VIDEO Joe Trujillo’s Story

Jan 15, 2015

Joe Trujillo grew up in a dysfunctional family with alcoholic parents and as a young man ended up in prison with 5 felonies. Feeling utterly hopeless, Joe remembers, “I fell to my knees and cried out to God” one night in my cell. God set him free that night as the words of the Bible came to life in his heart.

The Power To Survive

sail boat
We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed. —2 Corinthians 4:8

When I was growing up, I had an inflatable plastic punching dummy. It was about as tall as I was and had a smiling face painted on it. My challenge was to hit it hard enough to make it stay down. But no matter how hard I tried, it always bounced right back up again. The secret? There was a lead weight in the bottom that always kept it upright. Sailboats operate by the same principle. The lead weights in their keels provide the ballast to keep them balanced and upright in strong winds.

It’s like that in the life of a believer in Christ. Our power to survive challenges resides not in us but with God, who dwells within us. We’re not exempt from the punches that life throws at us nor from the storms that inevitably threaten our stability. But with full confidence in His power to sustain us, we can say with Paul, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8-9).

Join the many travelers through life who through deep waters of pain and suffering embrace with unshakable confidence the truth that God’s grace is sufficient and that in our weakness He is made strong (12:9). It will be the ballast to your soul. By Joe Stowell

In fulfilling his calling as an apostle (Acts 9:15), Paul endured great suffering. In 2 Corinthians 1:8-10, 6:4-10, and 11:23-27, he elaborated on the many persecutions, threats, and dangers he faced. But in the midst of great opposition, persecution, and painful suffering, Paul’s refrain is: “We do not lose heart” (2 Cor. 4:1,16). Speaking of himself as an “earthen vessel,” Paul acknowledges his frailty, limitations, and expendability (v. 7). His confidence is not rooted in himself but in God’s sovereign power, in His sustaining grace, in Christ’s resurrected life, and in the expectation of future reward and eternal glory (vv. 7-18).

The power of God within you is greater than the pressure of troubles around you.

Where do you turn for stability when you’re in a stormy season of life? Read or Download Anchors In The Storm by Joe Stowell online at

Click to access anchors-in-the-storm.pdf

Servanthood in a Culture of Celebrities

Matthew 20:17-28

Every year Forbes magazine trots out its “Celebrity 100,” a list of the most famous people in the world. Our society sure loves its celebrities. They seem to have it all—fame, power, influence, and applause from the masses. Who wouldn’t want to be like them, at least on a small scale?

Unfortunately, the virus of celebrity worship can quickly develop into a full-blown case of celebrity envy, and when it came to Jesus’ disciples, they surely exhibited signs of infection. For three years the Lord has been training them to take the anti-celebrity path—the way of being unknown and un-famous, the path of secret goodness and unspectacular acts of mercy. But in the 20th chapter of Matthew, they still haven’t learned the lesson. This is the third time Jesus recites the horrific details of His impending death, which should have appalled and devastated His disciples. Instead, beginning with James and John, they start scrambling for the best seats in the house. Jesus is going to the cross, and they want to be stars.

Then things start to spiral out of control. The other 10 disciples, “indignant with the two brothers,” start puffing and preening with the cries of every celebrity wannabe: “Notice me,” “I was first,” and “I’m better than you.”

So Jesus enacts an intervention, first by warning them about the wrong way to live. “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,” He says. Throughout human history, this wrong way has appeared utterly natural. No wonder Jesus’ prescription for the right way to live feels shockingly abnormal: “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave” (vv. 25-27 NIV).

But Jesus doesn’t just give us good advice; He also becomes our servant and slave by offering His “life as a ransom for many” (v. 28). A ransom is a payment offered on behalf of someone held captive against his will. In this sense, the disciples aren’t just hostages of an oppressive Roman conqueror; they’re also captives of their own unloving attachment to fame, power, and privilege.

So Jesus has taken our place; He died the death we should have died. In light of His greatness and humility, no matter who Forbes trumpets next year, there’s room for just one real celebrity. By His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has permanently nabbed the top spot on the only list that matters. Thankfully, by His grace, this humble King invites us to join Him as His guests on the stage of redemption.

—Matt Woodley

The Duty of Rejoicing

“But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.” (Psalm 5:11)

It may seem strange to think of rejoicing as a Christian duty, but the Scriptures do contain many commands to rejoice, and many of these are given in circumstances of grief or danger, as is the case of our beautiful text verse.

“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4), Paul wrote from a Roman dungeon. In the upper room the night before He was to die on a cross, the Lord Jesus said to His disciples: “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). And then He said: “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service” (John 16:2). But then He said again: “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).

If David could rejoice while fleeing from murderous enemies, if Paul could rejoice while chained unjustly in a Roman prison, if the disciples could experience fullness of joy while facing martyrdom, and if the Lord Himself “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2), then our Christian duty of rejoicing in all circumstances may not be such an unseemly command after all.

We can rejoice, as our text reminds us, “because thou defendest them.” Furthermore, He Himself provides the joy, for “the fruit of the Spirit is . . . joy” (Galatians 5:22). It is not that the Christian will never know sorrow, for Christ Himself was “a man of sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3). But He also was a man of joy and, in Him, we can be like Him—“as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). HMM

Personal Identity

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. —1 Timothy 4:12

This problem of personal identity not infrequently troubles the faithful minister. The congregation has called him as their pastor and teacher, but the members have a hard time forgetting the saintly predecessor who died or who was called to another ministry. They find it hard to make room for the new minister—mainly because he is not enough like the former one. His voice is different. So are his gestures. His hair is not gray. His wife is not as friendly.

Be careful! God blesses people for their faith and obedience, not because they are old or young, bald or gray, pleasant voiced or raspy. God expects each one of us to let Him use us in helping people to a walk of spiritual blessing and victory. Not necessarily must we have had a long record as heroes in the faith to qualify.

Lord, I pray for any of my brothers who may be facing this struggle today. Challenge the congregation to move on and love their new pastor. Give grace to the pastor; help him to faithfully demonstrate faith and obedience. Weld pastor and people together in a deep love relationship. Amen.

The Christian Message: Prophetic, Not Diplomatic

For Christ sent me… to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should he made of none effect. 1 Corinthians 1:17

We who witness and proclaim the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world.

We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, modern education, or the world of sports.

We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum!

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God’s just sentence against him.

What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life?

Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself.

Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing.

Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God’s stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.

Having done this, let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power. The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ!

The Eternal Verity

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. HEBREWS 13:8

There is a great deal of discussion now taking place about the lack of spiritual power in our Christian churches. What about the New Testament patterns?

Brethren, the apostolic method was to provide a foundation of good, sound biblical reasons for following the Savior, for our willingness to let the Spirit of God display the great Christian virtues in our lives.

That is why we come in faith and rejoicing to the eternal verity of Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever!” This proclamation gives significance to every other section of teaching and exhortation in the letter to the Hebrews. In this verse is truth that is morally and spiritually dynamic if we will exercise the faith and the will to demonstrate it in our needy world.

I think this fact, this truth that Jesus Christ wants to be known in His church as the ever-living, never-changing Lord of all, could bring back again the power and testimony of the early church!

Lord, I pray for my pastor and my church, that they will comprehend anew the truth that You are ever-living and never-changing.