Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Any Spirit empowered work done in Jesus' name will be met with opposition. Whether it be the mere utterance of a simple prayer, or the endeavor to plant a church, the world, the flesh, and the Devil stand in opposition to all such efforts. We've been studying through the book of Nehemiah, and Nehemiah provides for us a great example of how we ought to respond to obstacles. Upon hearing of the broken down walls in Jerusalem he yearned to go lead a rebuilding effort. But consider the obstacles he faced. Work had stopped on the wall decades previously, how would he guide and motivate the people to rejoin themselves to the effort? He was the cupbearer for the King, how we he gain the King's permission to go? The journey to Jerusalem would cover a thousand miles and take months of time, how would he be kept safe and where would his provisions comes from? Where would the materials for the rebuilding come from? Would the people accept his leadership?

How did Nehemiah respond to these obstacles? He responded as a man of faith! Faith is a heart-level trust and confidence in God that reveals itself in one's choices and actions. The "heroes of faith" listed in Hebrews chapter eleven are notable for how their faith in God overruled their doubts and the obstacles they faced. By faith Noah built the ark. The obstacles he faced were titanic, but he chose instead to trust in God and build. Likewise Abraham went out to a land he did not know and Moses chose to suffer ill-treatment with the people of God. One of the great examples of faith overcoming obstacles in the Old Testament is that of Joshua and Caleb. Twelve spies went into the promised land. All twelve saw the same things. They saw how desirable the land was. They also saw the size and number of the enemies they would face. Ten came back and gave a bad report and incited the people to distrust God. Joshua and Caleb saw things differently--they trusted in God's ability to bring the people into the land. Their God was much bigger to them than the obstacles they faced.. Goliath was a giant obstacle before David, but before God he was smaller than a flea. David saw that obstacle through eyes of faith and responded accordingly.

Nehemiah’s faith was strengthened by his knowledge of the truth regarding the nature and character of God. His prayer in Nehemiah chapter one is a model prayer for all of us. He prayed to the great and awesome God of heaven. The God who is able! His decision to go and rebuild was instructed by the promise that God had made to regather His people once they returned to Him. Faith is only as good as its object. Nehemiah’s faith was well-founded inasmuch as it was in the omnipotent and promise-keeping God of Israel.

The measure of our faith is revealed in our prayers. Nehemiah was a man of faith and Nehemiah was a man of prayer. The two go hand in hand. When he heard the news of the broken down wall and the distress of the people, he turned to God in prayer and appealed to God that He might turn the heart of the King. When the King noticed that Nehemiah was sad before him, Nehemiah prayed again. No doubt he asked God for wisdom as to what he should say. At any rate, his faith was revealed in his prayers, and God answered his prayers in an "exceeding abundantly" manner (Eph. 3:20). The King not only gave him permission to go, but letters to assure his safety, resources for the rebuilding of the wall, and men and horses to protect him on the way!
How does this apply to Outreach Oregon? The endeavor to plant a new church in Beaverton faces many obstacles:

1. The Cagle family selling home to more to Aloha to have presence in the community.
2. The Nyborg family being on the field full-time---need another 70-80 supporters .
3. More core members to launch church in September.
4. Seeing people come to faith in Christ.
5. Meeting location---possible merger???
6. Song leader and youth leader.

Were the effort up to us alone, we would surely fail. The obstacles that we face are insurpassable by our own strength and wisdom. But the God whom we worship and serve is a great and awesome God. The Lord Jesus has declared "I will build my church." His desire and ability to do just that has been recorded for us in the book of Acts and demonstrated for us through the pages of history. He has bid us "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation" (Mark 16:16). He has provided for us everything that we need (Eph. 4:11-12; 2 Peter 1:3; Phil. 4:19). Like Nehemiah we should focus not on our obstacles, but instead appeal to God in prayer, in faith.

Nehemiah faced many obstacles, but as a man of faith he declared, "The God of heaven will give us success, therefore we his servants will arise and build" (Neh. 2:20). Let us likewise, by faith, look past the obstacles to the God who is able to give us success.

Pastor Jerry

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Check out Pastor Gary Gilley's most recent "Think on These Things" article, "In Search of Truth":

Friday, April 25, 2008


Pastor Don Gillum, who is present with the Lord now, used to tell a story from his days at Moody Bible Institute that went something like this. One of the professors had asked one of the students how he was doing and the student had responded by saying that he was doing “pretty good under the circumstances”. The professor replied back to the student by asking him what he was doing under the circumstances and proceeded to speak to him about how God would have him to live above the circumstances as a child of His. Many of us have found ourselves replying to similar questions in a similar manner.

Besides finding ourselves living as if we were “under the circumstances” we are often making decisions about our lives (church, family, jobs, houses, activities, goals, etc.) according to or directed by circumstances. We are quick to do this despite having knowledge that we are called to live by faith. Living by faith does not speak of a reckless life without thought, planning or a recognition and understanding of the circumstances. It is a life lived trusting the One who is always faithful, the One who has provided us with the Holy Spirit, His word and His gifts to people for guidance and direction in this life. It is a life lived believing God in the midst of circumstances.

As recipients of a new life in Christ, we must be careful and determined not to allow circumstances to be our guide. Let’s consider just a few of the many examples we have in scripture. The circumstances did not look good for the early Church after some of them were arrested and threatened to stop speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus. They continued to proclaim His name. Circumstances looked desperate for the Church when the Apostle James was beheaded. The gospel of Christ continued to be their song. Circumstances in Athens did not appear to be favorable as the Apostle Paul beheld a city full of idols. He told them of the unknown God. Circumstances appeared to be grim for Paul when the prophet Agabus took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and prophesied that the man who owned the belt would be bound by the Jews in Jerusalem and delivered into the hands of the Gentiles. Paul responded to the concerns expressed by others, saying that he was “ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” And to Jerusalem he would go.

We have a great illustration regarding circumstances in the 27th chapter of the book of Acts. In this chapter we find Paul a prisoner on his way to Rome to stand trial before Caesar. We see him in the custody of Julius, a Roman centurion, and in the sea port of Fair Havens. We read that it is getting late in the season and more dangerous for sailing when Paul admonishes them that continuing on will result in the loss of cargo, the ship and people’s lives. But the pilot and captain of the ship persuade the Roman centurion that Fair Havens was not a port suitable for wintering in. They were the experts. They were the men of the sea. Undoubtedly they possessed worldly wisdom regarding the matters and circumstances that were being considered. After all, Paul’s faith in Jesus and his skills as a tentmaker were not the sort of qualifications that the others were looking for in making this decision. Human wisdom said to sail on while a godly man said to stay put. The majority decided to put out to sea and attempt to reach Phoenix, a harbor that was said to be more suitable for wintering in. And then something happened that we must pay close attention to. The scripture tells us in verse 13 that “a moderate south wind came up” and “supposing that they had gained their purpose, they weighed anchor and began sailing”. Yes, the circumstances of a moderate south wind blowing caused them to believe that they had made the right decision. It wasn’t long afterward that the ship was caught in a violent storm.

Lord, help us to remember and believe that your ways are higher than the ways of men. That you have chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. That you have chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong. That you have chosen the base things of the world and the despised, the things that are not that you might nullify the things that are. That you have made foolish the wisdom of the world.

Lord, help us to be cautious of the moderate blowing winds of circumstances that can lead us astray or have the appearance of confirming decisions we have made that are not consistent with your will. We do not want circumstances to govern our lives but we want to be moved by your Spirit and guided by the truth of your Word.

Lord, thank you for godly men and women you have gifted to provide wise counsel amidst the circumstances of life. Help us to listen to the wisdom they have come to find in you. They are both in your presence now, but thank you for Don and Millie Gillum and how you used them in the lives of many people. They were fighters of the good fight and in your strength they finished the course. We boldly ask you to raise up others like them.

Lord, help us to be people of faith, living above the circumstances.

Greg Engebretson

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Check out this link for free download of KJV of the Bible, or individual books of the Bible, on audio:

Monday, April 21, 2008


Greetings from Sunny Wamena. We have been busy (nothing new) this past month.

Our time in Sentani was quick. We got a little shopping done, and went swimming several times, but the rest of our time there was spent in meetings. It was good to see everyone and catch up. We also had good study and prayer times together. While we were there, we got to meet up with the Jang family from Korea. They have been our good friends since we lived in Sentani for language. The kids had a blast playing together (like no time had passed) and we really enjoyed a long visit--and roasting marshmallows from Singapore. :) What a blessing.

Ben has been working at the clinic almost every day. He has changed his role from that of a nurse seeing patients to a trainer for the other health care workers. He is there for counsel and to demonstrate and help them. Basically, putting the other nurses in the driver's seat. As you probably remember, Ben came here to train healthcare workers. Hopefully, this will make the transition out of the clinic easier when Dr. Kim returns.

A week and a half ago, Thursday, April 10, the clinic dedicated the whole day to the street kids. 130 kids showed up to be treated. We later found out that was because they thought they would be paid for being part of a study. The government usually pays them for the data. They were surprised to learn that the clinic was for them, for their health and well being and not to collect data. Sixty-five kids were seen and treated for various sicknesses. The clinic has decided to dedicate every other Thursday to the street kids' care. Please pray for this new aspect of the ministry at Calvary Medical.

For two Saturdays this month, we have had a group of Indonesian kids in our home to talk and play games. These are kids from wealthy families who are studying English and need practice. What a difference between the lives of these children and those of the street kids. They all have the same basic need, though, to know the Lord and Worship Him. We plan to continue seeing them on Saturday afternoons. Please pray for this little ministry. We are hoping our kids can use this time to learn some Indonesian. On that note, we still need to find an Indonesian teacher who can fit in our schedule. Once HIS (the International school) is out for the summer, we will not be walking to PE and Music anymore, so will have a more open schedule.

Part of our family had a 24 hour flu bug two weeks ago. This bug had been going around Wamena, so we weren't surprised. Then, last week, Ben and Evelyn came down with Malaria. (something we picked up in Sentani during our meetings) Please pray for our health. Sicknesses seem to slow us down so much.

I plan to continue to write these updates about once a month. Please let us know if you would like more frequent updates and I'll see what I can do. :)

Thank you for your continued support and prayers for us. We pray for you, too. Please let us know how you are and we will pray for you during our morning Bible study and Prayer time.

In His Love
Jennifer and Co.

Field Address:

Kotak Pos. 239 Sentani 99352 Papua, Indonesia

A GREAT BIG PRAYER, Part 4, Nehemiah 1:5-11

A Great Big Prayer With a Great Big Request

Finally in verse 11 do we get to the request. And this should remind us that prayer was never meant to be a laundry list of wants directed to a Genie in the bottle God. Nehemiah’s prayer was a prayer born out of relationship first and then his need. The prayer request that he offered was intimately intertwined with his relationship to his God.

And what is the request? We see it in verse 11, “O Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to revere Your name, and make Your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man.” And then is added this note, “Now I was the cupbearer to the king.”

Nehemiah had already begun to think about how he might be used by God to help the people in distress in Jerusalem. But there were a lot of obstacles. How could he be given the freedom to go and do it? A previous King had stopped all work on the wall of Jerusalem, how would he now gain permission to start again? There were a lot of obstacles and difficulties.

The particular obstacle was this: he was the cupbearer to the king. He was the one responsible for tasting the King’s wine first, to make sure that it wasn’t poisoned. Tough job. The King’s in those days were notable for their capricious behavior. Esther knew that she could suffer death if she were to go before the King unsummoned. To be sad before the King was a similar offense. So somehow he was going to need to get the King’s approval, not only to let him go, but also to restart the work on the wall in Jerusalem.

Nehemiah was a man of faith in God and he prayed in faith for God to intervene in the heart of the king. William Carey, “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” It is good for us to be specifice in our prayer requests. We should pray for spiritual growth--and be specific about it. We should pray for open doors to share the gospel--and be specific about it. We don’t just pray for the ministry of Outreach Oregon--we pray for a church planting Pastor, and God provides one and we say “Thank you Lord for answering our prayer.” We don’t just pray for building progress, we pray God move the hearts of the people in charge that an agreement can be made and things can move forward, and there is an agreement and we thank God for it.

We have been praying for consensus among the engineers working on our building repair plans. This past week the head engineering consultant to the local building codes department visited out church. I introduced myself to him and was surprised when he asked me if I was preaching through the book of Nehemiah--in view of our rebuilding project. We went round about the building investigating the various repair concerns. When we finished he ushered the others out of the building, then came alongside of me and bowed his head and prayed--for our church, for our rebuilding efforts, and for me. What a tremendous answer to prayer! And we trust that God will open the door to greater progress.


I. A great big prayer is a prayer to a great big God. How big is the God that you are praying to? Consider anew the immensity of His love, the surpassing greatness of His power, the riches of His wisdom. Let the majesty of His glory encourage you as you go with confidence to the throne of grace in prayer.

II. A great big prayer is a prayer of confession to God. As we consider the greatness of God we see how far short we fall of His glory. Let that not discouraged you, but rather let it remind us of how God stands ready to forgive and restore and renew. Take earnestly the promise, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

III. A great big prayer is a prayer that is prayed according to the promises of God. We ask amiss when the focus of our prayers is on earth-bound needs, not taking into account the truths of the Scripture. Scripture is filled with promises that we need to stand on in prayer. Other Scriptures instruct us on the Spirit’s concerns for us as believers in Christ. Lay hold of Scripture and pray that way. And be confident that God will honor such prayers.

IV. A great big prayer is a specific prayer with a great big request. There are many needs. Great big needs in our lives. Great big needs in our church. Great big needs in our communities. Never has there been a greater need for God’s people in America to pray. There are specific things that we need to pray for. The closer we walk to Jesus the more sensitive that we will be to the needs of the day, that we might pray accordingly. Take your specific request to God, then thank Him when He answers--that is at the heart of worship.

A GREAT BIG PRAYER, Part 3, Nehemiah 1:5-11

A Great Big Prayer based on a Great Big Promise

Nehemiah was concerned about his people. They were in great distress and the walls of the city were broken down. But he was a student of the Scriptures and he knew both the history of God’s people and what God had promised hundreds of years ahead of time regarding them.

In his prayer he appealed to God’s promise. See it there in verses 8-9, “Remember the word which Thou didst command Thy servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.'

Hundreds of years before the destruction of Jerusalem God had forewarned His people of what would happen when they would fall into disobedience and idolatry. He also promised to restore them if they would return to the Lord (Cf. Deut. 30:1-5). So Nehemiah’s prayer was based on that promise. You will find the same thing in the book of Daniel when Daniel prayed and confessed the sins of his people. He acknowledged that the calamity had come upon the people just as was written in the law of Moses and he pleaded for God’s intervention according to His promise (Daniel 9:13-19).

Do you know what these men were doing? They were standing on the promises of God’s word. As the hymn says, “Standing on the promises that cannot fail, When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, By the living Word of God I shall prevail, standing on the promises of God.” More than that, they were praying on the promises. We need to pray according to the Word of God.

Wentworth Pike, wrote, concerning the relationship of prayer to the Word of God, “The Bible is the authoritative Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit. Prayer is the Holy Spirit’s intercession for us according to the will of God. Our participation in the Spirit’s intercession requires our use of the Spirit’s Sword. Prayer “in the Spirit” is based upon the Spirit-revealed principles of the Bible, saturated with the Spirit-inspired words of the Bible, and guided by the Spirit-illumined thoughts of the Bible.”

There are two primary ways in which we can do this. First we pray according to the promises that God has made to us as believers in Christ. At a crucial time in his ministry Hudson Taylor was very discouraged. He had come to an end of himself in many trials and troubles. He came across that great text in John 7:38, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” He began to think and pray according to that promise of rivers of living water flowing from his innermost being. His life was transformed in that process. There are so many promises that we can turn into prayers. Philippians 4:19 is a great example, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” How about Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in your will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

The other way that we can pray Scripture is to take the prayers of Scripture and pray them for ourselves and others. This can be overdone, as in the prayer of Jabez, or misunderstood--if we merely repeat them as some sort of religious ritual--but if we pray them in faith by the Spirit we can be confident that God will answer them. We’ve been studying through Colossians 1:9-12 on Wednesday nights. We have there in that text the prayer of the Apostle Paul for the believers in Colossae. If we take that prayer and pray it for ourselves and for others we know that we are praying according to God’s will and can be confident that He hears and that He will answer our prayers.

Not only did Nehemiah pray according to the Scriptures, he prayed according to God’s past dealings with Israel revealed in the Scriptures, “They are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand.” Nehemiah prayed according to God’s past dealings with His people. The deliverance of the nation of Israel from Egypt was the supreme testimony of His love and power directed towards His people. He prayed according to that. God just as you delivered your people from Egypt, intervene now on their behalf that they might be delivered from this great calamity that has come upon them through their disobedience.

Likewise our prayers should always look back to the cross. Our great deliverance in salvation happened through the cross. At the cross God defeated sin, and death, and hell. Through faith in Christ we were forgiven, redeemed, and adopted as God’s children. At the cross we first experienced victory over sin. And every subsequent victory henceforth is won through the merits of that great battle.

Believer in Christ, you have been muched blessed by God. You were dead in your trespasses and sins, but God saved you by His grace and mercy. He chose you, He adopted you, He redeemed you, He forgave you, He made known to you the riches of His inheritance, He sealed you with the Spirit. He saved you to the uttermost. Let the Scriptures encourage you in this--the God who worked in such a powerful way in your life exhorts you to come again to Him for grace and mercy and forgiveness and restoration--for revival.

Pastor Jerry


Check out the following link for sermons presented at the recent "Together For the Gospel" conference:

Sunday, April 20, 2008


As I sat at Mrs. Persson’s memorial service on Friday, I was hearing her described as a woman of great faith who served our faithful God. As I saw and heard stories of these elderly faithful brothers and sisters in Christ I began to think about their value to the Church, the Body of Christ. Several years ago I remember hearing people talking about how our World War II veterans were dying off and the impact it was having on our nation. The United States is suffering from the departure of these great men and women who served their nation with courage and determination.

And then I thought about the Church, your church, my church, all the churches across America. What impact is the passing of these dear faithful men and women of God having on our churches and the Body of Christ as a whole? I will not take the time to go into great detail but simply say that I think the impact is immeasurable. Sadder yet is the fact that most do not even seem to care to contemplate their worth. And maybe even more concerning are the rising number of professing believers who see the sort of lives that these dear saints have lived as one of the Churches problems. Today they call them old fashioned. They call them traditional and out of touch with where the Lord is leading the Church in ministry today. I think not. I call them Jesus loving, Bible believing, hymn singing, gospel preaching and righteous living faithful children of God. I call them extremely valuable assets to the Body of Christ. I call them heroes of the faith. Regretfully, I fear their number is getting smaller. The Church is and will continue to be negatively impacted by their departure if they are not replaced.

During the memorial service Pastor Jerry quoted some words from the song “Find Us Faithful” that say “Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful, may the fire of our devotion light their way.” He rightly pointed to Jesus as the one to fix our eyes on, the one who is the Light and the Way. God desires to use His children in His work in the lives of people and so this song speaks of a worthy desire for the believer to have. A sobering question is this. Will believers even consider the faithful lives of those who have gone before them as a worthy example to follow? I pray that they do. We must make sure they do.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the men and women who have fought the good fight of faith and have finished the course. We thank you for those who are doing so now. Lord, we have such a great need to consider this matter, help us to understand the importance of faithfulness and to have a deep appreciation for those who have lived it. Thank you for Your faithfulness!

Greg Engebretson

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


A Great Big Confession

Nehemiah 1:6-7 "let Thine ear now be attentive and Thine eyes open to hear the prayer of Thy servant which I am praying before Thee now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Thy servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against Thee; I and my father's house have sinned. "We have acted very corruptly against Thee and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which Thou didst command Thy servant Moses."

There have been some great revivals throughout history. And in those revivals you will always find one thing--confession. Nehemiah is praying for revival, but he knows that that won’t happen apart from a confession of sin. Nehemiah confessed to God the sins of the people. We should note some important characteristics of Nehemiah’s confession.

The term translated "confess" (KJV) or "confessing" (NASB) is a particular Hebrew term which means "to confess, praise, give thanks." The term is sometimes translated "confess," but is frequently translated "praise" or "give thanks." Let me read Vine’s dictionary explanation regarding this term, "An affirmation or confession of God’s undeserved kindness throws man’s unworthiness into sharp relief. Hence, a confession of sin may be articulated in the same breath as a confession of faith or praise and thanksgiving. The confession is not a moralistic, autobiographical catalog of sins--individual infractions of a legal code--but a confession of the underlying sinfulness that engulfs all mankind and separates us from the holy God."
Hold on to that thought and apply it to the most memorized of all verses related to confession of sin, 1 John 1:9. Consider the context of this verse. 1 John 1:5 says, "God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all." And then 1 John 1:8 continues, "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us." Then 1 John 1:9 speaks to us with this promise, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Confession then is first a realization that God is holy and without sin. It understands and appreciates that in the flesh we still have a sin problem in which we fail to measure up to God’s standard of holiness. Confession is to be an ongoing activity in the life of the believer as we gaze upon the holiness of God, and deal with the reality of our ongoing sin problem. The word translated "confessi" in 1 John 1:9 means "to say the same thing," and that is what we are doing when we confess our sins, we are agreeing with God that He is holy, that we are sinful, and that there is a need for His cleansing, His transforming influence, His victory imparted to us, that we might put off sin and put on His holiness.

Nehemiah’s confession was based on two tragic realities. The first: "We have acted very corruptly against You." The term translated "very corruptly" is a term that means "to ruin, destroy, or spoil," it is translated "offend" in Job 34:31. In other words what Nehemiah was confessing was that they had offended God inasmuch as they had degraded His holy covenant and the laws which were apart of it by their disobedience. In one sense the believer in Christ is a changed man--he has been born again, he is a new creature in Christ, he is freed from sin (Romans 6). That does not mean, however, that he is without sin. There is still the flesh and as long as we remain in these earthly bodies we deal with sin (Cf. Romans 7). There will always be a need for confession of sin, because as long as we are apart from Christ here on earth we will deal with it. In fact, the more we grow in holiness, the more we realize the disparity that exists between ourselves and our holy creator God.

The second: "(We) have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses." Their offense against God, their corruption, was made evident in their disobedience. They had not kept any of the law. They had utterly failed in all respects. Nehemiah openly confessed to God the failure of His people, His father’s house, Himself in failing to uphold the covenant.

I was talking to a man the other day who didn’t see himself as a sinner. So I went through some of the ten commandments and explained how we have all failed to measure up to God’s holy standard. He was still unphased, so I told him that he had the wrong standard of measurement when it came to sin. The standard is not everyone else--when we use that standard we can always find some other poor soul who we think is worse off that we are--the standard is God, the standard is Christ (perfect in righteousness, perfect in love). We all fall short of Christ’s attitudes and actions. Consider one verse, "Let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth": who amongst us perfectly fulfills that command in a day, or in an hour. We are to be "overflowing with gratitude": oops failed again! "Do all things without grumbling and disputing." Missed the mark on that one too!"

In his book on prayer, Andrew Murray catalogs some of the kinds of sins that we need to confess:

We must confess and acknowledge the working of pride in us.
We must confess the breaking out in anger.
We must confess our love of the world.
We must confess our sensuality.
We must confess our worry and impatience, our grumbling and lack of contentment.
We must confess our lack of love for the brethren and how we have failed to show love towards our family, neighbors, and friends.
We must confess our sins of the tongue.
We must confess our spiritual laziness.

Notice in the confession of sin that Nehemiah didn’t give any excuses. He did not try to explain it away. He did not rationalize it. He did not blame anyone else. He simply acknowledged to God the utter failure of His people to do what it was that God commanded them to do. D. L. Moody once visited a prison called "The Tombs" to preach to the inmates. After he had finished speaking, Moody talked with a number of men in their cells. He asked each prisoner this question, "What brought you here?" Again and again he received replies like this: "I don’t deserve to be here." "I was framed." "I was falsely accused." "I was given an unfair trial." Not one inmate would admit he was guilty. Finally, Moody found a man with his face buried in his hands, weeping. "And what’s wrong, my friend?" he inquired. The prisoner responded, "My sins are more than I can bear." Relieved to find at least one man who would recognize his guilt and his need of forgiveness, the evangelist exclaimed, "Thank God for that!" Moody then had the joy of pointing him to a saving knowledge of Christ—a knowledge that released him from his shackles of sin."

Confession opens the door through which God can pour forth His grace and mercy. Nehemiah confessed his sin and the sin of his people, God answered his prayer. Later in this book we will read of a great public confession that will take all of chapter nine. But Nehemiah’s confession came first. Psalm 32:3, "When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away." Psalm 32:5, "I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord;" and You forgave the guilt of my sin."

Pastor Jerry

Monday, April 14, 2008

A GREAT BIG PRAYER, Nehemiah 1:5-11, Part 1

A Great Big God

Nehemiah 1:5, "And I said, "I beseech Thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments."

Most of us have prayed many, many prayers, but I’m sure amongst those hundreds or thousands of prayers there are some that stand out in your memory. Perhaps it was your first prayer, carried forth to the throne of God by the Spirit, for salvation from sin. Or, maybe it was some subsequent prayer where you asked God to intervene in your life is some specific manner. We have before us one of the great prayers of Scripture. In fact, in looking at this prayer of Nehemiah, I’ve entitled my message “A Great Big Prayer.” It is one of the great prayers in all of Scripture...

A prayer that literally spans the continents.
A prayer that spans 100s of years and many generations of time.
A prayer that moves God to move the heart of a king.
A prayer that begins a work that will affect the lives of thousands of Jews and the history of a nation.
A Revival Prayer - And we see the result of it in the rest of the story that is laid out for us in the book of Nehemiah.
A Model Prayer - ACTS. All the elements of a model prayer are found here in Nehemiah’s prayer: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication.

Nehemiah's prayer was a great big prayer to a great big God. According to the ACTS model prayer should begin with adoration of God. And, of course, we see this order to things in other prayers as well. The disciple’s prayer begins, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.” In the book of Acts, the threatened congregation prayed together, “O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them.” The Psalms, which are for the most part prayers to God, overflow with praise to God for who He is and thanksgiving for what He has done.

Prayer is an activity of worship and worship is, by definition, acknowledging the worth--the glory--of God. As an activity of worship it is imperative that we think rightly about God. We need to think about who we are praying to. We need to see Him and think about Him according to the truth that is revealed about Him in the Scriptures. Near Easter time one of our church members shared with me that he had seen an interview with a couple who were speaking to the power of prayer. They were testifying to how prayer had improved their marriage relationship and were encouraging others to make prayer a priority. Only problem is that they said that it didn’t matter at all who you prayed to, and in fact they simply prayed to themselves. Now there may be some earthbound benefit to that kind of prayer, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the power, love, and wisdom of our creator God.

Nehemiah spoke to God by name in his prayer--Jehovah Elohim. Jehovah, Yahweh, was the name by which God revealed Himself to Moses, “I am that I am” (Exod. 3:14). It is a name that spoke to God’s unique relationship with the nation of Israel, but more than that “Yahweh” is a name that speaks to God as the “self-existent” and “eternal” God of the universe. He has always been and He will always be. He is the unchanging God. Though our circumstances may change, He never changes. Elohim is a term that is used of God, of false gods, and even of men. It is the plural of the Hebrew, “El,” leaving room for the truth that is ultimately revealed--that God is a triune God. The term has built into it the thought of power and strength. And we are reminded that God is the omnipotent God. “Nothing is too difficult for Him.” And as believers we need to remind ourselves in our prayers that because He is omnipotent, “He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).

He is the God “of heaven.” Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven.” The God to whom we pray is in a transcendant place. He is not a god made of wood or stone. He is not of this world. He is far above it.

He is the great and awesome God. The term “great” is a particular Hebrew term which means “to be great or strong or powerful or important.” The same term was used by David when he declared of God, “You are great, O Lord God; for there is none like You, and there is no God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears” (2 Sam. 7:22). He is an “awesome” God. The term is translated “terrible” in the KJV and means “to inspire reverence or godly fear or awe.” I like how Webster’s puts it, “Submissive and admiring fear inspired by authority or power.” In the Gospel accounts it tells us how Jesus rebuked the win and hushed the sea to calm the storm. When the disciples saw it “They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” (Mark 4:41). His power inspired in them a reverent fear. They were awestruck by Him.

And we need to remember who it is that we are praying to. He is the powerful creator of all things who merely spoke creation into existence. He is the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead. He is the God who “is able to do far more abundantly beyone all that we ask or think.” As the song puts it, “Our God is an awesome God He reigns in heaven above, with wisdom, power, and love, our God is an awesome God.”

He is the God who preserves the covenant. The term “preserves” comes from a Hebrew term which means “to keep, guard, keep watch and ward, protect, save life.” It is translated “keepeth” in the KJV. This term is best appreciated by way of contrast. Israel was not faithful to do their part of the covenant. They did not keep watch over it. They didn’t care about it, they forgot about it, they disobeyed it, they failed. But not God. Despite their disobedience, He did His part. He remained faithful, and is to this day, faithful to the promises that He made regarding Israel. He is a faithful God. He is faithful to do what He has promised to do. That is most helpful in our prayers to remember. In the midst of his great trial, when he had witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah cried out, “This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your Faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:21-23).

He is a God who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness. The term lovingkindness is the Hebrew “chesed.” According to Nehemiah 9:17 God is “abounding in lovingkindness.” The term is a term that is full of meaning and used repeatedly of God in His relationship with Israel in the OT. The term is sometimes translated “mercy” or “steadfast love,” but it best understood as the culmination of three different virtues--strength, steadfastness, and love. Lovingkindness is God’s steadfast commitment to bestow favor on His people. It includes the concept of mercy, which is spoken to in 9:17 and which Nehemiah no doubt was thinking about in his prayer.

So what we see here in these few verses is worship. Nehemiah thinking about God according to the revealed truth about God and praying accordingly. So we should be encouraged to pray to God that way. God is eternal, omnipotent, great, awesome, faithful, merciful--our prayers need to measure up to the nature and character of God.

A. W. Tozer, “O Lord God Almighty, not the God of the philosophers and the wise but the God of the prophets and apostles; and better than all, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, may I express Thee unblamed? They that know Thee not may call upon Thee as other than Thou art, and so worship not Thee but a creature of their own fancy; therefore, enlighten our minds that we may know Thee as Thou art, so that we may perfectly love Thee and worship Thee. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Nehemiah’s prayer was a great big prayer because it was prayed to a great big God. And He is such a God to you today. Only you stand, believer in Christ, in a privileged position to draw near with confidence to the throne of grace with your prayer needs. “Thou art coming to a King; Large petitions with thee bring.”

Pastor Jerry Conklin


“Fighting” is a word most often used in Christian churches to describe conflicts between brothers and sisters in Christ that cause divisions and strife among God’s people. In most circumstances in which the word is used it relates to something negative happening in the body of Christ. But I suggest that it is one of the most important words for the believer to consider and perhaps one of the greatest truths missing in the Church today.

In Acts 20:24 the Apostle Paul is recorded as having said “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.” Near the end of his life Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:7 and said “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” Webster’s defines fighting as follows; to contend in battle, to put forth a determined effort, to struggle to endure. Are you fighting the good fight?

In Colossians 4:14 the Apostle Paul wrote “Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas.” In Philemon 1:23-24 he wrote “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers.” In the closing of these two letters Paul mentions a few of the men he is serving alongside with in the ministry. In the Philemon passage he calls them his “fellow workers”. These are undoubtedly men he has prayed with, wept with, preached the gospel with, taught the word with, broke bread with, counseled others with and perhaps even shared a jail cell with.

Requesting that Timothy come to him soon, in 2 Timothy 4:10, Paul told him “for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.” Yes, Demas had deserted Paul. Approximately seven years after writing Colossians and Philemon where Demas is mentioned among Epaphras, Mark, Aristarchus and Luke as one of Paul’s “fellow workers”, Paul finds himself painfully informing Timothy that Demas has deserted him. I believe it was with sadness that Paul wrote those words to Timothy. We are not told exactly when this took place but we are given the reason for the desertion. Love for the world. Many years later the Apostle John would write “Do not love the world nor the things in the world”. In Titus 2:12 Paul spoke of the necessity “to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” and in James 1:27 we read “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

Among several others, we find the following admonitions in scripture: Galatians 5:1 “keep standing firm”; Colossians 3:1 “keep seeking the things above”; 1Thessalonians 5:21 “hold fast to that which is good”; 1 Peter 1:13 “keep sober in spirit”; Hebrews 12:2 “fixing our eyes on Jesus”; 1 Corinthians 16:13 “stand firm in the faith”; Philippians 3:16 “let us keep living by the same standard to which we have attained”; Hebrews 12:1 “run with endurance”; 2 Timothy 2:4 “No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life”.

Somewhere along the way Demas stopped standing firm, stopped holding on, stopped denying worldly desires, stopped seeking the things above, he stopped being serious minded, took his eyes off of Christ, entangled himself in the affairs of everyday life, loved the things of the world and stopped fighting the good fight of faith. Over the years, Demas has been joined by countless brothers and sisters of the faith. Perhaps God is reminding many today of the need to fight.

We must first realize that there is a fight to be fought. We need a desire to be counted amongst the coworkers, the fighters of the good fight, and finishers of the course. May we cringe at the thought of being described as a deserter. It is a fight requiring discipline so we must look to the Lord and His word and remind one another that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

Yes Christians, fight! Fight the good fight of faith. Fight in His strength and according to His ways. Jude 1:24 says that He “is able to keep you from stumbling”. As instructed in Hebrews 3:13 let us encourage one another day after day. One day we may have the great privilege to say “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith”. Praise the Lord! To Him be the glory! Because of Him, this fight is one that is worth fighting.

Greg Engebretson

Sunday, April 13, 2008


"The potency of prayer hath subdued the strength of fire; it hath bridled the rage of lions, hushed anarchy to rest, extinguished wars, appealed the elements, expelled demons, bursts the chains of death, expanded the gates of heaven, assuaged diseases, repelled frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. Prayer is an all-sufficient panoply, a treasure undiminished, a mine which is never exhausted, a sky unobscured by clouds, a heaven unruffled by the storm. It is the root, the fountain, the mother of a thousand blessings."

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Check out this link:


I just received an update on our building repair status. Apparently the two engineers and the building codes department have made progress in their discussions and have arrived at some consensus as to the required repairs, etc. Please pray that the engineering plans will be prepared in a timely manner, and that the repairs can be done such that the church will not incur any costs not covered by insurance. We have been working on plans to make other improvements, not covered by insurance. These would include a church kitchen remodel and improvements to the sanctuary seating. lighting, and sound. These costs will be to the church. We have established a fund to help pay for these costs. Any donations to this fund should be designated to the (LCBC 50th Anniversary Building Fund).

Pastor Jerry

Friday, April 4, 2008


How often do we pray and what are we praying for? Our prayer lives may not be what God would have them to be but His word is clear that prayer should be a regular part of our new life in Christ. Romans 12:12 calls us to be “devoted to prayer” while Colossians echoes the same admonition by saying “devote yourselves to prayer”. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 the Apostle Paul instructed the believers to “pray without ceasing”. So prayer is something to be devoted, dedicated, or loyal to and therefore should be considered vital in the life of the believer. Before going any further we should acknowledge that without a devotion to the One whose name we pray in, we will not be devoted to the practice of prayer. The believer who is walking in the Spirit will find this devotion to prayer as he or she seeks intimacy with the Savior.

We may hear of other people praying but in reality prayer is the unique privilege to those who have a personal relationship with God through faith in Christ. We can pray by ourselves or pray together with other believers. We have not been issued prayer cards that we must recite in order to be acknowledged and heard by our Lord. We have been given guidance in His word about prayer but there is an individual uniqueness for each person who has this privileged relationship with the Creator. Although we have not been given an inspired list of prayers to recite, God has seen fit to record some prayers in His word that we are able to look at and profit from. One such prayer is found in Colossians 1:9-12 which records one of the Apostle Paul’s prayers. Pastor Jerry has been teaching through this prayer during our bible study time on Wednesday nights and it has been an edifying time in the Word. I’m thankful God directed him to teach this lesson. I would like to share a few thoughts about the prayer as it relates to the crucial nature of our Christian life. In these four verses we find Paul praying the following for the believers in Colossae: (Again, found in Colossians 1:9-12).

“That you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding”
“That you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord”
“To please Him in all respects”
“Bearing fruit in every good work”
“Increasing in the knowledge of God”
“Strengthened will all power, according to His glorious might”
“For the attaining of all steadfastness and patience”
“Joyously giving thanks to the Father”

As you can see, each truth builds upon the previous while all of them rest upon the foundation of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 4:7 says to “be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer”. This prayer of the Apostle Paul’s is a great example of a prayer marked by sound judgment and a sober spirit. Let’s look briefly at the soundness and serious mindedness of the contents of the prayer by considering the life of a believer who is not experiencing growth in these specific areas.

A believer who lacks true knowledge of God and spiritual wisdom will find it difficult to discern the will of God in his or her life and will struggle greatly with understanding Him.
A believer who is walking in a manner that is unworthy of the Lord. His worthiness is the highest of standards but I think the believer can even address his weaknesses in a manner that is worthy of Him. When our walk is unworthy of Him, He is worthy of our repentance.
A believer who’s walk is described as displeasing to the Lord. I don’t believe this is a matter of perfection verses imperfection but is the description of one whose walk that would best be described as displeasing to Him. Again, He is pleased when we come to the throne of Grace, seeking forgiveness for the displeasing things in our life and His help to change.
A believer who is not bearing fruit in good works is not able to walk in the good works that He has prepared for us to walk in. This believer misses out on the joy and blessing of seeing the good works of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 3:9 says we are “God’s fellow workers”. He is not dependent upon us but He longs to work in and through us as He accomplished His will.
A believer who is not growing in their knowledge of God is missing out on perhaps the greatest opportunity afforded the believer in Christ. They are neglecting the privilege of knowing the Holy One, (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) better. All of us could know Him better. “That I may know Him” was part of Paul’s prayer found in Philippians 3:10. In 1 John 5:20 we read “And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true”.
A believer who is leaning on and walking in their own strength is weak. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us but we are unable to do His will in our strength.
A believer who lacks steadfastness and patience will find they struggle with standing firm, holding on to truth and find themselves tossed to and fro. Unrest and anxiousness will occupy the place where God would have His peace and patience rule in their hearts.
A believer who is unable to give God the joyous thanks due Him will lack an appreciation for the many provisions and acts of grace and mercy that have their origin in Him.

So what are we praying for? It is the will of God that we pray and that the matters of prayer be considered seriously. It is part of the process of sanctification, of Christ being formed in us. It is one of God’s provisions for the believer to respond to the high calling of being an imitator of Him, as beloved children. So, with sound judgment and a sober spirit, with a devotion to you first Lord, help us to be devoted to your gift of prayer.

Greg Engebretson

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


"To remain divided is sinful! Did not our Lord pray, that they may be one, even as we are one"? (John 17:22). A chorus of ecumenical voices keep harping the unity tune. What they are saying is, "Christians of all doctrinal shades and beliefs must come together in one visible organization, regardless... Unite, unite!" Such teaching is false, reckless and dangerous. Truth alone must determine our alignments. Truth comes before unity. Unity without truth is hazardous. Our Lord's prayer in John 17 must be read in its full context. Look at verse 17: "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth." Only those sanctified through the Word can be one in Christ. To teach otherwise is to betray the Gospel."

Charles H. Spurgeon, The Essence of Separation, quoted in The Berean Call, July, 1992, p. 4.