Impact Church

Passionately serving God and His people

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I am Enough

I am made in the image of God; fearfully, and wonderfully, fashioned by His loving hands. I am a clear reflection of God’s wild and spectacular creativity. His workmanship is marvelous and after breathing His breath into that which He created He declared once and for all, “It is good.”  I am enough.

I am extravagantly loved. Jesus stepped down into the world He created to show me that His love has no bounds; that there’s nowhere He wouldn’t go and nothing He wouldn’t do to rescue, restore, and redeem the object of His affection. I am the object of His affection. I am enough.

I am entirely free. He willingly died an excruciating, brutal, bloody death while bearing the sin of every person of every generation. When He breathed His last breath He said, “It is finished.” My debt was paid in full and a guilty verdict will never be issued on my behalf. I am enough.

I am victorious. When Jesus took his last breath all of hell rejoiced but all of heaven sat on the edge of their seat for they knew that God would fulfill His word just as He promised. And three days later Jesus loosed His burial clothes and walked out of His tomb. He overcame death, hell, and the grave. He holds the keys of life and death and He reigns in authority, power, and majesty. That same resurrection power lives in me. I am enough.

I am secure. I know that I have eternal life because I believe in the name of the Son of God. I can feel secure because the Holy Spirit is the seal of God’s promises to me and pledge of my inheritance in Christ. He alone is my rock and fortress; I will not be shaken. He is steadfast, stable, and unmoving. I am enough.

I am whole. I am a partaker of His divine nature. The fullness of Christ is now manifesting in me. Because I have Him I have everything I will ever need. There is not a lack in me because no lack exists in Him. I am enough.

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A Special Bond

Phil 2:20  For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. V21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. V22 But you know the proof of him, that, as son with the father, he has served with me in the gospel.

The psychology of post-Christian cultures notoriously minimizes character and virtue. Employing inside politics, whitewashed platitudes, inflated bios, participation trophies, and everybody’s-a-winner celebrations, the intent is to equalize the rewards of human effort. Societies may blend or share the rewards of the well-deserved with the indolently undeserved, but Scripture reveals a distinct line between heart-driven service and efforts framed for image.

That flaccid and contemptible label, “politically correct”, is never attached to Paul, the New Testament’s most prolific writer. His ministry style is too demanding and rare, his candid writing too precise and real, his evaluation of ministers too rugged and raw to be ambivalent.

As Paul meticulously unravels essential church doctrine, so he evaluates those given to ministry and service. Intrepid and forthright, those traveling and supporting the Apostle’s work could receive pleasing endearments or fatherly reproofs.

To walk and work alongside this foundational Apostle, was to have the luxury of relating to a man of unworldly character – one able to discern integrity and able also to publicly exalt or censure it.

His observations of protégés and fellow ministers reflect unwavering absolutes, his conclusions and judgments undeniable and undebatable. There’s no wiggle room in his vocabulary, no possibility for misunderstanding or missing the point in his assessments. Clear, unmistakable and unadorned with fluff, Paul communicated truth and intent masterfully and faithfully.

The above scripture text is case in point…

How boldly then does Paul call out those who stand only in spaces of comfort and convenience!

How sharply does he expose those who become loveless and careless with the Bride of Christ!

How fearlessly does he contrast selfless, sacrificing ministers and the self-centered!

But then there’s also Timothy, a young man faithfully committed to Paul and the Gospel. A fellow minister of whom Paul was not ashamed; a needed companion, a trusted comrade, a willing servant.

Paul’s effusive record of Timothy’s part in advancing his apostolic assignment is both epic and heartwarming. It is incontrovertible that pieces of the early church design came through the father/son relationship of Paul and Timothy.

And it is also certain that relationships of such did not cease, nor did they become unnecessary, at the passing of the early church fathers.

I am both witness and participant of such a relationship…

To God, I’m grateful.

To you son, Pastor Jason, I’m honored.

Happy Pastor Appreciation, Pastor Jason!

Impact Church salutes you gladly today, and honors your obedience to the gifts and divine call of sharing the greatest love story ever told!

Unknown, Yet Well-Known

Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labor, and fellow soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. Philippians 2:25

Honor adorns ministries where virtue and faithfulness are rooted. Yet, ministries outside the limelight of platform, prestige or title are easily overlooked. Inconspicuous and undervalued, these “behind the scenes” supporting gifts are indispensable and utterly praiseworthy. Their labors may flourish without the camera’s flash, and their fruit may be credited to names more prominent; but those who know, know it is of this sort that grace ministries are advanced.

Of all the names aligned with the ministry of Paul, Epaphroditus holds an especial fondness. And though mentioned only twice in scripture, his dedication to Apostle Paul drew the highest of praise and commendation.

Coming to Paul as a two way emissary from the Philippian church, Epaphroditus was sent to provide support and strength to the Apostle while imprisoned in Rome. Mind you, this is not a Titus or Timothy or Silas. Not a renowned evangelist or revered teacher.

Merely Epaphroditus. And defined as, “dedicated to love and beauty”.

A servant. A helper. A lifter. A brother, a minister, a soldier.

Not a competitor or a burden, not a critic or corrector of the called.

Simply a selfless supporter of God’s most prolific preacher.

Forget the greater than two months and eight hundred plus miles of archaic travel to reach Rome, and the dangers inherent as a Christian in hostile lands. And don’t make it a big deal that his age was likely advanced and quid pro quo compensation never crossed his mind.

Simply remember that he was a servant, a man committed to the propagation of the Gospel by enhancing another man’s gift.

And remember that his service to Paul was not without a heavy toll. For his loyal efforts to further the Apostle’s ministry nearly cost him his life. But we must also remember abundant grace; as God was merciful, Epaphroditus was stronger, and Paul was wiser.

So it is of such service gifts that Paul’s ministry is heavily emblazoned on the pages of sacred script, and deeply etched in the hearts of those reading them.

This week, Impact Church, using Epaphroditus as a model for unsung ministry, honors the unseen, yet immeasurable support of those that hold the hands of those with more visible platforms. Your heart is perfect, your motives are pure, your energies are provocative, your life testifies of a divine grace.

And you are valued. Your selflessness is noticed; priceless and precious. Your work is indispensable and incalculable.

Grateful above all. Appreciated. Honored. Loved.

How can we even begin, the work too varied, the fields too spacious:

  • To teachers instructing the young, educating them year after year of the love and faithfulness of God…
  • To hospitality teams and kitchen workers preparing and ministering food consistently to countless faces, young and old alike…
  • To faceless sound technicians, microphone experts, amplifier repairers, speaker adjusters, and wiring experts…
  • To transportation ministers, starting vans on cold mornings and sweltering afternoons, so whosoever will can hear this incredible message of Jesus…
  • To worship teams prevailing in practice and prayer, so the music and lyrics of His Majesty and boundless love may penetrate obstinate hearts or confirm a weary one…
  • To greeters and door keepers, opening doors, parking cars and holding umbrellas, just to be sure they’re warm, safe and welcomed…
  • To web designers, newsletter preparers, social media providers, and communication professionals perfecting their craft so the message is easily comprehended and gracefully disseminated…
  • To pastoral assistants, armor bearers, drivers and schedule makers…
  • To faithful, deeply committed financial givers opening their wallets because they’re openly sensitive to God’s heart…
  • To budget and financial caretakers of the resources richly given, attending to both present conditions and forward initiatives…
  • To house cleaners, yard caretakers, facility maintainers, playground protectors, electricians, painters and builders…
  • To prayer warriors, missionaries near and far, hospital evangelists, school minded ministers, and homeless shelter providers…

And to every encourager, intercessor, need supplier, smile giver and hug provider – and in innumerable other ways ministry is produced from those who love God and His people – here’s a simple thank you for your Epaphroditus heart.

God sees you and His records are detailed and impeccable.

We see you. We applaud you. We thank God for you. Of your type will heaven be glad …and filled.

May grace be multiplied, your blessings increased, and your peace as flowing, tranquil and refreshing as a mountain stream.

Acknowledging today beyond the power of our words, those who live fully committed to the service and exaltation of our glorious King! THANK YOU!

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

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 »

Happy Place

“But you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you”. John 14: 17b

God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.  there is no such thing.  ~ C.S. Lewis

It is in the dryness and barrenness of the human soul that it never rests. And it is in the endless search for climes that supply lack that the soul’s poverty is confirmed. And it is in the certainty that nothing can satisfy that the soul remains temperamental and transient.

Moving, changing, rearranging; restless and discontent- the soul of man is confined to an irritability that creates conflict and confusion, both in community and in the body it dwells. His efforts for control isolates, his search for fulfillment disappoints, and his struggles for independence imprisons. Succinctly put, it’s not easy being human.

But it’s not like there’s been a scarcity of above average people, entertaining places and pleasurable things to discover and experience the soul’s “happy place”. Let’s be honest here: human beings are on record as being extremely blessed with opportunities and experiences!

Consider Eden’s garden in Adam’s day as the near perfect “in” place to be. And with Moses and the Tabernacle, the presence of God was an enviously “cool” place to hang. Likewise, the Temple in Solomon’s day was “off the charts”! God has met with, talked with, and touched humankind in unimaginable ways.

Yet, no discovery, discipline, relationship, or experience ever brought peace to the ever searching soul. And that is as it scripturally should be. No man is created complete apart from God’s indwelling spirit. Though created as a living soul, and though God walked with man in the cool of the day- God’s eternal design was to live in man, not merely with him.

Though sin, through disobedience, entered the human race, and though God’s Law, as good and perfect as it was, could never redeem us, and though the road to get us here was incomprehensible Read the rest of this entry »

The Secret Place

Psalm 91:1 “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

Every year our family takes a trip to the beach. We relish slowing down and feeling the sand between our toes as waves crash against the shore in perfect rhythm. Our days brim over with the therapeutic sound of our children’s carefree laughter as they happily scoop buckets of ocean water and build countless masterpieces in the sand. We wake up early, stay up late, and soak up every minute we’re privileged to spend together. As much as we cherish our time in the sun, after a few days, we must pack our bags, load the van, and begin the drive back home. Vacations, while refreshing, always come to an end.

In Psalm 91, we read about a “secret place” of refreshing where we, as believers, can dwell. Dwell means to “sit down, live, and remain.” In our frantic, busy, on the go society, to sit down seems lazy, unproductive, and wasteful. We have been conditioned, as a generation, to believe that if we aren’t busy then we aren’t being wise stewards of our time.

The truth, however, is that God does not call us to busy; He desires instead that we be fruitful. We each have responsibilities to fulfill but we were never meant to live in a constant state of chaos, overwhelmed, or running in circles. We can be fruitful wherever God has planted us.

Yes, even here.

Even now. In this house. In this season. With our packed planner, overflowing laundry basket, and mile long to-do list. But how?

Psalm 62:1 says, “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him.” When we intentionally slow down and spend time with the Lord we experience ultimate refreshing and soul rest. The opportunity we have to dwell in the secret place of His presence is a precious gift that we could never earn. When Jesus uttered the words, “it is finished,” direct access to God’s presence was re-established forever. The penalty for our sins was paid in full. 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 »