Who said it would be easy? The person who receives Christ and expects a smooth, carefree cruise into the Kingdom will be sadly disappointed. Growth, advancement, and progress in the ways of God in the midst of this world take great focus and determination. Consider our Lord Jesus. Isaiah prophesied of the coming Messiah saying, “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame” (Isaiah 50:7). To accomplish the mission of God, Jesus needed tremendous focus and determination. Although tempted many times toward lesser things, He succeeded in finishing the “main thing” God called him to do. Luke 9:51 declares, “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” His face was set and His determination was firm. No other priorities or responsibilities would sidetrack Him from His mission to die for the sins of the world. Aren’t you glad He stayed on mission? If Jesus is in you, He has called you to do something…to trust Him and obey His will. In the midst of this unpredictable and rapidly changing world, our biggest temptation will be to “crowd out the call.” Too many believers have drifted away from Jesus. They don’t hate Jesus or curse Him; they just don’t pay much attention to Him. The superficial has replaced the eternal. Don’t let it happen to you! Pay attention. Stay determined. Pray often for the heart of a true disciple, steadfast and focused. The rewards for obedience are worth it! Isaiah says, “I will not be disgraced” (50:7).

“I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. The decision has been made. I have stepped over the line. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, or back away. I won’t give up, shut up, let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, spoken up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till he stops me. And when he comes for his own, he will have no problem recognizing me. My banner is clear: I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed!”


What is the “main thing” God wants you to do?

Pastor Mark Boucher

Love Beats Hate!

Is there someone you know who seems to delight in making your life miserable? You’ve tried being nice, and other times you’ve lost your temper…but still the problem persists. Well, you’re in good company. For years David had to deal with Saul. For about ten years (while David was in his 20s), he fled from King Saul and lived like a refugee in his own country. As those reading the story, we have pity on David and wish life could be easier for him. But, we need to remember, our trials are often for the benefit of others. God’s Word records this difficult trial of David to help us. Through Saul’s antagonism, God taught David how to handle conflict through the power of God’s Spirit and not rely on his own ability. In 2 Samuel 1 we read of David (at the age of 30) finally getting the news of Saul’s death at the hands of the Philistines. Did David rejoice at this news and call for a party? Just the opposite…David and his men mourned. He also composed a “lament” for Saul and Saul’s son Jonathan (who was also killed that day). As I read David’s lament this morning, I was amazed at David’s kindness and love toward Saul. This is the same man who twice tried to kill David with a spear. This is the man who hunted David obsessively for years. Here is a portion of what David wrote after hearing of Saul’s death: “Saul and Jonathan-in life they were loved and gracious, and in death they were not parted” (1 Sam. 1:22). How could David call Saul “gracious”?! The only possible answer is because of God’s love inside his heart. David responds like Jesus even in an age when the normal procedure was to hate and eliminate your enemies. By demonstrating the love of Jesus toward his enemies, David was way ahead of his time. His actions demonstrate a powerful example of Paul’s teaching from Romans 12:19, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord.’” So, if you find yourself the target of someone’s anger or hatred, take heart. God will work His love in your heart and deal with the antagonist in His way. Don’t take revenge. Pray for the love of Jesus to flow from your heart toward your enemies. He is able!

Pastor Mark Boucher

I’m Listening

He was just a young boy. His older “brothers” and adopted father were not good role models, and yet, into this bleak upbringing, God spoke into Samuel’s life. When Samuel first heard God speak, he thought it was Eli, the priest, who slept in the next room. Three times God spoke to Samuel, and each time he went to Eli saying, “Here I am, you called me.” Finally, Eli gave Samuel the advice he needed to hear. “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9). Samuel obeyed and God spoke. As a young boy, Samuel started to learn how to discern the voice of God. This account challenges me because I want to be the kind of person who hears God as well. Here are a few principles I have learned about listening to God. First, don’t insist on your own method of how God speaks. If you wait around for an audible voice, you will be disappointed. The audible voice of God sometimes breaks into people’s lives, but this is rare. Instead, we need to listen within our spirit. Cultivate your inner life by removing the clutter. Get comfortable with quietness. How can we hear God if we constantly flood our ears and minds with a never-ending parade of noise? By following Jesus in the disciplines of prayer and the Word of God, we learn to discern the voice of God. Whenever God has spoken to my heart, His directives have never gone against His revealed Word, the Bible. Next, to hear from God, we need to want to hear. Many have no interest in hearing God speak, because it interferes with “their” lives. God speaks to those who are willing to obey. Yes, God speaks to non-believers, but mainly concerning the challenge for repentance and restoration. Finally, God often chooses to speak through other servants of the Lord. Going to church and participation in the Body of Christ is not just a suggestion from church leaders, but an expectation from the Lord. I can’t tell you the number of times God has spoken to my life through godly pastors and friends. In summary, if you want God to speak to you, place yourself in a position to hear. Pray as Samuel prayed, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

Pastor Mark Boucher

Stay Free

There’s a difference between living in a free country and living with freedom in our heart. Freedom, as taught from the Scriptures, is more than the ability to worship, vote, travel, or choose our own career. The Bible teaches us that freedom on the inside starts with truth. Jesus declared, “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32). In my devotions, I am reading through the Book of Judges. This book is so named because God raised up “judges” to help the Israelites break free from self-imposed defeat. When the Israelites first entered the Promised Land under Joshua, they served the Lord. But, as time went by, they became careless and treated sin and disobedience to God as “no big deal.” They didn’t set their heart to know God or seek Him.

“After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the Lord to anger… in his anger against Israel, the Lord handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist” (Judges 2:10-15).

Slavery follows sin! Jesus said, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). Here in America we do not find ourselves at the mercy of other countries who would like to harm us. However, we choose to destroy ourselves from within by ignoring God and promoting things which He abhors. As believers, we live in the world, but cannot be like the world. In truth we are a “counter-cultural” movement, and we value what God says above all else. We all serve something in life, and a life without God serves the sinful nature and ends up in the worst kind of bondage: addiction to sin. Pursue Jesus and stay free! Then, you will be able to help others find the way to freedom.

Pastor Mark Boucher

Give What You Get

A long time ago, I was praying for people at the altar on a Sunday morning. A young man approached me asking for prayer as he was approaching the day when he was leaving home for the first time to enter college. He was a believer but needed assurance and encouragement. Feeling led by the Lord, I turned to Joshua chapter one and let him read the Word out loud from Joshua 1:6-7.

“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.”

Years later after he had graduated and married, I saw him again. He reminded me of the special time at the altar and how God had repeatedly used the Scripture from Joshua to give him courage and faith to persevere. By God’s grace, he has enjoyed many years of fruitful ministry as a pastor and district leader. God’s Word is powerful! Imagine the task ahead of Joshua. Moses, his mentor and leader, was dead. The Israelites (estimated at over two million) needed to be led into the Promised Land to claim their inheritance. There were many enemies and obstacles, and the believers had bad habits of complaining and giving up. Joshua needed God! He needed to remember what God had spoken, especially during times of testing. I wonder how many times Joshua quoted to himself the words, “Be strong and courageous”? As you read the book of Joshua, you discover how God used Joshua’s life and example to move the people from wandering in the desert to victory in the Promised Land. The Lord wants to use you and me to lead others to Christ and into a life of spiritual growth. The reality is that we can only give them what we receive and put into practice. Take from the grace of God and freely give. In Philippians 4:13, Paul reminds us, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Pastor Mark Boucher

The Authority Issue

While talking with someone the other day, I asked him if he was following Jesus. His answer was, “Sort of, I think.” I challenged him by saying, “To be a follower of Jesus, you need to settle the authority issue. Ask yourself, ‘Who is really in charge of my life…me or God?’.” As I read in my devotions about the journey of the Israelites in the desert, I notice the struggle they had with authority. They wanted God’s blessings and favor but didn’t want to follow God’s ways. Why is our human nature so resistant to submission to God? It’s because we believe a lie deep in our heart which rationalizes, “No one is going to watch out for me better than me. I know what’s best for me, and I don’t need God telling me what to do.” In Deuteronomy, Moses preaches God’s Word to the people reminding them of the dangers of a stubborn heart. He tells them to love God, obey Him, be careful not to forget the covenant, and seek Him with wholehearted devotion. The Lord gives us an amazing verse revealing His primary reason for His insistence on being their authority.

“Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” (Deut. 5:29)

If we choose to give in to our selfish nature and “do our own thing” we also reap the bitter consequences of our godlessness. To fear God and follow Him opens our lives to His presence and all the goodness which flows from His grace and favor. Although life still presents difficulties and trials, when we are surrendered to the Lord, we never go it alone! So, the biggest choice we make in life is either following the Lord wholeheartedly or trusting in the idol of “the big I.” As for me, I gladly choose to repent of my inclination to self-idolatry and humble myself before the Lord. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (James 5:5b-6). Settle the authority issue!

Pastor Mark Boucher

Faith & Imagination

Your imagination is a precious gift; be careful how you use it. An imagination filled with faith brings glory to God and great fruitfulness. An imagination filled with fear brings shame and defeat. Consider the event of the twelve Israelites who spied out the Promised Land (from Numbers 13). These twelve leaders (the “spies”) spent a month surveying the land while Moses and the Israelites remained in the desert area to the south of Israel. All twelve leaders saw the same things in the Promised Land: the bountiful fruit, the fertile soil, the walled cities, and the native peoples. They all saw in common, but they did not all imagine in common. After they returned to Moses and the Israelite community, they gave their reports. Ten of the spies imagined the worst. “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are…we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them” (Num. 13:31-33). Through their imagination, devoid of faith, the ten spies “spread among the Israelites a bad report” (v. 32). Only Joshua and Caleb “saw” through the eyes of faith. In their imagination, they saw themselves victorious over all odds, through the mighty power of God! Attempting to transfer their faith-filled imagination to the people, they proclaimed, “Do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them” (Num. 14:9). What a contrast: the ten spies see the enemy as giants and themselves as grasshoppers; Joshua and Caleb see the enemy as bread and themselves as victors! So, the question comes down to this: “What are you imagining about the challenges you face?” Will you include God and His Word in your imagination or tremble in fear over all the things that “may go wrong”? Everyone faces “giants,” but through our Lord Jesus Christ, we are declared “more than conquerors” (Rom. 8:37)!

Pastor Mark Boucher

What about Sacrifice?

Through the years I have wondered why some people really enjoy serving the Lord and others act like it’s a great burden and major inconvenience. It always comes back to the heart. When we serve God out of a heart of love for Him, serving is a joy and brings a “sweetness” to our soul. However, when we serve merely out of obligation, just going through the motions, we derive no joy. God, in His wisdom, knows that serving is important for us, so He allows us the privilege of giving back to Him. He gives us the opportunity to sacrifice to Him in such ways as praying, giving, or working. To receive God’s blessings, such sacrifices are not merely to be done, but to be done God’s way. The Book of Leviticus has a lot to teach us about sacrifices. The repeated theme of Leviticus is how to live holy before God. Since this book was part of the Law given by God for the people of Israel before the coming of Christ, we understand that we do not offer the same types of sacrifices as they did. But, the principle of giving to God and God receiving our sacrifices is still the same. God wants us to give in the right way and with a right heart. For example, Leviticus 19:5 says, “When you sacrifice a fellowship offering to the Lord, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf.” In the next few verses, God gives specific instructions about how to carry out the fellowship offering. So, the Lord is revealing here that our actions need to be in the right way and the “right spirit.” As I consider my life as a pastor, I don’t want to just be “busy” doing a lot of things for God. I want to be led by the Holy Spirit to invest my life in sacrificial labor, AND, to do this in the right way and with a right heart. The most important aspect of sacrifice is for it to be accepted by God. For example, some people give time, money, or “lip-service” to God, hoping their sacrifice will somehow prompt God to overlook their sinful and selfish lifestyle (trying to make “the good outweigh the bad”). Our feeble attempts to cover our guilt or sin don’t work. Jesus died as The Sacrifice to save us from sin. Our sacrifices are simply responses to His grace, the giving of gratitude to the One who gives us life and peace. The Psalmist summarizes the desire for God’s acceptance by saying, “May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings” (Psalm 20:3). Serve the Lord with gladness and holiness.

Pastor Mark Boucher

There’s a Better Way

No one said it would be easy. I’m reading through the Book of Exodus about the Israelites. They are “out on the road” after being delivered from slavery in Egypt and are crossing the wilderness to the Promised Land. God loves His people but does not “immunize” them from trials and difficulties…as they soon discovered in the harsh desert. Their response to the challenges reveals much about their faith and character. “The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin…In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death’” (Exodus 16:1-3). We seem to think of sin in categories of severity, with some sins as really bad, and others as not so bad. Complaining is not that bad of a sin is it? After all, we’re not stealing anything or physically hurting another person. Surely, it’s such a small thing. But, I ask, if grumbling and complaining are so minor, why would God’s Word bring it to our attention again and again? Complaining takes aim at God and says, “You don’t care. You are not a good provider. You cannot be trusted.” This is serious indeed! Such whining kept Israel out of the Promised Land for 40 years. Imagine if the Israelites had prayed and asked God for help when facing their problems? Can we learn from their example and turn from the fleshly reaction of complaining? Can we learn to trust God by turning to Him in prayer, presenting our needs to our faithful Father?

Pastor Mark Boucher

The Journey of Transformation

The Book of Genesis introduces us to a fascinating person named Jacob. As you may recall, Jacob was the son of Isaac and Rebekah and the twin brother of Esau (the older one). As a young adult, Jacob (with the help of his mother) tricked his brother Esau out of the family inheritance. An enraged Esau determined to kill Jacob. So, Jacob hit the highway and ran to his mother’s relatives in the land of Haran. God’s plan, however, was not just a change of Jacob’s location, but a change of Jacob’s heart. After enduring 20 difficult years, Jacob heard God speak to him saying, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you” (Genesis 31:3). I can imagine Jacob thinking, “Now, I can leave all my troubles behind and move back home, where things will be much easier.”  But little did he realize the surprise that awaited! His brother Esau found out that Jacob was on his way back home, and came to meet him with 400 men…not exactly a “welcome wagon”! Jacob was confused. He knew God called him to go back home, but it seemed like he was about to lose everything, maybe even his life. But Jacob had one thing going for him—he knew how to pray! So, he humbled himself before God and said, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper. I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant…’” (Gen. 32:9-10). Through a night of restless prayer, Jacob yielded his heart completely to God. And, the Lord gave Jacob amazing grace. He and his brother Esau reconciled and Jacob lived and prospered in Israel. What blessed me from this story is this thought: Just because God leads you to do something doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. However, God provides His grace, which is more than enough to change our heart and our circumstances!

Pastor Mark Boucher