CONVERSATIONS with Pastor Cameron Barber

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Pastor Daniel talks with fellow church planter Pastor Cameron Barber from Calvary South Sound in Lakewood, Washington about the nature of work as worship. What is it like being a bi-vocational pastor? Cameron talks about working as an auto mechanic, landscaper, armored truck driver and courier, among other jobs he has held while also working as a pastor in the ministry. How does he see work as something of value? What does the Bible tell us about work? “The Bible tells us that, from the beginning, Adam was working. He was naming and categorizing animals…he had responsibilities before the Fall.” The idea that work is a result of the Fall is not true. “God designed us to work. Work is not a curse.” Work has suffered as a result of the curse, but God has redeemed it for us. “It is our job to go back into that marketplace and to love people right where they are. God has redeemed work.” Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” How is seeing work as worship valuable? What exactly is the value God brings when He says you can worship Him through work? Cameron shares his view of the aesthetics of work, that work is inherently beautiful because God has made it so. It’s a transformational concept that Pastor Daniel really likes a lot! Cameron says, “I will always be a bi-vocational pastor because I see the fruit of it. But I’m a pastor. The gospel is always going to come out.” Through natural interactions in the workplace, conversations happen in which Jesus and the gospel are reasonable. Because you are putting it back out there for people to hear. Paul did this all through the book of Acts. He was the first bi-vocational pastor. He made tents for a living. “God opens doors everywhere. And it is probably the most effective tool for the gospel, for missions, on the planet.” What are the effects of approaching work as worship, God using us where He has placed us in the marketplace? Pastor Cameron shares his heart for the mission field of America. “In reality the greatest mission field is here at home. And it is accessible through work.” What are some practical tips for approaching work as worship? Understand that your purpose in life is to glorify God in all you do. Be the best employee you can be. Realize people are broken. Listen to them. Tell people you work with that you love Jesus and live for Him. Be open to the opportunities God puts in front of you. “It is amazing the number of times you can connect what people are sharing with you to the gospel. That’s God. I don’t do that. It’s Him.” Some people won’t want to hear it, but it’s not our job to look at the result. It’s our job to plant the seeds of the gospel. Be encouraged by this great message as you go to work this week, or even today, May you do it for God’s glory.

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Spiritual Warfare by Julie Ruse

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Movie trivia time! Who can place this quote:

“Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. 
A lot of hope is dangerous.”

Though spoken by the antagonist character, President Snow, in the Hunger Games series, there’s a seed of truth there. I think we all can agree that fear is a powerful thing. It controls and dictates decisions. It cripples, paralyzes even. No wonder intimidation is a primary weapon of our spiritual enemy. He uses fear like a smokescreen in an attempt to cloud our vision and distort reality. But you see, the devil doesn’t have any real power except what God allows. Whoah, that’s a radical statement. But in Job 2:1-7  and Luke 22:31 (both old and new testaments), we see Satan asking for God’s permission before messing with people. God is in control- that changes everything. I once heard it said that the devil is like a toothless bulldog- he can bark, but he can’t bite.

In the book Spiritual Warfare: fighting the good fight of faith, Brian Brodersen states, “Satan will threaten you…But that is all he can do because ‘greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world’ (1 John 4:4).”

This is our reality. God Most High fights for us. (Some of my favorite verses on that topic are Exodus 14:13-14, Jeremiah 20:11, Psalm 144:1-2, Lamentations 3:58, and Proverbs 23:10-11). The Champion King perfects our faith. He wins. He’s already won.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.  Romans 16:20a

The reason the intimidation strategy exists is because, sadly, many Christians give in to fear. But we don’t have to. We have something more powerful than fear- hope. And our hope is this, “Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live (Gal 1:4).”

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours
through Christ, who loved us.  Romans 8: 37


I thought I had finished this blog two months ago, but only realized its application (like where it comes alive in my own life) in the last week. Thus, I want to add a few things. I was aware that the devil can spit lies and hurl condemnation, set of smokescreens and act intimidating (like the Wizard of Oz seeming larger than life behind a curtian). And I knew that through Jesus we have the power to stand against that… But how? How do we just not be affected in the midst of a spiritual onslaught? Because as Christians, especially as ‘on mission’ Christians who are pushing back darkness, intimidation will still come and intimidate.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor
so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. 
Then after the battle, you will still be standing firm.  Ephesians 6:13

This passage in Ephesians goes on to describe the ‘Armor of God’, in which the only offensive weapon listed is the Word of God. Did you catch that? The Bible is a weapon. Wield it.

Jesus exemplified this battle strategy when he was under spiritual attack (Luke 4). Each time the devil came at him with something, Jesus responded, “No, the Scriptures say…” And get this, each time that was the end of the story. The devil had to move on to a new temptation because he couldn’t refute the Word of God. (By the way, do you think Jesus was referencing in the desert? He was able to wield the Word because he knew what it said.) 

So if the enemy drudges up junk from your past, declare that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). If he makes you feel like there’s some habitual sin you can never be free from, remind yourself (even outloud) that “we are no longer slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6). When you fear you don’t have what it takes, repeat God’s promise that “my grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9). 

Don’t just ‘stand’, stand on the Word of God. It is powerful. It is life. Go in victory. 

Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. 
Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.  Psalm 27:3

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Serve Sunday with Will

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CONVERSATIONS | with Pastor Ben Courson

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Pastor Daniel has a fired-up conversation with the founder and director of Hope Generation, Ben Courson. With an international ministry including television, radio, podcast, YouTube and Instagram, Ben is a man with a passion to share the message of hope God has given him. Ben shares his own history of lost hope and depression and how God showed him the way through it, with Biblical hope. “Biblical hope is the absolute expectation of coming good; the looking forward to the future saving acts of God, predicated on the foundation of the salvation that God has already wrought in the past.” “He’s been faithful in the past, so I’m going to be faith-filled about the future and fulfilled today.” How is this message of hope changing lives? People who are being reached are those who aren’t interested in “religion.” Everyone needs hope. People who are suicidal are receiving hope! That is the best part of the message, that it comes from God and is being received directly in the hearts of hopeless people. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4) The Bible is brimming with the message of hope! So what can a person do to bring hope into their everyday life? Ben lists three things: 1) Get rid of stinking thinking. Outlook determines outcome. 2) Have a check-up from the neck-up. Take time to think about what you’re thinking about. 3) Have an attitude of gratitude. “…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Ben’s energetic and joyful message of hope will encourage you and get you pumped up. Because hope is dope. Just ask Ben.

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Christmas Advent | Emmanuel

Each week in December, my family lights a new candle in our advent wreath—a tradition many people observe throughout the Christmas season. My family always did advent candles when I was a little girl, and I have kept the same tradition with our own children—we follow the same pattern each year. The first week, we light a candle in remembrance of the prophets who foretold the birth of Jesus long before He was born. The following weeks, we remember the Angels in the Christmas story, the Shepherds in the fields, and Jesus’s mother, Mary. The final candle—the one in the center of the wreath is traditionally not lit until Christmas morning—when we celebrate the arrival of Jesus in Bethlehem!

If you have children, you may relate to this next part of my story. It rings true to the inevitable reality that no matter how hard we may try to create a perfect family memory—once kids enter the picture, SOMETHING always happens. Someone spills. Someone is irritable. The candlelighter is missing. SOMETHING! I try to roll with it—really, I do. We try to be the flexible parents—the ones that let the little things go, and make the best of it!

Well, this year, we sat down around our coffee table, ready to light the first candle of advent. It was our daughter’s turn (since OF COURSE we have to be sure everyone gets equal candle lighting opportunity to keep the peace!) and I helped her hold down the button on the child-proof candle lighter to light the first candle: The Prophets. She finished lighting the white candlestick, and then…SOMETHING.

May: “Mom, I want to light the Jesus candle”
Me: “No. It’s not Christmas yet.”
May: “But it’s the JESUS CANDLE!”
Me: “You have to wait.”

Then her brother chimes in:

Jeremiah: “But, mom. It’s Jesus. Jesus is ALWAYS WITH US.”
Me: “No.”
May: “He’s right! Jesus came and is ALWAYS with us!”
Both kids: “MOM! Please?! PLEASE?! It’s the JESUS candle!”

And there went tradition. Right out the window. And our Jesus candle has been steadily burning since our first night of Advent. Even as I am sitting here writing mid-afternoon on a Tuesday, it is flickering away—right in the face of tradition. Because, how can you argue with that? Jesus is always with us.

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel (which means ‘God With Us’).” Isaiah 7:14

And so, the Jesus candle is taking on a special new meaning for me this year. Jesus is Emmanuel. He is God With Us. At Christmas, we don’t celebrate and remember that Jesus WAS God With Us—we remember that He IS God With Us! What a sweet reminder that God gave me this year—even if it was only because a little girl wanted to light two candles instead of one—she was right.

Jesus is with us. Because He stepped down from Heaven and humbled Himself enough to be born in a stable. And because He died on a cross and rose again. Because of His great love for us, He came. He came and He is with us still. He IS Emmanuel. 

I love traditions—and I am thankful to see God’s gentle hands at work in ours. May we be drawn closer to Him this Christmas as He has drawn near to us. And worship Him with all of our hearts as Emmanuel, God With Us.

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Christmas Advent | Shepherds

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I love to think of the shepherds, out in the rocky hill country with their sheep, with absolutely no idea of what they were about to see and hear the night the angels came. I had the opportunity to travel to Israel and see the area surrounding Bethlehem as a teenager, and knowing that angels sang above in that same sky still gives me chills. I think we may all put ourselves in the place of the shepherds—seeing their humble lifestyle and profession. They were certainly not well-known or highly respected in their communities. In fact, we do not even know exactly how many there were or what their names may have been. What we do know is that God, in His mysterious kindness, gave these men the first glorious announcement of His Son’s arrival. 

Truly, can’t we all sit in wonder at how God’s goodness and love extends to each of us? These verses in Luke describes the shepherd’s reaction to the angel’s announcement:

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.” - Luke 2:8-9

I think it is safe to say that these poor shepherds were completely caught off guard and, as verse 9 describes, “filled with fear.” The knowledge and the experience of God’s glory are two very different things. These shepherds may have known full well of God’s holiness and splendor. But on this night, they saw and experienced the majesty of His glory. Notice it tells us not only the angel appeared to them, but the GLORY of the Lord shone around them! The majesty of our Creator is not something we should forget or overlook as we remember the birth of Jesus so many years ago. Our King of Kings, lying in a lowly manger, and the GLORY OF GOD was filling the night sky only miles away. 

As God’s glory overwhelmed these men, we read how the angel continues with his wondrous news—telling the shepherds not to fear, but to celebrate!

“And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

 ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’” Luke 2:10-14

The arrival of the long-awaited Savior of the world had finally come, and a multitude of angels appeared from Heaven in our world to rejoice and praise God! Do we find ourselves looking back at this real event in real human history and miss the awesome glory in this moment? I love nativities. We always had several nativities in our house at Christmas when I was a little girl, and I loved rearranging the wise men, the sheep and shepherds—placing each figure in just the right spot to get the perfect angle of the little ceramic baby in his manger. I will tell you that these days I find myself sitting and watching my daughter doing the same thing. And I wonder, Do we realize that it’s really real? There were really shepherds, sheep, hay, a donkey. Only, there was no posing—no staging. It was spontaneous, and full of complete surprise and mystery! If we are going to remember the miracle of angels in the sky, shepherds running through the streets—possibly with sheep flung over shoulders—we MUST not lose the glory of God! I am so thankful for our Christmas traditions, dusty ornaments and tangled lights in plastic tubs that come out every year—it is no exaggeration to say it is the most wonderful time of the year at my house! But I pray that the sacred truths of God’s most precious gift are not lost as we teach our children about this most amazing night!

“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” -Luke 2:15-20

I pray that as we celebrate another Christmas, that we remember the awe and wonder and reality of Jesus coming to earth for US! And I pray that, like the shepherds, we will run to worship Him and glorify Him with all we have today. Glory to God in the highest!

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Christmas Advent | Wise Men

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“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Wise Men from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.  When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.  “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” -Matthew 2:1-12

Did you know that the Gospel of Matthew is the only book with a record of the Wise Men and their visit to see the newborn Messiah? I am so glad that the Holy Spirit led Matthew to include this part of the story because it is such a mysterious and wonderful example of the majesty and wonder of Jesus’s birth.

We don’t know very much about these Wise Men (or Magi, as they are also called) except that they had travelled from a far off land in the East, following a star that had appeared in the sky. We know they were scholars because they recognized the star as unusual. And we know that they came to worship.

This part of the story is so meaningful for several reasons, but the first is the reminder that God reveals Himself to us in a way that we can understand. The Wise Men found Jesus in the manger because God used a physical sign to lead them straight to His Son. The Wise Men are the only people we read of who did not find out about the coming of the Messiah from an angel. God revealed Jesus to them in a way that they understood. This is such a sweet reminder to us of the kindness of God that He KNOWS each and every one of us and speaks to us in ways that we can understand. 

Another significant thing to notice is how, even though the Wise Men followed the star to find this new king, God’s Word played a powerful and necessary part in their understanding of the sign in the sky. It was God’s Word that led them to Bethlehem! We all love when God does miracles, and when are able to see God work in supernatural ways, it causes us to wonder and worship Him because we SEE Him at work. But remember that God’s written Word, the Bible, is not merely the Christian’s study tool or textbook. It is the living, powerful, very Word of Almighty God! The Wise Men were seeking Jesus, according to the miraculous and reliable Word of God. Just as the star took on meaning as the Wise Men considered the Scriptures, the world around us literally comes alive with hope and meaning as we grow in our knowledge and understanding of God’s written Word, the Bible.

Finally, I love the multicultural nature of this part of the story. Though Jesus was born in the nation of Israel, in the line of David, in the little town of Bethlehem, God chose to include people from far off lands in the miracle of Jesus’s birth. To put it simply, Jesus came for everyone. We know that in Revelation, we read that in the end, people of every nation, tribe, and tongue are found before the throne of God in Heaven singing praises to the Lamb of God, Jesus. These foreign Wise Men showed up with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh—very different from the shepherds who came in from the fields at night, in great haste without any sort of gift to present. Just as God’s use of the star and the angels to reveal Jesus were so different, we all bring something very different and beautiful in our differences. Don’t you love to see and hear people from other cultures worship? Some are loud and festive, others filled with reverence and awe. And this is good! We were not all made to be the same, and the precious treasures that the Wise Men brought were opened and laid before the Son of God as worship. What a beautiful picture of the nature of our God, who created us so different from one another, but loves each the same. 

May we remember throughout this season the miracle of how God desires people from every background to come to Jesus. Let us meditate on His Word as we continue seeking Him daily. And finally, let us give thanks to God that He still speaks to us in ways that we can truly hear and understand. Oh come, let us adore Him! 

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Christmas Advent | Mary

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Have you ever imagined what it must have been like for young Mary to be told she was going to give birth to the long-awaited Messiah? Most of us are probably familiar with the story of the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary. It’s wonderful and exciting to reread the story of Mary receiving the joyous news that she was going to be carrying God’s Son, the Savior of the world! But when you go back to the story, it’s important to see that Mary’s first response was not joy and wonder, but one of uncertainty and fear. Mary wasn’t expecting to receive a visit from an angel any more than we would expect something like this to happen to us on an ordinary day! She was afraid and confused.

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary.  And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’  But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.” -Luke 1:26-29

I love that the Bible doesn’t leave out this part of the story. For me, this is the Mary that I relate to and understand. It’s easy to see characters in the Bible as just that: characters. But we need to remember that these are real people who lived real lives just like ours!

Contrary to many false beliefs, Mary was not perfect. We know this is true because the Bible tells us that there is no one perfect but God Himself. (Romans 3:23, Mark 10:18) Knowing this, it makes it easier to read this part of the story knowing that Mary was a real woman who loved God and still found life to be frightening and full of questions.

Because Mary’s reaction was a real one, we get to see how God responds to us when are afraid or question His plan. Gabriel did not go find another woman who would respond better. He didn’t rebuke or lecture her about her lack of faith or trust in God. The first thing we see Gabriel do in response to Mary’s understandably troubled reaction is to reassure her with WORDS OF COMFORT. 

Gabriel’s response at seeing Mary greatly troubled was this:

“And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,  and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’” -Luke 1:30-33

First, He told her not to fear and reminded her that God loved her. He had already told her this when he first showed up and greeted her as “O favored one!” But Mary was so overcome with fear that she needed to be reminded again in that moment that God was pleased with her. He loved her. This is something that we should all be reminded of on a daily basis. God wants to tell us in our moments of fear or uncertainty, “Remember, I LOVE YOU!” Mary had literally just heard that God favored her moments before, and rather than receiving a lecture on her lack of faith, Gabriel just told her again. 

This is why our Bibles are crammed full of the promises of God! His love, His faithfulness, His goodness, His provision, His comfort! We need to be reminded of these things just like Mary did! When you find yourself in a moment of fear or doubt, get into the promises of God! Open your Bible, and let the Holy Spirit remind you of His very great and precious promises! (2 Peter 1:4)

Finally, I want to point out that after this reminder from Gabriel of God’s favor for Mary and the wondrous things that were going to take place, Mary was bold enough to ask questions! She didn’t understand HOW God was going to make this happen because she was a virgin. There are many times that I don’t understand things and have questions, and I love that we have this example of Mary’s boldness and honesty even with the angel Gabriel! We can ask God when we don’t understand something He has told us, and He wants to GIVE US HOPE!

Gabriel answered Mary’s question of “how this was to be” in this way:

“And Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’ And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’” -Luke 1:34-37

He gave her a brief answer and then He gave her reason to place her TRUST IN GOD: Nothing is impossible with God! Sometimes, we don’t receive all the information we think we need to understand why or how things happen in our lives. But we have a God we can trust. Whether you find yourself in a situation you don’t understand or can’t see how things are going to work out, remember in Whom you trust!

And Mary’s ultimate response after hearing these words was this: 

“And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” -Luke 1:38

Isn’t this the heart we want to have as well? Bringing our fears and uncertainties to our Heavenly Father, receiving His WORDS OF COMFORT and love, and being reminded that we can TRUST Him! May we be His servants, His children—fully trusting in His plans for us and saying, “Let it be to me according to Your word.” And may this beautiful response resonate in our hearts as we remember the God we trust, His unending LOVE for us, and the miracle of Christmas.

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Global Missions | An Interview with Bethany Massey

Pastor Daniel talks to Bethany Massey about her journey to Florida and Redemption Church and back to Australia, where God has led her now. She shares about the spiritual climate in Australia and her current plans for a personal missions trip to Brazil in January 2018. You can catch up with Bethany and read all about it and support her trip on her website at

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Children Dedications | 10-22-17

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We had a beautiful ceremony here at Redemption Church on Sunday, October 22 with 5 families dedicating their children to the Lord. It was a wonderful time for our church family to share together as these parents committed to raise up their kids with Jesus as the head of their homes.  Praise Jesus!

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