Young People who Make a Difference

Young People who Make a Difference

"I will pour out My Spirit on all people; and your sons and daughters will prophecy." Acts 2:17

God revealed His power through young people in the book of Daniel. Everything seemed dark for God’s people. They were in captivity and a godless king was oppressing them in a culture built on idolatry.

Then God moved. He gave the king a dream that only someone in direct relationship with God could interpret. The king didn’t require general information about God, he needed someone who would prophetically hear from the living God in an intimate way. There was no way to fake it. (See Daniel Two for the whole story.)

Daniel and his friends put a demand on their relationship with God by asking Him to reveal the king’s dream and its interpretation. God spoke and an entire culture began to change.

This is the answer today. We live in a godless culture built on the idols of comfort, entertainment, materialism, and immorality, but God is giving those who don’t know him dilemmas they can’t solve themselves. People can get information from the internet, but what they long for is the wisdom only heaven can give.

I am convinced that in this desperate hour God is raising up not one Daniel, but a company of sons and daughters who will flow in the Holy Spirit. The answer for our culture is not republican or democrat, it’s God pouring out His Spirit in and through our sons and daughters.

To this end, I wrote a political, supernatural, suspense thriller, called: "The Key." It’s a contemporary version of Joseph, Daniel, and Esther – young people who God anointed in the public sphere and then used to change the destiny of nations.

Below I’ve included the prologue and chapter one. To order the whole book you can Google "Amazon" and type in "The Key" by Tom Flaherty ($4.99 and only available electronically), or you can pick up an audio version at City Church for $5. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the audio version will go into a scholarship fund for youth missions.

Have a great week,


The Key?

President Evan Robertson was asleep yet even in his dream he said to himself, "Here we go again." This was the third night in a row he experienced the same dream.

There was a bomb in the White House. He had in his possession the knowledge and the tools to disarm it, but time was running out. It was in the furnace room. He ran through the corridors passing all the artifacts, paintings, and rooms that represent America’s rich heritage and then flew down the stairs to the basement, finally arriving at the furnace room door.

He was wearing a custodian’s key ring and there were no less than twenty keys on it. "Which one?" There was no time to try them all. As he could feel sweat appearing on his brow, he looked at the keys again and one seemed to glow. "This one!"

Then the scene changed. He was alone in a smoke filled room playing chess against the Russian president, Sergei Korchev. Sergei had a diabolical grin on his face as he moved his queen the length of the board and announced with finality, "Checkmate."

Evan searched for a move, but his king was trapped behind a line of pawns and there was no way of escape. Then he saw it. "Why couldn’t I see this before?" he said to himself. To Sergei he smiled while saying, "I don’t think so." Then he triumphantly took Sergei’s dark queen with his white bishop.

Evan shot up in his bed wide awake. How could this be? Three nights in a row; the exact same dream.

"God?" He whispered. "Are You speaking to me?" Then the most unlikely face appeared before his eyes: Kate Barnes.

Chapter One

It was 5:00 am and there was no way Evan was getting back to sleep. He needed coffee and time to think. It was a full hour before the duties of his office would begin to take over and for the first time since the election, Evan was hating being the president.

A month ago his Secretary of State, Albert Johnson, received an ultimatum from the Russian Foreign Minister, Nicolai Serchenko. Two weeks ago, Johnson, Harvard grad, distinguished diplomat, and friend of twenty years, committed suicide. There was no suspicion of foul play. The note he left was in his own hand and although he apologized to his wife and children and assured all of them of his love, he gave no reason for taking his life. No alcohol; no drugs. They found him in his office with a bullet through his head and the note on his desk.

Evan was the only American who knew why Johnson had taken his life but he couldn’t tell anyone. Suicide was Johnson’s way of saying he couldn’t be part of what Russia was demanding nor could he bear to be the cause of the devastation that would come if their terms were refused. Evan got it, but now he was left to carry the burden alone and the deadline the foreign minister had set was fast approaching.

It had started with what was supposed to be a routine meeting between the two diplomats in Moscow. Secretary of State Johnson had related every detail of the meeting to Evan from memory because he wasn’t allowed to record anything as Serchenko talked.

"In your country I believe there is a saying," Serchencko had begun in perfect English. "Desperate times call for desperate measures."

He had then taken a full hour to rehearse Russia’s financial woes; not the public version; the reality. To come out of their distress the United States was going to buy their oil for $100 a barrel from now on, or the market value, whichever was higher. America would break their current oil agreement with Saudi Arabia under the pretext of human rights violations, and then announce a new day of friendship with Russia. Publicly America would buy Russian oil at the market price, but the full $100 price would always be paid regardless of fluctuations. This would be a permanent, unbreakable agreement between the two countries.

When Johnson laughed at this absurd proposal and asked why America would ever agree to anything like this, Serchenko reached into the drawer of his ornate desk and pulled out a bottle of vodka. He poured two glasses, handed one to Johnson, and insisted they drink some together as friends before continuing.

He then touched a button that brought down a video screen and then another button that turned on the media player. Serchenko described what Johnson was viewing. Oil tankers, one in Cuba and one in Central America dropping off loads of ballistic missiles that were being picked up on the shore by eighteen wheelers. The footage included enough to establish that the locations for the drop offs were authentic. Then he hit pause.

"For the last twenty years we have been digging underground missile silos in Cuba and Central America. They are undetectable to any satellites you have. If you don’t comply with our demands, in two months we will launch one hundred ballistic missiles from each site, eight of which will be carrying ten kiloton nuclear bombs which will be detonated over the atmosphere of every region of the United States." Serchenko took another drink from his Vodka as he let this bad news settle in.

"The result of these detonations will be an Electro Magnetic Pulse, known as an EMP, which will destroy your electric grid, stop all travel, take down all cell phone towers, and in an instant, bring your country into an economic depression that will result in tens of thousands of casualties from starvation alone. It’s not our fault you’ve become so dependent on electricity."

The Foreign Minister then took the video off pause and another scene played confirming the nuclear bombs attached to ballistic missiles at each site. He then smiled at the Secretary of State.

"The missiles were all delivered on the same day we hosted the World Peace Summit in Moscow. Ironic, isn’t it?"

Before Johnson replied, Serchenko continued: "Make no mistake about it; we don’t want to release the devastation of an EMP. We don’t want your people to suffer the way our people have suffered. Destroying the American economy would have a devastating effect on the whole world and would cause our people to suffer even more."

At this point, Serchenko refilled his glass and took another drink.

"But we’re used to suffering and we have vodka as a comfort. Some of our people would actually find additional comfort in seeing America humbled in this way, but I’m not one of them, and neither is President Korchev. In our plan America doesn’t lose face and neither does Russia.

"It will appear that your president is only acting on his superior moral principles, and it will appear that we are only making a diplomatic business decision for the good of our people and to further heal relations between east and west."

Serchenko told him that President Korchev was setting up a meeting in two months for the new arrangement to be announced. No one in America was to know anything about the secret deal other than President Robertson. Two months and time was ticking. If there was no deal the EMP would be released.

He finished by anticipating Johnson’s possible responses: "If you complain to anyone about this meeting we will deny that it happened and in two months will release the EMP anyway. We have already written emails which can be traced to the Middle East where Al Quaeda will gladly take responsibility for this tragic terrorist attack. I’m sorry, Mr. Secretary of State, but we have you now, as Americans like to say, between a rock and a hard place."

An Invitation to Pray

An Invitation to Pray

"David appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, to make petition, to give thanks, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel: Asaph was the chief… David left Asaph and his associates before the ark of the covenant of the Lord to minister there regularly…" (1 Chronicles 16:4-5, 37)

In September, Brian Montrey resigned as City Church’s worship leader after 20 years of full-time ministry. We are extremely thankful for his leadership and faithfulness, and we desire to bless him and his family as they transition into this next season. Brian will remain on staff through the end of 2016, and we will be planning a special night to honor him for his faithful ministry and dedicated service.

The elders have asked me to list some attributes that we are seeking in the person who might step into the role of becoming our next worship pastor. This process will help us focus our search and allow our church family to be in unified prayer together in this season. Before we talk about the "who" of a worship pastor, let’s talk about "why."


The text above explains the action David took when he brought the ark back – he appointed Asaph, a worship pastor. The ark of the covenant was where God’s manifest Presence dwelt in the Old Testament, and King David insisted on returning the ark to Israel. Before David became king, Israel existed while choosing not to make a place for the ark. Similarly, God will allow churches today to exist without His manifest Presence if they choose not to seek for it.
City Church was established for the expressed purpose of providing a people–and a place–for God to pour out His Spirit. David pitched a tent (made a home) for the ark of the covenant (God’s Presence). In the same way, we (City Church) are called to be a people who host God’s Presence.

For these reasons, I feel that we need someone with the qualities of Asaph (Like Brian had!) to become our next worship pastor.


First, the worship leader we are seeking must have a passion for the Presence of God. They must share this vision, and themselves be a dwelling place for God’s Presence.

Second, this person must be a gifted musician. Asaph didn’t only have a heart for worship, but he was also musically gifted.

Finally, our worship pastor should have gifts of administration. Asaph wasn’t just passionate for God and gifted musically, he was able to organize and release other worshippers. There were sixty-eight worship leaders under him from the beginning. (1 Chronicles 16:38)

Musicians and artists are not necessarily natural administrators. Consequently, we realize that we are asking a lot from one person. However, God knows what we need, and He knows WHO we need.


Would you join with the City Church leadership team as we ask God to fill this important position? We want to be in the center of His will as we take these steps, and your prayers are incredibly valuable to this process.

Have a great week and thank you for praying,


The Sacrifice that Pleases God

The Sacrifice that Pleases God

"I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing…then the Lord was moved on behalf of the land and the plague was stopped." 2Samuel 24:24-25

As we finish our missions week, we ask all of the City Church family to make an offering and/or pledge to support our missionaries in the coming year. The lesser of two goals is to raise the $217,000 our missionaries need to continue on the field at their present level of support.

The greater goal is for each of us to bring a sacrifice that pleases God and moves His heart on behalf of this lost world. How do we make this kind of an offering?

First, we must set aside any sense of guilt for living in America. God wants us to be grateful for the prosperity we have in this country and never take it for granted, but He doesn’t want us to feel guilty. When we give a gift or make a pledge as a response to guilt, we can’t please God. 2Corinthians 9:7 says "God loves a cheerful giver" and that we should not give out of "compulsion or obligation." God is a cheerful giver; He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Jesus pleased the Father because He freely gave His life; "no one takes it (my life) from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord." (John 10:18)

Second, we must not be afraid of making a sacrifice. David refused to make a sacrifice that cost him nothing. Tom Doyle, missionary to the Middle East, spoke to us last Sunday about the two idols of America: comfort and safety. He talked of Christians in Syria who live free from fear even though their lives are in physical danger every day. They aren’t afraid to suffer or die because Jesus is with them. As we contemplate giving, we need to let the Holy Spirit speak to us and refuse to let fear be our guide.

And finally, we can do our part while trusting that everyone else will do theirs. God’s not looking for us to do or be everything, He’s made each of us part of the body. The body is built up in love "as each part does its work." (Ephesians 4:16) Together we will raise a gift to God that will be a pleasing sacrifice to Him and bring joy to our missionaries who are doing God’s work all over the world.

Have a great week,


Is God Awakening the Muslim World?

Is God Awakening the Muslim World?

"I revealed Myself to those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me." Isaiah 65:1

This Sunday we will be hosting Tom Doyle who will speak in all three of our services at City Church. Tom has spent eleven years as a full-time missionary to the Middle East and has authored the book: "Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World?" Below is one of the stories he relates in his book. My heart soars as I contemplate God’s love for people and the measures He is willing to take.

Hassan had a heart for Muslims and had studied for years to reach them for Christ but the results were disappointing. He had lived in the old part of Cairo, Egypt for two years and although he talked about Christ daily, he had not seen a single convert. Early one morning he was abducted and taken against his will across rooftops to a hatch door that he was commanded to open. Hassan was praying the prayer of a martyr, "Jesus, into your hands I commit my spirit," but something extraordinary awaited him inside the foreboding room he entered.

The man who had kidnapped Hassan explained: "We are imams, and we all studied at Al-Azhar University. During our time there, each of us had a dream about Jesus, and each of us has privately become a follower of Christ. For a time, we didn’t dare tell anyone about this. It would, of course, have been our own death sentences. But finally, we could hide it no longer.

"’We each prayed to Jesus for His help to learn what it means to be His follower. Over time, He brought us together, and you can imagine our amazement when the Holy Spirit revealed that there are other imams who have found Jesus as well. Now we meet here three times a week at night to pray for our families and for the people in our mosques to find Jesus too. We know you follow Christ. He has led us to you.

"I’m very sorry I had to frighten you with the mask and the gun, but I knew it was the only way to get you here. It was just too dangerous any other way. I apologize. But now our question is, will you teach us the Bible?"

Have a great week,


Prepare Your Minds for Action

Prepare Your Minds for Action

John Stott, who died in 2011, was a British pastor and worldwide leader of Evangelical Christians. In 2005, Time magazine listed Stott among the 100 most influential people in the world. The author of numerous books, Stott’s Your Mind Matters was written in reaction to the problem of anti-intellectualism in the church which has often viewed theology with distrust and biblical scholarship with uneasiness.

According to Stott, this anti-intellectualism can often take the form of meaningless rituals in empty church tradition or of radical social and political action without a passion for Christ or of unwarranted emphasis on individual experience which is devoid of biblical understanding and devotion. Stott’s plea is not for a dry, humorless, academic Christianity without life or power, but for a robust, intellectual engagement with God’s Word that leads to a passionate life in Christ!

Stott is not alone in his appeal. This was certainly the conviction of Jesus, who made it clear that our intellect is integral to our life with God. When summarizing a life of devotion as involving the heart, soul and strength; Jesus added “the mind” to the original wording of Deuteronomy. It seems that Jesus wanted to leave little doubt that the comprehensive nature of serving God also necessitated the engagement of the intellect.

Luke tells us that for three weeks Paul argued in the synagogue from the scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and rise from the dead. He uses verbs like, argue, explain, prove, proclaim and persuade. All of these verbs show the intellectual engagement of the apostle. They indicate that Paul was teaching a body of doctrine, arguing toward a conclusion and actively engaging in the proclamation of the gospel.

Paul tells Timothy to be diligent in presenting himself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, “accurately handling the word of truth.” Paul was concerned that Timothy, a young pastor at Ephesus, not overlook the important aspect of diligent study and fearless proclamation of the Word of God. He implores Timothy to be intellectually engaged in these matters so he can proclaim the Word with impeccable accuracy.

Peter entreats his readers to prepare their “minds for action,” a call to actively engage the world and Kingdom with their entire intellect. For Peter, belief and faith are not rooted in mere blind trust, but in an intellectual understanding of who God is and what He has done and promised to do through his Word.

James Orr has commented: “A religion divorced from earnest and lofty thought has always, down the whole history of the church, tended to become weak, [boring] and unwholesome; while the intellect, deprived of its rights within religion, has sought its satisfaction without, and developed into godless rationalism.”

The radical discipleship that Jesus desires and the church needs is a discipleship which engages the mind and the heart with the Spirit and truth. Discipleship focused solely on experience will soon blow up while discipleship focused exclusively on theology will soon dry up. God’s desire is for us to engage our intellects as well as our hearts in the pursuit of Him. Then, we will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God (Pr 2:1-6).

See you Sunday!

Pastor Greg

Weekly Devotional from Pastor Greg

On October 6, in the year 1536, a pitiful figure was led from a dungeon in Vilvorde Castle near Brussels, Belgium. For nearly a year and a half, this man had suffered isolation in a dark, dank cell. Now outside the castle wall, the prisoner was fastened to a post. He had time to utter aloud his final prayer, “Lord! Open the king of England’s eyes,” and then he was strangled until dead. Immediately, his body was burned at the stake. Who was this man, and what was the offense for which both political and church authorities had condemned him? His name was William Tyndale, and his crime was to have translated and published the Bible in English.

Tyndale, born in England about the time Columbus sailed to the new world, was educated at Oxford and Cambridge and then became a member of the clergy. He was fluent in eight languages, including Greek, Hebrew, and Latin. Tyndale was a devoted student of the Bible, and the pervasive ignorance of the scriptures that he observed in both priests and lay people troubled him deeply. In a heated exchange with a cleric, who argued against putting scripture in the hands of the common man, Tyndale vowed, “If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough, shall know more of the Scripture than thou dost!”

One must wonder what compelled this man of great faith and accomplishment to literally sacrifice his life for the spread of Scripture. Although it is impossible to know for sure, one may assume that Tyndale understood all too well that the words of salvation were not to be hidden, but instead published and promoted for all humanity. Although many come to Christ by hearing about Him from another, the message of salvation originates in the scriptures (John 3:16; Rom. 10:9). We are all saved by believing the truth of Scripture whether we read it ourselves or are taught it by someone else (1 Pet. 1:23). Surely, this fact was not lost on Tyndale.

God’s Word does not only bring salvation to the lost, but transformation to the broken as well. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here” (II Cor 5:17)! Surely Tyndale understood that the scriptures, read and obeyed, would bring transformation to not only individuals, but also to hamlets and kingdoms!

Tyndale must have also been keenly aware of the cleansing effect of God’s Word on the character of believers. Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). The truth of God’s Word works freedom in many ways and brings joy in all of them. Among other things, His truth sets us free from sin (c.f. John 8:34). Jesus turns this truth into a prayer in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”

Beginning with the first four words of the Bible – “In the beginning, God…” – the existence, character, and plan of God are splashed across every single page of Scripture. We were created for Him, made to love and serve Him, designed to walk in close communion with Him, and called to do all that we think, say, and do in reference to Him. To Tyndale, there were few things more important than Holy Scripture. It is there where the creature often meets his Creator.

Along with many others, William Tyndale gave his life so others might realize all God has endowed to us through His Word, the Bible. By God’s grace, may their sacrifice of liberty and life not be wasted on a people so far removed from such hostility. Instead, let us commit to be people of the Book, letting it richly dwell within us and proclaiming it to others (c.f. Col. 3:16)!

See you on Sunday!

Pastor Greg

Civil Authority

Civil Authority

"Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves… Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience." Romans 13:1-2; 5

Civil authority was God’s idea, not man’s. To be a good citizen of heaven and a pleasing child of God, we must also aim to be a good citizen of whatever country we live in.

Our goal is not just to stay out of the trouble that comes when we break the law, but to keep a clear conscience before God. We honor positions of civil authority because God established them to restrain evil in this present time. To honor civil authorities, therefore, is part of honoring God.

But our duty to civil government goes beyond blind obedience. Conscience limits us when government asks us to do something that is against God’s commands. When this happens, we appeal with honor toward them, and if they still will not relent, we must disobey and be willing to suffer the penalty.

This is what happened in Acts 4. Civil authority commanded the apostles to stop speaking in Jesus Name (Acts 4:17), but this was in contradiction to Christ’s command to go into the whole world and preach the gospel. Here was Peter and John’s response: "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen or heard." (Acts 4:19-20)

For Jesus’ sake we should be model citizens of America. We should pay taxes, we should stay within the limits of the law, and we should pray for all who are in positions of authority. Yet if the government in the future makes laws that force us to disobey God, it will be our duty to follow God, not men.

All over the world we have brothers and sisters who are being persecuted and martyred for just this reason. Let’s pray for them; thank God for the freedom we enjoy in America; and continue to pray for all those in authority.

Have a great week,

Pastor Tom