Impact Church

Passionately serving God and His people

Tag: bible

Pastor Appreciation

Everyone was created to honor and everyone does so naturally. It is an involuntary response to impression and admiration. We subconsciously evaluate everything and simultaneously bestow a measure of worth or merit to that object. This occurs innately based upon a deeply embedded value system. In others words, an individual will inherently give honor to that which they value.

However a problem occurs when the measure of evaluation is skewed because of a flawed or erroneous value system. We begin to honor things that have little value and place little honor on that which has great value. Welcome to 2017, where the tawdry is considered worthy of honor and the nonpareil is neglected. Therefore, to give honor accurately requires a just and true value system.

Those who followed Jesus began to argue on several occasions about which one of them deserved the most honor. “Who is the greatest,” they asked. Is it Peter, or John, or possibly James? They insisted that Christ answer them and validate their desire to know. Instead of answering their questions outright, Jesus used this divine moment as an opportunity to unveil His otherworldly value and priority system.

The world defines greatness in terms of power, possessions, prestige, and position. In our status-driven culture, we determine a person’s greatness by their ability to demand service from others. Thousands of books have been written about leadership and influence. Everyone wants to lead, be prominent, and have authority. Honor given to these inferior aspects of life unveils our sin-skewed values.

Jesus responded to His disciples with this ethereal reply, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” (Mark 10:43) Greatness, therefore, is not influence, wealth or ascendancy. Greatness is service! With this new paradigm in place, we can now accurately apportion just honor.

After 40+ years of ministry and 20+ years of pastoral leadership, it is evident that Pastor Michael Davis has personified the characteristics of Christlike greatness. In a church culture where most leaders find their validation and satisfaction in their ability to demand and require of God’s people, he has remained vigilant to his responsibility to simply serve. If you spend anytime around Pastor Mike you will quickly learn there is no shred of pretense or the slightest air of ostentation. He has nothing to prove and no one to impress; he does not require our validation nor seek for our approval. He just is. He is pure hearted and authentic; he is generous and forgiving; he is selfless and sacrificial; he is unique and creative; he is fair and pious; he is committed and patient; he is honest and sincere; he is forthright and dependable; he is passionate and insightful; he is brilliant and eloquent. He is simply the greatest man, according to Christ’s definition, I have ever met.

He is a husband, a father, a preacher, a leader, an author, and a theologian but what makes him “great” at all of these responsibilities is because he is first a servant. On this Pastor Appreciation Month, we cheerfully honor the Senior Pastor of Impact Church and the overseer of all Impact Ministries, Pastor Michael Davis, for his Christlike and God-honoring service to the Body and Bride of Christ.

We celebrate your greatness.

Love,

Your Son

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The One

“Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.” Psalm 23:6

Researchers suggest that bedtime routines are essential for establishing and maintaining good sleep habits for children. For that reason we’ve kept a consistent bedtime routine since our little ones were a few months old. Our nightly rhythm includes bubble baths, books, and praying together as a family. Just last night I was sitting in the floor, post baths, with one toddler in my lap and the other curled up at my side. We were reading books when one struck me in a fresh and profound way. The book is entitled, “I Promise I’ll Find You” and is written from the perspective of a parent to their child. The parent vows to find the child, if ever it is missing, no matter what. The end of the book reads, “And if I had no other way, I’d walk or crawl or run. I’d search to the very ends of the earth, for you my precious one.” Sweet friends, that’s precisely how our Heavenly Father feels about us.

Throughout all of Scripture the Lord reveals Himself as a diligent seeker of the heart of man. One parable in particular gives us a clear depiction of His heart as He compares Himself to a shepherd who, despite all logic, leaves ninety-nine sheep to seek and save the one lost. Luke 15:4-7 says, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Here’s our beautiful truth – Read the rest of this entry »

The Path to Honor

The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility. 

Proverbs 15:33

Had the scriptures not esteemed humility as a highly prized virtue, it likely would have been relegated to the rubbish heap of epithets and by-words centuries ago. At first blush, humility seems to be at best a counter-intuitive exercise of self-degradation; and at worst, an inhuman effort to desecrate and destroy one’s immeasurable potential and well being for a lifetime. No wonder God alone sustains and glorifies such a divine, yet humanly despicable, virtue.

Honor, on the other hand, is a universally desired quality since the days of Cain and Abel. To be favored, recognized and exalted before God and among peers is to deeply satisfy the inner workings of the human psyche. However, to truly grasp the glory and majesty of honor, we’d be wise to consult King Saul’s record to delve the dark depths men will go to possess such a status.

(Remember: Only things valued are ever counterfeited. Honor and humility are of great value. False humility is a counterfeit producing shallow honorees. These two empty suits produce cheap tinsel crowns, wooden thrones, and fickle kings. So God, please, spare us that potential reality!)

Honor is inextricably linked with humility, but arrives and is unpackaged only after humility’s high cost is paid. And noticing humility’s price tag is never less than a constantly sacrificed ego- few are willing to write and sign that profoundly proverbial check.

But despair no longer, guys! Both honor and humility are what they should be- beyond us and mere myths without grace as our divine helper!

Wisdom teaches that prior to any glorious honoring there’s an inherently inglorious humbling. Armed with that knowledge, humility brings obedience alongside to define and measure humility’s progress. Not a humility that’s measured by convenient contributions and pious words; but a humility measured by painstaking obedience, a counting not my life dear, and a determination to be accountable till the assignment is fulfilled.

We waste our debate breath if we argue who killed Jesus. Unequivocally, it was an unworldly obedience that lead Him full bore to his death on a Roman cross. And since obedience, by definition, requires volition, an act of the will – obedience, in measuring will and ethos, determined ultimately Christ’s degree of reward and honor. And what an honor He received! …And is yet to receive!

  • His Father/Son relationship inspired His humility.
  • His humility inspired His servant mindedness.
  • His servant mind inspired his obedience.
  • His obedience placed him on a shameful tree.
  • His death inspired His Father’s glorification and exaltation! (Heb 5:8) (Phil 2:6-11)

For those who love Him, the spectrum of humility is tightly book-ended by obedience. There’s a confession of faith on one end, and a body presented as a living sacrifice on the other. Now, whether in common self-denial or uncommon martyrdom, we gladly retain the sentence of death day to day for His namesake… All the while we anticipate the glorious return of the One who made humility and obedience an honorable endeavor!

So as opportunities to share life and light are afforded us this week, let’s stretch our collective love and faith muscles and allow God to use us in unanticipated and uncommon ways! There’s no limit to our power and influence when those Holy Spirit nudges are obeyed!

Love In Action

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” I John 3:18

A few years ago, right after my daughter turned two, I considered getting her a professional speech assessment. I was convinced she had an expressive language delay and should see a therapist qualified to help. Then seemingly overnight she began speaking in full sentences. Now, at the age of three, my little girl quite literally never stops talking. I’ve heard that the average woman speaks some 13,000 more words per day than the average man; my daughter gives credibility to this claim.

For her, words come easy; following them up with actions is much harder. There are many instances, after being unkind to her brother, that I’ve asked her to apologize. She obeys. Through gritted teeth and a clinched fist she says the words but sometimes acts in a way that reveals what is really in her heart.

Real love requires more than lip service. Thankfully, we possess a blueprint for how to love well. Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” God doesn’t just say He loves us. He showed us. Over 2,000 years ago the Creator of the universe stepped out of heaven into the earth He created to demonstrate and prove that His love is real.

Furthermore, Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The mind blowing truth is that Jesus loved us when we were distant, selfish, and messy. He loved us still when we were promiscuous and prideful. Where the stench of sin is strong His love is stronger. God’s love is unconditional. We are now invited to love in the same extravagant way. Loving well without condition. Not loving others for who we hope they become but for who they are right now. Laying down our hammer and chisel and trusting the Lord to be the master sculptor.

Jesus loved well and He loved often. His love for humanity drove Him to action. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, forgave the sinner, raised the dead, and died on the cross for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God forever. His sacrificial death is still the most powerful expression of love the world has ever seen.

God is love. It’s necessary then, as children of God, that we abide in His presence learning the way of love from the One who is love. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, the manifestation of God’s glory in flesh, we are transformed into His likeness. By dwelling in His presence we allow the mighty sword of God’s word to pierce into our deep places and do the heavy lifting of change.

As we increase in His likeness may we increase in His perfect love. Let’s rock a baby to sleep for an exhausted new mom. Let’s pay for the coffee of the stranger behind us in the Starbucks drive thru. Let’s invite someone into our home and cook them a meal. Let’s put the phone away and look people in the eyes when they speak to us. Let’s call instead of texting. Since God dwells within us we have access to a limitless source of love. Let’s pour it out on the thirsty souls that God has strategically placed in our path. For love, in its purest form, has the amazing capacity to heal, cover, comfort, unite, and restore. Love is not invisible. Real love, the kind that stirs your soul and sets your heart on fire, leaves evidence of its presence all around. May we follow up our words with actions and love, this week, like we’ve been loved.

“How” Shall We Sing

Psalms 137:4 How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?

Contextually, we see the Israelites perplexed and in a place unfit for their spiritual pedigree. After nearly two years of Babylonian besiegement, the worst has come to the most envied nation of the world. Continued sin and cold hearted rebellion has Jerusalem’s inhabitants exiled 500 miles away, confined to a heathen city steeped in paganism and idolatry.

And, as if the shame of captivity was insufficient judgment, the heathen required them to harmonize on the delightful songs of Zion and their King! (For worship, melodies and instrumentation from the Jewish Temple were known universally and universally unmatched.)

Thus the lament, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”

Not, “how can we sing with a broken heart?”, but rather a question crafted and framed with incomprehensible grace came (unauthorized version of course!),”How shall we then sing from this strange and painful place? Not “can”, mind you, but “how” shall we sing. So, in some new way, we must, and will, sing! Yes, even in tears we will sing! For even in our backslidings, You never left us! Even in our abject worst, You walked with us! You gave promises and made covenant with us. And even in our well-deserved judgments, You cannot deny Yourself, nor excuse Yourself from bringing us to a glorious destiny! So even though this is uncharted territory, and this is painfully awkward in every way, we’ll return to our roots …and sing!”

Say what you will about Israel’s foolishness concerning sin and disobedience. They experienced what was prophesied, and divinely received what they deserved. But more importantly, we have to believe God’s loving covenant anchored them, even in unspeakable tragedy.

So what do we say to the circumstances of our own condition? Are we immune to tribulations? Read the rest of this entry »

The Forgotten Doctrine of the Ascension

The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. (Psalm 110:1

Every Christ-follower can attest to the significance of Jesus’ incarnation celebrated at Christmas. If enough songs of praise were not penned about His miraculous birth, hundreds more rightfully followed hailing His death, burial and resurrection and their unmistakable importance in the redemption of man.

But how many hymns or worship choruses have you sung recently (or how many sermons have you listened to, for that matter) celebrating the day Jesus returned to His rightful place at the right hand of the throne of God?

The ascension of Christ — when our Risen Lord majestically rose off the ground He created and disappeared into the clouds 40 days after walking out of a borrowed tomb — is one of the key pieces in the giant puzzle of God’s eternal plan of redemption!

The triumphant day when the Son of God, the Redeemer of fallen man, would take His seat of authority and power at His Father’s right hand had been anticipated and even prophesied throughout the pages of the Old Testament. And David’s short 110th Psalm was quoted by Jesus Himself some 1,000 years after it was penned and was also referenced by Luke, Paul and John later in the New Testament.

Interestingly, the oft-missed magnificence and magnitude of Christ’s ascension can be summed up in four common directional words: up, down, right and under. Most Christians get fired up about the first two and almost totally disregard the latter couple.

When the Savior slipped the grip of gravity and went up into the heavens, angels appeared and assured onlookers that the same Jesus who was taken up would also come back down one day. For two millennia, the Church has clutched that promise of the Second Coming of our Lord! To this day, we still await that “divine descension”!

But the real power of the ascension lies in what happened between the “up” and “down” and the absolute assurance of what will come ultimately. Jesus assumed the seated position of honor, power and authority at the right hand of God, essentially putting the exclamation point on His “It is finished!” declaration from the cross of Calvary! The ascension to the throne room of Heaven solidified the Deity of the Bethlehem-born son of a carpenter: Jesus proved Himself to be the Messiah, the victorious Seed of the woman promised where it all began in Genesis 3:15. “Tetelestai!” indeed!

One may wonder what could possibly be left after the Master has declared His work “finished.” For those of us who have staked our lives on the reliability of the Bible, the only part of redemption’s plan that needs to be unfolded is a foregone conclusion: Read the rest of this entry »

Holy Invitation

“When Jesus heard what had happened, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed Him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Matthew 14: 13-14

On an exceptionally cold day in February 1988 a couple, and their three teenage sons, experienced the interruption of a lifetime. They were enjoying a typical Friday evening until there was a knock at the door and God disrupted the rhythm of their daily life in a dramatic way. A four-month-old baby was dropped off at their home with only a trash bag full of personal belongings. This ordinary family was suddenly presented with an extraordinary opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus and love a baby in need. I’m thankful they said yes to God’s wild plan for their lives; the baby was me, and this family became my very own.

Jesus was constantly interrupted. He was interrupted when speaking to crowds, conversing with His disciples, performing miracles, sleeping, traveling, and even while praying. In Matthew 14, His cousin and dear friend, John the Baptist had just been beheaded. Jesus tried to get away to mourn but the crowds followed Him there. When He saw the people the word says, “He had compassion on them, and healed their sick.” He then goes on to feed the multitude with the five loaves and two fish. Jesus was always attentive and available to the needs of those around Him.

I love making lists and am especially fond of my planner. I meticulously manage my time and prefer for my days to be both tidy and predictable. I cherish routine and am not a fan of spontaneity. I sport an invisible do not disturb sign while hustling to accomplish the many things on my to-do list. I am a goal setter and go getter. The reality, however, is that life doesn’t always cooperate with my to-do list.

As believers we should be good stewards of all that God has blessed us with- including our time. Yet God alone knows who we need to see, where we need to go, what we need to do, and who we are meant to speak with. So when things don’t go our way we have a choice. We can get annoyed or we can respond graciously knowing that our Heavenly Father is in control and we can trust Him.

When my husband tells our daughter to put her shoes on so we can go I’ve never once heard her say, “Well, dad, I’m kind of in the middle of something right now.” She’s never listed all that she hoped to accomplish that day like building a block tower, having a tea party, or coloring a picture of Sofia the First. She’s simply excited that her daddy asked her to go somewhere with him. She drops whatever she’s doing without a moment’s hesitation. Sweet friends, God extends holy invitations to us daily. You see interruptions are not obstacles; they are actually opportunities for us to release our plans and submit to His.

Welcoming interruptions may cause us to say yes when we receive an invitation to lunch last minute. It could urge us to answer that phone call when we’re in the middle of doing something else. We may stop to speak to a stranger even if we’re running late to an appointment. It means looking for God in every moment of our day and choosing to honor Him and not our schedule.

May we become increasingly more like Jesus, and more like my parents, welcoming interruptions and recognizing them as the precious opportunities they are to walk out the Lord’s glorious purpose for our lives. Life with Jesus as our pilot is an exciting adventure! We get to be willing participants of what God is actively doing in the earth. So if something doesn’t go as planned this week let’s remember His planning skills are second to none.

Sword Play

Ephesians 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…

At a recent bible study, the discussion centered on a believer’s strategy to overcome the ever present temptation to doubt. Defining doubt as, “to be uncertain, be apprehensive, to question or be hesitant to believe something or someone”, doubt was dubbed a major player in Satan’s arsenal to subvert the underpinnings of faith and love.

Not to be outwitted or outdone by Lucifer’s poisoned arrows of doubt, we returned that night to faith as our shield of defense and the Scriptures as our sharpened sword. And what a powerful and proven panoply of weaponry it is! For with such armor, we found every insidious device to dissuade or devise doubt was forthrightly disarmed by the power of God’s word. And for practicality and courage sake, we found that power residing presently in the castle of our own hearts!

So with renewed confidence and warrior mind, we bivouacked that night in the land of God’s eternal promises. Withstanding the usual anxiety and frustration of present circumstances (and some situations, trust me, bordered hopeless and impossible!), we countered our foe by feasting copiously and fearlessly in the Land of indescribable milk and honey!

Was every hurt remedied that night as we meditated on the Word? Did every situation meliorate as the scriptures were expounded? Did every distressing circumstance improve immediately as we prayed and trusted the faithfulness of God? Did the group fall out in a trance, or everyone have an out-of-the-body experience?

Nope. Sure didn’t.

But you know what did happen? Read the rest of this entry »

Poem For the Fathers

Through you we learn about the Heavenly Father’s love. You’re a clear reflection of Him though He’s seated above.

You are His hands and feet on the earth; made in His image, created for purpose from birth.

You lead your family with wisdom and the utmost care. You hold things together on your knees in prayer.

You sacrifice to provide without recognition. You’re devoted and consistent; truly a man on a mission.

You’ve taught your arrows the gospel story- that their lives were created to ultimately bring Him glory.

You protect and defend your family. Your presence and support is our beautiful reality.

You’ve shown your children that in the face of any giant they have the courage to be bold as lions.

They learn so much by watching you. Through your life they see real life rescue.

They see that when you fall and begin to call, God always shows up and His strength isn’t small.

We know you juggle a lot and carry much weight. Please know our respect for you is exceedingly great.

Our heroes are often the strong and silent type with no gold medals or social media hype.

They don’t get a parade or the front page in the paper but make no mistake their reward will be greater.

For our heroes this morning may not wear red, white, or blue. Our heroes this morning are all of you.

From the bottom of our heart, thanks. Impact Church stands to applaud you.

Well-Watered

Isaiah 58:11 “The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

I prefer to water my flowers early in the morning as the sun is rising to take its prominent position in the sky. I pour from the watering can until water overflows from the bottom and spills across my sidewalk. I fill to the point of excess because I know the afternoon is coming. The temperatures will inevitably rise and before the day ends the sun’s harsh rays will have direct access. There is nowhere to hide from the heat once afternoon arrives, but when the roots are well-watered they endure the heat with remarkable resilience.

As I was reading Isaiah 58 I was struck by the beauty of the promise found in verse 11. It says, “you will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”  As I studied the scriptures my heart leapt and I thought, “I want to be like a well-watered garden, too!” If I am totally honest though, I haven’t always run to the right source to satisfy my thirsty soul. I’ve ran to Instagram and popular Christian blogs to read good words when my Bible offers me God’s words. I’ve ran to people to receive affirmation when God’s approval of me is settled. Running to anything but God will always leave us spiritually dehydrated.

There is a better way.

There is hope for every dry place in our hearts. There is bread and water to receive from God’s word. Read the rest of this entry »