Pastor's Desk: Count the Cost

PASTORS DESK (002).jpg

"Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small. Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all!" - Isaac Watts (1674-1748) - When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Matthew 8:19-22 (NIV84) - "Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, 'Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.' Jesus replied, 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.'

Another disciple said to him, 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.' But Jesus told him, 'Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.'”


Too often, we sign up to do something without considering all that the commitment may require of us. In many cases, we trust the recruiter enough. In other cases, we figure that we can always back out of our commitment. 

What do we commit to when we respond to Jesus' call: "Follow Me"? 

In last Sunday's message, we saw how Jesus interacted with two individuals who wanted to follow Him. One was a teacher of the Law (i.e. a scribe), the other a "disciple." The scribe was ready to follow Jesus wherever He would go, but the disciple was asking permission to go and bury his father before he could follow Jesus.

Jesus' response to the scribe made it clear that following Him required careful consideration of the price he would have to pay. Following a teacher meant learning from them and becoming like them and Jesus was more than an ordinary teacher. He was the "Son of Man," who would be rejected and suffer humiliation and pain on a cross. Following Him would not have the prestige or recognition the scribe was expecting. Elsewhere (see Luke 14:25-33), Jesus explained to those who desired to follow Him what it meant to be a "disciple" of His: (1) They must be willing to forsake precious family members and even their own life, (2) they must be willing to endure suffering, and (3) they must be willing to forsake all their earthly possessions. In other words, if you are going to follow Jesus wherever He would go, consider first that you must pay the highest price.

The disciple who wanted to first go and bury his father revealed that he wasn't quite ready to follow Jesus at that moment. Maybe he was waiting until he would receive his inheritance, or maybe he had received word that there was an obligation waiting for him at home. Jesus' response to that disciple made it clear that following Him required immediate and complete obedience. Jesus is the Son of God who has the highest authority, so every other obligation, desire or intention needs to be surrendered to Him as our highest priority.

Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ? Is there an instruction from Him that you have still been avoiding or neglecting? Are you being partially obedient or delaying your obedience in any given area that His Word addresses? Is there anything that keeps you too busy from spending time alone with Him?

Following Jesus means that He is worth the highest price we must pay and He has become the highest priority in our life.

As I consider my commitment to follow Jesus, I remember also, that whatever price I have paid or will have to pay to faithfully follow Jesus, I have been or will be rewarded with something far greater than I could have ever imagined!


Pastor's Desk: Power Over Every Sickness

PASTORS DESK (002).jpg

Henry Blackaby, about his experience when his child was diagnosed with cancer at age 16 (excerpt from Experiencing God - the Musical):

"The cancer treatments could have been very devastating for us, but did God still love us? Yes he did. Had his love for us changed? No it had not.

"When you face circumstances like this, you can question and ask God to show you what is going on. We did that. We had to ask Him what we should do. We asked all those questions, but I never said, 'Lord, I guess you don’t love me anymore.'

"At times I went before the heavenly Father and saw behind my child the Cross of Jesus Christ and I said 'Father, don’t ever let me look at my circumstances and question your love. Your love for me was settled on the Cross. That has never changed and it never will.'"


When we are in need of a healing miracle, many of us will turn to God. Some will come to Him and claim their healing, expecting to receive their miracle because they prayed for it and believed it would happen. But, if they do not receive their miraculous healing, either they will be disappointed in God and question His love, or they will reason it away as a lack of faith on their part.

What can we learn about the healing miracles of Jesus? (Matthew 8:1-17)

The leper who came to Jesus for healing did not doubt Jesus' ability to cleanse him, but was uncertain only about His willingness: "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." The centurion who asked Jesus for his servant to be healed believed that Jesus had the authority to heal by a simple command. His servant was healed the moment Jesus declared it, though nothing is said about his servant's faith in Jesus. Peter's mother-in-law was so completely healed of her fever that she was able to immediately serve her guests. And, the many sick who came to Jesus for healing that evening needed to be set free from evil spirits. Through those miracles, we know that God as all authority over all sicknesses and disease and that His healing miracles do not depend on our faith.

We so often misunderstand what is meant by "your faith has made you well." We certainly need faith in God, or we wouldn't bring our need to Him, and we certainly need to believe that He is capable of healing every disease. But, if He has the authority over everything that He has made, then He certainly also has the authority to deny us our request. God can have a variety of reasons to deny or accept our request for a healing miracle. Among the reasons to deny our request may be His desire to call us home to His presence in heaven. So before we claim our healing, let's remember to bring our needs to Him as requests, not demands. And, let's remember when we bring our requests, to say to God, "nevertheless, Thy will be done" and trust Him, both for His ability to heal and for His wisdom choose the right response.

When Kim was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, we shared that news with just our family, our church family and a few close friends. We went to our good and loving Father in prayer and we followed the advice of our capable doctors. Thankfully, the lumpectomy and radiation treatments were successful and just recently, through follow-up scans and mammograms, Kim received the "all clear." We didn't receive a healing miracle but we are continually sustained supernaturally and we feel God's intimate presence. Like Henry Blackaby (quoted above), we never questioned God's power or His love for us throughout our experience, because we know that He sometimes allows His loved and chosen ones to suffer. After all, He let His Beloved Chosen Son suffer the Cross to give us eternal life and draw us into His presence.

If you think you can twist God's arm, by claiming your healing miracle in faith, then you can't also be expecting to see His mighty hand and outstretched arm.