Thoughts from Robert Hendershot’s Message

Angels for Higher

Robert Hendershot grew up in a “dysfunctional Christian home.” His father was an alcoholic. Robert’s prayer was that he wouldn’t follow in his father’s footsteps. Unfortunately, he became a heavy drinker. In high school and college he would often black out and not remember anything of the night before. He finally stopped drinking and met and married his wife Melissa. She helped him overcome his drinking problems.

Robert’s second fear was that he wouldn’t be a good father. When his wife delivered their first baby, the doctor came into the room and said, “You have a son.” That was Robert’s greatest moment of joy. The doctor’s next sentence was, “He has Down Syndrome.” He went from sheer joy to instant depression.

From that moment God has been teaching Robert what a gift of God his son Trevor is. Robert learned to love Trevor with all his heart. Once Robert received a call from his son’s elementary school. The principal said that Trevor was caught cursing. Robert asked the principle, “what did he do?” The principle said, “He said “blank” you. My daddy loves me!” The principal said that even though Trevor had been bullied, we have zero tolerance for that kind of language.

Trevor said, “I’m sorry daddy.” Robert took his son for ice cream for standing up for himself.

Trevor wanted to go to a Christian men’s retreat but Robert didn’t want to take him for fear that Trevor would do something inappropriate. At the retreat, Trevor asked his dad to share his testimony. Robert shared about his struggle with alcoholism and then sat down. Trevor came up to the microphone and started singing “Be Thou My Vision” out of key and dancing in front of the crowd. Robert grabbed his son, embarrassed, and sat down.

The next day Robert was so embarrassed that he wanted to leave early. Men came up to him and asked, “where are you going? Why are you leaving early?” Robert tried to explain how embarrassed he was about the night before. One guy said, “are you kidding? That was the greatest moment of the retreat. I wish I could sing like that with reckless abandon. Everyone in the audience was in tears.”

Once while Trevor was in high school, the principle called Robert and Melissa to her office. Some bullies had been tormenting Trevor. They reported him to the principle for cursing at them. The bullies didn’t think that Trevor would say anything against them. At the meeting were a police officer, the principal and the vice principal. Robert and Melissa brought Trevor as their witness. His mom had Trevor write down what the bullies had done to him to make him say a curse word. He wrote, “They called me ‘tupid, they said I was ‘tarded. They pushed me down on the ground and poured water on my head..” When they left the principal’s office, the cheerleaders and the football team had made a banner that read “Go Trevor.” The football captain told the bullies, “if you ever say or do anything to Trevor, we’ll kick you all the way to Riverside.”

Trevor’s friends at high school nominated him for Homecoming King. When the votes were tallied, Trevor won the honor with the greatest landslide in school history.

Trevor had been bullied in high school but thanks to the accusation and the hearing, the school was able to put a stop to it. He was honored to serve as Homecoming King and to kiss the Homecoming Queen.

After graduation, Robert looked for a job that his son could do. He decided to bring Trevor to an audition for a job as greeter for the Angels. Trevor had worked at Trader Joe’s and Walmart as a stocker. The interviewer told Trevor, “I can teach anyone to stock shelves. What I can’t teach is an outgoing personality, genuine friendliness, and a beautiful smile. You have all these qualities. When can you start?”

The president of the Angels after a few months gave Trevor a bonus of $500. The Anaheim Ducks hockey team also decided that they needed a greeter. The Ducks’ president said to the HR Manager, “there’s a guy coming in for an interview tomorrow. I think you’ll want to hire him.” Trevor’s been working for both the Angels and the Ducks ever since.

At a retreat in Malibu, the speaker challenged Robert, “ask God what breaks your heart.” Robert remembered that 90% of Down Syndrome babies are aborted. In some countries terrorists send Down Syndrome children into public places with bombs strapped under their coats. They are then blown up by remote control. Some countries vow to abort all Down syndrome fetuses in the womb to become 100% Down Syndrome free. God broke Robert’s heart with these statistics and facts about how cultures devalue the lives of Down Syndrome children. He decided to form a charitable organization to promote the benefits of Down Syndrome children. Once Trevor asked. His dad, “Are you proud of me daddy?” Robert’s response was, “I’m proud of you son. More importantly, God is proud of you.”

Trevor reminds us that Psalm 41:2 says, “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.”
May our prayer be that we, like Trevor could worship and serve God unashamedly with reckless abandon. Serve the Lord with a heart of gladness. Robert is thankful that God has graciously and mercifully blessed him to raise a son like Trevor.

May God richly bless you,
Your brother in Christ,

Thoughts from Ryan’s Message October 25, 2017

Freedom by Grace

The freedom that we have in Christ is the message of the Church of the administration of the fullness of Grace. The Old Testament law prepared us so that we would be ready to be freed from the bondage of the Law. This is the message of Romans Chapter 8 for Israel and for all who would believe the truth of the gospel of grace. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful sin and for sin condemned sin in the flesh that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the spirt. Jesus came so that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him.

The Law was given so that God’s people could see that they were guilty in their own fallen nature. The freedom that we have is only by the grace of God through the payment for sin that Jesus made on our behalf. Ecclesiastes 1:13, Man was given travail so that man would be humbled by it. Man was not made to keep the sabbath, rather, Sabbath was made for man. The Sabbath was given by God so that Man could stop working, rest, and remember why we were created. Man was not created for work but to serve and to know the Lord God Jehovah. When we realize that we were not made for work, then we are free to work with joy as unto the Lord and not unto man. The reason for existence is not for work, but to know and love God. Our work is to keep us humble so that we can humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God.

Fear is the basis for legalism. When I’m threatened, legalism is the fall-back position that tells me, “I’m doing the right thing.” However, freedom is not within our own power. Freedom is dependent on the level to which we submit to him. Galatians 5:1 says, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” The freedom that we have is to serve Christ with total abandonment from a heart of love. Jesus said, “If you continue in my Word, then you shall be my disciplined followers. And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall. Set you free. If the son therefor shall set you free then you shall be free indeed.”

Freedom isn’t free. It was paid for by the full payment for sin on our behalf by Jesus Christ. For he who was without sin was made the perfect sacrifice for sin on our behalf that we may be made the righteousness of God in him.. What has washed away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. O blessed is the flow, that washed me white as snow; no other fount I know…Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

It wasn’t the nails that kept Jesus hanging on the cross. Rather it was for the love that he had for us. He for the joy that was set before him endured the cross and is seated on the right hand of God. The joy he had was your salvation and mine.

Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on our behalf is the payment for our freedom from the bondage of legalism and sin. We’ve been set free not because of how good we are but because of how good He is. What amazing grace!

May God richly bless you!
Your brother in Christ,

Thoughts from Pete’s Message October 13, 2017

Choose Joy

Joy and rejoicing is a choice. Pete’s wife Suzan reminded us that Joy is not the absence of pain. Rather, it is the presence of God. The challenge is to focus on the Lord and the things of the spirit of life in Christ. Our calling is to be a disciplined follower of our Lord Jesus Christ. God gives us trials and allows tribulation in our lives so that we can understand that our joy is not in this world, but only in Him. Happiness doesn’t impress God.. However, when we are joyful despite trials and tribulations, then we can rejoice because His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Life is hard. We live in a fallen world. In John 16 Jesus said, “do you now believe? You will be scattered and leave me all alone. And yet I am not alone for my father is always with me. In this world ye will have tribulation. But be of good cheer because I have overcome the world.”

Job said, “man is destined for trouble like the sparks flying upward.” According to Jeremiah, The heart of man is desperately wicked. The scriptures say not to be surprised when we have to endure suffering. Christians throughout history have been the victims of persecution ever since Jesus’ Ascension.. Jesus said, “blessed are they when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake for great is your reward in heaven.”

Holiness means to separate according to the purpose for which God has designed us. We were never meant for the world’s design. Our responsibility is to have an affinity, not for the things of this world, but for the things of heaven… the things of the spirit of God in Christ in us. Suffering is a gift from God for those who want to glorify their Lord Jesus Christ. The greatest witness is when we have peace despite suffering. We have been called, not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for his name. When Pete prayed about all of the troubles in his life, God revealed to him, “these things are your friends. They have caused you to turn your heart to me.” In times of tribulation as Paul said, “to you O Lord I lift up my soul. O God I trust in you. Let me not be ashamed.” We want to glorify the name of the Lord despite the pain of this world.

It’s difficult to endure pain…to crucify the old man of the flesh by living according to nature of the resurrected Christ in me. Our calling is to point others to him by the way we respond to adversity. God warns us that we will become what we focus on. If we focus on resentment and hatred for the pain that others have inflicted, we will poison our own hearts. However, the love of God is not burdened by bitterness and resentment. Through our suffering, then we can identify with him. As Paul said, “that I may know him and the fellowship of his suffering.” Isaiah 41:10 says,“ Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

The calling of God is to mold us and shape us after his will. Either we deliberately choose to let God help himself to our lives, or the devil will have his way with us. When we choose to walk according to the spirit of life in Christ, the Holy Spirit will check us in our thoughts and actions. His spirit will admonish us to seek the Lord and not the comfort of our own flesh. He will call us to a more worthy endeavor…to let go and let God. The heart of a disciple says, “show me your ways O Lord. Lead me to your paths. On you I wait all the day long. For thou art the God of my salvation. That I may live for thy honor and glory. O Lord, remember your tender mercy and loving kindness…Remember me for your goodness sake.”

Hebrews 9 says that It is appointed for all men once to die. And then comes the judgement. Christians will be judged righteous because of the righteous payment Jesus made for sin on our behalf. God gives us an open invitation to surrender our lives to him. He will teach us through trials to turn to him. The question is not whether we will suffer. Suffering is inevitable. We can choose to understand suffering as a gift…to prove that Joy is not the absence of pain…Rather that Joy is to walk in His presence. For thy grace is made perfect in my weakness. Thy grace is sufficient for me.

May God richly bless you!
Your brother in Christ,

Thoughts from Pete’s Message October 6, 2017

Let Go and Let God

There’s a story about a young amateur photographer who wanted to make a name for himself by photographing the Grand Canyon. He got up early and set up his tripod, his camera and equipment. As he walked around looking for the best lighting and perspective for his landscape shot, he backed up and tumbled over the edge of the cliff. On his way down, he was grasping for shrubbery, bushes and any outcropping he could grab. As he was hanging on for dear life he yelled, “can anyone hear me?”
He heard an answer, “I’m here to help you.”
“Who are you,” he replied.
“I’m God” came the answer.
“What do you you want me to do?”
God said, “Just let go!”
The man replied, “is any one else up there?”

The question is, “Are we willing to let go and let God?” According to Romans 8:28, in the Amplified Bible, “We are assured and know that God (being a partner in our labor) will cause all things to work together (fitting into his plan) for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose (and his design.) The order of priority should be God, His glory, and then me. This priority is reversed for most men. In the midst of trials and tribulations, men often ask themselves, “what was God thinking.” In Old Testament times, philosophers know as the Stoics thought that men should restrain them selves from feeling, emotion, and passion. This was contrary to the teachings of Jesus. However, the Stoics got some things right. They believed in the mind of God, his reason and his all-inspired word. They believed that God was Sovreign and in control of everything. The sovreign is the one who exercises supreme authority.

The son of an evangelist wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. But when he saw the suffering of the people around him, he didn’t understand the motives of a holy God. He denounced his faith and became an atheist.

Each man must decide, “What is truth?” To what and to whom are we willing to commit? Jesus said, “He who shall lose his life for my sake shall save it.. For what shall it profit a man to save his life but lose his soul.” Life is full of traumatic experiences. As Oswald Chambers said, “God requires extreme service from you with no explaining on his part and no complaining on yours.” We must settle in our minds whether God is Sovreign or not. Am I answerable to God or is he answerable to me?

There’s a parable in Luke 17 about a servant who after working all day in the field, came into his master’s house. His master said, “first prepare my meal and then after I have finished you can sit down and eat.” The humble servant served as his master commanded. He did not expect to receive praise for performing his duties in service to his master.

The stoics believed that the duty of every man was acceptance: to endure without questioning. To defer and acquiesce and to resign oneself to the inevitable. Jesus reminded us that we all live in a fallen world. He said, “In this world ye shall have tribulation. However, be of good cheer, because I have overcome the world.”

Natural disasters are inevitable. According to Romans 8:22, “the whole world groaneth and travails like birth pains until now.” How close together are the birth pains? As the time between contractions decreases, “the redemption of our bodies” when Christ returns draws nearer. Nothing happens in this world without God allowing it to happen. The scripture says, “happy is the man who condemns not himself in that thing which He alloweth.”

In Romans 8:28, what is it that we know with great confidence? We know that to those who love God and who are called according to his purpose, all things work together for good. Jesus said, If you love me, you’ll let go. This is the only way we’ll see everything working together for good. Ephesians 4 says, “walk worthy of the calling wherewith ye are called.” In loving the Lord by obedience to his Word, we will learn God’s purpose for our journey in this life. When we give God permission to help himself with our lives, we can continue in his word as Christ’s disciplined followers. And then we shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free.

The irony is that to be set free means to surrender to his will. “Hands up, I surrender,” is not a confession that comes naturally for most men. However, surrender to our Lord Jesus Christ is the requirement for a life lived more abundantly. He does all things well. For all things work together for good to those who love God…to those who are called according to his purpose..

May God richly bless you!
Your brother in Christ,

Thoughts from Pete’s Message October 4, 2017

Do All Things Work for Good?

We’re all on a journey that God has prepared for each of us. For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God has foreordained that we should walk therein. The first stage of the journey is finding out what God is like. How well do you know him. Paul said, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection. The second stage is to understand how he has enabled us with the fruit of the spirit. The third step is knowing how God has gifted each of us. Through the journey we will understand and know his will for our lives as we enter the fourth stage: living according to his calling.

Last week we read in James 1 that God has called us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. Pete recounts a story of one of the husbands in his Marriage Builder class. He approached Pete and asked for a private conference.. He told Pete that his wife had left him a note that said, “If you want to save our marriage, then go see Pete.” Sometimes men think that pastors can raise the dead. Pete asked him, “Are you willing to do anything you need to do to save your marriage?” His response was, “probably not.” Without a firm commitment to God and his word, it’s difficult for men to make a commitment to others including their own wives. If we’re to be reconciled, it must be on God’s terms…we must meet each other at the foot of the cross.

Jesus’ disciples understood what it would mean to be a disciplined follower of Christ. To be a genuine Christian believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. To say, “Jesus is Lord,” means to declare that we are not our own…he is our master. It’s not who we are but rather, whose we are. When we make his word our word, then we can meet others in Christ with a common commitment. We cannot have peace with others until we have the Prince of Peace, our Lord Jesus Christ.

God wants to know, Whatever you’re doing, are you doing it with a heart of love? Men look at appearances but God looks upon the heart. God doesn’t look at your actions, he looks at your heart. Out of the heart are the issues of life.

According to Romans 8:28, all things work together for good to those who love God; to those who are called according to his purpose. God is still sovereign. He is all powerful…his word and his will shall come to pass. Upon the journey of life, we do not know the end from the beginning…but he does. Trusting God depends on our concept and understanding of Him. Knowing Him will determine whether our joy is in the Lord and not in the tragedies and trials of a fallen world. If we’ve tasted and seen that God is good, then we can know the love of our Heavenly Father. Love is the nature of God himself. He loves us not because of who we are but because of who he is. God is love and in him is no darkness at all.

Jesus said, “there is none good, no not one.” What is “good?” Goodness is the nature of God himself. Good must be understood in the light of God’s definition, not man’s. The greater good is God’s own glory. For those who love the Lord we know that all things work together for His glory and for our good. God wants to bless. Our definition of blessing means that God will “keep us comfortable.” Men live for the comfort of life and for the rush of emotion. However, God does not always allow us to be “emotionally” blessed. God orders the universe according to his Word, his “logos” in Greek. He does not order the world according to our “good feeling.” God is Sovreign over all. His plan is different from ours. When disasters happen, unbelievers call these “acts of God.” However, God allows these things according his own will. In the midst of trials, these are the days that try men’s souls. Our reaction to life’s difficulties will teach us what’s really important. If our comfort is important to us, then we will be confronted with the truth of God’s calling: not my will but thine be done. Why do the innocent suffer? He who did not spare his own son, how shall he not also freely give us all things. Tribulation worketh patience and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God is spread abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us.

Luke 17 is about a master who told his servant, first prepare my meal and then you can sit down and eat. The point of the story is that we have been called with an opportunity to serve in obedience to his command. As we’re in his will, he will walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death. As Paul came to understand, “thy strength is made perfect in my weakness, thy grace is sufficient for me.” He came to the point of acceptance… Thy will be done.

Romans chapter 1 tells the story of the downfall and degradation of this world and the systems of the world. However, according to Romans 8:28, we’ll be blessed in spite of the trials of this world. God will shake us to the core. The result will determine if our lives are founded upon the sand or if our foundation is upon the rock of ages, Jesus Christ himself.

It’s OK to grieve for those who have lost their lives. It’s OK to suffer though the trials of life. However, God is still in control. The solution to the trials of life is Jesus Christ himself. He said, in this world you shall have tribulation. Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

May God richly bless you!
Your brother in Christ,

Thoughts from Pete’s Message September 29, 2017

What’s in the Mirror?

After one of Pete’s Marriage Builder classes, one husband asked Pete for a private meeting. His wife had left him a note that said, “if you want to save this marriage, then go see Pete.” Pete said, “Do you want to save this marriage? Will you do whatever it takes?” The man’s response was, “probably not.” It’s difficult for men to surrender to anything. God will limit himself to what we decide to do with our lives. Are we living for ourselves or for him? This answer to this question is the subject of James chapter 1. James 1:22-25 says: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”“For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
24. For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
25. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

God wants to bless his people. However, the blessings of God are conditional upon following in our Lord’s pathway according to His word and not our own. Psalm 134:4 says “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

Sometimes God’s command is, “Ask me for my blessings.” It’s often difficult for men to ask God for his blessings. The answer to this prayer for God’s blessing may be that we must endure trials and tribulations. The greatest blessings are blessings in disguise. According to Romans 5, tribulation works patience, and patience experience, and experience hope; and hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us.

When we look at the Word of God, it’s like looking into the mirror. Men often avoid looking into the mirror. The mirror reveals our flaws. It shows us how short the glory of God we have fallen. God did not give us his word to make us smarter, he gave us his word to change our lives. The Word of God transforms lives. The exhortation is to “order my steps according to thy word.” When God gives us his revelation, he expects us to obey. He doesn’t ask for consent, rather, he commands obedience. The Holy Spirit will guide us in the way we should go when we meditate upon His word. Our heart’s desire must be, “I want your will above all things.” The answer to this prayer will lead us through the valley of the shadow of death. It will show us that God is the source of our sufficiency…that we cannot live life without his power. Our job is to live according to his strength and not our own.

James says, “Faith without works is dead.” God gives us opportunities to serve, to give, to turn the other cheek, and to go the second mile. If we disobey God’s will, the devil will say, “don’t ask forgiveness. Think about your own self.” He will condemn us when we don’t do the will of God and yet he will discourage us from confessing our sins. However, God made a way to return our hearts back to Him: for when we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

When the devil attacks us with deceptions and accusations, God gave us spiritual armor to withstand against the evil one in the evil day. Ephesians 6 says to put on the whole armor of God for we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual wickedness from on high. Therefore have your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Take up the helmet of salvation, gird your loins with truth. Put on the breastplate of righteousness and take up the shield of faith to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one. Take hold of the sword of the spirit which is the Word of truth.

God has given each of his children abilities to serve according to his will. The mirror will reveal our hearts. As David said, in Psalm 51, “search my Heart O God. Try me and prove if there is any evil thing in me. Cleanse my heart and keep me from all unrighteousness.” Unless we turn to God through his word, our decisions will be fear based. However, by turning our hearts to the Lord we will make faith based and not fear based decisions.

Do you want to spend the rest of your life learning go become just like Jesus? If this is your prayer, God will answer. Therefore, humble my heart O Lord. Search me, know me, and try me. Calm my anxious heart. As God said to Jacob in Isaiah 41:10, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

When we look into the mirror of the word what will it reveal? According to 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory (of the flesh) to glory (of the Lord,) even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

When we do God’s will he may not reveal the why’s and the wherefore’s of life. All he asks is obedience to his Word. We may not understand the end from the beginning…but He does. God says my thoughts are not your thoughts and my ways are not your ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my thoughts higher than your thoughts and my ways than your ways. God requires extreme obedience with no questioning or complaining on our part and no explanation on His. We will learn by following in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ who said, “if ye continue in my word, then shall you be my disciples in deed. And ye shall know (by experience) the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

May God richly bless you!
Your brother in Christ,