Dave Rolph Teaches / LA Conference

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The Thrill of Victory & Agony of Defeat: How Do You Respond?

Story by Jim Culhane
Photos by Keith Durflinger

Earlier this year, many gathered at the Calvary Chapel Association's Los Angeles Pastors + Leaders Regional Conference at Calvary Chapel Downey, CA. The theme of the two-day event was “Strong & Courageous”, based on Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”


Dave Rolph, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Pacific Hills, CA, brings this teaching summary from Joshua 7. He talks about how we can effectively handle both the wins and the losses in our lives. He then highlights several important lessons to be taken from this chapter.

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Men and women sing in exaltation to the Lord at the CCA Los Angeles Pastors + Leaders Regional Conference at Calvary Chapel Downey, CA, earlier this year.

Dave Rolph Teaches: Joshua 7
Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Pacific Hills, CA

“Life is full of victories and losses,” stated Pastor Dave, in his teaching on the Book of Joshua, Chapter 7. “How we handle the wins and losses is what our life is ultimately composed of. How do you handle success? How do you handle failure? Either one can completely destroy you. In the Book of Joshua, you dream of having a day like Israel had when they were marching around Jericho, and Boom!, the walls fall down, and that city is destroyed.” Often in life, you have a big win, and you think it’s always going to be that way. Sometimes success sets you up for failure, and failure can set you up for success because it’s so humbling. Either way, success or failure, how do we move forward?

Achan … took of the accursed things; so the anger of the Lord burned against the children of Israel. Joshua 7:1

Israel had a problem. God told them to attack the city of Ai, destroy the hokey religious stuff, and take the treasure for the House of the Lord. But Achan wanted some for himself. “A lot of times, you see people do all kinds of stuff against God, where God just blows it off,” reflected Dave. “Other times, there is something more significant than you would think.” 


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Pastor Dave Rolph teaches from Joshua 7 on how believers should respond to victories and defeats in their lives. He exhorted, “How we handle the wins and losses is what our life is ultimately composed of. How do you handle success? How do you handle failure? Either one can completely destroy you.” Dave also shared several important lessons to be taken from this chapter.

In Joshua 7:3, Israel was confident of taking Ai and only fielded 3,000 men for the fight. They were chased away, and 36 men died. Joshua and the elders put dust on their heads. Joshua tore his clothes and fell on his face before the Ark of the Covenant. He went from a “high,” a victory at Jericho, to defeat at Ai. Joshua was the big leader, and he had even met the Angel of the Lord—we are emotionally fragile people.

In verses 10-15, God responded, telling Joshua to get up, explaining that He knew someone had sinned by taking some of the accursed things. Israel searched and prayed to God, finally learning it was Achan. God had the people stone Achan, his family, and livestock to death, then burn all of them and pile stones on top to create a place of remembrance. Then God gave Ai to Joshua, using all of Israel’s army and a different strategy. It’s a big deal to do what God tells us to do. God used the first defeat at Ai to set Israel up for a great victory, but Israel learned that they could lose.

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A worship team from Calvary Bible Institute in Yucca Valley, CA, lead the outdoor audience in praise to Jesus.

One lesson to learn from this passage is Don’t touch God’s stuff.
Don’t think the stuff that is God’s is also yours. For example, Dave said he buys office supplies for his church and doesn’t get reimbursed, so that he doesn’t owe God by taking a pen home. But there are people in ministry who start to think that God’s stuff is their stuff. The tithe is supposed to be the first 10% because God is doing the work. Dave takes care of God first and then God will take care of him. To say that you built the church up and can easily take more than you do, is dangerous.

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Many believers gathered throughout the two-day conference to enjoy fellowship and pray confidently in the Spirit.

A second lesson is to see the collateral damage caused by Achan’s theft.
Why did his family, animals, and 36 soldiers have to die? Everything we do wrong has collateral damage. Other people are damaged when Dave acts in an unfaithful way. “If I slop together a message that’s not very good, I can go, ‘No big deal to me,’” admitted Dave. “But what if that week, there was somebody whose life was to be changed by what I should have said? You never make decisions that affect only you.” The effects of our choices spread out in a broad way. The effects of one guy, Achan, bending the rules in a way that didn’t seem that big a deal, turned out to be a significant crime. When we compromise, we endanger more people than we realize. We cannot know the ultimate outcome.

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Hailey Garcia holds her 1-year-old daughter, Capri, as they enjoy watching their husband and father, Matt Garcia, lead worship.

Another lesson is to be careful how we follow up after victories.
You can be prideful, thinking you’ve got this now. We cannot presume upon God in small things. Speaking to kindergarteners is just as important as speaking to adults. Just because you did something before doesn’t mean you are “somebody” now. “You and I are always one mistake away from blowing it all,” warned Dave. Humility after a victory is probably more important than humility after a loss. You see a hint of pride in Joshua because he was ready to quit after a loss. Life is tough for everyone at different times, but we can’t afford to be overly confident in our own abilities and performance. Other people made you who you are and helped in your work. When other people tell you that you’re great, it’s a trap.

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A team leads many from Calvary Chapels at the CCA Los Angeles Regional Pastors and Leaders Conference in worship.

The tendency is to keep doing things the same way as when you were winning, but God rarely does what He does the same way twice. Some people want to bring back the spirit of the Jesus Movement, but it’s not coming back. Pastor Chuck Smith told guys who were planting churches to go where they were called and listen to the Holy Spirit about what He wanted them to do there. It wouldn’t look like Costa Mesa—and it shouldn’t look like Costa Mesa. Dave agrees with this phrase, The message doesn’t change, but the methods change, if it means being flexible to what God wants to do. We need to repent and seek wisdom. Methods do matter, but you don’t want to just repeat past methods.

Various pastors had very different responses on COVID mandates. Dave reminded them, “If God’s people don’t get along, Jesus loses credibility. We’re all in the same spiritual army. When we mess up, we learn to do it better the next time, but we’re all in this together. Don’t ever forget that.”

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Women engage in heartfelt prayer between guest speakers.


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Jeff Johnson, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Downey, leads conference attendees in a special communion service—a highlight of the three-day event hosted by his church.


Visit the website of Pastor Dave Rolph's church: Calvary Chapel Pacific Hills, CA
Watch Dave Rolph's teaching on Joshua Chapter 7 in its entirety at: Dave Rolph / CCA LA Conference 2022

Follow summaries of pastors' teachings from the Book of Joshua at the 2022 LA Pastors + Leaders Conference:
Jeff Johnson, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Downey, CA
Art Reyes, teaching pastor at Calvary Chapel Downey, CA
Jerel Hagerman, senior pastor of Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel in Yucca Valley, CA
Ray Loo, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Santa Fe Springs, CA
David Trujillo, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel South Los Angeles (SOLA), CA
Tuvai Faatai, senior pastor of Lifted Fellowship, Wilmington, CA
Don McClure, Calvary Chapel Association Leadership Council and Calvary Way ministry


(To learn more about Calvary Bible Institute, visit their website or read our past coverage on the school)

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All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2022 Calvary Chapel Magazine (CCM). All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.