst you and take advantage of you. We need to be careful about who we listen to, why we listen to them, and if God’s Word is not the foundation that they’re laying — if they’re laying any other foundation — then they’re probably a wolf…

It’s not about doing good works or doing bad works, but it is why you do those works…

What’s the will of the Father?… The will of the Father is for us to know His Son Jesus Christ, for us to walk in love relationship with Jesus… We can do all kinds of good things, but have a bad heart. We can do what the world says is good and still not enter into the kingdom. It’s not about doing good works. It’s about knowing Jesus. And just because you go to church, and just because you say, “Lord, Lord,” doesn’t mean you’re going to enter the kingdom of God if you’re doing those things as a work to impress God…

What is your foundation? Is your foundation found in God’s Word? Is your foundation loving and walking with Jesus to know Him because He said you need to know Him? I wish I could prove to you today why you need Jesus in your life. I wish I could snap my fingers and make God appear right before you, and you could see His glory and understand why you need to know Him. I can’t do that. All I can do is hold up His Word and say, He has proven Himself in His Word. He has given us what we need to know in His Word, and He’s just told us that the rains come, the streams rise, and the wind blows, and they beat against the house. I can guarantee you of that. I can guarantee you that you will have rough times. But I can also guarantee you that if you believe Jesus and what He’s just told us in Matthew, if you accept Him, trust Him, receive Him in, and know Him, then you’re wise and you have a foundation that is the rock, and you’ll make it. You’ll survive the storm when it comes. A storm is never comfortable, even if your house is built on the rock. There will always be moments of doubt. There will always be question. The window may leak a little bit. The door may fly open and the rain fly in. But guess what? When it’s all said and done, you are standing firm…

Jesus never required for us to fulfill the law… Jesus came to tell us, you can’t be good until you know Me. And then, and then, when you know Me, it’s only natural to see good fruit. Then the good things happen in your life. You do the good things because you are now a tree that produces good fruit. See how it works? You’re not going to be good on your own. You’re not going to make good things happen. And oftentimes, even after you come to know Him, because you’re going through a maturing process, some of the fruit as it grows may be immature, may not be so good, but it will fall away. But if you are truly that tree that’s planted and growing in Him, it is only natural that one day good fruit grows. It’s got to happen. If it never happens, you were never a good tree. You never knew Him.

Generally, what you find in life is when God puts people in your life, He's also putting need in your life, because...every one of us here have need.

Vintage message from October 19, 2003.

So often we are concerned about appearances. We are concerned about what people think about us. We are concerned about how it’s going to affect our lives. If someone sees us do something or be part of something that the rest of society doesn’t agree with. And this is what is phenomenal about Jesus and His ministry: He did not care about what society thought of Him. He wasn’t caught up in appearances and what people would think… He sets an example that, I believe, is important for you and I today, because so often today the same things happen. We don’t want to associate with certain people. They look weird. They act weird. They smell funny… You know what? It doesn’t matter. If they’re asking and seeking, knocking, and Jesus has put you in their life, maybe He’s put you in their life for you to reach out and touch and be part of their life, regardless of what it may do to you socially, regardless of what it may do to you emotionally. Sometimes we have to drop our emotional guard, and allow for the Holy Spirit to do what He wants to do in healing…

Generally what you find in life is when God puts people in your life, He’s also putting needin your life, because there’s not one person in this room, I guarantee you, that when you dig deep enough you will find that you do not have need. Everyone of us here have need, and God gives us one another in order for that need to be met…

Just because you go to church, doesn’t mean you’re going to heaven. It’s not about association… And Jesus is saying to them, it is not about that… It’s about faith. Faith that God can and desires to interact with you. That God desires to heal you, and God desires to take care of those needs in your life… When all of this has ended, those with faith, those who have trusted, those who have chosen to believe that God was their salvation, that God loved them enough to interact with them and come to them, will be the ones who are entering in. Not those who simply claim association…

God loves you, and God desires for you to be in relationship with Him, and He loved you so much that He sent His Son Jesus to tell you it’s about faith. Believe Him, trust Him, and guess what? You’re in. You’re in! Don’t think by playing games with God, don’t think by going to church, by dressing up on Sunday, by helping the little old lady across the street, don’t think that those good works are going to help you in any way. God loves you. He doesn’t want you to be separated from Him…

[Jesus] just taught them what real love is. And this is where I see so many believers in Jesus. They’ll teach others about what the world needs to know about Jesus, they’re quick to open their mouth, but you’ve also got to be an example. It’s okay to teach. It’s okay to use God’s Word. Its okay to share with people what they need to do in Christ Jesus. To do for God. To live for God. But understand, if you’re going to say it, then you’ve got to live it! And this is the example that Jesus is for us now. He’s living what He just taught these people, and He’s not letting anything stop Him. He’s not letting any of those social abnormalities hold Him back. He is stepping in and doing the work that nobody else wants to do, and He’s loving people, and He’s caring for people, and especially those that are sick…

Jesus wanted us to understand that we have at our disposal great power, and that power is given a word. It’s called faith…

[Do] you want to follow Jesus? Understand, it is not about what you get out of it. You’re already getting the greatest blessing there is when you commit your life to Jesus and that’s eternal life. Living with God throughout eternity. Being part of what God is doing throughout eternity. But if you think you’re going to get more out of it on this earth, if you think somehow you can amass for yourself some reward or some wealth, Jesus is saying, it’s not about that… You want to follow Jesus? It can mean giving up a lot.

It is about following Him. Being a part of Him. Going where He goes. Being where He is. Participating in the miracles He wants to do, whether they are convenient for you or not.

Vintage message from October 26, 2003.

This is the question I have to ask you. When you pray, what do you expect from God? When you ask God for a miracle, what do you expect? You know what? I guarantee you, when you pray, God is listening. God may not answer your prayers the way you think He should, but He’s listening, and God loves you. Do you realize how much God loves you? That He is willing to answer your prayers when you pray them?…

We pray, but you know what? We don’t really expect or believe that God is listening or is going to do anything, and then when He does it, we go, “Oh, man! There must really bea God. I guess He really doesexist.” If you didn’t believe He existed in the first place, why did you pray? Why did you ask? Because so often we know that the circumstance is outside of our control, and we hope that there isa God out there Who’s listening, and we hope that there is Someone Who canhelp us. And this is where our hearts are revealed, and where God would say to us, “Oh, you of little faith…”

And do you realize you have, because of the Holy Spirit in you, the authority in the name of Jesus to stand in that Name and see miracles happen…

How do we interact with Jesus? When Jesus does things in our life, when Jesus interacts with us at those times that we haven’t asked Him to, how do we treat Him? Does your whole life belong to Jesus, or only those comfortable moments in your life when you’re doing things that are acceptable for Jesus to see? And when Jesus shows up at the wrong moment, are we irritated and ask Him to leave? “Leave me alone, God! You don’t understand. I need this time! This is my private time. This is my life. I should be able to do what I want with it!” Oh, until that disaster is happening, but then, “Lord, I need you!” We are…a fickle people. We call on God when we perceive our need, and we get angry at God when we’re running headlong into a situation that could hurt us, that God might call sin…

There are many things in our lives today that needs to be addressed, and we want God when it’s convenient, when we  perceive the danger, but when God steps in and gets in our way and stops us from doing something that we want to do, we’re just like these people. “Go away! Leave me alone! Go somewhere else and stop that guy over there. Heneeds it. Idon’t.” Of course, until the next time, until the next moment when we’re hurting, the next moment when we’re broken, the next moment when we stub our toe. Then we’re willing to cry out to Him again and say, “Jesus, come back. Come back because now I need you…”

It is about following Him. Being a part of Him. Going where He goes. Being where He is. Participating in the miracles that He wants to do, whether they are convenient for you or not… You know what? It’s part of life, living in Jesus Christ. You don’t have a private life, a personal time where it’s just you and not God. When you ask Jesus in, the Holy Spirit comes in. He’s always there. He’s always giving direction, and He desires to do miracles and desires to show you love. He still gives us choice. He still allows for us to live our life and sometimes even lives there while we’re dishonoring Him, but He’ll be there. And He’ll show up at those times when we don’t particularly care for Him to be there…

What do we expect when we approach God? What do we expect when we use the name of Jesus? What do we believe is going to happen when we encounter God in the flesh? Jesus desires to encounter us and desires to do a great work in and through us. It’s up to us to respond and to believe that He can do it. And I believe He desires for us to come to Him with a request, knowing exactly what He’s going to do, or even standing boldly and saying, “You know what? I know exactly what Jesus would do in this case. I know how He’ll handle this, and in the name of Jesus, I claim it.” I’m not a ‘name it and claim it’ person, thinking we can get rich and wealthy off of it, but I do believe that we can claim the promises of God’s authority in our life to overcome sin and to overcome the onslaught of the world in our life. We can claim those things, and trust that Jesus desires it for us…

How are our hearts exposed today? What is our commitment to the person of Jesus Christ Who, if you’ve asked Him in, dwells inside of you? What is our commitment to Him?

We need to step into where God is, rather than making God come to us. We put demands on God and everybody else. It's not what God is about. Jesus came because He loves sinners, and I'm glad He loves sinners because I was one of them.

Vintage message from November 2, 2003.

You know what? As much as there are things that I would like to do in my life, I really wantto be in God’s will. I wantto be where God wants me to be. I wantto be trusting Jesus, even though there are lots of things where I would ratherbe…

Do you know that God loves you? That God desires for you to understand His forgiveness for you? The thing that has kept you out of fellowship from God your whole life? You look into this world and you see people who are lost. You look into their face and you can see that they’re lost. And why are they lost? Because sin, issues of sin in their life, have kept them away from understanding or pursuing God. It’s not that many of them don’t believe in God. I hear some people say, “I don’t believe in God,” but when it comes right down to it, and they’re facing the person with a gun in their face, they’re saying, “God, help me!” It’s amazing how quickly people come to believe in God. But really, what it is, people believe in God, they just don’t believe that God is attainable, because they’re sinners, and they know that they’re sinners, and they know that that sin keeps them separated from God. But you know what? I like my sin. I enjoy my sin. Sin has been part of my whole life. You know what? If I could actually be forgiven for my sin, if I knew that Someone cared enough to forgive me of my sin, I might consider dealing with it. Walking away from it. Hanging it up…

Forgiveness is one of these things that, in our flesh, we have a very hard time understanding… But yet, God desires for you to forgive! I don’t care who it is, I don’t care what they’ve done, and I don’t care where they’re choosing to go. If you, in your life know people that you are refusing to forgive, or if you’re angry at others for having forgiven someone of something you weren’t ready to forgive, Jesus here says, that is evil. So what are youin need of? Doesn’t that mean, then, that you, that I, have need of forgiveness ourself?…

We’ve got a lot to learn when we begin to look down on people, when we begin to judge people because of theirissues of sin, or if we judge those that are trying to help them. Again, it’s evil when we separate ourself from what God is trying to do on this earth, and what God is trying to do is deliver mercy to people, not another requirement of the law. And those requirements of the law should have brought them to the place of understanding that they needed mercy all the more. It says, “For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Who does that entail? How many on the face of the earth were righteous? The Pharisees thought they were. They thought they had the answers… And once again, the issue was the sin that needed to be dealt with…

One of the things that our traditions teach us, and that we fall prey to, that we entrap ourselves in, is when we begin to believe somehow we’re good, and they’re bad. We’re deserving, and they’re not. We’re clean, they’re unclean. It’s a trap, because guess what? Each and every one of us used to live “out there.” And just because we came in here did not make us different. It just made us fulfilled. And you know what? When I’ve had a good meal, I want everybody else to feel just as full as I am. That’s the way we should be thinking, “I’m full. I want them to be full, too…”

Jesus desires mercy. Mercy without condition. Mercy without sacrifice. Mercy that interacts with sinners. Mercy that looks into the heart of a man who is laid on a mat and is paralyzed because of his sin. Mercy that says, “Your sin is forgiven.”

We need to step into where God is, rather than making God come to us. We put demands on God and everybody else. It’s not what God is about. Jesus came because He loves sinners, and I’m glad He loves sinners because I was one of them. I wouldn’t be here today if God only came for those who were good because He would have never found.

God desires to use you. God desires to use your testimony. God desires to use your perspective. Don't ever believe that your testimony means nothing. Don't believe that.

Vintage message from November 9, 2003.

You and I, as we walk through life…we see things, and we experience things, and the Holy Spirit of God touches us… and even though it may not seem exciting, there are exciting things happening around you every moment… And guess what? Even if your [testimony] may not be as exciting as somebody else’s, you need to give it because you may be…a person that I look at and I say, “You know what? I can relate to [you]…”

But in every step you take in life, the Holy Spirit is there walking with you, giving you eyes to see, and there are things that are happening that are great testimonies. And even if you only remember a small portion of it, guess what? It’s valid, and needs to be shared…

God desires to use you. God desires to use your testimony. God desires to use your perspective. Now, it may not ever end up in a book like this [Matthew], but guess what? It may end up in the hearts of those hearing in this room. It may end up in the hearts of those that you will encounter outside of this room. “Guess what? God did something in my life. Can I share that with you?” Don’t ever demean yourself, don’t ever look down on yourself, and don’t ever believe that your testimony means nothing. That it’s unimportant. Don’t believe that… But if we believe our testimony is valid, and we’re important to God, it doesn’t matter if somebody else saw it a little differently and shares it differently. What matters is that we got to be there, too, and share in what God was doing.

Do you believe God wants to intervene in your life? Do you believe that God cares enough for you to take care of...every detail of your life? Yes, sometimes it takes some faith, but it's a little bit of faith mixed with a whole lot of [God's] mercy and a whole lot of compassion.

Vintage message from November 16, 2003. (Recording ends before the message is complete.)

So never, ever, ever be afraid to share what God is doing in your life. Don’t ever think that the little things in your life are insignificant. There are no insignificant events in your life. If God has done it, God gives you the strength to get out of bed tomorrow morning and you didn’t think you were going to have the strength to get out of bed, that’s an amazing testimony, and it’s good to share. Just tell someone, “You know what? I didn’t think I was going to make it out of bed, but by God’s strength I’m on my feet today.” That’s not insignificant. That is miraculous, because the Holy Spirit gave you the strength and the energy. Share who you are, share what God does in your life, and never be afraid that someone’s going to think that you’re boring or insignificant, because God’s Word is never insignificant, what God does in our lives is never insignificant, and it’s always exciting when we have an opportunity to share…

Sometimes God just desires to have mercy on those who are lost and hurting. Sometimes, when we are in that place where we don’t know where to turn anymore, we don’t know how to face life anymore, we’re oppressed, …we don’t know what to do anymore, God is brought to our attention, and we’re brought to God’s attention by friends…

Do you believe God wants to intervene in your life? Do you believe that God cares enough for you to take care of, not just these big being-blind details, but every detail of your life? You know what? You’ve got to have faith. I’m going to tell you, you need to have faith. And some things that you would ask for, God might say, “According to your faith it will be done for you.” But you know, in the things that really matter, in the things that are really important, in those things that are going to separate you from God for all eternity, sometimes He just steps in and displays His mercy. You still have to make a choice…

What is the good news? The good news for us today is that Jesus Christ lived on the face of this earth as the Son of God and willingly chose to die on a cross and shed His blood that our sin could be dealt with, that our sin could be washed away, that we could have an opportunity to no longer be separated from God for all eternity, but by the blood of Jesus, have our sins dealt with and that door opened to heaven for us. That is the good news that we have today…

One of the things that happens in society so often, that Jesus saw was a people who, though religion was abundant in their society, there were men who had God’s Word, they abused the people. They harassed the people. They laid heavy laws, rules and regulations and financial burdens on the people. And here comes Jesus, and He sees them, and He has compassion on them because of their harassment and their helplessness. And I know sometimes…that there are those even within this fellowship who feel helpless and harassed. Helpless like nothing is ever going to change in life. Harassed by life itself. Every day, get up, you look outside and say, “Oh, no. Not another day. I have to live through this again?” You know what? You don’t have to live through it on your own. Yeah, you have to go through that day but you don’t have to be helpless and harassed anymore. Understand Who Jesus is. He is the One Who came to live and die and become that life for us to help us to overcome our shortcomings. To help us to overcome our blindness. To tell us, yes, sometimes it takes some faith, but it’s a little bit of faith mixed with a whole lot of mercy, a whole lot of compassion. Guess what? Jesus sees you. Jesus understands your heart. Jesus understands the things that you need. He understands where you’re going and where you don’t want to go. He has compassion…

Are you a disciple of Jesus today? Think about it for a minute. If you’ve asked Jesus into your life, that means that you have now become a disciple of Jesus, and now Jesus has given His disciples a directive, and I believe that directive is still the same today, because no matter how many disciples we have in this world right now, I guarantee you, there is a lot of harvest left. The harvest is plentiful even still today. We need to be asking the Lord, “Lord, there’s a harvest around me. Send workers into the field. Let’s go get those people. Let’s not let them die, rot on the vine. God, send people into the field to harvest…” We have a responsibility to pray, and to pray very specifically, “Lord, send out workers.” …Oh, by the way, guess what? You’re the workers. You’re the disciples that He wants to use in the field. So first you ask Him, “Lord, send workers,” but guess what? Be prepared, because He desires for you to be the worker in the field bringing in the harvest.

There is danger in praying because sometimes God answers that prayer...and you are the one that He chooses to use to answer the prayer.

Vintage message from November 23, 2003.

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” And this, I believe, is a prayer that we should be praying still today, because the field is still ripe for harvest. There are still hundreds and thousands of people on the face of this earth, millions, who have no clue Who the Person of Jesus Christ is or Who God the Father is and the love He has for us. And so Jesus says ask, go to God the Father, and ask that He would send these workers…

One of the dangers of praying — let me tell you, there is danger in praying, and this is why a lot of people don’t pray. Because sometimes God answers that prayer and sometimes you are the one that He chooses to use to answer that prayer, and especially when you ask God to do something for someone else, God may say, “Well, what about you? You’ve got two hands, you’ve got two feet. If they need help, why don’t you help them?” And if we pray, “God, there’s people out there dying that don’t know You! Send somebody to them.” Boy, if you’ve got a big enough voice and a heart that says that they need help, then how about using that voice to go and help them. He may raise you up and ask you to be part of the answer. So, there’s danger in praying! But you know what? I’m the type of person that loves to live dangerously, and I believe that the only excitement there is in life is when you step out of your comfort zone and live a little dangerously; when you say, “God, use me!”

“And as you go, preach this message, ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.'” This is another statement that a lot of people don’t understand. You know, we can say that today, that the kingdom of heaven is near, and the picture we get in our mind is of this place that we go to… We dwell on this city with streets of gold and jewels and mansions, and oh man, it’s a wonderful place. And in most Christians, when they are describing the kingdom of heaven, they describe this glorious place and almost always exclude the one thing that is the most important that makes it the kingdom of heaven. God Himself. It reveals our heart. Are we in a relationship? You know what? When I go home, I don’t go home to a house. I go home to a family. When I go home, I have people that I know love me. When we go home, we’re not going to a place. We’re going to a relationship where people love us, where God Who created us loves us, and when Jesus says, “Preach the good news. Tell them that the kingdom of heaven is near,” He is literally saying, “I’m here now. I’m near to them. They now have access to the kingdom of heaven because they have access to me.”

You know what? The world is about sin, and those lost in the world are about sin. You can’t expect anything different. As a believer, the world is going to hurt your feelings. The world is going to insult you, because the world does not know any better. They’re doing their job, and they do it very well. And Jesus is now saying, go to them, and you try to get to know them, and you try to enter their home, and if you can bring change, bring that change by living your life, by not displaying your gold, your wealth, your nice clothes. It wasn’t about that… It is not about gold. The good news is not about the wealth you can have on this planet. The good news is about the relationship that you can have with Jesus and God the Father. That’s the good news. And you know what? The world is not going to receive that, the world is not going to believe that, so they have to be convinced of that, and how do they become convinced of that? By watching you. By watching me. And if I do not give them the opportunity because I don’t like the way someone looks, the way someone smells, or the way someone dresses, I don’t like the activity that they have in their life — “That guy hangs around at the bar! You don’t expect me to go and talk to him!” Well, if not me, then who?

He cares enough to let us be challenged, because without challenge we would never know what faith truly is. We would never truly...understand how much God does care.

Vintage message from November 30, 2003.

One of the things that we as the church are famous for is worrying. We worry about this. We worry about that. We worry about our jobs. We worry about our families. We worry about the next car we’re going to have. We worry about whether we’re going to wake up tomorrow and still have our home. We worry about so many things. We worry about, am I going to have my job tomorrow? I know a lot of Christians that do not go to bed in security, and wake up the next morning believing that God is in control, but yet they want to believe. And Jesus says, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. Don’t worry. Don’t worry about what you’re going to say. Don’t worry about how you’re going to interact with the people around you. At that time, you’ll be given what to say…

There is nothing in this world that we should fear. Not our government. Not our neighbors. Not our jobs. Not our lack of jobs. There is nothing in this world that we should fear because God knows what’s going on. God knows our hearts, and He knows the hearts of everyone that’s around us. He knows what we’re going to go through. And even the things that He’s going to share with us are meant to be shared. It says, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body.” You know what? You may face some hard times. You may face those moments when you step out of your door and life becomes a real threat to you. You may face those moments where people hate you and despise you. And you may face those moments where people would threaten to kill you because of what you believe in Jesus Christ. It says, “But do not be afraid of those who kill the body but can not kill the soul.”

We’re under the impression, so often, because we get up and we look in the mirror, that this is all there is. We’re told that there’s a spirit inside, we’re told that we have a soul, and we’re told about this idea that there’s an eternity, and we’re going to dwell in that eternity, but you know what? When I wake up in the morning and I stub my toe, it feels like it’s right now, and it hurts like right now. And I’m not thinking about when it’s going to stop hurting in an hour from now. I’m thinking it hurts right now. And Jesus is now telling me that it’s okay if I step out of my door and someone shoots me in the head? Don’t worry about that because, guess what? There’s eternity coming. It’s not about this body, it’s not this life, it’s not about this flesh, but that’s all we know, and so we fear for it. And Jesus says, don’t fear. Don’t fear. Don’t cling to this flesh. Don’t cling to this life. Don’t fear for this life. This life is going to pass. There’s not one of us in this room that can dictate to God that we’ll live to see tomorrow. We don’t know what’s going to happen, so don’t fear for it…

The fact is He knows. He knows the plan for my life and the direction for my life and He is not surprised when anything happens to me. It doesn’t take Him by surprise when someone spits at me, and He’s not caught off guard when I sin against Him. He’s not surprised by us… He knows us intimately. He knows us personally. He knows everything about us. And everything that happens, even when that sparrow falls from the sky, He notices, and it is within His will and His plan. Now of course, we still have choice. We’re still required to choose, but whether we choose right or wrong, does not null and void God’s ability to be in control. It doesn’t mean that God didn’t know. So, don’t be afraid. “You are worth more than many sparrows.” You’re worth more to God that the birds that He’s created. You’re worth more to God than the trees that He’s created. You’re worth more to God than most of what you see around you in creation because guess what? You are special. God created you with a purpose. He created you to have relationship with. And not just any relationship, but a deep, meaningful. Love relationship that will take you into eternity…

And this is where the choice comes in. God may already know and have the number of our hairs written out, but He still asks us to choose. He asks us to step forward and let those around us know what we believe even if they don’t like it…

It says, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace.” And see, this is where the lie has been spread. We’re told in our society today that He did come to bring peace, and if you’re not at peace, then you’re not a godly person. If you’re not sharing a message that makes everybody feel goodabout themselves, then you’re not a godly person. The true Christian loves and accepts everyone no matter who they are or what they’re doing. [No.] Jesus didn’t come to bring peace, and the fact that you share the truth that Jesus is the only way to salvation, you tear that peace apart. You bring division. He says, I didn’t come to bring that peace, but a sword… You can expect division, and you can expect hardship, and you can expect your family to hate you because you have accepted Me. Don’t disown Me, because if you disown Me, I have to disown you. You’ve got the choice, but understand, there is nothing that you’re going to face or endure that God in heaven does not see and know about. He’s in control, and He cares for you, but He cares — and this is the hard part to understand — He cares, sometimes, enough to let us suffer. He cares, sometimes, enough to let us go without. He cares, sometimes, enough to let us be challenged, because without challenge we never know what faith truly is. We never truly come to that place of understanding how much God does care. You know what? I’d never know what it was to heal from a cut on my hand unless I’d cut my hand. Now, I don’t want everybody to go out and cut their hand, but you know what? Sometimes there’s pain. and you meet God, oftentimes, in that pain, and the Lord is standing there to bring you through it.

How many of us face hard times in our life? God is aware. Jesus knows the pain that you're going through. He knows the suffering that you're facing. Jesus knows. Don't fall away. Be encouraged. There's good news!

Vintage message from December 7, 2003.

How many of us face hard times in our life? Struggles that we wake up in the morning and say, “Oh God, I don’t want to face today.” You know what? God is aware. Jesus knows the pain that you’re going through. He knows the suffering that you’re facing… Jesus knows. Don’t fall away. Be encouraged. There’s good news. There’s good news that God’s Word is being fulfilled in this place today, and God’s Word can be fulfilled in and through you today. And if you’re willing to open your mouth and step out courageously, you might see some of these miraculous things happen, and the one that I guarantee that you can see happen every day is that the good news is offered to the poor… And that’s by opening our mouth and sharing the love of Jesus, the care of Jesus, with those that are poor around us and see them lifted from the dust and the dirt of their depression and put on their feet…

What did you expect to see today when you showed up to church? What expectations did you bring with you when you got out of bed this morning to seek the Lord? This is what Jesus was asking these people. What expectations did you have?…

Are your ears open spiritually this morning? I ask the question again. What did you expect today? What expectations did you bring with you? And do those expectations hold you back from making a decision to know and trust and walk right with Jesus? Did you expect that you should feel good when you left here today? Did you expect to hear a flowery message that would pat you on the back? I’m not always flowery. Sorry. What did you expect? I expect that you know, maybe, a little clearer Who Jesus is and what He expects of you, but you’ve got to open those ears because your ears lead to your heart where Jesus wants to dwell. And you can be great today. I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done. Jesus wants you to know that, in Him, you are a great person. Greater even than John the Baptist, but you’ve got to accept it. You’ve got to believe it.

It's very easy. If you're dwelling in sin, I don't care what the sin is, call it sin. We're not going to hate you. Tell God, "I don't know how to deal with it. Forgive me, and help me see how to walk right with You." Plain and simple. That's all it takes. Jesus is the answer. He is the way.

Vintage message from December 14, 2003.

How many times have we called out to God, how many times have we asked God to come and play our game, and then when we get the answer, we didn’t like it. “Well God, I was really hoping for the Cadillac, not the Pinto. Those things are dangerous, God! I want a real blessing! That couldn’t have been God.” This is how we respond so often. God pours blessing out on us…but we don’t like the way He’s having fun… And then we get mad at God, and we tell Him, “Take Your game somewhere else.” You know what? Jesus didn’t come to play the game the way we want to play it. He came to offer us the truth. No more games. It’s time for children to grow up. You know what? You’re lost. You’re separated from God. God loves you and God desires for you to be in relationship with Him. It’s not about playing games… Don’t ask God for blessing unless you’re willing to receive the blessing that He wants to give you..

I don’t always like it when God says no to me. You know what? I’ve learned to stop asking. I’ve learned that it’s enough to say, “Lord Jesus, give me what You want me to have…”

You know, the message hasn’t changed much. Even though Jesus came and went, today the message is repent. Get your life right because Jesus is returning very soon. We want to meet Jesus when He comes with a clean heart. How do you accomplish that? Do you accomplish that by getting baptized? No. You can’t play the religion game anymore because we’ve been given His Word, and it’s laid out very clearly how Jesus desires for us to approach Him and for how He desires for us to play the game. It starts out by acknowledging that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God. That we are in sin and have need of dealing with those issues of sin, and then saying, “Jesus, come in. I don’t want it to be my life anymore. I want it to be Your life…”

I think that’s what most every one of us in life is really looking for. A life that leaves us feeling rested. You know, we go to work, we work hard, we play hard, but it doesn’t mean that we have to be worn out. If you’re walking in Jesus…you get to the end of the day and you may be tired, but you feel rested. You wake up the next morning and you feel energized because that rest is complete in you, because Jesus has dwelt in you… It’s all about Him. It’s all about knowingHim and walking right with Him… You need to stop playing games with God. Search the Word and know the truth. Spend time getting to know Jesus…

It’s very easy. If you’re dwelling in sin, I don’t care what the sin is, call it sin. We’re not going to hate you. Tell God, “I don’t know how to deal with it. Forgive me, and help me to see how to walk right with You.” Plain and simple. That’s all it takes. You don’t have to go and beat yourself and wear your knees out begging God. It’s an easy burden to carry. Jesus is the answer. He is the way…

Do you want rest? You'll find it in Jesus. Do you want to feel good? You'll find it in Jesus... I'm not here to make you feel good. I'm here to tell you the truth. I'm here to tell you what God's Word is... If we're going to live the way Jesus lived, sometimes...we need to be uncomfortable.

Vintage message from December 21, 2003.

It’s not about youfeeling good. Jesus didn’t come to this world so that youcould feel good… And the longer I walk with the Lord, the more I study His Word, the more I have the opportunity to teach, I find that what I see in Jesus is a very simple life. Not a life of feeling good, but sometimes a life of sacrifice. Sometimes a life of stepping beyond your own comfort, even to the point of being accused of not following the group. And that’s what God has built here on our foundation as a church — is a place where we try not to play religious games. We try not to make church one of those feel-good occasions.

Oh, I want you to understand the truth so that ultimately, you will feel good. Ultimately, when you are standing before God, there will be no better feeling if you are right with Jesus Christ. If you have received Jesus into your life, you’re going to step into eternity, and there will be abundance of joy. You’ll feel good, but that’s when it’s time to feel good. But if you’re trying to establish a scenario for yourself here to feel good all the time, you may be going about it the wrong way. God’s Word certainly doesn’t offer us that. In fact, John tells us that Jesus’s own mouth said, “In this life you will have tribulation.” You willhave it. “But be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.” See, our joy is not found in the scenario of life, whether it’s good or bad. It’s found in our walking with Jesus. The joy that we can have is found when we’re right with God through His Son Jesus Christ. But so often we don’t want to go through Jesus. We want to do it our way, when we want, how we want, so that we can then stand before God and say, “God, I did You a favor. I’ve done something good for You, therefore I deserveto feel good.” God will reject it and turn it away, because He’s not asking us to earn our way to heaven. He’s not asking us to earn our way into feeling good about ourselves. He’s paid the price ultimately, and He has taken onto Himself the sin that keeps you and I feeling bad. The separation that was caused because of that sin. He took that…

And sometimes honoring God means getting down in the trenches. Getting yourself dirty. Dealing with people that nobody else wants to deal with. Reaching deep into your pocket, pulling out your last dollar bill, and giving it to the guy that’s hungrier than you are…

Really, the rest that we are looking for, the feel-good that we want, is found in Him. It says, “Come to Meall you who are weary and burdened, and Iwill give you rest.” You’re not going to find rest in yourself. You’re not going to find rest in church. You’re not going to find rest in religion. You’re only going to find rest in Him. When you decide to stop playing games. When you stop trying to impress Him. When you stop trying to do “the religion.” When you simply come to Him and say, “You know what, Lord? I can’t do it. I don’t know how to do it. Everything I’ve tried has failed.” Then you take Hisburden onto yourself. What is His burden? Loving and caring for those that are around you. Rather than trying to impress those that are around you, just simply love them. Reach out to them. Lay your burden down. Take His burden on. Walk with Him. It says, “My burden is easy and light,” because He carries it…

Do you want rest? You’ll find that in Jesus. You want to feel good? You’ll find that in Jesus. If you think you’re going to feel good because you came here and listened to a message today, you’re not. I’m not here to make you feel good. I’m here to tell you the truth. I’m here to tell you what God’s Word is. How Jesus lived and what He said. And sometimes, hearing how Jesus lived makes us feel really uncomfortable. If we’re going to live the way Jesus lived, sometimes we need to be sweating, and we need to be uncomfortable…

God is not impressed with us. God is impressed with a heart attitude and when that heart attitude displays mercy… That’s what God is looking for. You want to look nice? You want to feel good? You want to make the ultimate sacrifice that God is going to be impressed with? Stop going to church to impress God. Now, of course, I want you to come because guess what? We grow in fellowship. We are encouraged in fellowship. But being in fellowship is not about impressing God. It’s about blessing one another. So we gather for that reason… You know how much different this world would be if we took the time to actually display mercy? If we took to heart what Jesus has just said and learned what it means that God desires mercy, not sacrifice. Can you imagine how much different the world would be? How much different our lives would be? This is Jesus’s desire for us. Not to be religious, not to feel good about ourselves, but to simply come to Him and receive His mercy. Be forgiven for our sins, and then turn around and share that mercy with others. Stop playing games, stop trying to look good in the eyes of men, and seek to look good in the heart of God by sharing His mercy with those around us.

Jesus isn't found in a place. Jesus is found in a relationship.

Vintage message from December 28, 2003.

And Jesus says…I’m Lord of the Sabbath… That’s why Jesus could say in Chapter 11, Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you Sabbaths the Father intended it. Rest the way God wanted it to be known for. A time set aside in your life, in my life, to be totally and completely refreshed. Now, of course, God gave it to them on a day. Said take this day and just set aside. It’s for your good. But the fact is, Jesus is that rest. We don’t go to a day anymore for rest. Now we go to a relationship for rest. And so Jesus not only says, come to Me for that rest, but now, I am Lord of that rest… Do you want rest? You really want rest? Where are you going to go? Going to go to a day? Going to turn to the law? You really have to come to Jesus…

God created and meant for men to do good for one another. When He created, He didn’t rest until He said it was good. You know what’s made it bad? Us. Our attitude. How we have reinvented God in our own image and in our own thinking. We’ve reduced God down to something that wecan touch. We’ve reduced God down to something that wecan understand. We’ve reduced God down to something that wecan manage…

I believe every one of us owes it to God to find time to rest. I’m not talking about sleeping…but I’m talking about, we owe it to God to give our lives to Him to find real rest. You know, each and every one of us in this room, all the way to the youngest in this room, are burdened with something. Because we are alive on the face of this earth and sin has permeated us, we are burdened because of it, and we need to have those moments where we can wrap our arms around the One we trust and love and find refreshment from, reassurance from. And God has reached His hands out to us. He sent His Son to be those outstretched arms to us and say, “Come to Me.” Are you burdened? Is your homework to heavy for you? Are your workloads too heavy for you? Places you live too heavy for you? You know what? Jesus isn’t found in a place. Jesus is found in a relationship. It doesn’t matter where we’re at. Jesus will meet us there, because Jesus is Lord of all that He’s created, and He’s Lord of that rest that He wants us to have…

We all have these little things in our lives that we hold to be sacred, and so often they have nothing to do with a relationship with Jesus: how we dress, how we act when we go to church, how we present ourselves to people in our society. These are things that we hold sacred, and it bothers us a lot when somebody comes along and steps on it in freedom. Why should they have the freedom when I don’t? Why should they get to do it and I don’t get to do it?… I have to ask you, do you have ownership of your religion today? Do you think you’re the one in charge? Do you think you’re the one that’s going to cause you to go to heaven? If you do, Jesus is going to step on it. Jesus is going to hurt your feelings, because Jesus brings us to a place of freedom. Jesus brings us to a place of real refreshment and rest. Jesus brings us to Sabbath. Jesus is what makes Sabbath happen. Sabbath can happen on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, or Saturday, and I would hope especially Sunday, because it is the one day we choose to set aside. He can bring it any one of those days or you know what? He can bring it each and every one of those days. He is the reason for Sabbath. The original meaning of Sabbath. Real refreshment and rest. Freedom from the confines of trying to make God work for us, but us stepping into love relationship with God. Being forgiven by Him. Being drawn into His arms because of it. Not because of anything we’ve done. Not because we’ve earned it. Not because we deserve it.

We hate it when Jesus steps on our toes. He steps on my toes quite often. I think I have control quite often. I think I’m doing really good quite often, and He comes and kicks me right in the pants, and makes me reevaluate myself. And it’s amazing to me how simple His Word is to understand. He isthe Lord of the Sabbath. He is what makes Sabbath happen. He is the One who has the realownership. We don’t have ownership of it.

Jesus set a standard, and He blessed us in writing with that standard, and it's not a law. It's pages filled with love. A letter to you that says, "I love you..."

Vintage message from January 4, 2004.

No man is saved because of me. No man is healed because of me. No demon leaves because of me. That only happens because of the Spirit of God and His love and His interaction with us… And your salvation that you have, if you have salvation, only comes because the Holy Spirit has drawn you, has brought you to a knowledge of Who Jesus is, and so when you give your life to Jesus, it’s because of the Spirit of God…

You know what’s going to condemn you? You. I don’t have to condemn you. You know what, if I sit here and tell you, “You’re dying and going to hell,” means nothing, because you know what? God is going to judge you based on my condemnation of you. God could care less about my assessment of your spiritual condition. He didn’t ask my permission for you to be saved. He’s not going to ask my permission when you stand before Him. And He’s not going to ask anybody else around you, either. I can tell you how to be saved. Ask Jesus into your heart. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me.” You have that knowledge now. “To all those who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” You have all the knowledge you need to be saved in those statements. It’s not about me. It’s about Him. And guess what? It is yourwords, those things that you say, how you talk about Jesus, not only with your mouth but also in your heart, in your mind. He knows you. He knows everything about you. He knows if His Spirit is indwelling you…

You know what? I do not have the right to tell you how to live your life and, even as a pastor, I don’t have a right to tell you how to live your life, but if you’re going to come and sit in these chairs, you’re going to hear from God’s Word how to live your life. Whether you accept it or not is up to you. It’s not up to me, then, to come and bring this Bible and whack you upside the head with it when I see you doing something wrong! But yet, isn’t how we interact so often with each other? We try to force people to change based on ourstandard, ourway of life… We look at people, and we judge them based on how wechoose to approach God, and if those around us aren’t approaching God in that way, we condemn them. Be very thankful that God has not left your salvation up to me. Jesus set a standard, and He blessed us in writing with that standard, and it’s not a law. It’s pages filled with love. A letter to you that says, “I love you…”

We belong to Jesus. We can be saved through Jesus. We have to step away from the religious conceptions that we have that would condemn others. It’s not about what I believe in how you should be saved. It is only about what God’s Word says about how you should be saved, and if I’m telling you something different, you have the right to look me in the eye and say, “Bologna. It doesn’t say that in God’s Word.” but guess what that means? You need to know God’s Word. If you’re not studying God’s Word, if you’re not endeavoring to dig into God’s Word, then you’re not going to ever know if I’m telling you the truth… If you ever hear me say you don’t have to worry about reading your Bible, just come to this church and you’ll hear all the truth you need, flee, run quick because then we’ve stepped into the world of becoming a cult… Read it for yourself. Take responsibility for yourself.

this is what we need to be telling people: you need a relationship with Jesus. It's not about doing good and feeling good. Feeling good is very temporary... But when you ask Jesus into your life, and that void is filled, that is permanent.

Vintage message from January 18, 2004.

You know how many people I’ve talked to who said, “Well, I’ll come to know the Lord one of these days when I’ve cleaned up my act. I’m just not ready right now.” Well, guess what? You’ll never come to the Lord, because you’ll never clean up your act, because you can never become clean enough to feel good enough to actually enter into relationship with Jesus. So, you decide, “Dirty or not, ready or not, here I come! Lord, I need You. I can’t do this on my own,” and you enter in love relationship. And if we are out evangelizing, this is what we need to be telling people: You need relationship with Jesus. It is not about doing good and feeling good. Feeling good is a very temporary emotional space you dwell in. Very temporary. But when you ask Jesus into your life, and that void is filled, thatis permanent. And thenwhen you don’t feel good, thenwhen you are feeling particularly grungy because the world has rubbed off on you and you’ve dwelt too close to the muck and the scum of the world, He cleans you up! When you fall and you skin your knee, He picks you up and He takes care of it. When you blatantly sin against Him and you realized you’ve sinned against Him, and you say, “Lord, I’ve sinned against You. Forgive me,” He forgives you. And guess what? You’re not empty. You’re still full. And even when you found yourself in that place of separation, it was only separation in the heart, not in your life, because Jesus is dwelling there. He’s just reminding you, you need to come to that place of repentance and understanding His love once again…

When you come to know Jesus, guess what? If you have, you are His brother, not His slave, not His servant — though He may ask us to serve. You know what? Members of a family have to serve one another. Members of a family have to give up a part of their life to be a part of that family, so when Jesus asks us to serve and to love one another and to do things for one another, He’s not enslaving us as some have come to believe. Even some Christians, when you ask them what is it to be a Christian? Oh, it’s to be a servant. Well, that’s part of it. You know what it is to be a Christian? It is to be a brother to Jesus, a son to the God Who created you, adopted into His family, and given the blessings of the kingdom of God! That’s truly what it is to be a Christian. To be part of a family that will endure forever. Like I said, it’s crazy that I can call God, “Dad,” and I can call Jesus, “Brother,” while still sometimes having to get on my knees and on my face and bow before Him and worship Him because, in fact, He is still the King. It’s sometimes hard to deal with in our lives…

Why do you come to Jesus? What do you expect Jesus to give you? What do you expect to gain from a relationship with Jesus?… What do you expect to get out of Jesus? I know a lot of people who come to Jesus out of selfishness: selfish motives, selfish ambition… And I’, going to ask a question. Are you His disciple today? If you’re His disciple, then guess what? You’ve been blessed because your eyes are seeing and your ears are hearing and the truth is being offered to you.

When we decide that God's Word is ultimately the most valuable thing there is in the universe, and we stop seeking after all of the other things, it's amazing how fruitful we become in God's kingdom.

Vintage message from January 25, 2004.

What do we long for? Is our heart truly desiring to be where God is? Is our heart truly desiring to see that Greatness and be in that Presence that is going to fulfill everything that we’ve ever desired in our life, or at least get rid of those desires that we shouldn’t have in our life?… But I do find myself saying the words, “Come quickly,” but yet desiring to see tomorrow: to see how tomorrow is going to work itself out, to see what challenges I can overcome… Forgetting that there were men who came before me who longed for the Lord to take them, some even facing horrendous persecution… They knew the true meaning of “come quickly, Lord Jesus.” And so, I’m just saying, you know what? Let’s be honest with God, and when we approach Him, rather than trying to tell Him what we think He wantsto hear, and telling each other what we think they shouldhear, let’s just be honest. You know what? I’m not ready to go. I’m going to tell you right now, I’m not ready to go. If God should choose to come and get me, you know, that’s okay, I’ll live with that, and I probably won’t be unhappy about it, but I’ve got a future, and I’m looking forward to it. And I would ask you guys to pray for me, that my heart would always be ready for that moment that the Lord appears, but fervently trying to honor God with my life in fulfilling my desire as well…

When we decide that God’s Word is ultimately the most valuable thing there is in the universe, and we stop seeking after all of the other things, it’s amazing how fruitful we become in God’s kingdom…

We begin to judge based our own lives and what we call good, but it is the Master Who planted the seed. It is the Master’s Word that has gone out. We do not know how to judge another man’s heart… When we see a brother or sister that truly is walking with the Lord, it’s okay to acknowledge that, but we don’t have the right to go up to the brother or sister that may not be displaying that fruit and say, “Well, you’re not a believer,” which we have the tendency to want to do. We’re always to be about encouraging and protecting and nurturing…

God has given to us the great privilege of handling His Word. We are to be about taking this Word and sowing it. Now, you know what? I love the fact that we can gather together and fellowship, and that we have a nice…body of believers that we can be with, that we can share God’s Word with. But you know what? There’s also a world out there, and Jesus is just as concerned about the world out there as He is the world in here. Jesus doesn’t just get up on Sunday morning and come to church. He gets up with every new day and speaks to every heart, directing those that would hear Him, kicking those in the pants that need the little bit of incentive, and giving those that love the Lord the motivation to step out once again and share His Word. He’s out there every day throwing seeds… We may be the instrument that He’s using to spread the seed. You know, He’s not concerned so much about where the seed is going to fall as long as the seed is sown. But too often we get caught up in this idea that, you know, you can only sow the seed in the field… And you know what? Some of what you sow may be rejected. Some of what you sow may be received for a short time and then you look at those people that you shared it with, they may be dying and falling away. The heat of life begins to scorch them, or their drive for the wealth, their drive for importance, begins to choke them out. Does it mean that you’ve wasted your time? Not at all. Because, guess what? In throwing that seed, that guy may be getting choked out but at least he knows he has a responsibility…

We can plant our seed just in this room here. We can always share the blessings of God with one another, and pat each other on the back. Come week after week and be encouraged and encourage one another. Or, we can step out there, share the Word, spread the seed as far and as wide as it will go, not caring where it’s going to fall, knowing that some will plant in good soil, and then come back here to the field. And understand that the person sitting right next to you might be a weed, but you know what? It doesn’t matter. Praise God that the weed is in this field and that God one day will deal with the weed, and I don’t have to. I don’t have to look at the lack of fruit on a particular plant. But I can look at the fruit that’s growing on the otherplant, and be excited that I see the fruit and that I know that I’m with brothers and sisters, and that I can, then, encourage those that show no fruit rather than judging and condemning…

It’s easy to bind ourselves only to Christians and forget that we have a responsibility to a lost and dying world that God loves and that this Word was meant for. And if they’re not hearing it from us, then they might not be hearing it, and we may be the vessel that God has chosen to use.

Let me tell you how God feels about you. God loves you. Even when bad is happening to you, God loves you. God loves me, and if the bad happens, it's because bad has happened, and God proves His love all the more by lifting us up and bringing us through the bad.

Vintage message from February 1, 2004.

The kingdom of heaven is where Jesus is. The kingdom of heaven is what Jesus has control over, and what does Jesus have control over? Everything. There is nothing that goes on in this world that escapes His notice or is out of His control. If you’re thinking, “Well, I’ll just do this secretly. No one will ever know.” Guess what? God already knows. When you endeavor to deceive yourself and others around you, God already knows. And just because you do something bad, does not mean that God has lostcontrol. Just because a catastrophe happens in my life does not mean that God has lost control. These are concepts that wehave developed within our way of thinking. A way that we have chosen to live because God is good and God only does good things and God only gives good things, and so, when I’m right with God, God should be giving me great blessings and good things. And so I must be wicked and doing bad things because bad things are happening in my life right now. Isn’t this kind of the reasoning that they gave to Job?…

Wickedness happens around us, wickedness happens within the church, but it does not mean that God has lost control because there are those that are faithful. There are those that are hearing. There are those that are seeing… See, these are things that are hidden. Jesus is revealing to them the mysteries, and what is the mystery, the greatest mystery of all? That even in hard times, even in bad times…God is still in control. That’s a mystery… We try to reason through the good and the bad by sorting out God’s feelings towards us. Guess what? It has nothing to do with how God feels towards you. You’re in a world where there’s good and there’s bad, and this world isin the firm grasp of God, and you exist within the kingdom of heaven. And let me tell you how God feels about you. God loves you.Even when the bad is happening to you, God loves you. God loves me, and if the bad happens, it’s because bad has happened, and God proves His love all the more by lifting us up and bringing us through the bad. But what He’s doing is revealing to us mysteries. You know what? I can actually respond back to God in a love relationship even though life is hard…

God is still the One Who is in charge over this kingdom, in charge over our lives. He’s on His throne. He rules and He reigns. Satan has not thwarted Who He is or what He’s doing. Even though he’s [Satan] planted some weeds, even though he’s tried to sow some discord in the field, guess what? God is there. He knows. And one day, He will start His harvest. He will send His angels out to do the harvesting. That’s why He doesn’t allow us to do it, because we do not have the wisdom or ability to know our neighbor sitting next to us to know what’s truly in their heart. He leaves that up to those that He has specifically prepared for the work of harvesting that will know the difference between the good and the evil around us. And He’ll end it, and then His kingdom will be cleaned up.

Jesus is looking for treasure, and guess what? You're the treasure that Jesus found.

Vintage message from February 8, 2004.

Just because there’s sin in a particular place or in a particular life does not mean that God is now out of the picture. Our sin does not chase God away. Our sin concerns God, and it concerned Him so much that He sent His Son to die for us, to deal with that issue of sin that kept us separated from Him, but the sin still affects and it works its way through the dough…

Jesus is looking for treasure, and guess what? You’re the treasure that Jesus found… Do you believe that you are a treasure in God’s hand?… Do you feel like a treasure today? Do you feel that you are worth so much that someone would risk their life to have you? Give their life to have you? Are you so valuable that someone should even take the time to look at? What value do you see in you? This is the problem. We don’t see much value in ourselves most of the time, but Jesus saw great value. You know what He’s looking for? He’s not looking for what this flesh can accomplish. He’s looking for the softness of heart where His Word can be planted. Where faith can grow. Where His love, then, can be translated into a living, active relationship with God the Father and with everybody else around us. God saw the softness of a man’s heart and He planted a seed there. Isn’t that what He’s been saying all the way through? That He found good soil, that He found places where His Word would grow, and now He’s searching for treasure and you’rethat treasure… He sees value in you, and that value He sees is the love relationship that you can have with His Father, and that means so much to Him that He gave lifefor that…

I do believe that if Jesus were to come into this world today, had He not come 2,000 years ago, if He were to come into the world today, and He found yousingularly, by yourself, with a soft heart, ready and willing to have a love relationship with His Father, have a love relationship with Him, He would look on you as that valuable pearl that was worth so much that He would sell everything to have you. I believe that. Do you believe that about yourself, that you have that kind of value in your life? It’s the truth. I don’t care what you think about yourself. If you have a heart in your chest that is soft enough to receive God’s Word and to understand that He loves you, and that there can be eternity for you; if your heart is soft enough to receive that — it’s just the very basics — guess what? You are a very valuable commodity to God because He created you to have love relationship with you. He created you out of a desire to have love relationship with you, and He placed us in this world, and men, because of the devaluing of their own sin, lost sight of Who God was, and it took Jesus coming into this world and telling us once again what the kingdom of heaven is. The kingdom of heaven is where you’re sitting right now. The kingdom of heaven is where Jesus is and if you have Jesus in your life, you are sitting in the kingdom of heaven and He is sitting in you. The kingdom of heaven is not a place, but it is a relationship, and that relationship is what dictates great value. Are you willing to say, “Yes, Lord”? If you say, “Yes, Lord,” you have great value and Jesus would die for you…

You hold within you great valuethat Jesus sold everythingto own, that Jesus gave allthat He had, the blood in His body, in fact, in order to have you. You have that kind of value, and to say otherwise, you’re lying to yourself and you’re denying a relationship that God wants to have with you. You’re valuable to God. You are loved by God, and God desires to have love relationship with you and to bring you into that relationship into eternity. He desires to do the miracle, one miracle that we can not accomplish ourself and that is to overcome our own sin. He overcame our sin for us and opened the door to heaven for us. The kingdom of heaven is like this relationship that you and I are having right now with the God Who created us. That’s what the kingdom of heaven is like. God is in control. God is on His throne. God has not given up one inch of ground to His enemy. It’s not God here, Satan here, equal in power. It’s God here, Satan somewhere down here, and God just looking down, I believe many times with a broken heart because the value He sees in men that they don’t see in themselves, and they ignore the value, and they run away from it, and they miss the point of the kingdom of heaven. It’s not the place you go to. It’s the love relationship you go to, to have with Him.

We're all going to struggle with faith, but because we struggle with faith does not mean that God does not, can not, or will not do a miracle in our life. God loves us! The greatest miracle of all was that Jesus shed His blood that we could have salvation.

Vintage message from February 15, 2004.

How many times do we stop to thank those around us that do the mundane, irritating little things that need to be done in our lives? But the fact that they get done is miraculous. Do we take the time to thank those that God chooses to use or to thank God that they’re done for us? You know, we sometimes throw up that dinner prayer, “Thank you for the food, Lord. Okay, dig in.” But you know what? I think it’s important that we take the time to pray and thank God for what He’s blessed us with. I don’t care if you do it before you eat or after you eat, but that you remember that it is appropriate to acknowledge what God has done for you, what He’s given to you, and the fact that it is a miracle that you have it…

What we have, what we’ve been given comes from the hand of God, and that we can and should be thankful for it, and this is where I see Jesus’s heart. He had the ability and the power. He could have just done the miracle, and He could have done it with fanfare, and He could have drawn attention to Himself, but He chose not to do any of that. He just simply chose to thank His Father in heaven and then break the bread. No magic. No spells. No tricks. Just simply, thank you Father, and then He hands the bread out…

I believe the whole thing happened to challenge the faith of the disciples, because Jesus starts off in John, when the crowd first shows up, challenging His disciples, How are we going to feed them? Jesus knew early in the day these people are going to need to eat, and it’s going to take a miracle to do it. What miracle are we going to have to do it? Well, the disciples decide the miracle that they’re going to use is steal a little boy’s lunch…

We’re all going to struggle with faith, but because we struggle with faith does not mean that God does not, can not, or will not do a miracle in our life. God loves us. The greatest miracle of all was that Jesus shed His blood that we could have salvation paid through His blood. Jesus shed His blood that we could come to God the Father in love relationship, and not have to be eternally separate from God the Father. That is the greatest miracle of all. And yet, I see people who still doubt even that. They challenge it, they argue about it, they deny it, they ignore it, and if we can ignore thatand explain thataway, I guarantee you, you can explain everything else that God chooses to do in your life away, and you will chalk it up to luck, rather that giving God the praise and the thanks for it. We just need to rethink ourselves. Reboot, as it were, because there is a God in heaven Who cares. A God in heaven Who loves you, who loves me, and is just dying to do miracles for us, so that then we can stand up in the face of a world that does not know and give testimony to His greatness, and even in a small way, just as Jesus did, simply looking up to heaven in front of those few that are around and saying, “Thank you, God, for doing this for me.”

Jesus will sometimes ask very hard things of us. And you know what He's asking of us to accomplish these very hard things? Just a very little bit of faith. He's the One that's going to do it... He's the One that is going to get us across the lake.

Vintage message from February 29, 2004.

And then Peter does this amazing thing. In a moment of clarity, he knows to ask, “Lord, if that’s You, if it’s really You, tell me to come to You, because if it’s really You, then I know I can accomplish this,” and he steps out of the boat, and he walks on the water. This is the amazing thing: that Peter, at that moment, had enough faith. His eyes were on Jesus enough that he actually accomplished walking on the water, but that was very short-lived. And when I look at Peter, and I look at Peter’s faith, and I look at what it took for him to actually step out of that boat in the first place, I see a lot of us. There are a lot of Christians in society who, just like Peter, are men and women who really love the Lord, and they have faith, but they have just very short moments of faith. And you know what, I would be willing to step out of the boat. That would be exciting! But I also have had the experience of seeing the wind and the waves around me. Life begins to hurl itself at me. You know, it’s amazing how quickly we can take our eyes off of the One that is causing us to stand firm on top of an object that is not solid. When we are standing on our faith, and that’s what Peter was standing on. He wasn’t just standing on the water. He was standing on faith. It’s amazing how quickly that faith can disappear from under your feet. He took his eyes off of the One that builds faith in us, and he sank, and then he cries out to the Lord, “Save me!…”

One of the things I believe that Jesus is dealing with in His disciples, one of the things I believe that Jesus deals with us every day as His disciples, is fear. If you stop and look at your life, you’ll realize very quickly how much fear dictates your next move… Fear is a great motivating factor in our lives. It dictates to us our response to many things… We’re afraid of rejection. We’re afraid of being hurt. We’re afraid of what it might cost us. But fear is what motivates us. And here, Jesus walks right past all the fear, not affected by it… But He has to give [the disciples] the instruction, “Take courage. Don’t be afraid…”

I think so often, just like the disciple, we struggle with hard hearts… Jesus may ask things of us. Jesus willask things of us, and Jesus will ask sometimes very hardthings of us. And you know what He’s asking of us to accomplish these very hard things? Just a very little bit of faith. He’sthe One that’s going to do it. He’sthe One that is going to feed the crowds when we’re struggling to know what we’re supposed to feed them. He’sthe One that is going to get us across the lake. But rather than putting their oars down and crying out, “Hey, Jesus! We’re struggling here! Time to come to our aid!” Three o’clock in the morning and they’re still struggling with the oars trying to row across this lake, and rather than understanding that Jesus had this ability to come to them, when they see Him walking on the lake, the first thing they do is assume the worst. Do we not do the same, after all that God has done in our lives? We’ve seen miracles. I guarantee you, every one of us in this room have seen miracles. But yet, when something bad begins to happen around us and the waves are tossing us about, what do we do? We assume the worst. We start crying out, “Oh, God! What have I done wrong? Why are You punishing me?” We start looking at all of the bad things. Well, it’s because we have hard hearts. You know what? All of us have experienced the feeding that Jesus gives. He has poured the blessing out on us. And you know what? If He can do one miracle, He can do all the miracles. We just have to believe that He can, and we’re very much like Peter in that sometimes we’re even bold enough to step out of the boat for a minute, but we are so easily distracted because of the hardness of our hearts, that when we start looking at the trouble, we take our eyes off of the One that got us out of the boat in the first place. The One Who challenges us to make that step of faith in the first place. We take our eyes off of Him, and we begin to sink, and then we have to cry out to Him all over again…

Sometimes we’re asked to go beyond ourselves when we want to stop, when we want to mourn, when we want to have some selfpity, and God says, “No. Now’s not the time,” and He asks us to step beyond ourself and have a little faith in Him. But guess what? If we fail to see the truth of the challenge that He’s bringing to us, He’s just going to bring us another challenge… So often we struggle against the trial that’s put in front of us, rather than turning around and saying, “You know, Jesus, I can’t accomplish this, but You can.” This is the whole point, I believe, of the story…

The more we spend time with God the Father, the more we spend time in prayer, the more we understand God’s heart, the more we’re going to be able to accomplish those things that He asks us to do, and the more we’re going to know what it is that He wants us to do. I think we struggle far too much as believers. We struggle against the oars. We struggle against knowing how we’re going to feed the people. We struggle against even wanting to feed the people, and we fight with God, and we argue with God, and we allow for our hearts to become hard. Most of us do not see the miracles when they’re happening around us, not because they’re not happening, but because our hearts are hard and our eyes are closed, and we don’t want to see them. We don’t want to be a part of them, because we have an idea of how things are supposed to happen…

Sometimes, no matter how hard you row, you’re not going to make headway. The only way to make headway is for the storm to stop, and the only way for the storm to stop is for Jesus to crawl into the boat with you. For you to understand, what it was that He wanted you to learn in the first place…

And we don’t have to worry anymore. We can face all of the challenges of life, no matter how little we have to accomplish it with or how bad the storm is, we can accomplish it if we’ll just invite Jesus to be a part and trust that He knows what He’s doing.

You know what? Every time I pick up God's Word and start studying it, it offends me. It hurts my feelings, and it steps on my toes because it exposes me for who I am. Now, I can either close it up and toss it in a corner somewhere...or I can...take responsibility for what's in it.

Vintage message from March 14, 2004.

When you depart from the clear teaching of God’s Word or the study of God’s Word, you’re stepping into hypocrisy. If you’re telling other people they have to live good righteous lives, I’ll tell you what. You need to live righteous lives, but I’m not going to tell you that you can do that on your own. I’m not going to tell you that you can be good by going to church…

Who does God love? Everyone. Now, just because God loves everyone, does that mean that everyone’s going to heaven? No. He lets us choose. Even though He loves us, He lets us choose. We can either be with Him or we can be separate from Him. But yet, we still allow for ourselves to be affected by some of these teachings [ie, traditions]. We still try to use some of these guilt trips on the people that are the closest to us. When we see a brother or sister living in sin, what do we do? So often, we’ll go to them and say, “You know what? If you continue sinning like that, you’re going to go to hell.” Is that true? No. It’s not true. If you continue sinning, you are subject to judgment from the throne of God. If you have a relationship with Jesus Christ and you’re sinning, God will deal with you. We’re told as brothers and sisters to approach one another, to help one another to stop the sin issue, to step away from it, not to tell them whether or not they’re going to heaven or hell. It’s not my job. But yet we always try to make it about that, because it gives you that little extra twist of guilt, that little extra power…

We are people, so often, that honor God with our lips, not with our hearts. We look good and we sound good. We put on the clean clothes, and we put on the good act, and we show up to church, but yet I’ve heard testimony time and time again, when people have left church that they still felt empty, and they still feared eternity. If you’re here today, let me tell you, you do not need to fear eternity… All you need to do is face the issue of sin that you’re living in and turn to the One Who died on the cross and shed His blood for that issue of sin, and let Him deal with it. Ask Him into your life, and guess what? There is nothing about eternity that you need to fear any longer. Plain and simple. But so often, we allow for our teachings to rule over men, and those rules that we’re teaching, those regulations that we have that we place on men are simply only rules taught from the hearts of men. They have nothing to do with God’s Word…

And you know what? Every time I pick up God’s Word and start studying it, it offends me. It hurts my feelings, and it steps on my toes because it exposes me for who I am. Now, I can either close it up and toss it in a corner somewhere and say, “I think I’ll just ignore it,” or I can ask myself, “Why am I offended by this?” So often I’m offended by it, I’m offended because Jesus wants me to understand a way of living the way He lived, and I’m not living it, and it offends me. It hurts my feelings…

But what happens is God allows for scenarios to happen that then expose my heart. He shows me what is actually going on in here… And my toes get stepped on and I become angry when God exposes what’s inside. You know what? If it wasn’t in there, it wouldn’t come out of there. Nothing that you could do could make it come out if it’s not in there. If Jesus is truly in here, Jesus is going to come out of here…

It really does offend me to know that, guess what? I become angry because I have anger inside of me, and I have to change that. I can’t blame my neighbor any longer… I have to take responsibility for what’s in me…

You know why I have a hard time understanding God’s Word? Because I am dull of wit when it comes to spiritual things. I don’t pay attention. I pay more attention to my television than I do the Holy Spirit… See why God offends me? And now He’s telling me I’m dull. Sometimes we need to be whacked upside the head. And Jesus asks the question, “Are you still so dull?”

…See, it’s not about what’s going on on the outside. It’s about what’s coming from inside. We need to take note of what’s coming out of us. How we’re responding to the people around us. How we’re responding to husbands and wives. How we’re responding to children. How we’re responding to coworkers. How we’re responding to the people on the street that cut us off, our neighbors, those that we see in the grocery store. How are we responding to people? What’s coming out? That will give you an idea of where your uncleanness is. Now, if good things are coming out, there’s a good chance that you’ve had a good relationship with Jesus that week, and Jesus is spilling over, because guess what? If Jesus is on the inside, He will come out. He will display Himself, and His Word, then, is what is honored and magnified, not my traditions, not my wants, not my desires, but Who God is and what God desires…

Father, once again thank You for Your Word. Lord, I praise You that You offend me, and I would just ask, Lord, that You would offend me more. Lord, I know I have weaknesses in me. I know I have shortcomings and I know, Lord that “I” is the most common word in my vocabulary, and Lord, it needs to be about You. Help me, Lord, to recognize You. That when people see me, they see You. When I encounter people on the street, that they actually would be encountering You… Though I’ve, Lord, dealt with so many other things, I know there’s still problems and, Lord, You expose them. I just ask, Lord, that I would learn to deal with them. That I would give you the honor and the glory. That I would allow Your Spirit, Lord, to enter in and be what comes back out again. Thank You. Thank You for loving us unconditionally. Even though I am the mess that I am, You still love me.

What is it that God desires from us? That we live our lives in such a way that those that encounter us praise God in heaven.

Vintage message from March 28, 2004.

There is no such thing as a “good Christian.” There are only those who believe in God’s Word, trust in God’s Word, and receive Jesus into their life because God’s Word tells us to. That’s what makes you Christian. Not the good things you do. And consequently, by the way, the bad things you do aren’t going to send you to hell. And I tell people all the time, and some people are shocked to hear it, but you know what? Good people don’t go to heaven, and bad people don’t go to hell. It is a fallacy. It is one of those myths we make up… And we try to tell people, “If you’re good, God will love you. And if you’re bad, how can God love you?” But it’s not about our goodness or our badness, because according to God’s Word, we’re all bad and we’re all deserving of hell. Guess what? Good people don’t go to heaven. Those who love Jesus Christ and have received Him into their life go to heaven. Bad people go to heaven, and I am very gratefulthat bad people go to heaven, otherwise I would not be welcome there…

It’s not what you take in externally that makes you unclean. It’s what’s already internal that’s making you unclean, and the only way to deal with the uncleanness is to understand what’s inside of you. Why are you doing what you’re doing? What has driven you to it? Why do you cuss, smoke, drink, and carouse? Why do you do those things? Those things are just the external signs that you have a problem inside that needs to be dealt with, and the only way to deal with them is to go to Jesus, to ask Him, to allow Him to work inside to do the cleaning that needs to be done because you know what? There’s not one thing inside of me that I have the ability to clean. It all comes through the power of God’s love and His forgiveness. You know how I scrub the inside? I say, “God, I’ve noticed that there’s this problem in my life. It’s called sin. Please forgive me,” and then He scrubs the inside…

This, also, I see, is a problem within Christendom today. We live and act as though we’re worthy to sit at the table. We approach Jesus using language that we have no business using because that is not who we are. We try to prove how religious we are so that God will be impressed with us and give us all those things that we desire. And yet, really all we need are some crumbs. I can’t imagine how much better my life would be if I collected the crumbs that fell from God’s table. So often, though, we stick our nose up to the crumbs, and I see this in society. People will say, “If I can’t have my way, if God will not do it my way, I want none of it.” Well, fine...

I hear Christians say it all the time, “God, what more do You expect of me? What more do You want from me?”

“Well, I want you to deal with this issue of sin in your life, and I want you to deal with this hardness in your heart, and I would really like you to approach Me because you love Me and would like to know Me better, not approach Me because I’m some religious icon.”

Do you have needs today? Real, serious needs? You know what? You’re not going to see those needs met by bargaining with God. You’re not going to see those needs met by going to church. You’re not going to see those needs met by knowing the right language, being very flowery in how you pray. Just be humble, and tell God the truth. Approach Him for who you are and what you know about yourself…

What is it that God desires from us? That we live our lives in such a way that those that encounter us praise God in heaven. You know what? It’s not my responsibility to save you. It’s not my responsibility to make enter into heaven, but I do have a responsibility to live my life in such a way that when you look at me, you at least see a relationship between a man and God. And part of that means, if you look long enough, you’ll see me in the mud, you’ll see me struggling, you’ll see those faults…but hopefully what you’ll also see is when I’m in the mud, I get up and I say, “God, I’m filthy. Please turn on the shower. I’m in need of cleaning again. I’ve blown it again.” And so I pray what people see…are people who interact with God because of the power of God’s Holy Spirit in us, because we know Jesus Who died for us and saved us…

I have to ask a question. Are you available? Part of the problem why we don’t see God using us is because we do not make ourself available. If you make yourself available, God will use you and He will do mighty things.

We have God's Word available to us. Being available to us and us availing ourselves of that are two different things. So often we carry the Bible but never quite get around to opening it. We want to look like Christians, but we don't really want to know what it takes to be that Christian.

Vintage message from April 25, 2004.

Being great in God’s kingdom is not about the great exploits that we do. It’s about the compassion that we show. It’s about the serving that we can do for others because we’re having compassion on them. Do you know how to be a great servant in God’s kingdom? First and foremost, it takes compassion…

Each and every one of us, if we would take the time to look at our lives, we would see amazing, miraculous signs of God’s love, of God’s faithfulness, of God’s character. We are so self-involved. We’re too busy looking inward to our own selfishness that we miss what’s going on around us, and oftentimes how Jesus responds to us with the miraculous signs is He brings us people who are in need of compassion…

We have God’s Word available to us. Being available to us and us availing ourselves of that are two different things. So often we carry the Bible but never quite get around to opening it. We want to look like Christians but we don’t really want to know what it takes to be that Christian…

Take a moment and think about the good things that God has already done in your life. I’ll bet you there are things in your life that God had has done that if you took the time to think about it, would overwhelm you about how much God loves you and about how powerful He is in your life and about the direction He can give to your life. So much so that you do not need to worry about the next step that is coming to your future… God has done miracles. All I need to do is look at those miracles and I have great understanding into God’s care for me…

We are so caught up in our own flesh. We are so caught up in our own selfishness, our own self-motivation and in store for me and my life, that we miss the big picture… We miss the point so often. We say we’re going to trust God, we say we’re going to believe God, we say, “Yes, I know I have God’s Word,” but then what do we do? We step outside and we go headlong into ignorance and stupidity, and we make all of the wrong decisions just like we did yesterday. We look to our own flesh once again. We get to the end of the day just to hear Jesus say through the power His Spirit, “Don’t you understand yet?” You know, you don’t have to fall down on your face and beg Jesus. All you have to do is ask Him. Tell Him that you’ve blown it. You don’t have to plead with Him to forgive you because He’s already told you how abundant His forgiveness is. You don’t have to go out and say, “Oh, I wonder if God even loves me,” and I hear people say that. “I don’t even know that God loves me!” Well, because you don’t understand His Word yet. It’s not that He doesn’t love you. The problem’s not with God. The problem is in how you’re thinking, because God loves you. His Word tells you that. And God has forgiven you. His Word tells you that. And you know what? There’s no amount of miraculous signs that is going to make that clear to you. If you don’t understand it just by looking into history and seeing it in His Word, there’s no amount of miraculous signs that you’ll see that will convince you anymore, because it’s not about the miraculous signs. It is about the denseness that we live in up here [points to head], and I’m guilty.

I admit I am guilty. I allow my dense way of thinking, my selfish, self-motivated way of thinking to get in the way of how I perceive God, even though He’s already done the miraculous, and even though He’s already proven Himself, I still find myself coming back to God and saying, “God, why me? Why have You not given me this? Why have You not done that? Why, why, why?” And as we’ve heard already today, it’s really not about me. It is truly about Him, and if we really understood that, we would re-think ourselves…

I’ve got to warn you: you be in His Word, don’t depend on this [Sunday morning teaching], don’t take my teaching to heart, take God’s Word to heart. Be on your guard… I, from time to time, come to wrong conclusions as I study God’s Word because I’m thinking selfishly and, from time to time, I may get up here and teach something that is not entirely correct, and you know what? I am not at all offended if afterwards, you come up to me and say, “But Dave, let me show you here in God’s Word that what you said wasn’t exactly right.” I’m willing to hear it, and I’m excited to know that some of you are on your guard. But that’s what it takes. Being on your guard against everything you hear that’s taught to you. Don’t allow yeast into your life. Understand where your motivation comes from. Your motivation doesn’t come from this place, from gathering together here, but your motivation comes from the power of God’s Holy Spirit and from the understanding of His Word… And you’ll be held responsible for your choices either to study God’s Word or not and to allow for the Spirit to affect you.

Who do you say Jesus is? Is He your Santa Claus in the sky? Is He the One that you only turn to when you're in trouble or you want something? Or, is He now your Life Partner that you are going to walk with every moment of every day? Who do you say He is? That is the question I believe that each of us, every day, need to grapple with.

Vintage message from May 2, 2004.

It’s not about whether or not I’m good enough. I’m never going to be good enough. But it is about the fact that Jesus was good enough, and He saved me. So it doesn’t matter if I’m doing good things. God loves me… He loved the world, He loved you, He loved me, long before there was anything good in us, and the only thing good that ever came into us was the Person of Jesus when we asked Him in…

The only way to know whether you’re getting good teaching or not is to be in God’s Word yourself… You guys have the challenge to be aware, to be on your guard, to know that sometimes you may hear something that is bad or wrong, and guess what? The Holy Spirit of God Who is in you and the Bible that you have available to you will help you to know what’s good and what’s bad teaching…

It boils down to this. Who do you say that Jesus is? Is He your Santa Claus in the sky? Is He the One that you only turn to when you’re in trouble or you want something? Or is He now your life Partner that you are going to walk every moment of every day with into and through eternity? Who do you say He is? This is the question I believe that each one of us, every day, needs to grapple with. What do we believe about Him? Who do we say He is?…

What about you? Who do you say that the Son of Man is? Have you ever thought about that? I mean, really taken time to sit down and think about Who is Jesus to you? I think about it a lot, and as I’ve said, sometimes I fall short. Sometimes I find myself getting very busy, I find myself getting caught up in the things of the world, I find myself getting caught up in my own flesh, and then Jesus becomes, to me, an inconvenience, because He may want me to do something other than what I’m doing. He may require me to do a good when I want to do the bad…

Who is He to you? What does He mean to you? When do you call on Him? When do you talk to Him? When do you engage Him in your life in that day-to-day grind that you find yourself in? Is He there with you? Are you talking to Him through the day? Is He your Friend?… Have you ever stopped to think about the God of heaven Who created all that there is, could snap His fingers just like that and each and every one of us fall on our face in total submission to Him, totally and completely outside of our will — He could make us do it…but isn’t it amazing? He doesn’t do that because He desires to have friends. He desires to have love relationship that comes from choice on my part. He’s not going to forceme. He never forces His creation. He offers His creation the choice. “But what about you? Who do you say I am?”

Who do we really believe that Jesus is? And, ultimately, are we His counselors? Yes, we think we are. I think I am every time I tell Jesus what He has to do in order to bless me. Every time I cry out to God because I don’t like what’s going on in my life. I don’t like the hardship that I’ve had to face, and I tell Him He’s wrong and that I need this or I need that, and if He would just do it this way, things would be better. We all find ourselves in that place of being God’s counselor…

And so it boils down to this. Who do you say Jesus is? Think about that this week. Who is Jesus to you? Is He just a convenience? Someone that you can ask for good things when you want good things? But if you’re ever inconvenienced by Him, you send Him packing? Who is Jesus to you?

The more you search, the more you dig, the more you learn about how awesome this God is.

Vintage message from May 9, 2004.

Jesus asked the question…Who do you say I am? I think this is a question that you could ask yourself every day of your life. You could wake up in the morning and say, “You know what, Lord? Who do I say You are today?” And I think you’d be amazed at the answer that you’ll get from yourself. Every day, Who Jesus is to us changes based on our life circumstances. We judge God. Do you realize that? You and I, based on my circumstances crawling out of bed and moving into my day, we judge God. Oh, we’re not supposed to, but we do it. I guarantee you that you do it, because it is our nature to judge. It is in our flesh to judge. And you know what? We’re told not to judge one another, but then we aretold that we are to look for fruit, we’re to look for certain scenarios in a person to tell us whether they’re living a good life or a bad life so we know whether or not to associate with them, right? So we have to know how to judge in some cases. And so often, we allow for God to fall into that same category of people we know and we judge Him when He doesn’t do things the way we think He should…

Who is Jesus to you? Is He truly the Christ, the Son of the Living God? And for most of us, what does that mean: the Christ, the Son of the Living God? You know, we get so caught up in fancy words, and we like to say them, but what does it really mean in here? It boils down to Who is Jesus to you? Who is God to you? Is He your Savior? Is He your Redeemer?…

You know, in John chapter fifteen, this is myview of Jesus and has been for many years… In John chapter fifteen He tells His disciples, “I no longer call you servants, but I call you friends.” And so, I have this view of Jesus being my friend, not this high and lofty, who-can-even-imagine-what-heaven’s-like type of a God. He’s my friend. He walks with me. I hear Him speak to me. From time to time, I’ve felt Him touch me. I know He’s there motivating me. He’s helped me make decisions, and He’s stepped back when I’ve made wrong decisions and let me make those wrong decisions and didn’t abandon me. He’s been my friend. But to call Him the Christ, the Son of the Living God? You know, that’s a bit lofty for my mind. I don’t carry that thought with me through my day, and so every day I’m grappling with this idea of Who is Jesus to me? Who is Jesus to you?…

He’s there for me. Someone I could just walk up to and put my arms around and hug. I don’t see this glowing, powerful, almighty God Jesus, Who in a moment can just become Who He is and then become a man again. I don’t quite have that picture in my head. I wake up every morning, I go out to work, and I say, “Good morning, Lord,” just as if I was saying good morning to [you], and I walk through my day and I talk to Him because He’s my Friend…

You know who it is that you’re serving? You’re serving God, the One Who created all that you see around you. You’re serving God, Who holds the molecules of your body together… The more you search, the more you dig, the more you learn about how awesome this God is…

Do you realize that your Friend, the One Who loves you, the One Who died for you, gives this picture and will be this picture one day for us? Glowing in all of His glory, standing in all of His might. And the amazing thing is, He’s still going to call you friend. He’s still going to call you child. He’s still going to love you even though you may not be looking as bright as He is.

Who is Jesus to you?… Look at how you’ve walked with Jesus already. What you’ve done with, for and through Him. The things that you’ve done that you wish that He hadn’t been there when you did them. Okay? And ask yourself, “Now, would I have done it had He been standing there glowing like that? Would I have made that decision if that Jesus was standing behind me looking over my shoulder?” Take time this week. Ask yourself that question. Let it ring in your ears and ring in your heart. Who is Jesus to you? That’s a question He asks. It doesn’t matter Who He is to everybody else. You know what? I want everybody to know Jesus, and I want them to know Who Ithink Jesus is, but more than that, I want them to know what this [the Bible] says Jesus is, and Who Jesus says He is about Himself. And guess what? For me to do thatIhave to know Who Jesus is, so I’ve got to ask myself the question, just as you need to ask yourself the question. Who is Jesus to you? Who is He? Really, Who is He?

Have you ever thought that maybe some of the things that you're going through in your life, you're going through because God loves you? Not because God is punishing you. Not because God hates you. Not because God is tryin to discipline you... Isn't it possible that God could desire for me to go through some very painful things in order for those that are around me to hear praises still coming from my lips? Isn't it possible that God could do that?

Vintage message from May 16, 2004.

Have you ever felt like God could not love you because of something you’d done? Because of something that had gone on in your life that now God must be punishing you because of the bad things that are happening in your life? “And after all, God, I deserve it.” Let me tell you something. Those assumptions are wrong. Now, God will discipline you. I’m not going to tell you God does not discipline, but God’s discipline always comes lovingly and caringly… Sometimes it’s not gentle, and sometimes it’s not easy, but it always comes with love. But you know how many times I’ve talked to Christians and counseled Christians who said, “God must not love me anymore because He’s allowing these things to happen in my life. He must be punishing me and He must hate me because of these things I did”? No, that’s a wrong concept…

You are going to treat others the way you feel and believe that Jesus treats you. It’s the truth. You are going to respond to people around you based on your concepts of how you’ve been loved. You are not going to love others the way Jesus loves them if you’re not feeling loved by Jesus. It’s not going to happen. But yet, you might talk about Him, and you might tell people about Him, and you might even say, “Jesus loves you.” But what do they seefrom you?… Are they learning that He always works allthings together for the good because you love Him and are called according to His purpose, and He loves you? Is that what they’re learning? Or are they learning that there are times that even though Jesus made promises, He doesn’t keep them for me? I see a lot of Christians who respond that way. We get angry at God when He doesn’t do what wewant. We get angry at God when He does not respond the way webelieve He should respond. We accuse Jesusof our hard times rather than understanding that our flesh, generally, is the reason for our hard times…

“If Jesus truly loved me, He would not let me go through this. He would not allow for me to face this hard time.” So often we come to that conclusion, and so often we share that conclusion with others though we do not intendto do that. We don’t share that necessarily with our words, but guess what? We share it with our life, with our attitude, with our approach…

Have you ever thought that maybe some of the things that you’re going through in your life, you’re going through because God loves you? Not because God is punishing you. Not because God hates you. Not because God is trying to discipline you. But He created you for this specific purpose of going through what you’re going through, to prove His power and His authority? Isn’t it possible that God could desire for me to go through some very painful things in order for those that are around me to hear praises still coming from my lips? Isn’t it possible that God could do that? Who’s to say that God created me simply to have a comfortable life, an easy life, a wealthy life? God created us all for a purpose…

Don’t argue with Him. Don’t fight with Him. We are so good at arguing and quarreling and fighting with Jesus and with God’s people about everything, when we have very clearly, right here in His Word how we need to love one another, how we need to get along with one another, how we need to encourage one another, how we need to build one another up. But you let us step on each other’s toes for even a second, and guess what? The “Wrath of Dave” is coming, and it is so easy for us to fall into those traps, because we’re uncertain about our future and we believe things about ourselves based on the history of mankind, rather than based on the knowledge we have of God and what God has done. Well, the history I have about God and what He’s done is sometimes He creates men simply for the purpose of using them even through hard times…

It’s amazing to me, when you begin to understand God’s Word, and the direction He goes with it, that our comfortisn’t what’s secure, but it is our salvation that is secure. It’s not enjoyment for this physical flesh that’s secure, but it is His love for us that is secure. I do not live this life trusting that tomorrow I’m going to wake up and be comfortable. I live this life knowing that tomorrow, if I wake up, I will wake up in the sight of a God Who loves me, in the hands of a God Who cares for me, surrounded by love that is going to bring me through a day regardless of what that day has to offer me, regardless of what enemies are standing outside the door waiting for me. Regardless of what arrows may pierce the flesh, there’s a God Who loves my soul and loves me and placed me here for that purpose…

We don’t have to fear God because God created us for a purpose, and that purpose was to love us, not terrorize us… Once again, boils down to that question, doesn’t it? Who is Jesus to you?… Is He this powerful, Almighty God that can begin to glow in your presence at any moment and still allow you to stand on your feet and talk to Him? Or is He this untouchable, off-in-outer-space-somewhere, type of a Being that never communicates with you? Or is He something completely different? Something that you’re not going to trust?… What does your life say about what you believe Who Jesus is?

Are we fostering faith in our hearts so that when the challenge comes to us we can step into it and overcome it?

Vintage message from May 23, 2004.

And this is the problem with mountain-top experiences. You have this great time, but you still have to come down, and guess what? When you get to the bottom of the mountain, life is still there waiting and generally, is just as hard as when you went up. You know, we go to the top of the mountain to get away from that life. We want to get away from the pressure, we want to get away from the hard times, and we think, by going up to the top of the mountain, somehow this is going to change. But guess what? It doesn’t change. It continues on. Like a river, it just keeps flowing. We just happen to be walking across the damn at the top of the mountain to get out of the flow of the river for a while, and we get the rest, and we get the refreshment. But then you come back down to…a need.

One of the things I find at the bottom of the mountain, the few times I’ve actually had the great time with the mountain top experience is, when you get back, there’s always need waiting. Someone has need in their life. Someone expects something of you. Someone wants something…

I find myself forgetting often, after God does amazing things in my life, I get to the next hard situation and I forget that God took care of that last one, so why am I burning holes in my stomach worrying about this one? Why am I screaming and yelling at my friends because I’m uptight over a decision that needs to be made or a circumstance I find myself in when Jesus took care of the last one? He gave me the power to stand through it. He brought me through it the last time. Isn’t He going to bring me through it this time?…

God has given us His Spirit. God has given us authority. God has given us power. And the other amazing thing is, God has given us faith, but it takes knowing His Word. It takes knowing the direction He would have us to go through His Word because “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Your faith is never going to grow, you’re never going to be strong in that faith, unless you understand God’s Word and the direction that Word would take you in ministry… And you know that by going through His Word, by having your relationship right through His Word, by learning to hear Him, by being right with Him and studying and preparing your heart on a daily basis…

How many of us believe that tomorrow we’re going to be alive again? You know, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to make it through today. There’s no guarantee that you know what’s going to happen as soon as you leave this building. Does God have a call on your life? Does God have a direction for your life? We come back to that question: what plans do you have for your life? What’s on that list of things that you would like to accomplish in life? Now I have to ask, has God approved that list? Are you sure that the things that you want to accomplish are the things that God wants you to accomplish? And when you’ve accomplished everything on your list, is there life at the end of it? Real life? True life? Life that comes by the will and desire and command of God Himself? I know a lot of people, I’ve seen their list, and God rarely makes it on the list. “I’m going to accomplish all these things for my life, and oh yeah, I’ve got this other list here, by the way, once I’ve accomplished all these things, then I’ll give God some attention.” You know what? You’re heading into dangerous waters when you leave God off the list, and you better know the direction that God wants you to go…

Sometimes you’ve got to go through death to find life. You’ve got to go through the hard times to find the victory. You’ve got to go through the battle. We so often run from the battle. We run from death. We run from those things that are hard. We hide from them. But if you have the faith of a mustard seed, you can overcome! You can walk headlong into your future regardless of how bleak it may look. You may have a bright, shiny future waiting for you, but I can guarantee you, for every one of us, in our future death is waiting. In one form or another, death is waiting. We will face it, just as Jesus faced it. Are we preparing our hearts now? Are we getting our lives right now? Are we fostering faith in our hearts so that when the challenge comes to us we can step into it and overcome it? The greatest mountain I can see for any of us to move is that mountain called death. It’s a big mountain. There’s uncertainty on the other side. Well, of course, unless you have faith of what life is going to be once you get there…

We canknow God’s will. God’s will is that we love Him and that we love one another. First and foremost, if we are fulfilling those two great commands, it doesn’t matter what happens outside that front door. If we’ve loved Him and we’ve loved one another, then we will have obeyed His command, we will have received Jesus, and once we step out that door, no matter what we meet, we step into life. But the real life, the life we truly desire, the life that we’re told about in God’s Word, stands on the other side of the door. You’ve always got to step through that door of death to see the life that you want to have…

We need to know the truth about the future. The future, even though it has hardship in it, if you receive Jesus into your life, also has life in it, no matter what is in that future. If Jesus is in you, there is life in your future.

We will go through rough times, and it is our faith that determines how we come through on the other side of those rough times.

Vintage message from May 30, 2004.

Sometimes our faith grows or is determined by our preparation. You know what? If I want God to do something in my life, and I’m not willing to pray, then why should He do it? If I’m not willing to come to God and humble myself, why should God have to do the things that I want done in my life? And this is the amazing thing about God. He knows every need we have. He knows every hair on our head. He knows they minute details of our life. He could make everything in our life good and make it so that we never, ever have to struggle. He could do that, but we would never be challenged to grow. We’d never be challenged to step forward and face the rough times in life. If He made everything good in my life, you know what? He could have created this world just to be one big party all the time, and in some ways, that may be what heaven’s going to be. When the flesh is gone and sin is gone, maybe that’s what’s going to happen. But I can’t tell you what’s going to happen. I can only imagine what might happen because He’s not given us that information.

But I do believe that we face hard times in this world, and Jesus even tells us, “In this life you will have tribulation.” That we will face the rough times. We will go into rough times, and it is our faith that determines how we come through to the other side of those rough times, and there are things that we can do such as pray, and sometimes get really serious and fast…

So often we do not show the strength of character that Jesus desires for us to show. We’re so quick to jump to our “rights” and to argue about usbeing in the right that we forget about the person we’re talking to or the people who are hearing, and become an offense to them. You know what? There is no fight that we can fight that’s worth the soul of someone else for me to win an argument. It’s not worth it. It’s better, sometimes, to humble ourself and step back. Now, of course, there are issues that I’m willing to die for. There are issues that I’m willing to stand firm in, regardless of who’s offended…

God does not desire for us to win the argument or to have every freedom that we think should have here. Some things He would desire for us to humble ourselves in and be the witness and the example so that we don’t stumble them.

My vision of God is a loving, caring Father and Creator Who created us with a specific desire to have love relationship, and Who will do anything to see us brought into that love relationship.

Vintage message from June 6, 2004.

One of the things I’ve noticed about children through the years, that you can go up to a child and tell them about the person of Jesus Christ, you can go up to a child and talk to them about God, you can go to a child and share with them about faith and having a simple, caring, loving relationship with the God Who created them in faith, and they believe. You know what? Children grow up to be adults, and it is in that process of growing from a child into adulthood that the world teaches them to notbelieve. Children are born with a place in their heart where the knowledge of God is written, and as they grow, we can either water that seed of knowledge and help them to grow into strong men and women of God, believing in the Person of Jesus Christ; or, by our lifestyle, by the things that we allow for them to do, by not helping them to understand the things that they do that hurt other people is hurting their relationship with God, we could actually be teaching our children to grow up to notbelieve…

One of the things I’m telling people all the time, one of the things that I’m trying to do all the time, is watch my life. I tell people, watch your life. You know what? I’m not offended if you tell me you’re a sinner, because guess what? I already know it. If you came to me and told me that you were perfect, that would shock me, and I wouldn’t believe you. But come to me and tell me that you’re a sinner, and guess what? We can work with that. But in your sin, be careful that you are not living in such a way that you’re causing others to live in your sin with you. You need to be careful that you are not setting a scenario where people are looking to you and then living your life because you think your sin is okay. Woe to you. This is what Jesus said. Woe to you! Woe is not a good word! You don’t want woe! “Woe to the man through whom they come…”

Jesus didn’t condemn us because of sin. He came to deal with our issues of sin. But now He’s telling us that we need to take very seriously our issues of sin and try to deal with them, even radically deal with these issues of sin. Not because our sin is what keeps us out of heaven, but our sin can cause others to live in sin as well. People will look at me and think because I’m doing it, it’s okay for them to do it. And so, it’s better for me to watch my life and make sure that, if I do sin, that I let people know immediately, “Guess what? I’ve blown it,” and that I go to those who’ve seen me sin and say, “I have sinned. You do not want to do this. Do notfollow that as the example.” But that’s why we’re also told in other places to confess our sin and to get it right, and to go to our brother if we sin against them, because if you let your sin go unchecked, if you try to explain your sin away, if you try to excuse yourself, guess what? God is paying attention. And if you are living a lifestyle of sin, and you refuse to give that over to God, and you refuse to acknowledge it as being sin before God, and other people being to live that lifestyle because of you, the only word I have to say is woe, because Jesus says woe, and you don’t want woe! It’s bad!…

He will go to whatever length He has to, to try to find us and draw us back from it. And He celebrates when He finds even one and brings it back. We need to be careful how we live our life. We need to be careful about how we deal with our sin and the issues of sin that we have. We want to be careful when we encounter God’s people and what we say to them and how we teach them. We want to encourage and build up and let people know that God islove and His desire isto have eternity with us, but guess what? He’s not going to force us to be there with Him. He’s not going to force us to change these issues of sin, and He will, if He has to, let us go and encounter an eternity in a place that we don’t want to be. He’s going to do all He can to stop that, though. He will leave the ninety-nine and search for the one. His desire is to bring each and every one of us to that place of living in eternity with Him, in love relationship with Him. You want to be great in God’s kingdom? Believe in Jesus. Trust in Him. Deal with your issues of sin so that you’re not causing God’s little ones to stumble and fall. Teach the truth about eternity…

My vision of God is a loving, caring Father and Creator Who created us with a specific desire to have love relationship, and Who will do anything to see us brought into that love relationship…

Don’t ever allow for yourself to be fooled into thinking because you have an issue of sin in your life that somehow that means that you have to go to hell now, because if it was sin that causes us to go to hell and perfection that causes us to go to heaven, guess what? None of us would make it to heaven and all of us would go to hell. But we want to be very careful how we allow that sin to affect those that are around us. Keep very short account in your life. If you find yourself sinning, deal with it, confess it, make it right, and don’t ever allow for others to hear you say, “It’s okay for meto do this,” because then they might think it’s okay for them to do it, and then you have woeon you, and you don’t want to be in that place.

God wants us to be gentle with our brothers, even though they sin against us... First, we are to have a desire to win back our brother's love and fellowship. That is the motive in which we're going.

Vintage message from June 13, 2004.

This is exactly how, most of the time, we deal with our brother when our brother sins against us. We want to go and get in their face and make sure they know how deeply they’ve hurt us, how badly they’ve hurt us, how horribly they’ve messed up, and we run them through the mud, and we step on their toes, and we step on their back, and we make sure when we’re done letting them know that they’ve sinned against us, that they’ll never sin against anybody ever again! We think…

Yes, [Jesus] wants us to go to our brother if our brother sinned against us, to show him his fault, “Just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” So what is it that we are hoping to accomplish when our brother sins against us when we go to them? Is it to make them feel like the piece of slime and filth that they are, because they sinned against me? Or is it actually t win them over? See, this is where we miss in our thinking so often. We get hurt, and because we get hurt, we want everybody around us to hurt, too. We want to take it out on everybody and especially the person that hurt us. But see Jesus, in dealing now with His disciples, is letting them know that it is not about us being hurt, but it is about winning over our brother once again. Bringing him back… It’s not about exacting our revenge, that we like to do, but it’s about bringing him back…

And there’s several things in this statement that should stick out to us. First, we’re going to our brother to show him — not scream at him — the fault… And just between the two of you. God wants us to be sensitive in our approach to our brothers, even though they sin against us. He wants us to be gentle with our brothers, even though they sin against us… First, we are to have a desire to win our brother’s love and fellowship back. That is the motive in which we’re going… Go to them, bring your proof to them, show them, and do this with the intent of winning your brother. Do you ever win anybody by calling him a jerk, an idiot, a slimeball? So therefore, we have to leave the name calling behind, don’t we? We have to leave the abusive anger behind…

We have opportunity to win our brother back. In everything that we are studying in these verses, have to do with loving rather than hating, have to do with bringing back rather than chasing away, have to do with having fellowship rather than breaking fellowship, but yet we don’t hardly ever read this chapter in that way…

So what is it we’re asking for? What is it we’re agreeing about? Dealing with one another. Winning our brother or our sister back. Building the church, strengthening the church, by going to the Father by twos and threes and asking for the salvation or the return of a brother that has wandered off. That’s what it’s talking about. But once again, we cut that little verse out and we put it in our own little book so that we can name it and claim it. Pray for whatever we want, and we take it out of the context of what Jesus has just been teaching. I don’t see any houses mentioned here or any cars mentioned here, any cattle mentioned here, any sheep mentioned here — other than the sheep that wandered off that He went after to bring back. But I do see Him teaching about loving and forgiving. So then, if we’re going to use this verse correctly, we leave it in context, and we must then conclude that we are praying about, asking for, the redemption of our brother or our sister. It’s amazing when you leave things in context, the clarity you can get…

[Peter says,] “You want me to forgive. Sure, I’m happy to forgive, but how many times? I’m only human, Lord, so is seven times good enough?…” And here Jesus is now saying basically, more than you will be able can keep track of or count. When was the last time you kept count of how many times a brother sinned against you? Like I said, after three or four, he’s out of here, so you’ve stopped counting. Try it sometime. Keep your brother around and let him step on your toes twelve, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five. That toe is getting pretty raw by now. Now imagine seventy times seven. Imagine forgiving your brother more than you could ever possibly count or imagine or remember, but just loving your brother so much that you desire to see him walking right with you and God that you’re willing to forgive him, and you’re willing to go out of your way to do what it takes to forgive him… Who has the time in the day to keep count of every single time someone sins against you? That’s the whole point. You don’t have the time in the day, so don’t keep count. Forgive! And forgive again, and love again, and try to win your brother back again, and when he wanders off you go after him again. I don’t care how many times it takes. You do it until you bring your brother back, or he chooses to live as the pagan and the tax collector, knowing that he is outside of the fellowship with those who would love to be with him, with those who want to fellowship and love him. It’s not we who chase him away. It is they who choose to walk away. But so often it can be resolved by simply going to your brother in the first place.

That is our goal. Always to win our brother over, to have that love relationship. Not to drive him away. Not to find excuse or reason to be angry and mad. It is always to win our brother over. Difficult? Yes. Do-able? Yes, because Jesus said it was.

Vintage message from June 20, 2004.

Jesus has already told His disciples, “It’s going to cost Me My life,” and now Peter’s asking the question, “Lord, how many times do I have to forgive my brother?” Well, the answer is, how much debt has been forgiven you? And how many times have you been forgiven? How has your King and your Master treated you? These are the questions we should be asking ourself when it comes to dealing with our brothers, when it comes to dealing with our sisters, when it comes to dealing with even those people in the world. See, we know now that there is no possible way for us to forgive in this way without the Holy Spirit of God indwelling us. I’ve been asked the question many times: well, what is forgiveness? Well, we’ve just learned today what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is pity, forgiveness is compassion, forgiveness is mercy knowing that we’ve been wronged. It’s not saying to act as though you weren’t wronged…

We want our pound of flesh. But yet, we look at our brother and we know that there is no way. No way he can pay us. No way he can undo what he’s done. There have been many times that I’ve been hurt, and the hurt that was done to me that no matter how many times the person apologized, the hurt did not go away. There are things that happen to us that someone saying, “I’m sorry,” can not heal. But does that mean that because we’ve been hurt that we have to respond out of that hurt? No. Because we, then, choose to carry the hurt, to carry the wound, and have pity and compassion on the one who wounded us. And how many times do we have to do that? How many times do we have to consider our brother when he comes to us and says, “Forgive me”? “Ugh! I’m still bleeding here, and you’re saying forgive me? And I’m just supposed to walk away?” Yes. Yes! Because how many times have wewounded our brother and left him bleeding, and never said “I’m sorry,” and never said, “Forgive me”? In our own minds, convincing ourselves that he also deserved that?

But yet, God forgives. We keep adding to that debt that we owe God, but yet, in the blood of Jesus, He’s forgiven. He’s had compassion, and He shows mercy. Doesn’t mean that He’s not been hurt. Doesn’t mean that we don’t owe the debt…

Jesus is saying that if we, like this wicked servant, can owe God such a great debt, and God forgive us, no matter what it is that our brother does to us, compared to what we owe God, it’s a minor thing. It’s a few dollars compared to the millions we owe God. When we find ourselves in a struggle, when we find ourselves arguing, when we find ourselves fighting, when we find ourselves in a dispute, when we find ourselves hurting because of something that someone’s done to us, we can be patient just as this king was patient. But what have we learned about patience already? How do you find patience? Patience is a byproduct, right? We’re told that patience comes from understanding.

Romans 5 tells us very clearly that there are steps that cause us to grow and cause certain fruit to be displayed in us, and you’re not going to be patient until you understand. So that means you look at your brother, the one who’s wounded you, and you try to understand who he is and where he’s coming from, and then once you understand, once you begin to see, maybe your brother had a rough day or has had a rough life and is only responding himself like a wounded animal… We approach a brother and he snaps at us and says nasty things to us, and we all of a sudden are assuming the worst. We have no idea what that brother’s been through. We have no idea the wound that he has to himself that’s left him bleeding and hurting. So, we seek understanding. With understanding comes patience, and with patience we can show pity, we can show mercy, and that’s what God desires, and that’s what God requires. And if we’re not forgiving our brothers, John tells us if we’re not loving our brother and forgiving, then God is not in us. We do not have the relationship that we claimto have.

Now, does that mean that tomorrow I’m going to wake up and all of a sudden love everybody who’s ever hurt me? No. It’s a process. Fruit grows slowly, and it’s a process. But understand something in your life: what Jesus is getting across to Peter, what Jesus is getting across to His disciples, that within this process, you might have to forgive well beyond what your imagination is telling you, you can forgive. Even that number of perfection: seven times? If I forgive my brother seven times, I’m doing pretty good, but Jesus is saying, don’t stop there. Multiply that out seventy times, and then you’re getting close. Show mercy and have compassion that many times. Try to understand your brother that many times. Try to seek resolution that many times. Try to make it right with your brother that many times, and then you’re getting to where the King is and the compassion that He has; his desire to bring us into that love relationship with Him.

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” That is our goal. Always, to win our brother over, to have that love relationship. Not to drive him away. Not to find excuse or reason to be angry and mad. It is always to win our brother over. Difficult? Yes. Do-able? Yes, because Jesus said it was. But it only comes in a love relationship with the One Who is the Author of forgiveness, the Author of mercy, the Author of compassion, the Author of kindness. The One Who, when you look into the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians chapter five, when you read through what those fruits are you’ll find many of them have to do with the ability to forgive. Without them, you’re lost.

So first, seek to be forgiven by the Master and enter into that relationship, and once you truly understand what your Master has done for you, then you’ll have a little bit of understanding of how you need to interact with others around you.

You want to be great? Just simply follow Jesus' example. That's all you've got to do. You're never going to follow His example, though, unless you know what's in this Book; unless you take the time to study...the life of Jesus Christ.

Vintage message from August 1, 2004.

We think everything should be “fair” rather than filled with God’s grace and God’s mercy. And as I said last week, I praise God that He is not “fair” because if God was fair and gave me what I deserved, guess what? It would not be heaven, and I think if each one of us in this room took a long, hard look at our lives, how we live, who we are, how we think, because guess what? You’re not judged by God on just what you do, but you’re judged by God also on what you think; what goes into your mind and then dwells in your heart. You know what? I don’t want to get what I deserve, and I am very thankful that God is gracious and merciful. That He is generous. And that’s how we evangelize. We evangelize in the mercy and generosity of God to bring people to a place of understanding that no matter who they are, no matter where they’re at, no matter what they’ve done, or no matter how short their time is, that God desires to bring them into salvation; that God desires to bring them into a love relationship with Him that is going to bring them into eternity and into life. And then those petty things don’t seem to matter so much anymore…

We may think about it and say, oh, I would never tell God what to do, well, except for, you know what, a new car would be nice, Lord. And you know, a nice $100,000 job would be really nice, Lord, and you know what? Most of our prayers are not seeking God’s desire for us. Most of our prayers are telling God what we want Him to do for us, but we don’t quite see it in that context… But it is not about what we’re able to tell the Lord. It’s not about what the Lord can learn from us. It’s about what we can learn from the Lord.

And He’s now told them, you want to be great? You know what it is to truly be great? You know who these guys are that will be sitting at My right and My left? They’re going to be the ones that have been found by My Father to be the greatest servants of all. Those who sacrificed the most. Those who loved even when people didn’t reciprocate. Those who offered blessing even when their blessings were spat upon. Those who stood up and said, “I don’t care what the world does. I’m going to love God, and I’m going to love my neighbor.” It boils down to those two great commandments. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, with all your strength, and the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself…”

But it’s about serving, not being served. It’s about taking that lowest position, not taking the high position… It’s now not just being a servant, but it is actually giving up your rights… Serve one another. Step up and serve… “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” See, once again, He’s saying, “Guys, don’t just take My word for it. Follow My example. You know what? I’m not going to ask you to do what you don’t see Me doing.” That’s what He’s saying to them…

You want to be great? Just simply follow Jesus’s example. That’s all you’ve got to do. You’re never going to follow His example, though, unless you know what’s in this Book. Unless you take the time to study, and especially study the life of Jesus Christ… Like He said, He didn’t come to be served. He didn’t come in a castle or a mansion. He said the Son of Man doesn’t even have a pillow to lay His head on. He came to be the example of what it is to serve even in the harshest of circumstances.

God is looking for faithful men and women who will trust Him, to believe Him for the miracle, and to cry out to Him, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! Use me, and let my life become a testimony and a witness to those around me."

Vintage message from August 8, 2004.

You know why we don’t receive the miracle? Because we don’t ask for the miracle. Most of us sit around begging for the things that we don’t need. We sit around insisting that God give us the stuff that is useless to us. Most of the men would have been begging for silver or gold, for their food, but here you had a man, as Jesus was coming in, who realized his real was for sight, a change of life. But that takes a little greater commitment, doesn’t it? To ask God for the miracle that’s going to change our life. You know what it meant for this blind man to get his sight back? He no longer got to sit on the side of the road and tell stories with his friends. Spend all day whispering back and forth, begging as people came by. Having somebody else take care of him. It meant, now, he would have to get up and get a job. He no longer had an excuse to have others take him by the hand and lead him around. That he was going to have to depend on the strength that he received as he worked hard and trusted God. You know why we don’t get the miracle when we ask? Because we’re not asking for the miracle. We’re asking for the things that we want…

Do you believe that people actually pay attention to what you do? Does your life have an affect on anyone else around you?…

God wants to use us… God wants to do miracles in our lives, first and foremost. But guess what? We need to ask for that miracle. We need to believe for that miracle. We need to trust for that miracle. If you’re asking for pennies, you’ll get pennies. I’m not one of those that teaches the more you ask for, the more God is going to give you, because I believe that God gives you plenty of challenges in your life. He gives you what He knows you need, and sometimes what you need is to be broke and to be challenged, and He’ll give that to you. But when you’re looking for the miracle, you’ve got to have faith, and you’ve got to ask for the miracle, and then when you do, that miracle becomes a testimony to someone else, because guess what? There is somebody else who is going to be blessed by your experience. There is going to be somebody else who is watching and paying attention to your experience. I don’t care how much you say, “I’m nothing. My life is meaningless. I’ve screwed up so much in my life, there’s no way God could use me!” God uses me, and believe me, I’ve screwed up plenty, and if God can use me, He can use anybody. And I guarantee you, if you were able to sit down and talk to Matthew, you would hear Matthew go, “Oh, man! I was a tax collector! There was no way God could have used me. They all hated me. The Jews hated me. The Romans hated me. But then Jesus came along, and He called me. What was up with that? And Jesus used me.” He was a traitor to his people, and Jesus used him. You can’t screw up worse than that, believe me. God desires to use us. He desires to use our testimony, and guess what? My testimony doesn’t have to be the same as yours. Your testimony doesn’t have to be the same as mine. Even if we’re having similar experiences with God, they don’t have to be exactly the same to be valid. We just have to be willing to let God use us, and let Him validate His own power in and through us…

God is looking for faithful men and women who will trust Him, to believe Him for the miracle, and to cry out to Him, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! Use me and let my life become a testimony and a witness to those around me.”

How many times have You told me to do things? How many times have You made it clear that there was a specific direction or path that You were going and I ignored it and went my own way?

Vintage message from August 15, 2004.

Am I really any different than Your disciples? How many times have You told me to do things? How many times have You made it clear that there was a specific direction or path that You were going and I ignored it and went my own way? Am I really any different than the disciples? And I think this is a question that, if you took the time to ask, you would find that really we are not different than the disciples, though we have the advantage of having the Holy Spirit in us. The disciples did not. We have the Holy Spirit Who can explain things to us a little more fully than the disciples. The disciples just took Jesus’ word for it and made of Jesus’ word what they could, even though they didn’t fully understand. We, even with the Holy Spirit in us, though, will take information, we will match it to our lives, we will match it to our expectations of life and, no matter what it is that God has directed us to do, we will match that direction to what we desireto do…

We have expectation, just as the chief priests and the religious leaders had expectation of what that King was going to be when He came. Just as the people in the street had expectation of what that King was going to be when He came. If I was to ask you right now, what is your expectation for Jesus’ return? When is it going to happen? How is it going to happen? And what do you think your part in it is going to be? It’s a very complicated question, isn’t it? All of us have this idea of how we would liketo see Jesus return. Of course, we have His Word, and we know that His return to this earth is going to be after there’s been seven years of Tribulation on this earth, and this earth is going to be decimated, and He’s going to come back and clean up the mess. But what does that mean for you and I? Well, we’re going to be taken up and we’re going to meet Him in the clouds. Have you ever thought of that day? What you might be doing? Have you ever thought of the plans that you have for your life and what might be interrupted? Have you ever found yourself praying, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus, but just not right now”? I have. I have days where I am enjoying life. I am enjoying the circumstances of my life. I am enjoying all that God has blessed me with. And I say, “You know what, Lord? There had gotto be other Gentiles on the face of this planet that still need to be saved, so take Your time.” But what if He interrupted something that I was doing? What if my King required me to stop what I’m doing right now and come and be what He is doing? Be a part of that exciting adventure that is going to be eternity? We all have expectation. We all have an idea of what we believe it’s going to be like that day when Jesus returns, that day that Jesus calls us to be with Him…

In the back of our minds, each and every one of us have a desire to see Jesus return, but we want to usher Him in on our terms. We want it to be in our timeframe. We want it to be how we would like it to be. We have an idea of what part we might play. What we hope we willplay. How He’ll use us…

How many times do we miss the fact that He is here, and He is paying attention? Our actions speak so much louder than our words and our understanding, in the things that we do, the circumstances we find ourselves in, the things that we think, how we approach our life. We live the truth even though we study the truth. The truth that we study is sometimes very different than the truth that we live. Our lives display our expectations. We believe that God should be doing something else or using us in a different way than He is, or we have this idea that, well, God is out there right now. Yeah, He might be returning, but He’s still some distance down the road so I don’t have to worry about it. Well, that is until, of course, we start hearing the shouting in the streets that we weren’t expecting…

Heaven isn’t out there, and God isn’t out there somewhere. Heaven is where Jesus is. So I guess I can ask the question, do you have heaven in your heart today? If heaven is where Jesus is, and you’ve asked Jesus into your heart, you’ve asked Jesus to be in your life, to be in control of your life, then guess what? That’s where heaven is. Do you live believing that you are dwelling in heaven right now? Do you approach your life and the expectations of your life as though you are walking every moment in eternity already? You should. That is exactly how God desired us to live when He gave us His Holy Spirit, when He filled us with His Spirit…

So often we miss the point. The Spirit can move in, He can be a part of our lives, and He can give us direction, and He’s given us His Word to study, and we can match His Word with what we feel inside, but yet we still turn and go the other direction so often. We still do our own things so often. And then, when Jesus shows up and overturns the table of our success, we become indignant, and we say, “God, what do You think You’re doing? This wasn’t in the plan!” Or was it? And we just missed His plans. We, too often, make our plans. We set the direction for our life, and expect God to bless what we want to do. We tell God, “God, this is what You’re going to do for me today,” and we do it in such a holy way, “Oh, Lord, make Your will known to me. Let me know what You want me to do, as long as that’s my job and this house that I want and this car that I want, it’s all okay, Lord. Just tell me that this is what Your plan is, and everything will be okay.” We are so good at it. What is your expectation? What do you believe God should be doing with you, in you, and through you? And what is it that He reallywants to accomplish in you, through you, for you, and for His kingdom? That’s how He would have us to think…

What are your expectations? What do you believe Jesus should be doing with you? And what does His Word tell us it is that He is going to do? And this is the point. It’s not a mystery. Jesus made it very clear to His disciples what it was that He was going to do. His Word made it very clear through the prophets what it was that He was going to do… His Word already tells us what it is that He is going to do. Do we live our lives as though we believe it? Or do we challenge God every step of the way and say, “Yeah, God, that’s all fine and well, but I have a different plan. I have different expectations.” How is God’s Word going to be fulfilled in and around us, and are we going to be ready for it? It’s time to prepare our hearts…

Are we living each and every moment of our lives so that when that trumpet blasts, we’re not taken by surprise, but we’re just stepping one more moment in eternity, just as we have been since the day that Jesus entered into our life? It’s not going to be a surprise to us?…

First and foremost, it is about knowing what God has to say. It's not about what I have to say. It's not about what I feel. It's not about what I desire. It is about what God has to say... Are you willing to say, "Yes, Jesus, You are my Lord. You are the Authority over me, and I will  do what it is that You ask me to do."

Vintage message from August 22, 2004.

God has a desire and a plan laid out for us. All we need do is seek God to find out what that plan is, and then, by faith, even though we don’t see how it’s going to happen, trust that it’s going to happen. I want to read to you something in 2 Timothy. In 2 Timothy 4:1, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, Who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His kingdom, I give you this charge.” This is Paul, by the way, writing to Timothy, giving him instruction on how to present himself in ministry, and so he’s going to give him this charge. “Preach the Word.” First and foremost, it is about knowing what God has to say. It’s not about what Ihave to say. It’s not about what Ifeel. It’s not about what Idesire. It is about what Godhas to say. And so, Paul tells him, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.” Paul is giving Timothy this instruction, be prepared, be ready, teach the Word even when you’re not prepared to teach the Word. Be prepared. Do it in season and out of season.

You know what? We can make all kinds of excuses why we’re not ready to do something, why we’re not ready to accept something, why we’re not ready to have something happen in our life, but they are excuses, especially when God’s Word lays it out clearly for us, and we’re told to be ready. Ready to teach God’s Word. It is always, first and foremost, about God’s Word. Most of us aren’t convinced of that, though.

“Okay, I’ll teach God’s Word when I get around to it. When I accomplish all those things in my life that I want to see happen first, then I might be ready to teach God’s Word, but I’m just not ready right now. It’s not the seasonfor me to do that yet.”

I don’t care what season it is. Paul, right here, is telling those who would handle God’s Word — and by the way, just because I teach up here does not mean that you do not handle God’s Word. How many of you have a Bible in here this morning?… Everybody who has a Bible handles God’s Word. So, this instruction is going to you as well. Not just to Timothy, not just to me because I preach, but to anybody and everybody who is in God’s service. Are you God’s servant? Did God create you with a purpose? Was that purpose for you to be comfortable and healthy and rich and sitting in a big home and not talking to anybody? I don’t think so. I believe God prepared you and has given you all that He’s given you in your life for a reason… In every case He’s given in order to prepare the servant, the vessel, to be ready when God calls, when it is your turn to step up, and preach the Word. But it doesn’t matter if you’re ready or not. When God brings you the opportunity, and you have God’s Word, you take your best shot at it, and let the Holy Spirit do the rest…

We’re also told in the gospels that we are to desire God’s will. It’s not just about naming it and claiming it. It’s not just about desiring something for our life, but to take Jesus’s example. Jesus was here for a purpose. He was here to produce fruit for His Father, and everything that Jesus did, it was done to honor His Father. And so, when we’re told to ask for anything in His name, we are honoring that name by doing what He did. This is what Jesus is telling His disciples…

We do not know exactly how God will do what He desires to do, but we know that when He asks us to do it, it is for a purpose…

What are you asking for in prayer? What do you believe it is that God wants you to do? What is it that you believe that God wants you to have? We’re also told we have not because we ask not or we ask amiss, because we’re not asking for God’s will. We’re asking for our will. We’re asking for our desire. We’re asking for our greatness. We’re not asking for God’s greatness to be displayed through us, and so we don’t get what we ask for because we’re truly not asking in faith…

What do you fear? Do you fear God or do you fear man? Do you fear man’s opinion of you? Do you care about what people think? I think so often we have this same discussion that the leaders had, but we do it in our mind. What is it that I dobelieve?… Does God have any real, true authority over us? That is the foundation of faith that is laid. What do you believe? You can’t see it, you can’t feel it, you can’t taste it, but it is there. If you believe that there is a God in heaven, if you believe that Jesus died on the cross, then guess what? You have to believe that He has the authority to ask you to do whatever it is that He chooses to ask you to do, and you have to be ready in season and out of season to accomplish it. It’s not about our desire. It is about the authority of God in our life. Does God have the authority to ask you to do what it is He’s asked me to do? And then when you believe He’s asked you to do it, are you willing? Will you take that step of faith? Will you be ready? Even if you’re not supposed to be ready, will you be ready?…

It all boils down to, are you willing? Are you willing to say, “Yes, Jesus, You are my Lord. You are the authority over me, and I will do what it is that You ask me to do.”

You're not going to ever really deal with problems without a little discomfort. Real problems need real solutions, and the only real solution there is to any of our problems is turning to Jesus and falling on Him and humbling ourselves even if it hurts or if it's uncomfortable. That's where we need to be.

Vintage message from August 29, 2004.

You know what? If you are firmly convicted about something, even if it’s wrong, stand up and say it. God can deal with a man who’s wrong, who’s willing to stand up and say something that’s wrong, and then correct him if He needs to. The hardest hearts to deal with, and we learned this in Revelation in the church of Laodicea, is the heart that’s lukewarm, the one that is neither committed to the hot or the cold, the wishy-washy mind, the wishy-washy heart that doesn’t want to commit. Jesus says, “I would rather you be hot or cold, either one. I don’t care. I can deal with the cold just as I can deal with the hot, but lukewarm makes Me sick. I’m spewing it out of My mouth.” And this is where these guys are. They step up in fear and say, we don’t know…

There are a lot of believers who do not like their circumstances. They do not like what God is asking them to face. They don’t like the challenge. They don’t understand the path that they’re on. It’s cloudy, it’s hard to see, and it’s confusing, and it’s easy to say, “No! I do not want to go down that road.” But you know what? If you step on the road, even though you’ve been what soundsto be disobedient to the Father, you know what? He can deal with a disobedient child in love and in care…

A lot of Christians in our world today, they want to look good, they want to sound good, they want people to perceive them as good. “Oh, yes! Oh, praise God!” Until it comes to facing the hardship. Until it comes to stepping into that road that leads into a place that is scary and uncertain…

Serving God, the way God asks us to serve Him, needs to be done. First and foremost, He tells us, go therefore into all nations making disciples. Right? Are we making disciples?… We already have a command given to us to go, to go into the field. Jesus has asked us to step up and go into the field. But…so often we find ourselves trapped and we pay lip service to the Father, and that’s what it is, paying lip service to God, thinking somehow He doesn’t see into our heart, and know our real position where we stand… We have very clear guidelines, very clear direction on how to live right here in God’s Word, and to say, “I don’t know” or “I don’t understand” is really a lie. The truth is, “I’ve not read it, I don’t care to study it, I don’t want to be a part of it.” It’s better to say thatthan “I don’t know…”

Whoever promised that a Christian would be comfortable? Did Jesus ever promise us that we were going to be comfortable? No. Jesus, in fact, tells us, “In this life you will have tribulation.” Guys, don’t plan on being comfortable. But you know what? I hear the teaching in the world today that, “If you truly believe, you’ll be wealthy, and you’ll be at peace, and you’ll never be uncomfortable.” And I’m not against having. I own a couple cars, I have a nice home, but the thing is, how am I holding on to it? And if God said, “Now, it’s time to give that up and move on. That’s My fruit. I’ve let you use it, I’ve let you benefit from it, but now I’m requiring what’s Mine,” how am I holding on to it? By what authority am I holding on to it? What right do I have to hold on to it? It’s not wrong in having. It’s wrong in how you perceive why you have it, and how it came to you. And everything that we have is loaned to us. Given to us as a blessing to be shared and to be passed back on, not to be claimed

“He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on who it falls will be crushed.” Jesus is that capstone. He is that cornerstone. He is the One that was rejected. And I like this verse because it reminds me that all men are affected by this Stone. You can’t get around it. You can’t get away from it. You have a choice, though. You can either humble yourself and fall on it; you’ll be broken. You know what? When you humble yourself, it hurts. It’s uncomfortable. I don’t like being humbled. I like being right. I like people looking up to me… But you know what? God does not allow us to stay in those elevated positions for very long. He’ll put us in positions where we find ourselves in need, and then we have to fall on Him, and when we fall on Him we realize the reason that we’re falling on Him is because we made the mess in the first place, that’s now causing us to need Him to come and get us out, and we have to humble ourselves, and we’re broken. Being brokenis not a bad thing. Being crushedis a bad thing. You don’t want the Rock to fall on you. Jesus willcome after you. Jesus will have His way with you. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care who they think they are out in the world. Jesus willhave His way, and one day that Rock will fall, and it willland. You just better hope you’re not standing under it when it lands, because those will be crushed…

You’re not going to ever really deal with problems without a little discomfort. Real problems need real solutions, and the only real solution there is to any of our problems is turning to Jesus and falling on Him and humbling ourselves even if it hurts or if it’s uncomfortable. That’s where we need to be.

It doesn’t matter what people think. It doesn’t matter what other people do. They’ll tease you, they’ll try to coerce you, they’ll try to bring you to their position, but if you know you are right in Jesus Christ, you stand there. And if you’re wrong, and you’ve made a firm stand, Jesus will deal with that, too. But what makes Him sick, what makes Him want to puke, is when you’re lukewarm and wishy-washy. He’ll deal with that, too. I don’t think any of us here want to be spewed.

Wherever God is, that's where heaven is. Heaven isn't a place. Heaven, once again, is the relationship that we have with the Creator of this universe... You can build a city of gold...but if God's not there, it's not heaven. It's just another fancy place.

Vintage message from September 5, 2004.

We look at heaven, again, as that place that we’re going to; that we do not yet have involvement with because we’re stuck here, and who would dare call this place heaven. But you know what? Everything He just described in this parable is talking about life as it was several thousand years ago, and it had to do with the men who lived on the face of this planet at that time, and “heaven is like” wherever God is and whomever God is dealing with, because where God is, that’s where heaven is. Heaven isn’t a place. Heaven, once again, is the relationship that we have with the Creator of this universe. I’ve said this a few times, and I’m going to say it again. You can build a city of gold. You can put diamonds and jewels in it. You can pave the streets with gold. You can clean up the air, and you can make it the most perfect place there ever, ever was to be, but if God’s not there, it’s not heaven. It’s just another fancy place to be… Heaven is not the place. Heaven is the person, the relationship, the love that we can have with Him…

There are a lot of people who say, “Well, when I change my life, when I clean up my act, when I’ve spent time reading the Bible and I know Who this God is a little better, when I know all there is to know about Jesus, then I’ll give my life to Christ. Then I’ll invite Jesus into my life. You’re wasting your time. Well, maybe not, if that’s what it takes for you, but I have observed that those that feel like they have to know everything before they come, will never come because guess what? You will never know enough about God, you will never know enough about that relationship. If you are looking at it through the eyes of knowledge, you’ll never know enough to actually make an intelligent, informed decision. You have to look through eyes of faith. He has given us enough knowledge to know He is the King. Romans tells us all we have to do is look at nature around us, see how the trees grow and the birds fly to know that this did not just happen by accident…

Jesus is inviting you to be part of something great that is happening in history. You know what? You can get to know Him as you go, but you can choose to come, you can choose to accept the invitation now, even though you don’t know everything there is to know about Him. He desires for you to be at this wedding banquet…

There is a standard that God expects us to follow. He’s not demanding really, but if you’re going to be at the wedding feast, you have to wear the wedding clothes. He provides them. He provides the covering for us… God intends to cover us. God intends to deal with what’s making us dirty… The wedding covering was for a very specific purpose. One, it showed that you appreciated the blessing that was given to you and you accepted it. You accepted the invitation, and you came into the wedding banquet under the terms of the Host. There’s a lot of people who want to come into banquet on their own terms. They don’t needthe Host’s terms. “I’ll do it myway,” but the Host has gone to great expense to provide these coverings for you. This is what God is saying. This is the reality of what’s happened. God went to great expense to provide covering for us to be part of what’s going on in this banquet. But there are some who would still stand before God and say, “God, I’m good enough on my own. I don’t need Your covering. I don’t need to do it Your way. I don’t care how gracious Your intent is. I don’t care how loving your intent is. I don’t need it. I don’t want it. I’ll do it myway.” Well, that’s fine, because like this man you might find yourself standing there at the banquet and have the King walk up to you and say, “How did you even get in here?”…

God has laid out the terms. He has invited all men to participate in eternity with Him. He has freely offered for you and I to spend eternity with Him, and to come to this great banquet. But Jesus was very clear. There is a condition. He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, no one stands before the King, no one gets into the wedding banquet, unless they put on My covering. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” You can sneak into the banquet. You might make it into the hall. But guess what? You will be recognized, and you will be cast out. All of us will, at some time in the future, stand before the Living God Who created all things, and we will either have the covering that was offered to us, we will have accepted the free gift to come to the banquet and have accepted the clothes that are given to us that will cover us, or we will choose to do it on our own strength, we will choose to do it through religion, we will choose to do it through other means, and though you might make it through the front door, guess what? You’re not going to be there for very long, because you will be recognized because nothing gets past the King. He is not going to allow any man to remain on his own merit, on his own strength. You can’t do it.

First and foremost, we need to know the Word of God. It is not my responsibility to teach you the Word of God. It is my responsibility to encourage you to pick up God's Word and be responsible to study to show yourself approved.

Vintage message from September 12, 2004.

We hoard the things of the world, and we gain significance in the things that we have. We establish status symbol by how much our house cost, by how nice our car is. Isn’t this how people present themselves?… We establish status in this world based on money, based on the things that we have that money can buy, and it’s meaningless. It corrodes, it fades, it falls apart, and it goes away, and it is a hypocrisy for us to believe that those are the standards by which we should live. I’m not going to tell you guys, go out and give away everything you own. I’m not about that, because if I was about that, I’d say, go sell everything you own and then come and give it to me! But, I’m not about that. I know we live in a system where we need clothing, and where we need food, and where we need transportation, and we need a house over our head, but Jesus says in Matthew chapter six, “Guys, don’t worry about it. I take care of the birds of the air, and the flowers are adorned better than a king. I’m going to give you what you need. I’ll give you the roof over your head and the clothes on your back. You don’t have to strive for those things. Give to Me what belongs to Me,” is what He’s saying. Don’t worry about the things of the world. But so often we fail to give to God what belongs to God. My heart belongs to God. All that I am belongs to God. My career belongs to God. The direction of my life belongs to God. I need to be giving those things to God, and not worrying about what Caesar has and how I can hold onto it…

And this is the part I love the most. “Jesus replied, ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scripture or the power of God.'” You know why Christians fail in our society? First, because in our hypocrisy, we’re not giving to God the things that belong to God. Secondly, because we are in error because we do not know the Word. We assume! We assume upon God. We tell God what wewant in life, and how He’s supposed to let us live life, rather than going to the standard that He set for us, and studying that standard…

One of the things I have to point out often is we do not set doctrine based on our assumptions, but we establish doctrine based on the text and what the Word says. So often we’re led astray because of our own assumptions about what something says. We’ll read a verse, we may misread a verse, or we’ll have heard it taught many times the same way, and then we assume that that’s the truth of it, but never take the time to dig in ourself and try to find the truth within the Word to make sure that that is accurate… Do not allow for assumption and imagination to direct you where doctrine is concerned, and the things that you are going to believe that lead to eternity…

First and foremost, we need to know the Word of God. It is not my responsibility to teach you the Word of God. It is my responsibility to encourage you to pick up God’s Word and be responsible to study to show yourself approved. To let you know some of what I’m learning. To go through this Word with you once or twice a week, but you know what? There’s more than two days in a week. There’s seven days that we walk with God every week. There are seven days that we need to be encouraged in His Word every week. Twenty-four hours in each of those days that we can be challenged at any moment by circumstances of this life where I’m not going to be there, where my knowledge of God’s Word is not going to be there. Where somebody else’s knowledge of God’s Word is not going to be there. And guess what? You still need that strength and encouragement from God’s Word in those moments. It is yourresponsibility to study to show yourself approved and to not fall into doctrinal error because you have not taken the time.

And then there’s the power of God. God has displayed His power so many times around us. That’s why we do testimonies… And the way you begin to know the power of God is by knowing His Word, knowing Him in His Word and through His Word, and once again, that is yourresponsibility…

It is astonishing to know the truth of God. It is astonishing to know the truth about yourself. It astonishes me even still today how little I know about what’s in these pages, and about how little I know about the truth of God and His power. It astonishes me. God still uses me. He’s still teaching me. He’s still growing me, and the more I pursue, the less I struggle in my life. If you find yourself struggling, you find yourself failing, you find yourself hurting, you find yourself trapped oftentimes with questions that cause you to want to flee from the Lord rather than walk to Him, I can tell you why you’re there. Because you’ve not rendered to God the things that belong to God: your heart, your mind, who you are, and the life He wants you to live, and you’re in error because you don’t know the Word of God or the power of God.

We spend a lot of time questioning Jesus... We need to stop questioning, and start studying God's Word. Know His will and His heart's desire for us through His Word. As you get to know Him through His Word, then you get to know Him personally, and you begin to understand and see the display of His power, and we're no longer in error.

Vintage message from September 19, 2004.

It’s easy to say “love your neighbor” until they do something that irritates you, and then you’re saying, “God, it was better if I didn’t even knowmy neighbor!” But in Leviticus they were instructed to not get revenge or to carry a grudge, to not hold onto it, but to love their neighbor. How love their neighbor?… Let them have that place that you would normally take. Love your neighbor as yourself. That’s hard… It goes much deeper than just tolerating them… It’s not bearing a grudge, and it’s actually caring for them the way I would care for me, the way I would care for my family, the way I would care for my possessions. Making sure that they’re taken care of when times are rough. Asking from time to time, “How are you doing? Is there something I can do for you?” More than just “pray for you…”

First, God desires to have love relationship with us, and He desires for us to love Him. Love Him how? With everything. With soul, with heart, with mind, and, according to Deuteronomy, strength. Everything you are needs to be about loving God, and then loving your neighbor as you love yourself…

We spend a lot of time questioning Jesus. We try to trap Jesus. We want to do things with our life. We want to approach jobs and life scenarios, and oftentimes they do not line up with what God has us doing, and just like the Pharisees, just like the Sadducees, we begin to question God. We need to stop questioning, and start studying God’s Word. Know His will and His heart’s desire for us through His Word. As you get to know Him through His Word, then you get to know Him personally, and you begin to understand and see the display of His power, and we’re no longer in error. Then we can say with certainty that, “What I am doing is God’s will. God has me in this place at this moment for this purpose because it is His will.” No longer playing this game of, “Well, God, I really want to do this so why won’t You let me? How about if we do it this way? And you know what, God? If that wouldn’t have happened, and if You wouldn’t have made this happen, and You know what? If You would just let me do that and this, then all this could work,” and we question God, and we become like the Sadducees and the Pharisees. We’re trying to justify ourselves, rather than to honor the Lordship of God in our life…

Jesus is Lord over every one of us in this room this morning. We are Hisservants to do Hiswill, Hisbidding, not our own. The nice thing about our Lord, though, is He does allow for us to enjoy what we’re doing so often. He does put us in those places where we would desire to be, and He grants us worldly things to comfort us. We make the mistake of then latching onto those comforts, those worldly things, and trying to hold on to them or gain more of them, rather than to say, “Lord, they belong to You. I’m giving back to You what belongs to You, and I’m giving back to the world what belongs to the world. You let me use whatever it is You need me to use to accomplish Your will and Your desire on this earth, because You are my Lord, my God, and my Savior.

God's Word is not always fun to hear, and it's not always easy to hear, but it is always what we need to hear.

Vintage message from September 26, 2004.

The law is a burdensome thing, but yet each of us still have to live under law. Now, we’re saved by grace. God’s love for us is phenomenal, and His grace is what saves us, but you know what? When I break the law, if I’m going 80 miles an hour down the highway, I’m breaking the law. I am subject to that law, and there are rules and regulations laid out for us in how to live our lives according to God’s Word that becomes the law to us, that we need to live by, and when we break those laws, we suffer the consequences of the broken law. The law is a heavy, heavy burden, but you know what? God’s grace given to us was meant to bind each of us together to help bear that heavy load so that one person or two people, [or] a handful, would not have to carry the burden of the law on themselves, but that through the distribution of God’s love and God’s grace and God’s mercy, the law can be carried. You know what? I depend on God’s grace when I break the law; for Him to carry the law. He took the burden, the punishment of the law, for me so that now when I break the law, I depend on my brothers and sisters, when I can come to you and say, “I’ve blown it,” and have you pray with me and bear up the burden with me so that I don’t have to carry the full brunt of the consequence of the law. That, once again, is why we are a body…

Let me ask you, do people know that you’re a believer? And if they know you’re a believer, how do they know you’re a believer? Is it because you’re always waving your Bible around and whacking people with it? Or, is it because you live your life in such a way that the love of God is shining through you, and it has nothing to do with the clothes that you’re wearing. It has nothing to do with how your hair looks. It has nothing to do with the size of the Bible or if you’re even carrying a Bible. How do people perceive you? Do you walk down the street making sure that everybody knows by shouting out religious things so that people will look at you, stop on the street corner, and make long, lengthy prayers so that people will know that you are religious?…

Those that truly love God are not necessarily going to be seen for the things that they wear on the outside, but will be seen by what comes from the inside… Don’t tell everybody you’re a Christian. Let them see by who you are and how you live our life. Not by how you dress, not by what you carry in your hand, but by picking up the heavy load and bearing it with your brother. Walking with your sister just a little bit further because you know she’s not going to make it, being the strength for those who are around you when they feel weak, and doing it even when nobody else is noticing, when nobody else is looking…

That’s what Jesus is asking us: to be crazy; to not view ourselves or each other the way the world does, but to actually take the humble position; to step into that place where you may neverbe recognized. Imagine that. Working hard, seeing things accomplished, but no one ever seeing that it’s you that’s doing it. I guarantee you, there is One Who is seeing it, and taking note of it. But Jesus is telling us, don’t exalt yourself…

You know what? If you handle God’s Word in such a way that you only bind people to the law, and never show them the truth of the freedom of God, the grace of God, the mercy of God, you shut the door to the kingdom in their face, and even when they’re trying to get in, when they’re trying to understand, you deny them even the very knowledge that they could have that’s given freely, woe to you. Heaven is not for me to give. Heaven is not for you to give. Heaven is for us to talk about, and how to get there is the blessingthat we’ve been given. The knowledge has been given to us freely, and Jesus has said, I’m that knowledge. All He’s asking is that we tell people about Him and His love and His mercy…

It’s a matter of Lordship. Who is your Lord? Who is it that you are subject to? Who is it that you are trying to impress? Who is it that you are living your life to represent? This is what Jesus was about. Jesus came that men would not have to be sons of hell. Jesus came so that men could be freed from the bonds of the law and the punishment that came when that law was broken, which was separation from God, cast away to that place we call hell. He came to free them from that…

You and I do not save anyone. We offer them the knowledge of what God did for them to save them. Woe to anybody who does anything other than to share the truth…

This is God’s Word. It’s not my word. I don’t care what lifestyle you’re living in. I don’t care what sin you’ve chosen for yourself. I don’t condemn you for it. I don’t tell you [that] you can go to heaven or go to hell. That’s not my place. It is up to me to tell you that what you’re doing is living in sin and God has a remedy for it through His Word. You’re responsible to that Word, not to me, not to my biases, not to my lifestyle, not to the things that Ideem appropriate, but you are responsible to the things that Goddeems appropriate here in His Word. Woe to you if you’re saying anything else. Woe to you if you are living your life in such a way that you want people to notice you more than just to live your life as a believer loving God and loving those around you. That will bring you notice enough, I guarantee it. But when you have to start telling people — I guess this is the thing. If you didn’t tell them, would they notice? If you just kept your mouth shut and lived your life, would people know that you’re a believer? If you wore your blue jeans and your grungy shirt, would people know that you’re still a believer? How would they know? The Holy Spirit shines through those that are believers, and even in turmoil and hardship, people who have the Holy Spirit are generally recognizable because the Holy Spirit makes Himself recognizable. Woe to you if you try to do it any other way…

Lord, Your word is not always fun to hear, and it’s not always easy to hear, but Lord, it is always what we need to hear. And Lord, it is not about the vessel that delivers the message, but Lord, it is about the message that comes from Your Word. It’s important.

If Jesus is on the inside, people are going to see Him on the outside. They're going to see His love... His mercy... His faithfulness... His justice. They're going to see alll that Jesus does to interact kindly and caringly with those that He's created.

Vintage message from October 3, 2004.

This is what happens in all of us. From the time of Adam and Eve all the way through to today, there are things that we don’t like so we decide to change the rules. We live life the way wewant life. We explain life the way wewant to explain life. We build a world for ourselves that God didn’t create, and then we misrepresent God, and we misrepresent ourself, and hypocrisy is born in us…

They are the ones who would say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” How many times have we said that to our kids? Even if we’ve not used those words, “Oh, don’t smoke cigarettes the way I smoke cigarettes. Don’t drink the way I drink. Don’t cuss the way I cuss. Don’t steal the way I steal. Don’t drive eighty, ninety miles an hour down the freeway the way I drive eighty and ninety miles an hour down the freeway. You don’t do those things!…” We’re better off if we just simply tell our kids the truth. “I am a sinner. This is why you do not want to do these things. This is God’s Word, and this is how He would have us to do it…”

But see, this is the point. Hypocrisy is born when we misrepresent ourselves, we misrepresent the law, we misrepresent the One Who gave the law. We make excuses so that we can break it but we don’t want anybody else to break it. We don’t want our kids to do the things that we’re doing. We don’t want our friends to do the things that we’re doing. We don’t want our friends to knowthe things that we’re doing, and so we live one life and hide the other. That is hypocrisy. You are misrepresenting yourself, and you are misrepresenting God Who knows all things, by the way. You can not hide anything from God…

Basically, they will go to great lengths to win one person, forgetting that the masses are also in need of truth. They’re not about truth. They’re about winning people to their side, and they will go to great lengths to win people to their side, and then, in the training, once they get ahold of them, they teach them their hypocrisy and that person then becomes twice what they are. And Jesus just calls it what it is. You know what? If we’re misrepresenting Jesus before our kids, and they have a mom and a dad who are both living in sin but yet telling their kids to be good, how do you think those kids are going to be when they finally leave your home? Two parents teaching them, they’re going to be twice as bad as you are when they get out in that world because they’ve had two examples. You can either teach them by your example of how to love, how to be right with God, how to give your heart into His hands, and be honest with Him, so that then when they step out of your home they are themselves living to try to trust God, or they’ll follow your example. They will do the things that you do. I don’t care how much you tell your kids don’t do it, if they see you doing it, they’re going to do it, too. They are going to be the picture of you. Very rare child that is not the picture of their parents, not just in looks, but in habits and lifestyle and the things that they do…

If a man comes to me and says, “Dave, I love the Lord. I’m having some problems, but I love the Lord, and it is my oath to you that I am going to straighten my life out and do better.” You know what? It’s my place to accept that, and say, “I will pray with you and pray for you…”

I should only be telling you that I can do the things that I can do. I should be honest with you about what I can do, and when you receive what I tell you, you accept that I’m a man who’s going to do what I say, and you know what? Even if I don’t, I’m in God’s hands. It’s not about me, and it’s not about you. It’s about God Who sits on that throne that we swear by. Every day when you get up, and you say, “Lord, I love You. I give this day into Your hands.” Guess what? You’re swearing by the throne of God. You’re giving your day over to God, and you’re saying, “God, this is Your day, and I’m Your vessel. Use me.” Do you believe it? Do yo believe what you’re saying? Or, are they only empty words to you? This is where Jesus is trying to bring the hearers. What is it that you really believe? What is it that you’re really swearing by? What value is there behind your word? You know what? The value behind our word is the value of eternity and the God Who created that eternity. If you fall short on keeping your word, guess what? God hasn’t changed. I don’t have to come after you. I don’t have to remind you. I don’t have to beat you up or send somebody out to beat you up because you didn’t keep your word to me because guess what? God knows. God saw. God remembers. I don’t have to keep account…

You know what? It’s enough that God knows. I can take your word. I don’t care if you’ve fallen short a hundred times. It’s not about you. It’s about Who God is in me. It’s about what Jesus did for me on the cross. It’s about what His life represents to me. His life to me represented sacrifice. Giving up of Himself so that others could have their need met. Reaching out even when He was tired and hungry. Praying into the wee hours of the morning so that He would have the clarity the next day to deal with the crowds when they were around Him. That’s Who Jesus is. That’s Who I want my heart to be bound to. That’s who all of us need our hearts bound to. Otherwise, there’s “woe,” there’s misery. If you’ve walked away from that and you’re living a life of hypocrisy, there will be misery. It’s bound to come…

None of us are truly faithful to the law, but you know what? We can be faithful to God. We can be faithful in mercy. We can be faithful in being just. You know what? Justice is giving you exactly what I would hope to get. That’s true justice. If I’m breaking the law, and I get caught, I want the guy who catches me to have some leniency, to show some pity, to say, “Okay, you’ve broken the law. Let’s see that you don’t do it again.” That’s how I need to be. Once it’s given to me, then I need to turn around and give it back. That’s faithfulness. That’s showing mercy…

The biggest thing in life that you can deal with is forgiving and loving, and I put them in that order really — God wants us to love all men, but you know the greatest form of love that we can have toward one another is to forgive one another. To show that mercy where the infractions of the law happen. To forgive is the most amazing show of love that a man can give…

You know why we don’t see it? Because we are blind Pharisees. We’re not looking for our faults. We’re looking for everybody else’s, and our faults then become very obvious to the world around us. [Jesus] says, clean up the inside. Deal with the heart issues first. Work on who you are inside, and then the outside will come. It’ll change. You will clean up, you will look nice, and that has nothing to do with the clothes you wear, but it has to do with how you represent yourself. When you are truly living a life that is representing God, when you are truly living a life that has allowed God’s Holy Spirit through the love of Jesus Christ to enter into you, it will show on the outside. Doesn’t matter who you are. But if you’re trying to look good on the outside, and hoping that by looking good on the outside that people are going to see you as a good person, you are a blind Pharisee filled with greed and self-indulgence. That’s Jesus’s assessment… The fact is, Jesus wants us to deal with the heart issues. He wants us to stop living lives of Phariseeism. He wants us to clean up the inside…

If Jesus is on the inside, people are going to see Him on the outside. They are going to see His love. They’re going to see His mercy. They’re going to see His faithfulness. They’re going to see His justice. They’re going to see all the things that Jesus does to interact kindly and caringly with those that He’s created.

We should not find it strange that when we engage the world with truth that they don't like it; that they may decide to persecute us, but...we've been sent for a purpose: to tell the truth regardless of the cost to us... At least they will hear, coming from our lips, "It's wrong for you to be living the way you are, but...there is a God in heaven Who loves you, and He made a great sacrifice for you. He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for you."

Vintage message from October 10, 2004.

We are supposed to be the ones today that have the knowledge of how people escapefrom that condemnation, not offering the condemnation, not being the ones that look at someone and say because of what they’ve just done to me, because they hurt my feelings…, so what? We’re the ones sent to offer them the knowledge of how to escape, not the knowledge that, guess what, buddy? It’s over for you… And even though Jesus had the authority, He does not use that authority in that way, because while He was on this earth and while His Spirit is in us, the goal is to savepeople, not condemn people; to offer them the knowledge. Through prophecy and wisdom and teaching, we offer people the truth of how to escape…

We should not find it strange that when we engage the world with the truth that they don’t like it, that they may decide to persecute us. But guess what? We’ve been sent for a purpose: to tell the truth regardless of the cost to us. God is watching. He knows… He’s not unaware. In fact, He is very aware of every man, woman, and child that He has sent on the face of this earth to do a work for Him and the outcome of their life. And God loves, God loves these men. God loves those who would persecute us. God loves those who would hurt us. God desires to have relationship with them, but the only way they’re going to know that is if we’re willing to set aside our condemnation of them and our hypocrisy, and step out in the love that Jesus has, the power of God’s Spirit that He has placed within us. Then we engage the world, and it doesn’t matter what they do to us. At least they will hear, coming from our lips, “It’s wrong for you to be living the way you are in the world, but guess what? There is a God in heaven Who loves you, and He made a great sacrifice for you. He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for you. He doesn’t want to condemn you. He doesn’t want you to go to hell. I don’t care what you’ve done to me. I don’t care how you’ve hurt my feelings, God doesn’t want you to go to hell.” That’s where we need to be, not jumping to that first thought of anger, “You’ve hurt my feelings, so now you can die and go to hell. I want nothing more to do with you.” It’s not what Jesus was about, but He was about the truth, and He was about getting people’s attention, and sometimes you have to say things that are hard and blunt to get their attention, and remind them of the sin that they’re living in…

Did you just hear Jesus’s heart? He desires to gather us together. He desires to gather those that are in the world together to Himself, as a hen would protect and draw her chicks under her wings, Jesus wants to draw us under His wing of protection. He doesn’t want to send us away. He doesn’t want to push us away. He doesn’t want to condemn us to hell. He doesn’t want us condemning each other to hell. He wants us loving and caring and showing compassion. But there will be a time, there will be a time that He has to step back and let our sin do what our sin does best, and that is, destroy us. Bring our flesh to a point where we can no longer live with ourself, and even if that means leaving us desolate. We can turn to Him any time, even in desolation… He wants to bring us back, but He’s waiting for us to cry out to Him…

We long for the day that Jesus comes because that means He will have raptured us already. It will happen, but we’ve got a job to do. We are the prophets, the wise, the teachers that have been placed in this earth to give a message to a lost and dying world, and that message isn’t, “For $19.95 I’ll talk to the Man upstairs,” but you have a gift offered to you: free gift of salvation, freegift of love, free gift of relationship, offered to you by Jesus, the Son of God. It’s not about what Ican offer you. It’s not about what Ican do to change your life because guess what? I can do nothing to change your life, but I can give you some wise information. Confess your sin, confess that you area sinner, turn to God, and let Him deal with it. He doesn’t hate you because of it. He already knows about it. He alreadyknows. You’re not hiding a thing from Him. And you’re not going to feel better about yourself by hiding it from yourself or anybody else, by lying about it. It’s not going to help you. And there’s nothing you can do to work off the consequences of that sin, so don’t think you’re going to come to church and feel better about yourself. Deal with the issues of sin with the One Who can cleanse you from that sin, and guess what? We’ll have a good fellowship together. I can’t change you, but God can change you through the power of His Holy Spirit, through the love of His Son, Jesus Christ. That was the purpose of Jesus dying on the cross.

This is what causes error in our thinking: because we do not take time to study the Scripture and we do not take time to look at the power of God and how He interacts with our lives.

Vintage message from October 17, 2004.

How do you not be deceived? Hmm? Have you ever thought about that? With all that is going on in the world, how do you not be deceived? I’ve been deceived several times in my life. Well, you know why I was deceived? Because either I didn’t knowthe truth or I didn’t pay attentionto the truth, and in many cases, we know the truth but we just don’t careabout the truth because the truth is too hard. And especially since Jesus told us He was going to come again, and you know what? For many people, they don’t care. They’ve heard it, “Okay, yeah, so Jesus will going to come back. It’s not going to happen in mylifetime anyway.” Well, how do you know that?… It shows a great disregard for the truth. It shows that they’ve ignored the truth. I would almost rather be someone who has never heard the truth, than to be someone who knows the truth and has heard the truth and is just blatantly ignored it and forgot it…

Lord, when are You going to save me? When I’ve stood firm. When I have allowed for His Word to work in and through my life. When I have allowed for His Spirit to guide me and use me and make me a part of the work that He’s doing in this war-ridden, famine-ridden, earthquake-ridden earth. Now, I look around and I see those things happening and I say, “Praise God! It’s coming soon!” But really, I should be saying, “Praise God I can see these happening around me, and You’re still using me…”

This is what causes error in our thinking: because we do not take time to study the Scripture, and we do not take time to look at the power of God and how He interacts with our lives. If we would take time even to understand either one of those, we would be steps ahead…

You may have a bad day today, but guess what? It can be worse tomorrow. I guarantee it, it can be worse tomorrow. If you’re alive to tell us about it today, then I can guarantee you, it can be worse tomorrow. You’ve not seen the worst of your life, just as you’ve not seen the best of your life. The best of your life is going to be that day when you open your eyes and you’re looking Jesus in the face, and hearing those words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” and the worst of your life will be that moment when you’re staring death in the face and hearing it say, “Deny Christ or die.” That’s going to be the hardest choice, I believe, for any of us to make, and men have been making it for two thousand years now. Men have been making that choice, and it is a difficult choice to make because when you say, “I will notdeny Christ,” men have died horrible, painful deaths. The rest of life is just life, when we praise God every moment that we have to live because it’s another moment that we have to share His love and His faithfulness, because the next guy may be going through even a worse time than we are…

[Jesus has] told them the truth. He’s told us the truth. We have it in writing. We know what we’re looking for. All we have to do is desire to know the truth and to pay attention to the truth. If you know the truth, you won’t be deceived. If you don’t care about the truth, if you ignore it, if you set it on a shelf, guess what? You’re leaving yourself open to deception.

You know what? There is not a galactic struggle between good and evil in this universe. God is sitting comfortably on His throne.

Vintage message from October 24, 2004.

Anything that a man can build, a man can tear down. Anything that a man puts value it, another man will steal. The only thing that is of value that a man can’t steal is something that is given to us freely and doesn’t belong to us at all, and that is the love of God. The love of God comes at great cost to God Himself. The love of God comes at great expense: the cost of His own Son…

It’s not about the law, but it is about the love that comes and understanding that the law’s been broken and there needs to be forgiveness, and the only way there can be forgiveness is if you are actually loving. That’s why [Jesus] boils the two greatest commands into love the Lord Your God and love your neighbor. Had nothing to do with the binding to the law. It had everything to do with binding ourselves to the love of God and to the love of each other. Love overcomes; the law destroys. The law is exacting; love is forgiving. Love strengthens us; the law chases us…

We need to be found about the Lord’s work, what it is He’s called us to. Before the rapture and after the rapture, before He returns to this earth, He has set tasks before us, and He has asked us to live according to those tasks, to be faithful to those tasks…

You know what? There is not a galactic struggle between good and evil in this universe. God is sitting comfortably on His throne. God is overseeing this universe as He always has. He is not concerned about the power trip that Satan is trying to have. He is not sweating over the thought that He might somehow lose to this evil wickedness, this darkness that has come into the universe. He’s not heading out to face it head on because He’s worried about it one bit. Guess what? Satan is God’s servant. He is not more powerful. He is not equally as powerful. In fact, he is so much below God that it’s not even imaginable. He is nothing. He is like we are, as a worm. He does not have power over God. He has power to deceive, though, and that’s why Jesus says, “Don’t be deceived. I’m telling you what you can look forward to. I’m telling you how you should live your life. If you don’t want to be caught off guard, and you don’t want to be deceived, then live this way: honor God with your life, be found busy about His work.” Plain and simple. Easy formula…

We can be caught unaware. We can be deceived. We can ignore His warning, but He’s given us plenty of time to be warned by just looking at what’s going on around us. He says, pay attention. And paying attention means spending time in His Word, spending time in prayer, and watching what’s going on around you. Looking at how your neighbors are treating you and how you’re treating your neighbors. The love of many will grow cold in this time. He tells us that, and we see the love of many growing cold. But it doesn’t say the love of all…

But one day Jesus will call us to be with Him, and then He’s going to finish His work here on this earth, and He will return to this earth, and you can be assured of that. But it’s not happened yet, and for two thousand years men have been expecting it to happen. And it’s easy, then, to fall back on, well, He said it was going to happen a long time ago, and He’s taking a long time to come. Don’t fall into that trap…

Are we about what Jesus has asked us to do with our lives? Are we serving the way He’s asked? Or are we like that wicked servant, out doing our own thing because we don’t believe it’s going to happen?

I find, all too often, that I selfishly approach God to say, "God, give me, give me, give me," rather than, "Lord, what can I do for You today?... Lord, what can I do to prepare this world for Your return? What can I do to invest in that?"

Vintage message from November 7, 2004.

Are you looking forward to the Lord returning? And are you preparing, or prepared for the Lord to return? What if the Lord wanted to return before this message was even over? Are you ready to go? Is it something you’re looking forward to? Have you been doing the things that you know that you would like to get heaven and stand with the Lord and say, “Oh, Lord, Lord! Guess what I was doing today! Guess what I was doing today!” Or, are you, “Oh, Lord, I don’t want to talk about that one.” Are our hearts ready? We can think about it, we can intellectually know that it’s going to happen, but are our hearts ready? Inside that spark of motivation that drives us. Are we ready? Is that what we’re looking forward to? I want to go home, but I find myself torn. There’s a lot of life that I still want to live. There’s a lot of things I still haven’t experienced. You know, I have a lot of fun just being in fellowship with you guys. We have great times together… The things that we do together make me want to stay here all the more. But if we can enjoy those times together as much as we do, imagine how much more we will enjoy the time together when we’re standing in the presence of the Lord and actually experiencing the eternity that He has created for us. It’s hard for me to imagine, and I fear, sometimes, if I heard the trumpet blast and the Voice call out from heaven, “Come up here,” I might stand there and argue for a minute. “Oh, but wait Lord! No, not yet! Let me, let me go finish this first…” I don’t want to be one of those that argues with the Lord, but I have to be honest, and I have to evaluate my heart, and I find sometimes I’m just not ready. But in knowing that I’m not ready and then studying these chapters that tell us to be looking up; to be ready; to be prepared; to have the oil in our lamp; to be doing the things that we need to be doing to encourage those around us so that when we hear, we’re ready to go; that’s where I need to be. I know that’s where I need to be…

Sometimes the best way to be prepared for something that you know you’ve got to face is to continually remind yourself and those around you that it’s coming. Just as I can say to you today, “Guess what? The Lord will return.” I know we say it a lot, but the Lord will return. We’ve got to be ready for that…

What do you have in your life that is so valuable that, if you were asked to give it up for Jesus, that you would have to stop and think twice about? What is it that you’re holding onto that you don’t think that you could give up, that has so much value that you would argue about needing to give it up?…

Do you believe Jesus’s words? It brings us back to that original question I asked: are we ready? Are we prepared? Are we accepting what Jesus told us He was going to do?…

How much do you invest into your love relationship with Jesus? Is your love relationship that you have with Jesus just a passing fancy? “Oh, yeah. Hi Jesus. I’m here today. Bless me, bless me, bless me. Okay, now I’m on my way.” You know how many people pray that way? Or are you pouring your life — who you are, what you have — into the Person of Jesus? I’m not asking you to go sell your homes. I’m not asking you to do crazy things… No, it’s not about that. That’s not what Jesus is saying. Jesus is saying this woman [who poured perfume onto his head] had the right heart attitude. She knew when and where to invest her life in a love relationship. How are you investing your love for Jesus? And is your prayer, is your time with Him, only about what you can get out of it? Once again, that’s the thing I fear the most. I’m selfish. I selfishly approach my life, I selfishly approach the future, and when I pray, I find, all too often, that I selfishly approach God to say, “God, give me, give me, give me,” rather than, “Lord, what can I do for You today? What am I do to prepare this world to meet You?… Lord, what can I do to prepare this world for Your return? What can I do to invest in that?” Just a way to think. A new perspective, maybe.

Jesus has a plan. We don't always understand that plan, we don't always agree with that plan, and sometimes we even...resent Jesus for what He's doing in our lives because we don't like it... But it doesn't stop Him from loving you. It doesn't stop Him from still desiring...fellowship and relationship with you.

Vintage message from November 14, 2004.

What does Jesus recognize in you? When you approach God, what does Jesus see in you? I fear, all too often, I go to God with wrong motives. I throw up the, “Okay, God, I’ll do this for You if You’ll do that for me,” and we bargain with God. How many times have you seen the person who’s desperate, “Oh, God! I’ll never do this again, if You’ll only get me out of trouble.” Hogwash. You know what? If it was in your heart to not do that, you wouldn’t have done it, and chances are, by pleading with God and bargaining with God, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to do it again. What is it inside of you that you’re offering to God? You know what I believe that Jesus wants to hear from us more than anything, especially when we blow it? I’m sorry. I’ve sinned against you. Please forgive me. That holds more value to Jesus than hearing us say, “I’ll never do it again,” because He already knows our hearts; if we will or won’t do it again. But that’s beside the point. Jesus shed His blood which holds more value than the most costly diamond you could find on the face of this planet, because it is that blood that cleanses us and brings us to a place of relationship for eternity with His Father. He was willing to sacrifice all that He had, even the blood inside of Him, that we might be saved. And so, what’s valuable to Him is when we receive that gift, and we see it as valuable, and we understand what it was meant for, and we say, “I’m sorry. Forgive me. I’m not going to bargain with You. I have nothing to bargain with. I have nothing of value that I can buy my way out of this mess…but forgive me…”

What are some of the things that God does in, around, and through your life that irritates you, that makes you indignant? “Oh, nothing, of course! Not me. I’m neverindignant that God would use mein this way… Why in the world would He challenge methis way?…” When you look in your own life, and some of the things that you perceive that God has done that seems unfair, that you don’t understand, it’s easy to become indignant, and then harbor feelings of betrayal. Judas acted on his feelings…

You know, we betray Jesus in so many ways. It doesn’t happen with just selling Him out. Sometimes it happens in walking away from Him; doing things ourway; deciding to run ahead of Him; questioning Him in ways that we tell Him we know Hedoesn’t understand but wesure do; and we’re going to have things ourway… The fact is, we’re all going to betray Him. In one way or another, we’re going to betray Him…

Jesus has a plan. We don’t always understand that plan, we don’t always agree with that plan, and sometimes we even bring ourselves to the place of resenting Jesus for what He’s doing in our lives because we don’t like it. We don’t understand it. But it doesn’t stop Him from loving you. It doesn’t stop Him from still desiring to enter into fellowship and relationship with you. His body was still broken, and His blood was still shed…

Jesus was not willing to hold anyone away, to chase anyone away, but He was willing for us to choose to walk away. He’s a God that gives us choice. He’s a God that cares about the choices that we make, and He has made provision even when we make the wrong choice. Even when we, in indignance, in anger, betray Him… That’s who we are. He’s looked into our hearts, and He’s making the statement, “You will betray me, but don’t worry. My body has been broken and my blood is shed.” As we embrace the new covenant, as we understand what that new covenant means, we are healed inside. And even though we may betray Him by sinning against Him, He loves and forgives us and brings us back into relationship.

The world is waiting to tempt you...and that temptation will bring you to a place of denying the power and the authority of God... the only way to overcome that temptation is to prepare yourself, and the only preparation that Jesus gives...is to watch and pray. Watch for the temptation and know that it's coming...and you won't be taken off guard by it... You've also got to spend time...with God because in your own strength, you're not going to overcome temptation.

Vintage message from November 21, 2004.

Right outside of these doors is temptation; a world waiting to tempt you, in many ways, with many vices, and that temptation will bring you to a place of denying the power and the authority of God Who created you, and will bring you to the place of even denying the salvation that Jesus gave to you through His blood. That’s what’s waiting outside. The only way to overcome that temptation is to prepare yourself, and the only preparation that Jesus gives to them is to watch and pray. Watch for the temptation and know that it’s coming, and you won’t be shocked by it, and you won’t be taken off guard by it. You’ll recognize it as a temptation, and it’s always easier to overcome your enemy when you know who your enemy is. And I can tell you right now, your enemy is temptation waiting outside these doors, so watch for it. But understand, watching alone is not going to help, but you’ve also got to pray. You’ve also got to spend time in relationship, in fellowship, with God Who created you, because in your own strength, even if you watch, you’re not going to overcome temptation. But when you’re right with God, when you’re walking with God, when you have that love relationship, and you’ve drawn close to Him, and you understand His will, it’s easier to overcome the temptation…

You know, I can’t speak to what you’re going to be facing this week, but I guarantee you this next week there will be challenges waiting for you. There will be temptation waiting for you. There will be hardship waiting for you. And you can almost hear the words of Jesus saying, if you’re not watching and praying, if you’re not prepared, you will fall away. I can tell you with certainty that if you are not preparing for that temptation and that hardship that you will find, you will struggle this week and be challenged to fall away. You will betray Jesus, and you will walk away from Him. If you’re not praying, if you’re not watching, if you are not preparing your life, it will come upon you in the form of surprise, and you’ll fall to it…

If Jesus decided to rapture the church tonight, where would you be found? Would you be found sleeping, not watching, not ready, not prayed up? If Jesus chose to rapture the church tonight, are you sure that you would be going with Him? Have you made preparations? Or, have you, like myself, and I have to tell you, so many times in my life, over silly little things, I have fallen away… Praise God, in each of those instances, Jesus went ahead of me and brought me back, took me by the hand and put me back on my feet, but I realized one thing. I’m like Peter. I’ve spent my life making bold proclamations, but do my bold proclamations add up to what’s actually in my heart? What do you truly believe? And if you truly believe it, if you believe that you are saved today, if you believe that you have relationship with Jesus today, then watch and pray and prepare your life because an end is coming, and there’s an enemy waiting right outside this door, and the only way to face this enemy and to walk to that end, is to be prepared. Otherwise, I can tell you, just as Jesus told His disciples, you will flee. You will fall away. That’s the choices that we’re faced with today.

I don't like this uncomfortable feeling of being in God's hands and not knowing what He's going to do with me, but I have become convinced...there is no safer place to be.

Vintage message from November 28, 2004.

These are the same choices we make every day. Life is laid before us, and we can do our best to make things work. We can stand up in our strength and prove to everyone around us how great we are and make it work. Or, we can look to the Father and, regardless of how tough that road may seem, trust that He is going to make it right…

You know, the problem I have in my life is sometimes I talk about prayer, but I don’t always desire to be in that place, in that time, to make the effort… Sometimes my pillow looks very tempting even when God has gone out of His way to wake me up and not let me feel tired. I’ll lay there and wrestle with my pillow rather than get up and wrestle in prayer… [Jesus] told Peter, “Watch and pray just one hour with Me so that you can overcome, so that when you’re tempted, you can stand firm.” I think this is why we struggle so much in our life with temptation, why we fall so easily, is because we do not take that time to watch and pray…

Sometimes it is God’s will and God’s desire for us to be challenged, and not only challenged, but threatened. And not only threatened, but sacrificed… And that is the hard thing for us. Do we believe that the God Who created us truly knows us? Does the God, Who claims through His Word to love you, truly love you? And the God Who says that all things work together for the good to those that love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose — all things. “Will my suffering, will my hardship, work together for good? Lord, how can this be? How can You allow for me to be uncomfortable, to be uninformed, not knowing the next step? Lord, how can You allow for this to happen?” And I know many of us through our lives have found ourselves in those times of struggle and trouble, and just like Jesus, we have the opportunity to either trust and believe, or to be like Peter and to pull out the sword and start lopping off ears. You know, before you use your sword, though, you should know your enemy…

But what if God wants you to suffer? What if God wants you to be in that hard place? What if God chooses for you to be standing in the fire? We don’t often think that way, do we? What if it is God’s will for me to lose all that I have in this flesh? What if it’s His will? Do I have the strength and the intestinal fortitude to stand up and say, “If He wanted to deliver me, He could.” Him delivering me is not the issue here, but am I willingto be sacrificed? That’sthe issue. Am I willing to be used in the hand of the God Who created all there is? That is the issue. You know what? Sometimes, God has to create instruments that go into the fire in order to stir up the fire. What if you’re one of those instruments? None of us like going into the fire. None of us like being used for those hard, unbearable tasks that we believe are going to take our very life from us… The point isn’t to be delivered. The next time you find yourself in a crisis, the next time you find yourself standing in a place of hardship, stop and think for a minute. Do we want to cry out, “My God, my God, deliver me” or do we cry out, “Father, have Your way with me. Do as Youwill, not as Iwill.” It’s a hard place to be. It’s a hard concept to understand…

The enemy to this world is still sin. Jesus conquered over death and took sin upon Himself, so that men do not have to die and be separated from His Father, but yet, we are still faced with the choice of sin each and every day, and we have friends around us who are living separated from God because of their sin, and they don’t have to. The enemy can be defeated. Jesus hasdefeated. All we need to do is stand up and proclaim it, and let people know that there is victory over the life that they are stuck in. We don’t have to go beat them up. We don’t have to battle with them. We just simply step out and say, “Lord, You use me. Use me as You will… How about me being at Your disposal.” Imagine that… That’s what the Holy Spirit says to us, “Let Me use you as I will,” and sometimes that’s uncomfortable. Sometimes that means having to step up and talk to people you don’t want to talk to. Being blunt and honest, even with yourself. Addressing issues in your own life as you address issues in other people’s lives…

I don’t like this uncomfortable feeling of being in God’s hands and not knowing what He’s going to do with me, but I have become convinced, I amin His hands, and you know what? There is no safer place to be, no better place to be, because if there’s a fire out there that He wants to stick me into, it’s by His hand that I’m going there. If rough times are going to face us, it’s going to face us because God has desired that for us, and are we at a place where we can say, “Your will be done, not mine”? That we could set aside our comfort?…

Watch and pray. I can’t come back to that enough. Watch and pray. Always be about praying for what God is going to have for you to do next, and be watching for the enemy that’s out there. Watch for life as it comes your way. If your eyes are open and you see the disaster coming, at least you can brace yourself for it. You may not have an escape. There may be nowhere for you to go, but at least then you can brace yourself and say, “Father, I know You can, if You desire, deliver me from this, but if it is not Your will, then let me meet this head on and honor You as I go through it. That’s what Jesus was about…

It’s not about whether I live, but it’s about howI live to that moment that my life is required. Guess what? We’ll all die. Even if we’re raptured, the flesh has to die. God isn’t going to receive this flesh into heaven. It’s going to fall away. All of us will lose what we’re familiar with. One day we will be challenged with the ultimate end. For some of us, it could be tomorrow, for others it could be seventy years, but we’ve been given a message to watch and to pray, to be prepared, to stand firm, and to understand that when the Father’s desire is being fulfilled, that we can trust Him. We can trust Him to bring us through even the hard times rather than delivering us from it. It’s not about being delivered from the hardship, but it’s about standing with God through the hardship and seeing what He does with it in the other side as we go through it.

Each and every day of our life, that's what we face: a choice, either to trust Jesus with our life even if it's uncomfortable, even if it's hard, or to take the power and authority of our own lives into our hands and deal with it as we will.

Vintage message from December 5, 2004.

Just as I have on a few occasions myself, thought that I could accomplish. I mean, I’m not after the world. I just want a very small part of it, but God reminds me that not even the smallest part of this world belongs to me, not even this flesh that He has allowed me, that He has blessed me to borrow to live in while I’m here. Doesn’t even belong to me, and He has shown me that many times over by allowing for there to be thorns in my flesh, and even though I scream and cry and will yell, “Foul! Foul! That’s not fair, God!” Well, why isn’t it fair? Doesn’t He own the very clay that this body is made of? And doesn’t the potter have a right to do with a pot as He chooses?… But how many of you have cried “Foul!” when God has made you uncomfortable? Because somehow, you are convinced that thislittle piece of clay belongs to you, and the authority that it takes to live in this piece of clay belongs to you. It’s just a way of thinking. “I don’t want to own the world. Okay, God? But just let me own this piece of clay! Let me make the decisions for this piece of clay. I can make a pretty nice pot out of this piece of clay if You’ll just give me an opportunity. I can impress You, God!…”

Once again, sometimes we face uncomfortable situations, we face challenges in our lives that we would prefer not to face, and we’re always looking for a way out. Jesus wasn’t looking for a way out. Jesus was looking for it to be finished, Jesus was looking for His Father’s will to be done, and accepted that His Father’s will might mean His death and, in fact, I believe He accepted the fact that His Father’s will meant for Him to die, and He accepted it… Jesus understood…this body that He had was not His own. It was not His to do with as Hewanted, but it was His Father’sto do with as He desired, and it was God’s desire to love us through this body being afflicted, so no matter what they did, in their spitting and their slapping and their hitting, their mocking, we’re told that He remained silent…

See, my flesh is willing. I’m wiling to be bold. When I’m sitting here in front of you, I’m willing to be bold, and I am willing to make bold statements but I have, in my past, been challenged, and I have found many times in my past, my spirit also is weak… And that brings me to the question, a question I ask myself every day, and I hope every opportunity I get to encourage you and ask you. Are you reading? Are you praying? Are you taking time to watch for what God wants to do in your life? Or are we building a little world of our own, a power base that we can lay claim to, living comfortably in our own flesh, believing somehow that we have the right and authority to at least govern here?…

We convince ourselves in many different ways that the lives that we’re living, we have a right to live, and the experiences that we’re having, we have a right to have, and the decisions we make, we have a right to make, but does that come after watching and praying and knowing God’s Word, knowing what God would have to say to you? Are we praying, “Father, Yourwill be done, not mine”?…

Each and every day of our life, that’s what we face: a choice, either to trust Jesus with our life even if it’s uncomfortable, even if it’s hard, or to take the power and the authority of our own lives into our own hands and deal with it as we will. That’s what we’re facing. That’s what you’re going to face tomorrow morning when you get out of bed. That’s what you’re going to face all day long. You’ll either make your decisions based on the power and authority that you’ve given to yourself, or you’re going to live your life based on the power and the authority that God has over you.

Do you know what this Word is about? You know what Jesus is about? Loving you. Forgiving you. Making you right with Him, no matter what it is that you've done.

Vintage message from December 12, 2004.

One of the hardest things in life for us to accomplish is to see the reality and the truth of life around us: who we are and Who God is, what God expects of us, what God desires from us, what God would like to do through us. We build for ourself the life that we live in, and every now and again God’s Word, His truth, will infringe upon our life and ask us to change. Tries to tell us the reality, tries to tell us the truth, and we don’t like to hear it. We would like to believe that the truth of our life is that we’re all strong men and women of God, capable of marching forward and seeing the vast majority of people around us saved. That’s what we would like to see… But sometimes I think that we make the bold proclamation, and then we hide behind our door in our comfortable home…

You know, there are a lot of things that we do in life that we end up regretting, and it brings us to a point of remorse, it brings us to a point of bitterness inside, it brings us to a point where we only want a way out… This is really what it does boil down to: a matter of responsibility. How many times have we sinned against God and tried to make it somebody else’s fault? “Oh, if my mom had just treated me better when I was growing up, I wouldn’t be like this today. If my dad hadn’t beat me when I was a child, I wouldn’t be like this today. If that guy hadn’t stopped in front of me, I wouldn’t have smashed into the back of his car.” (Heaven forbid, had I kept enough distance, and had been driving slower, I wouldn’t have smashed into the back of his car.) We want to make it somebody else’s fault. We want to blame others for our faults…

And I have to ask the question, have we missed the significance of Who Jesus is and what Jesus was doing? We playchurch sometimes, we playChristian sometimes, but how many of us actually have understood that, when we receive Jesus in, we took into ourself His body and His blood, we took onto ourself the cleansing of our sin by His blood, and that His life, His precious life, His innocent life, was given and I became, like Judas, responsible for His death. Have you ever thought of that? That you, like Judas, have responsibility in the death of Jesus. Now, you may not have taken thirty silver coins, but one day you were old enough to realize right from wrong, and you chose to do the wrong. And that day that you chose to do the wrong, you took upon yourself the responsibility of sin, and every day after that, everything you did that God calls sin made you all the more responsible for what Jesus had to do in shedding His blood and seeing His body broken. I, too, have sinned. I have betrayed innocent blood, and every day that I sin now, especially with the knowledge that I have, I betray that innocent blood all over again. And like Judas, I can be remorseful, and like Judas, I can confess my sin, and I can try to make it right by trying to undo the sin, but let me tell you something about sin. Once it’s done, it can’t be undone. It can only be forgiven or not, and the only true forgiveness comes from the One Who shed His blood for us. So that means we have to approach Jesus…

I think this is where most of us fall short even today. We have God’s Word in abundance, and we’ve studied it, and we’ve heard it many times over, but we don’t take the step of allowing it to sink in and convict us of those things that we are continually doing that are wrong. God isn’t asking us to take our life because we’ve sinned against Him. On the contrary, He’s asking us to cometo Him so we can havelife because we’ve sinned against Him. He knows that we can not deal with the sin issues ourselves…

[Do] you know what this Word is about? You know what Jesus is about? Loving you. Forgiving you. Making you right with Him, no matter what it is that you’ve done… He wanted men to understand, He made it clear, He was about loving and forgiving, putting men back on their feet, not allowing them to continue to suffer because of the issues of sin…

We have His Word. Most of us have heard His Word many times. It is about coming to the place of understanding and receiving Who Jesus is and what Jesus did. What He did is forgive us and love us and has tried to make us right with Him to bring us into a place where we will spend all eternity with Him. It’s not about what we can do for Him. It’s not about how strong we are or how clever we are. It’s not about how we can make up for the sin… But it is about receiving what He taught, and what He taught was to understand that His blood is what makes us clean.

Jesus, please let Your blood be on me... It is the blood being on us that is going to save us. It is about the blood being shed that you and I can now have eternal life.

Vintage message from December 19, 2004.

Do you realize, this is the gift that was given to us at Christmas time. This story, this life, all that Jesus was and all that Jesus endured, He endured for us so that He could say, “Merry Christmas.” He gave us a gift, and you can’t really separate the beginning from the end because the beginning was given to us so that there would be this end. I know many of us do not enjoy our lives at times, and I know that, at times, our lives are very difficult, and we don’t understand what the future is going to hold. But I believe that God has given each of us life with a purpose, and that He knows the beginning from the end. And at some point, we need to come to that place of saying to ourselves, “It was for this reason that God put me here. It was for this reason — good, bad, or ugly — it was for this reason that I have lived the life that I’ve lived. You know, someone may be saved simply because youwere in their life. Guess what? All of us today can be saved because Jesus lived a life, because Jesus did not refuse His Father’s desire to bring a love relationship to this world…

The fact is, Jesus was born. The angels celebrated. The shepherds celebrated. What was it that they were celebrating? This. This story. Even though it had not yet happened, the angels came to say that your Savioris born. Now we know what that meant. For Jesus to be a Savior, He had to go through the ned that we’ve just read [ie, the crucifixion]. The day He came into this world, He gave us a gift. It was a gift of His life, the totality of His life, because when you study the prophecies in the Old Testament, from the beginning of His life to the end of His life, He knew what His life would be, and He could say, it was for this very reason that I was born. And as He was hanging on the cross, and He cries out, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?,” He knew, He knew the answer. He didn’t hang there whining and crying about it. He cried out, and then He gave up the Spirit. Then He gave up the Ghost, because He knew the answer. Without having even to say it, we know what the answer is, because for this very reason you were placed on the earth. Merry Christmas, world! Merry Christmas. He might as well have cried that from the cross, because that’s exactly what He was doing, was giving the gift of life to us. Giving us the gift of the reason He was born. But see, we like to sterilize everything. We like everything neat and clean and tidy, and so we’ll separate the birth of Jesus from the crucifixion of Jesus. But somehow, I feel it’s appropriate that we celebrate the crucifixion to celebrate His birth, and celebrate His birth the day that we celebrate the crucifixion and the resurrection, because it was for thispurpose.

And for all the brutality, all the hatred, all the men who tried to make themselves innocent, even for Pilate’s statement, “I wash my hands. I’m innocent,” he wasn’t innocent. And even though the Jews did not understand what they were saying, “Let His blood be on us,” God, please, let Your blood be on me. It was that blood being on them that was going to save them. It is the blood being on us that is going to save us. It is about that blood being shed that you and I can now have [eternal] life. It’s for that purpose, and without this circumstance in Jesus’s life, without what Jesus had gone through in this life, we would not have the gift, and the celebration of Christmas, just as a celebration of the resurrection, would be meaningless. We would not have these celebrations, and we would all be lost. But it is because Jesus fulfilled the purpose of His life, and because Jesus knowingly, knowingly, stepped from the halls of heaven, stepped into this world as a little baby, He had this picture in mind, and He lived His life with purpose and direction, and He came to the end of His life with purpose and direction. Because of that purpose and that direction, you and I now have the greatest gift that there could possibly be: the gift of eternal life, love relationship with God the Father, and the blessing and the cleansing of Jesus through His blood. Merry Christmas.

And the question is, do you believe He has the authority to use you in the way that He has desired? Does He have the ability? Does He have the strength? Are His promises that He made strong enough to be fulfilled in your life? Or are you the one person that's going to overpower God and prove that His promises can't be fulfilled? Not going to happen.

Vintage message from January 2, 2005.

If you are living to try to know the Lord, if you are living to serve the Lord…do not be afraid. You know, you don’t have to be afraid of the things of God. You do not have to be afraid of the things that God may call you to do. You don’t have to be afraid of the things that God may have you experience in life. If you are truly serving God, and you are walking forward to know and honor God, you do not need to be afraid…

You know, the greatest discouragement to ministry is doubt. A ministry will never grow, men of God will never become strong, when you allow doubt to dwell in your heart. God’s Word is true. He’s made His promises in His Word. Do you believe those promises? You don’t need to be afraid. You don’t need to be discouraged because Jesus will fulfill His Word. He will fulfill His promises. Even still today, He is fulfilling His Word, and He is fulfilling His promises…

You know, there’s a lot of parts of ministry that are really enjoyable, and everybody wants to be a part of it. But you know what? There’s a lot more parts of ministry that are hard. They’re a struggle, and sometimes you have to face death: the death of your flesh, the death of fear. Sometimes you have to face circumstances that are very, very excruciating. Those are the parts of ministry that none of us want to be a part of…

I know there’s a lot of people in this room, even right now, that struggle with doubt. Well, [the disciple’s] doubt did not stop Jesus from raising from the dead, did it? Their doubt did not stop the promise that Jesus had made to them. Jesus is going to do a work. Jesus desires to do a work. Jesus desires to use you and I to do this work, and you may have doubts. You may struggle with whether or not you even believe, but you know what? It’s not going to stop Jesus from doing what He plans on doing in this world. It is not going to stop Jesus from moving forward and accomplishing His Father’s will and desire on this world. Now, your doubt can hinder you from being part of that, or you can set aside your doubt, and you can set aside your fear, and you can take the advice that the angel gives these women [who went to Jesus’s tomb]… You don’t have to be afraid…

You know, without challenge, we die. Without challenge, we never grow. We never understand the fulness of God’s love. It takes challenge for us to be able to truly represent what Jesus was on this earth, and so He lets us know, regardless of how hard it’s going to be, all authority has been given to Him in heaven and on earth. There is no authority that you’re going to come up against that Jesus is not in control of. So, whether you face them in good circumstances and terms or bad circumstances, Jesus is still in control, and the call is still the same. You don’t have the right to say, “But there’s nothing we can do with these people.” It has nothing to do with the people that Jesus is choosing to use in authority. It has everything to do with your heart attitude, and do you believe that Jesus can accomplish what it is that He said He was going to do. He accomplished raising from the dead.

And He told them, “Therefore go and make disciples.” When was the last time you made a disciple? When was the last time you spent time with someone else who did not know the Lord and brought them to the place of giving their life. That is the call, that is the responsibility, and even though it’s scary, we have the authority to do it…

A couple studies that, if you are interested to do in the new year, if you want to see some incredible change in your life, first go through and study all of the verses that have to do with love in the Bible, and see what God has to say about love: man’s love and His love. You’ll become a loving person. And then, go through and only read and study the things that Jesus said to His disciples for them to do. You’ll be amazed in how your life will change…

This is my challenge for you for this new year. If you’ve never studied the love of God through His Word, and if you’ve never studied what Jesus commanded, if you’ve never studied just what Jesus said, I would challenge you to do that, and then I will challengeyou to notput it into use. If you take the time to do it, I guarantee you the Holy Spirit is going to take over, and you willfind yourself talking to somebody about it and somebody else and somebody else, because it becomes contagious. It’s infective. God’s Word, once it begins to work into your heart and through your life, you can’t stop. And then, you’ll have that experience of having someone bow their head with you and pray to ask Jesus into their life — there is nothing like it…

And the question is, do you believe He has the authority to use you in the way that He has desired? Does He have the ability? Does He have the strength? Are His promises that He made strong enough to be fulfilled in your life? Or are you the one person that’s going to overpower God and prove that His promises can’t be fulfilled? Not going to happen.