Monday, January 28, 2019

Human Life Is Sacred

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." - Jeremiah 1:5

Last Tuesday marked the 46th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize abortion in the United States. In their landmark Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the 14th Amendment protects a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy. Interestingly, the 14th Amendment was intended to protect an individual’s rights while providing him/her with equal protection under the law. Evidently, the Supreme Court justices didn’t believe these protected individual rights extend to the unborn child. As a result, over 60 million pre-born babies have been aborted in the U.S. since 1973. That’s roughly equal to the entire populations of California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and New Mexico combined!

With this sobering reality in mind, Christian leader Dr. Frank Wright wrote, “Will a differently constituted U.S. Supreme Court make a difference in the defense of life? It could, but we have heard those promises before. Besides, a question more important than whether the courts will defend life is: Why is the culture running headlong after death?” Now, that’s a sobering question. Why is our culture running headlong after death?

Honestly, one of the main reasons is because we as a nation no longer read, understand, or embrace what God’s word says about the great value of human life. We have failed to embrace what God says in the very first chapter of the Bible—Genesis 1. He makes it clear that all life on earth is good and beautiful. But only human life is sacred, which is defined as “connected to God and dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration.” Every human life is connected to God in a way that a dog or cat couldn’t be. Every human life is dedicated to a religious purpose—to worship Him and love Him in a way that a rhino, monkey, or polar bear never could. As a nation, we have rejected these timeless truths.

And we have ignored and rejected the timeless truth of Psalm 139:13-15, where King David answers the “when” question: “When does God create human life as good, beautiful and sacred?” David answers—in a mother’s womb. David expresses amazement at the thought of God creating his kidneys, lungs, and heart before he drew his first breath. Without a doubt, human life begins in the womb. Therefore, the life of the unborn child is good, beautiful and sacred in the sight of God. From God’s perspective, a fetus is not a clump of cells, a mass of tissue, or an inconvenience. What the medical community labels a “fetus” is a child, created with great love and care by our Creator. As a nation, we have rejected this timeless truth.

The truth is: There are only four differences between an unborn child and a toddler, and none of these differences taken individually or together diminish the value and “humanity” of the unborn child. See for yourself. [These four differences form the acronym, SLED.]

SIZE. For years pro choice groups like Planned Parenthood have argued that a human fetus is not a human being because of its tiny size. But since when does human size equate to human value? Would anyone make the case that a 7-foot-tall NBA center’s life is 3 ½ times more valuable than a 2-foot-tall toddler’s life? Would anyone try to convince us that a teenager is twice as human as a two-year old because the teenager is twice as tall? No way! The size argument is completely illogical. Size has nothing to do with human value.

LEVEL OF DEVELOPMENT. Abortion clinics have peddled the lie that because a child in utero is less developed than a baby, it’s not a human being. Because the heart isn’t beating until the second month and the pain receptors aren’t functional until the second trimester, it’s not a baby. But since when does level of development determine human value? Toddlers are less developed than teenagers. Teenagers are less developed than adults. Many adults have diabetes or other diseases that keep them from feeling pain, and some severely disabled adults aren’t self-aware. Would any reasonable person conclude that children and adults with developmental disabilities are less human than those who are perfectly healthy? I think not!

ENVIRONMENT and DEGREE OF DEPENDENCY. These last two differences between an unborn child and a toddler are equally important. Abortion advocates make the case that because a human fetus is inside his/her mother and is completely dependent upon her for survival, the fetus is not a human being. But under close scrutiny, both of these arguments fall apart. When toddlers change environments, do they change their value? Is a toddler in the house more human that a toddler in a swimming pool?  As for degree of dependency—Is a retiree on dialysis and oxygen less human than a senior with a clean bill of health? Hardly! You see, dependency is irrelevant to value. In fact, a greater level of dependency signals us as compassionate human beings to help and fight for the one who is dependent. Right?

Perhaps we will never fully understand why our culture has been running headlong after death. But of this we can be sure: God holds all human life—from the earliest stages in the womb to the final day of hospice care—as good, beautiful, and sacred. Therefore, we as His followers must also hold all human life to be good, beautiful and sacred. As God loves and defends human life, so too must we.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit  and join us for worship tomorrow at 10 am.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Are You Disappointed in Jesus?

“Go to Jesus and ask him, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we
expect someone else?’” – John 7:19

In July 1999, I began serving as the pastor at First Christian Church of Victorville. And my faith was really tested early on. About four months after I came on staff, our church secretary, Dorothy Love, was hospitalized with major medical issues. By December it didn’t look like she was going to make it. I remember walking into my bedroom in the apartment where my wife and I lived at the time. I knelt beside my bed and begged God to heal Dorothy. I prayed. I cried. I did everything I could think of to do to make sure that God heard and answered that prayer. And guess what happened? Within twenty-four hours, Dorothy breathed her last, and she was gone.

I’ve got to tell you, I really felt let down by God. He had the power to heal Dorothy, and He didn’t do it. He said He would answer the prayer of faith lifted up by one of His followers, but He didn’t do it. I was disappointed with God. Have you ever been there? I’m sure you have. But you and I are not alone. In Luke chapter 7, John the Baptist—the man who hailed Jesus as the Savior—went through a dark night of doubt while he was being held in prison.

John had been imprisoned for speaking out against King Herod’s warped marriage to his brother’s former wife, who also happened to be Herod’s niece. Put yourself in John the Baptist’s shoes: an innocent man, sitting in a dirty, smelly jail cell for months. You’ve gone over in your mind the events that led to your arrest, and you’ve concluded that you did nothing to deserve the punishment you’re experiencing. You simply did what God put you on this earth to do: to plead with people to wake up and point them to Jesus Christ.

In Luke 7:18, some of John’s followers visited him in prison and gave him a full report on Jesus’ teaching and miraculous healings. You would think that John would have been blown away. But he didn’t seem blown away at all. In fact, he seemed a bit confused—even disappointed. In response, John sent two of his disciples on an errand: “Go to Jesus and ask him, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’” (vs. 19).

Baffling! Think about it: Yet John was the man who had pointed to Jesus and proclaimed, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” It was John who baptized Jesus and saw the Holy Spirit descend on him in the form of a dove. And it was John who heard the voice from God the Father that said, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” But as he sat in that prison cell, John had doubts.

But when John’s followers delivered his message to Jesus, notice that Jesus DIDN’T shake his fist and say, “That no-good locust eater! How dare he question me!” Jesus didn’t condemn John’s doubt. He embraced it. Jesus didn’t complain about John’s disappointment with him. Instead, he responded with compassion. Jesus kept preaching the good news and healing the sick in view of John’s disciples. Then Jesus told them: “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me” (vs. 22-23).

John’s disciples returned to John and relayed Jesus’ message to them. And as best as we can tell, John’s faith in Jesus was restored, and he served him faithfully until his dying day.

As we follow Christ, we all deal with some doubt and disappointment. I know in my heart that Jesus is good, but at times it doesn’t feel like He’s good to ME. I know in my heart that Jesus’ plans are better than my plans and his timing is better than my timing, but at the same time … it feels like Jesus has let me down. With that in mind, here are three important lessons on doubt and disappointment:

1: If you are a true follower of Christ, doubt may temporarily disturb your relationship with Jesus, but it won’t destroy it. It’s okay to have some doubts about God’s plan and His goodness in your life. It’s okay to feel at times like he’s let you down. And truth be told: When we go through a period of doubt and disappointment, it can actually make our faith in God even stronger. Chuck Swindoll makes this great point: “Some doubting is healthy. Doubt can force us to pursue the truth rather than just being gullible and believing whatever we are told…. Doubts fuel the believer’s pursuit of real answers to life’s most troubling questions.”

2: When you are doubting Jesus and feel like he has let you down, take your doubt and disappointment to Him. He’s a big God. He can handle it. John the Baptist had overwhelming evidence that Jesus was the promised Christ. But when John was down in the dumps, he had doubts and disappointment anyway. And when John brought his doubt and disappointment to him, Jesus was perfectly fine with it. In fact, he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. The same goes for you.

3: Special blessings await those who endure earthly disappointments and inequalities believing there are heavenly rewards. John’s imprisonment never seemed fair to him, because it wasn’t fair. His imprisonment never seemed just, because it wasn’t just. But John the Baptist endured, knowing that God would reward him in heaven. And that’s exactly what God did …and He will do the same for you. 

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit  and join us for church Sundays at 10 a.m.

Monday, January 14, 2019

How to Amaze Jesus

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.’” – Luke 7:9

In 1982, Vice President George H.W. Bush represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev’s widow. She stood motionless by the casket until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev’s wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband’s chest.

There in Moscow—the capital of communist atheism—the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life where Jesus reigned and that Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband.

Jesus Christ brings us hope, doesn’t he? And in the first half of Luke 7, the Bible shows us a case study in hope. Jesus was in Capernaum when a Roman centurion with a very big need asked him for help. The centurion sent some elders of the Jews to ask Jesus to heal his dying servant. Now, the Roman Empire was an occupying force in Israel, and the Jews of Jesus’ day weren’t overly fond of Roman authority. But the Jews had a certain amount of esteem and respect for the centurions, who commanded around 100 men. Centurions were not average soldiers. They were a cut above. And I think it’s clear from Luke 7 that this specific centurion who came to Jesus was a cut above other centurions.

For one thing, he had a very unusual attitude toward his slave. In Roman law, a slave was viewed as a “living tool.” One ancient teacher went so far as to say that in order to maintain an efficient home, at least once every year a master should get rid of all old and broken tools—including old and broken slaves.

But it’s clear that this centurion cared deeply for his servant and viewed him as a close friend or family member. And unlike most Romans of the day, it’s evident in verses 4 and 5 that this centurion was deeply religious. When the Jewish elders came to Jesus, they said, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue” (vs. 4-5). It’s one thing to say “I love Israel.” It’s quite another to put your money where your mouth is and bankroll the building of the synagogue in Capernaum.

And although the centurion was an important military leader, he was a humble man. When Jesus went to see him, the centurion sent friends ahead with the message, “I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you” (vs. 6-7a). Most impressively of all, he was a man of faith. He went on to say, “But say the word, and my servant will be healed” (v. 7b).

Unlike most people in Israel, the centurion knew how authority works. He knew, as a centurion, that he didn’t need to be physically present in every location where his orders were being carried out. He had 100 soldiers to carry out his orders miles away from where he himself stood. So, in simple childlike faith, the centurion reasoned that Jesus could do exactly the same thing. He didn’t need to be physically standing next to the servant in order to heal him. He didn’t even need to be in the same house. Jesus could simply say the word—to dispatch the order—and the servant would be healed.

This is one of only two times in Jesus’ life when we’re told that he was AMAZED: “When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel’” (v. 9). And Jesus was moved by the centurion’s faith. According to Matthew 8:13, his servant was healed at that very hour. The centurion’s simple, childlike faith moved the heart of Christ.

Jesus wasn’t impressed by the centurion’s power and authority. He was impressed by his faith and humility. And so it is with us. The heart of Christ is moved by our childlike faith and by our brokenness. Therefore, when we turn to Christ, there is always hope. When we put our hope in Jesus, even if our lousy circumstances don’t change, WE are changed in the midst of those lousy circumstances. Hope gives us a new lease on life. The centurion chose the path of hope, and it led him to say and do things that amazed even Jesus.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit  and join us for church Sundays at 10 am.

Friday, January 4, 2019

How to Deal with a Living Nightmare

“After [Paul and Silas] had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer…put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.”
– Acts 16:22-24

Can you remember a time in your life when a celebration suddenly turned into a nightmare? May 2015 was one of those times for my wife and me. The month started off well with a Mother’s Day celebration. And we were looking forward to my wife’s birthday and our seventeenth wedding anniversary at the end of the month. But just four days after Mother’s Day, my wife and I found ourselves sitting in the Loma Linda Medical Center ER with our five-year-old daughter hooked up to an IV.

Our daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, and effective immediately, we would have to prick her fingers to test her blood sugar at least seven times a day and give her shots of insulin at least four times a day. If her blood sugar dropped too low, she could pass out and suffer life-threatening injuries. If her blood sugar elevated too high, her organs could be permanently damaged. It seemed as if we were in a bad dream from which we couldn’t wake up.

As our happy little family’s life was suddenly turned upside down, we found ourselves asking God the question, “Why?” My wife and I had dedicated our lives to serving Christ and following his will, so this gut-wrenching curve ball didn’t make sense. We knew in our heart of hearts that God must have a clear purpose for our daughter’s disease, but we wanted to know: “Why is this happening to us?”

In Acts 16, the Apostle Paul set out on his second missionary journey with his sidekick, Silas. After they visited many of the churches he had previously planted, the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, instructing him to preach the gospel message in Europe, not in northern Asia as he had originally planned. So, the two missionaries obeyed God’s command. They traveled west into Europe, and the first city where they preached was the Greek city of Philippi.

Very quickly their ministry efforts produced much fruit. An influential Jewish woman named Lydia, along with her entire family, chose to follow Jesus Christ. And on one occasion Paul was empowered by God to cast a demon out of a poor little slave girl. On the heels of such life-changing ministry and the clear demonstration of God’s power, Paul and Silas must have thought that they were on the verge of witnessing a great spiritual revival in the city.

But their celebration quickly turned into a nightmare. In the matter of a few hours, Paul and Silas were dragged into court, stripped, beaten to a bloody pulp, thrown into prison, and placed in foot stocks. And if I had been in Paul’s shoes I would have been asking, “Why, God? You told us to come to Northern Greece, so we came. And look where it’s gotten us. We are shackled in a jail cell with our backs bruised and bleeding. And who knows what they’re going to do to us tomorrow? We don’t understand! Why, God? Why?”

Sometimes when we obey God, things seem to go terribly wrong. Oftentimes, persecution and heartache and pain increase when we’re in the center of God’s will. But as Jesus taught us in Matthew 5:11-12: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Honestly, Jesus’ command in these verses seems idealistic. Come on, Jesus, do you really expect Christians to “rejoice and be glad” when we’re being beaten up for our faith in Christ?

Surprisingly, yes. That’s exactly what He expects. And that’s exactly what Paul and Silas did as they sat in agony on the cold prison floor in Philippi. In Acts 16:25 we read these amazing words: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” What a remarkable response to such unjust, excruciating persecution! Bruised, bleeding and with their feet confined in stocks, Paul and Silas spent their time praying and singing to God. And in response, God sent a fierce earthquake that flung open the prison doors, unlocked everyone’s chains and, more importantly, put the fear of God into both the prisoners and the prison guard.

The prison guard fell on his knees before Paul and Silas and asked them, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” You see, revival had come to that prison, and before the end of the night, the jailer and his entire family had accepted Christ and proven that decision by being baptized. If Paul and Silas had been wondering a few hours earlier, “Why is this happening to us?” by the end of the night God had answered clearly, “This is why I brought you to Europe. This is why I allowed you to be arrested, beaten and thrown into this Philippian prison. This is why. This is why.”

When the inevitable times of persecution for Christ come, you and I have some important questions to answer. Will we gripe and complain and shake our fists at God, or will we patiently praise God anyway? Will we simply trust our own five senses, throwing God’s commands to the wind, or will we trust God and continue obeying His will? My friend, when you are in the midst of the pain, you may not understand what God is up to, but one day you will. So, rejoice in Him. Trust Him. And obey His commands. Weeping may remain for a night, but joy will certainly come in the morning. In God’s plan, pain always has a purpose.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information, visit  and join us for our first worship service of 2019 Sunday at 10 am.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Joy is a Profound Decision

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice.” – Philippians 4:4

Beside my desk in the church office, I have a little plaque that was given to me a couple of years ago. On that plaque is one of my favorite quotes by the 17th century monk Brother Lawrence. After he was given the most menial job in the monastery—the position of cook—he went into that kitchen and started cheerfully working. And he famously said, “I turn my little omelet in the pan for the love of God.”

Brother Lawrence embraced the same truth that the shepherds in the field embraced on the very first Christmas: Joy transcends our crummy circumstances, because true joy is grounded in Jesus. You see, Christian joy is a profound decision of faith and hope in the power of Jesus’ own life and love.

Almost without exception, when we’re feeling discouraged and down in the dumps, we are fixated on the circumstances around us. We can’t see the forest for the trees. We have a pile of bills to pay. Our kids are driving us up the wall. Our joints hurt. The car’s out of gas and our dog hates us. It feels like we’re drowning in an ocean of problems. But it’s especially at times like these that it’s important to remember that joy is a profound decision—a decision to focus on Jesus’ life, not on your life; a decision to focus on Jesus’ love, not on your own hate for what you’re going through.

If you ever need a good pick-me-up, read the book of Philippians. In chapter 1, Paul writes, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy … being confident in this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (vs. 3-6). Does Paul sound pretty joyful in these verses? Sure he does! But when he penned these verses, he wasn’t on vacation in Tahiti. He was wearing chains in the slammer. He was incarcerated, not knowing whether he would ever be released or whether he would be executed. Yet he rejoiced.

How was this possible? It was possible because Paul had chosen joy. He had made a profound decision of faith and hope in the power of Jesus’ own life and love. And Paul so wanted his fellow Christians to make this same profound decision. That’s why Paul urges us in Philippians 3:1: “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord!” And in Philippians 4:4, he really drives his point home: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

In the midst of our pain and heartache and discouragement, we’re called upon to choose joy. Your pile of bills does not change the fact that Jesus lived and died for you because he loves you more than life itself. Loved ones staying or leaving does not change the fact that Jesus Christ is preparing a place for you in heaven. Even when your dog hates you, there is joy in the Lord. Ultimately, if I have to choose between Jesus lovin’ me or Fido lovin’ me, I’m going to choose Jesus lovin’ me—every single time.

Many Christians point to Philippians 4:13 as their favorite verse in the Bible: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” But most Christians don’t look at the context of this verse. In the 3 verses leading up to 4:13, Paul says, “I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:10-12).

Paul’s contentment and joy were both the result of his profound decision to trust in Jesus’ life and love. How could Paul possibly do all things through Christ? He could do it because he wasn’t all caught up in the things that were dragging him down. If you’re sinking in quicksand, you’re not going to find your lifeline in the quicksand. You’ve got to look up and fix your eyes on the one who can set you free. And when he offers you that lifeline, you have to take hold of it with everything you’ve got. You have to trust that lifeline, and trust the one holding that lifeline. And as you do, you can experience pure joy even as you’re still neck-deep in the quicksand.

On that first Christmas, God offered us good news of great joy. And joy has a name. His name is Jesus.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit and join us for church Sundays at 10 a.m.