Busy: An American way of life. But is it God’s way? As I sit here this morning my head is swimming with all the things I need to do. Sometimes it is difficult to fit everything into the day. Melodee and I just had a conversation about what we should cut out to fit something else in. Our life isn’t much different than anybody else’s. We all prioritize our day so we can do the things that are important to us. Work, family, food, friends, television, the electronic world, even church seems to demand all our time. Do you ever wish you could just run off somewhere and hide from it all? The problem is no matter where you go the “busy” will follow you because we are a society that is addicted to activity. It is hard for most of us to just sit down and relax in the quiet. We train our children from an early age to be uncomfortable with just sitting still. We involve them in every activity we can so they don’t miss their childhood dreams. Unwittingly we train them, and our self, to grab hold of busy and don’t let go. I’m not so sure this is what God intended for us. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, (work and are loaded down) and I will give you rest. Take my yoke (teaching) upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls; for my yoke (instruction) is easy, and my burden (what I expect out of you) is light. Does this sound like your life? Or are you task oriented? Do you think you could never do enough to be classified as a ‘good Christian’? Do you think you are a good parent only if you let your children run 100 miles an hour in every direction? Are you only satisfied when you are on the go? Some of you think if you work 12 hours a day you are helping your family and honoring God in it. Maybe you have to work 12 hours a day just to supply your need for excess. How many of you took time this week to just sit and meditate on God’s word and listen for him to speak to you? “Yea, like I have time for that.” Is it possible that the rest Jesus is talking about is hidden in time spent with him? I don’t mean time that we feel we have to work into our busy schedule ‘because it is one more thing God and the preacher expects of me. I have to pray for 15 minutes, I have to read a chapter in the bible…’ (By the way; how would you feel if I visited you and you knew I had the attitude that “I have to go spend an hour with ______________. Come on Mel, let’s get this over with.”) Could it be that God would give us a supernatural strength and a real ‘peace that surpasses all understanding’ if we took him at his word and began to learn from him? Jesus was as busy as any person has ever been. But he made sure that he was able to get away from all the business and commune with his Father by himself. It wasn’t a ‘have to’ thing; it was a necessity so he could find rest, strength, and wisdom to carry on with his busy life. (Mark 1:35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. 3:13 And he goeth up into a mountain…) Didn’t Jesus say “learn from me… and you will find rest”? As I am writing I am thinking about my own habits of getting up in the morning and planning how I am going to fit everything into my busy day. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with the thought of all we have to do and I ignore Jesus instruction to take his yoke on and learn from him which I believe would supernaturally reduce my burden and stress. We tend to be like Israel. God told them in Jeremiah 6:16 Thus saith the Lord, Stand in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, “where is the good way”, and walk in it, and you shall find rest for your souls. But they said, “We will not walk therein.” God promises rest if we follow his plan. But we say (by our actions) “ain’t gonna do it.” We continue to cram all kinds of business into our life looking for some kind of fulfillment and peace that can only be found in doing life Jesus way. I look at my life with all the stress and business and I think what a fool. Why wouldn’t I take God up on this offer? Is it because I don’t really believe his promise? Or are we just addicted to activity? “OK, get to your point preacher. I don’t have time to listen to much more of your rambling.” Alright then, as the Apostle Paul would say “finally brethren”… Let’s take a look at our life. Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21 in his famous ‘sermon on the mount’ speech; “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The only way we can get wisdom on the difference between laying up heavenly treasures and earthly is in communion with God. If I am stressed; if I am not getting rest in my body and mind then I have a heavenly relationship problem. Let’s try this: Start your day out asking God to guide your thoughts and steps, not because you have to but because you want to. Look into his word, not just to get your daily mandatory dose of bible reading, but to actually hear him speak to you. I have a feeling it would make a tremendous difference in our life. Our treasures would be in the right place and our heart, in turn, would be in the right place. Life probably wouldn’t be so over whelming and stressful. Your answer? “We will not walk therein.” Or even better; when Joshua gave his great speech to Israel after conquering and moving into the Promised Land: Josh 24:14-18 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth… And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods… therefore will we also serve the Lord; for he is our God. Now, go in peace and find rest ‘for HIS burden really is light and HIS yoke is easy…’ Pastor Roger
Item 25 Life is but a vapor It is January 2013 already! Happy New Year! To a young mind that might not seem like much, but I can remember thinking, (doesn’t seem like that many years ago), I’ll be in my fifties at the turn of the century. That seemed so old and far away. Here it is and here I am. It wasn’t so far away after all and it doesn’t seem so old anymore! I was born in May of 1956! It is January 2013 already! When the 2000s hit we were supposed to all be driving hover crafts and living in space stations. (Remember the Jetsons?) The last I checked I still had a 1999 Dodge Ram pickup truck in my garage on planet earth. It only hovers for short periods of time when I take the railroad tracks too fast. They say ‘Time flies when you’re having fun’. Nobody knows who ‘they’ are but the fact is time flies whether you’re having fun or not. It almost seems like you blink and the world you once knew is gone. James put it this way: James 1:9-12 9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: 10 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withers the grass, and the flower thereof falls, and the grace of the fashion of it perishes: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways. Let’s face it, rich or poor we are all like the ‘grass that withers’ and the ‘flower that fades away’. A quick glance at James and you find that it was written in the context of life. James 1:1-5 talks about trials and gaining wisdom from God in those trials. (Ever face trials in your life?) James 1:6-8 gives us a contrast of being steadfast in faith versus being wishy washy. (Have you ever been wishy washy; saying you believe one thing but doing another?) James 1:12-16 explains temptation and the path to giving in to sin. (Have you ever been drawn away by your lust, enticed and fallen prey to the allure of sin?) Time passes; we live life; we make decisions, some we regret, some we don’t but time passes either way: “because as the flower of the grass [we] shall pass away.” Almost sounds like somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. “Thanks for making the New Year sound like such a bummer.” Let me get to my point. We only get one chance at this life. Three things are guaranteed. You will pay taxes; you will die; you will stand before God and give an account. II Cor. 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. James goes on to say in all these things we face in life, trials and temptations; let your faith count. James 1:19-22 19 Wherefore, (Whenever the bible says ‘wherefore’ you want to see what the ‘wherefore’ is there for. Look back at the context of the previous versus.) My beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath [anger]: 20 For the wrath of man [your anger] doesn’t work the righteousness of God. [God won’t work his will out through your anger.] 21 Wherefore, [What’s it there for? Look back at v.20], lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. (The NIV says: Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.) 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. Did you catch that? The answer to finding joy in trials, wisdom from God, victory over sin, and meaning to this short life on planet earth starts with the word of God: Jesus, the living word in our heart, and the Holy Scripture, the written word in our mind and in our life. Our life may be like a vapor but God’s word is eternal. The only way to find a piece of that eternal peace on this earth is through literally saturating our self in the word of God. 1st the living word: In John 15 Jesus says no less than 7 times that we are to make our dwelling place in him and he in us. To make a little play on words ‘Jesus is de vine and we are de branches. The branches cannot live unless they are rooted in the vine. Jesus is the reason we breathe. He alone is our life. Many of my struggles in life could have been eliminated if I would have been abiding in Jesus. I would still have trials but my attitude and my reaction is so much different when I am captivated by Jesus. This is the word planted or engrafted in you. 2nd the written word: Look back at James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only... Paul told Timothy in II Tim. 3:12-17 As a follower of Jesus you will suffer. Evil and spiritually wicked men who are deceived themselves will work at deceiving you. (My interpretation of v.12-13) 14 But continue in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing of whom you have learned them;15 And that from a child you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. The written word helps us build a solid foundation on the living word. There is an old saying ‘garbage in; garbage out.’ This is possibly what David had in mind when he wrote Psalm 119. It is the longest chapter in the longest book of the bible. All 176 versus are about God’s word. In v.11 he writes ‘Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you.’ Again in v.104-105: ‘Through your precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. I could go on and on about this but God’s word, living and written are inseparable. Neither can we separate them from our life if we want our short existence to be fruitful both now and in eternity. Once again James brings the point home in James 4:14. In context; we live with temptation and affliction; we make plans as though this life is eternal. Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. Time is going fast. Let’s make 2013 the year we sold out to Jesus Christ. Let’s make Sunday morning a public celebration because of the blessing of abiding in Jesus and he in us throughout the rest of the week. Have a happy and blessed New Year Pastor Roger
Paul had something the church has lost in the 21st century. He had a deep longing for heaven. That longing gave him his purpose for life on planet earth. He didn’t care what his circumstances were here, everything was an opportunity to serve the one that gave him eternal life. In chapter 2 Paul encourages the church in Philippi to not waste their time with petty arguments caused by personal pride but to have the mind of Christ in all things. 3Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Being a humble servant was plausible because of his understanding of his place in eternity. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Paul’s life was about Jesus. In chapter 3 Paul gives us a little insight about what life could have been like for him on earth if he had followed his flesh. (Look at verse 4-6. Also see Gal.1:13-14) Paul’s attitude toward this earth was molded by his attitude toward Jesus and heaven. Rather than wanting all to be well in the here and now he wanted to be right with Jesus. Listen to his proclamation concerning life on this earth in comparison to his life in Christ and eternity: 3:7-10,13-14 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death… this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. In chapter 1 he declared “for to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” In chapter 2 he encourages us to think like Jesus. It was Jesus and eternity that gave life purpose for Paul. In chapter 3 he tells us everything he could gain on this earth was s--- in comparison to Jesus. (See 3:8 Sorry for being so blunt, but I want you to get the point.) I read Paul’s letter to the Philippian church and I look at my own attitude and I find myself lacking. Paul finishes the letter by talking about a joy we can have in any circumstance, a peace that passes all understanding, and a contentment that I think eludes most of us unsettled American believers. As Paul sets in a dungeon prison chained to a Roman Guard he tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.” He says “Talk to God about your stuff and be thankful and He will give you a peace that is incomprehensible.” Paul goes on to say in 4:11-13 for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.13 I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. I looked the word content up and found it to mean: [strong enough or possessing enough to need no aid or support; independent of external circumstances] In other words all Paul needed to get him through this life was Jesus. Christmas is right around the corner and we are coming to the end of another year. Life all around us is uncertain. What is 2013 going to bring? We can only guess. What would happen if this Christmas we really look to Jesus ‘the author and finisher of our faith’ and we go into the New Year with a resolve to serve him with all our heart, making him the sole reason we are on this earth. “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain… Everything else is dung in comparison to getting to know Jesus.” Paul was very effective in his ministry. We might be surprised at what God could do through us if we had the attitude Paul had. This old hymn by Helen Lemmel said it pretty good: Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace. Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are! Merry Christmas!
Lover or Prostitute?The Question that Changed My Life A number of years ago, I had the privilege of teaching at a school of ministry. My students were hungry for God, and I was constantly searching for ways to challenge them to fall more in love with Jesus and to become voices for revival in the Church. I came across a quote attributed most often to Rev. Sam Pascoe. It is a short version of the history of Christianity, and it goes like this: Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise.Some of the students were only 18 or 19 years old--barely out of diapers--and I wanted them to understand and appreciate the import of the last line, so I clarified it by adding, “An enterprise. That’s a business.” After a few moments Martha, the youngest student in the class, raised her hand. I could not imagine what her question might be. I thought the little vignette was self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly. Nevertheless, I acknowledged Martha’s raised hand, “Yes, Martha.” She asked such a simple question, “A business? But isn’t it supposed to be a body?” I could not envision where this line of questioning was going, and the only response I could think of was, “Yes.” She continued, “But when a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?”The room went dead silent. For several seconds no one moved or spoke. We were stunned, afraid to make a sound because the presence of God had flooded into the room, and we knew we were on holy ground. All I could think in those sacred moments was, “Wow, I wish I’d thought of that.” I didn’t dare express that thought aloud. God had taken over the class.
Martha’s question changed my life. For six months, I thought about her question at least once every day. “When a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?” There is only one answer to her question. The answer is “Yes.” The American Church, tragically, is heavily populated by people who do not love God. How can we love Him? We don’t even know Him; and I mean really know Him.What do I mean when I say “really know Him?” Our understanding of knowing and knowledge stems from our western culture (which is based in ancient Greek philosophical thought). We believe we have knowledge (and, by extension, wisdom) when we have collected information. A collection of information is not the same thing as knowledge, especially in the culture of the Bible (which is an eastern, non-Greek, culture). In the eastern culture, all knowledge is experiential. In western/Greek culture, we argue from premise to conclusion without regard for experience--or so we think. An example might be helpful here. Let us suppose a question based upon the following two premises: First, that wheat does not grow in a cold climate and second, that England has a cold climate. The question: Does wheat grow in England? The vast majority of people from the western/Greek culture would answer, “No. If wheat does not grow in a cold climate and if England has a cold climate, then it follows that wheat does not grow in England.” In the eastern culture, the answer to the same question, based on the same premises, most likely would be, “I don’t know. I’ve never been to England.” We laugh at this thinking, but when I posed the same question to my friends from England, their answer was, “Yes, of course wheat grows in England. We’re from there, and we know wheat grows there.” They overcame their cultural way of thinking because of their life experience.Experience trumps information when it comes to knowledge.A similar problem exists with our concept of belief. We say we believe something (or someone) apart from personal experience. This definition of belief is not extended to our stockbroker, however. Again, allow me to explain. Suppose my stockbroker phones me and says, “I have a hot tip on a stock that is going to triple in price within the next week. I want your permission to transfer $10,000 from your cash account and buy this stock.” That’s a lot of money for me, so I ask, “Do you really believe this stock will triple in price, and so quickly?” He/she answers, “I sure do.” I say, “That sounds great! How exciting! So how much of your own money have you invested in this stock?” He/she answers, “None.” Does my stockbroker believe? Truly believe? I don’t think so, and suddenly I don’t believe, either. How can we be so discerning in the things of this world, especially when they involve money, and so indiscriminate when it comes to spiritual things? The fact is, we do not know or believe apart from experience. The Bible was written to people who would not understand the concepts of knowledge, belief, and faith apart from experience.I suspect God thinks this way also.So I stand by my statement that most American Christians do not know God--much less love Him. The root of this condition originates in how we came to God. Most of us came to Him because of what we were told He would do for us. We were promised that He would bless us in life and take us to heaven after death. We married Him for His money, and we don’t care if He lives or dies as long as we can get His stuff. We have made the Kingdom of God into a business, merchandising His anointing. This should not be. We are commanded to love God, and are called to be the Bride of Christ--that’s pretty intimate stuff. We are supposed to be His lovers. How can we love someone we don’t even know? And even if we do know someone, is that a guarantee that we truly love them?Are we lovers or prostitutes?I was pondering Martha’s question again one day, and considered the question, “What’s the difference between a lover and a prostitute?” I realized that both do many of the same things, but a lover does what she does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but only as long as you pay. Then I asked the question, “What would happen if God stopped paying me?”For the next several months, I allowed God to search me to uncover my motives for loving and serving Him. Was I really a true lover of God? What would happen if He stopped blessing me? What if He never did another thing for me? Would I still love Him? Please understand, I believe in the promises and blessings of God. The issue here is not whether God blesses His children; the issue is the condition of my heart. Why do I serve Him? Are His blessings in my life the gifts of a loving Father, or are they a wage that I have earned or a bribe/payment to love Him? Do I love God without any conditions? It took several months to work through these questions. Even now I wonder if my desire to love God is always matched by my attitude and behavior. I still catch myself being disappointed with God and angry that He has not met some perceived need in my life. I suspect this is something which is never fully resolved, but I want more than anything else to be a true lover of God.So what is it going to be? Which are we, lover or prostitute? There are no prostitutes in heaven, or in the Kingdom of God for that matter, but there are plenty of former prostitutes in both places. Take it from a recovering prostitute when I say there is no substitute for unconditional, intimate relationship with God. And I mean there is no palatable substitute available to us (take another look at Matthew 7:21-23 sometime). We must choose.
Change requires change
If you always believe
What you have always believed
You will always feel the way you have always felt
If you always feel
The way you have always felt
You will always think the way you have always thought
If you always think
The way you have always thought
You will always do what you have always done
If you always doWhat you have always done
You will always get what you have always gotten
If there is no change
There is no change
“When we can no longer change a situation we are challenged to change ourselves.” I am not a great counselor. In a lot of situations I can hold my own. But an underlying problem I encounter over and over, as do other people who counsel, is the ‘tell me what I want to hear’ feeling in so many hurting people. So many of us don’t want healed, we just want to feel good about ourselves. We want to continue in the same life style, doing the same things we are comfortable with; the things that make my human nature feel good. The problem is, for followers of Jesus anyway, the spirit, that part of us that has been renewed in the image of God, (Col.3: ) keeps getting in the way and telling us that something is wrong. But we go on looking for scripture, books, and/or counselors that will finally tell us what we think we want to hear. It doesn’t help, it only intensifies our struggle. What is it with us human beings that drive us to push against God and embrace the stuff that steals our peace? Paul wrote in his letter to the church in Rome: (Romans 7:7-21) 7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence [evil desire]. For without the law sin was dead.9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I [my flesh and soul] am carnal, sold under sin.15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells [has its home] in me.18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. That’s it! The reason we feel bad about the things we do is because God has established a law and put it in our hearts. The problem is my flesh is rotting; my soul, (who I really am inside this shell called my body), gets in the way because of my fallen nature; the spirit, (who dwells in me and nudges me to shun evil and do right), is shoved off to the back ground. I know what I ought to do, but so often I don’t. I know what I shouldn’t do, but so often I do it anyway. I want somebody to tell me I am ok. Read the scripture above a couple more times very slowly and let it sink in. It explains why we are driven into immoral relationships; it helps me understand why my marriage isn’t working. It tells me why I struggle with my tongue; why I gossip, slander, backbite, lust etc… We are at war! But we struggle with fighting the battle because it is easier to just give in to my rotting flesh and my fallen soul than to line myself up with the spirit. So my response is “please just tell me I’m ok just the way I am.” So I go on and do the same thing over and over and over and I get angry and depressed and bitter and I don’t understand why I can’t get peace. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. Go back to the beginning of this article and read it again. ‘If you always believe what you have always believed… If there is no change there is no change.’ Talk about stating the obvious. It is so simple yet so true. You have heard what the definition of insanity is: ‘keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result!’ Yet because of sin that ‘dwells within us’ that is precisely what we tend to do. What is the answer? This is certainly not exhaustive but it is a start. (1) I have to desire something beyond what will make my flesh feel good in the moment. I have to have a desire for the truth and be willing to, at the very least, consider it even when it will demand tough decisions. (2) “When we can no longer change a situation we are challenged to “change ourselves.” The only way we will ever change our self is when we yield to Jesus Christ. (Romans 12:1-2) Paul concludes in Romans 7:24 “Oh wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?” The next sentence is the most important sentence in the whole chapter. v25 “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Jesus really is the answer but we have to submit our self to his truth. It requires changing the way we think. In verse 2 of Romans 12 Paul says: “Be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… The reason I asked you to go back and slowly read the passage I used is because we rush through the scriptures too quick. Part of the process of transforming our mind is in meditating on God’s word. Get in the habit of soaking it up. This will get us on the path to recognizing and desiring the truth for our lives. That’s the path to freedom. That’s the path to change. ‘If you always do what you have always done you will always get what you have always gotten. If there is no change there will be no change.’
Some of you are facing what could easily be called an unsolvable problem. It’s you I hope to encourage today. Often the situations with no human answers form the basis upon which God does some of His best work. This is illustrated beautifully in the life of Job, who, in my opinion, is a living example of unsolvable problems. Job’s biography includes a clipboard full of questions about suffering.Is God fair? Is this situation just? What is a person to learn when going through deep waters of suffering?In Job, we have a unique and rare look within the veil of heaven and behind the scenes on earth.The Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” (Job 1:7-8)What would God say about you if He were to address Satan right now and tell him about your life? “Have you considered _______,” and then He calls your name. As he describes you, what would He say? With some of you, it might fit very closely to what He said about Job—“blameless and upright.”Job’s life was a wonderful model of courageous living. Job trusted God in the good times. Now the scene was set to determine if Job would trust God in humanly impossible situations.The next chapter of Job’s life is a dark one. He endured loss like few have known. His home . . . destroyed. His family . . . perished. His health . . . ruined. His finances . . . wiped out. His friends . . . questioned his godly reputation.In the long process of working through his questions and struggles, Job finally resolved to trust God—no matter what. He had worshiped. He had humbled himself. He had sat in silence. He finally responded to his wife, “I accept what God has sent. I have accepted good, now I accept adversity.” Read that once more. It is the secret of his stability.I find three real reasons Job could respond like this. First, he looked up and was comforted by God’s sovereignty. He saw more than God’s actions; he saw His heart. He accepted what God gave and took away. He saw God’s sovereign love, and he said to his wife, “Should we not receive both without question?”Job also looked ahead and was reminded of God’s promise. In chapter 19, Job said,“I know that my Redeemer lives, / And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.” (19:25)Job was reminded of God’s promise that at the end all will be made right. Looking ahead, he felt spurred on.Lastly, Job looked within and was shaped by God’s instruction. Job 42:6 states that he looked at his life, and he repented “in dust and ashes.” He saw that God had instructed him in his suffering and illness as in no other way. He said, in effect, “Lord, for the first time, I honestly can say, ‘I give myself to You as never before.’”It’s a courageous thing for a believer to give himself to a sovereign God while facing impossible situations. Perhaps that’s exactly what you need to do right now. I recall what a wise and surrendered person once prayed:Lord, I am willing to receive what Thou givest. I am willing to lack what Thou withholdest. I am willing to relinquish what Thou takest. I am willing to suffer what Thou inflictest. I am willing to be what Thou requirest. Lord, I’m willing.My friend, if your days have been difficult and nights have been like a tunnel, dark and long, find your comfort in God’s sovereign control and everlasting love. Your Savior knows your breaking point. The bruising and crushing and melting you are enduring are designed to reshape you, not ruin you. Your strength and courage increase the longer He lingers over you. Remembering Job’s secret can make all the difference.by Charles R. Swindoll
Item 20 Through it all by Pastor Roger
Trials; I would like to say I wish we didn’t have to face them but the truth is they are necessary for our growth as followers of Jesus. They teach us and they temper us, or we let them make us hard, untrusting and bitter.Andrae Crouch wrote a song years ago that expresses the truth about trials in a simple way. I’ve had many tears and sorrows; I have questions for tomorrow;
There have been times I didn’t know right from wrong.
But in every situation God gave blessed consolation;
That my trials came to only make me strong.
Through it all, through it all;
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God;
Through it all, through it all;
I’ve learned to depend upon his word I thank God for the mountains, I think him for the valleys,
I thank him for the storms He’s brought me through;
For if I’d never had a problem I’d never know that God could solve them;
I’d never know what faith in his word could do. Through it all… If you are reading this you have faced some tears and sorrows and you have probably had some questions about tomorrow. Paul was no stranger to trials. II Cor.11:23-28 gives us a look into Paul’s life as a believer: … in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watching often, in hunger and thirst, in fasting often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Paul knew hardship. He knew what it was like on the mountain top and he knew the valley real well. He knew what it felt like to prosper and he knew what it meant to pay a high price for his faith. Yet ‘through it all’, (I should say because of it all), he learned to trust in Jesus and to depend upon his word. He learned that his trials only strengthened his resolve to follow Jesus. In Phil.4:11-13Paul writes with confidence: …I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. After he talks about all the persecution he has endured in II Cor.11; in chapter 12 he writes: And he (Jesus) said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. He writes to Pastor Timothy in his second and final letter to him just before being executed on Nero’s chopping block: I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. My commitment to Jesus cannot be determined by how I feel or how well life seems to be treating me, or if I have failed in some way. My commitment to Jesus is determined by the fact that I have confessed him as Lord, I know he is alive today, and he will not let me go for all eternity, no matter what happens! Phil.1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. How about you? You are probably no stranger to tears and sorrow. Have your trials embittered you or empowered you? Through it all are you learning to trust in Jesus, are you learning to depend upon his word? It is just as real and powerful for us as it was for Paul. Believe it and stand on it!
Item 19 Straining at Gnats by Pastor Roger
Any time we have a ‘Christian Holiday’ the explanations for the origination of the holidays start popping up. Whether it is Christmas, Easter, or Halloween there are plenty of articles and sermons on why we should or shouldn’t call them by their traditional names or in some cases even celebrate them. I have been guilty of writing both sermons and articles in opposition to the traditional celebration of all three. I refused to let our family put up a Christmas tree for years. My kids never got to go trick or treating, (my daughter is still a little bitter for that one). Of course they would tell you I wouldn’t let them watch the Smurffs either. I think their memory of their child hood is a little skewed at times.) I know people who have left churches because they had an Easter egg hunt. Don’t worry, I’m not going ‘Joel Osteen’ on you, I just wonder if sometimes we don’t “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel”. (Matthew 23:24 If you want to get a good idea where I am coming from stop here and read that chapter. Remove the word ‘Pharisee’ and replace it with ‘mainline denominationalism’.) Jesus rightly accused the religious elite of his day of omitting ‘the weightier matters of the law like judgment, mercy, and faith’ and replacing them with things that puffed them up. How about us? Do we sometimes get caught up in arguments about things that really, in the scope of eternity, aren’t going to amount to a gnat? Do we ignore the weightier issues like informing people of the mercy God showed us with the death, burial, and resurrection of his son? (That would be the camel.) Everybody knows what we are against because it seems like that is what we always focus on. Christianity is known for its pious do’s and don’ts. (‘I don’t smoke and I don’t chew and I don’t go with girls that do.’) Now, I probably wouldn’t go with a girl that chews, (yuck!), but my point is maybe we need to lighten up a little and learn how to celebrate. God LOVES a celebration. He created several of them for Israel. All of them were geared to help them remember him, most of them were very festive, and some of them went on for days, even weeks. Read the last three chapters of The Psalms. If you read it right you come out of it hearing, (to put it in English vernacular), PARTY!!! David danced with all his might, Miriam had a song and a dance, Mary was given a song, Paul said to rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice. But sometimes it feels like we say ‘fold your hands and close your eyes and try not to crack a smile.” COME ON!!! Welcome to the dance. Jesus came and conquered death, the penalty of sin, and the grave at the cross and through his bodily resurrection. I have access to our creator through prayer. He desperately loves me and will never leave me nor forsake me. I know the truth about life. It has eternal purpose and meaning. We have good reason to celebrate no matter what you want to call it. We can, &/or should, say with the guy who knew how to party before the Lord; Psalm 47:1-6 1O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph. 2For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth. 3He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet. 4He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah. 5God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. 6Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises. As we approach Easter, yes I said Easter, let’s not get caught up swallowing the gnats. Celebrate Easter for the reason it has been celebrated for centuries. JESUS!!! I want to finish this with an article I would like you to take into consideration. As you think about it I wish you a happy Resurrection day!
Item 18 by Faa Sumitra Choemue
Below is a testimony written by a young Thai woman named Faa. Faa has a home in Chiang Mai for orphan children. Chiang Mai is about a 1 ½ hour drive from where we will be going on the mission trip. This gives us a little perspective on the children we are supporting at the camp. Please continue to pray for those going on March 24. We will have names, stories, and hopefully pictures of our little girls soon. I can’t thank you all enough for the sacrifice you have made in gifts and prayers for this trip and for the five girls we are supporting. This is part of your testimony of ‘laying up treasures in heaven where moth and rust won’t corrupt and thieves cannot break through and steal; for where your treasure is that’s where your heart is also.’ (Matthew 6:20-21) You have laid aside part of your temporary wealth and turned it into eternal blessing! THANK YOU!Pastor Roger My name is Faa Sumitra Choemue. I was born in a small village on the northern mountains of Thailand. When I lived there as a little girl, there were no hospitals, electricity or running water. I am from the Akha tribe, an ethnic minority in Thailand and I am the youngest of 12 children. Five of my siblings passed away before I was born.
Because my family was very poor, soon after my mother died I was sent to a Christian Children Home in Chiang Rai. My father had become abusive and beat me repeatedly. I had to flee my home. At the Christian Home I learned about Christ for the first time and received Jesus as my Lord and Savior when I was 15. I have great memories of that Home. It was there that I memorized my first Bible verses in Thai and to this day I still consider the Christian Children Home as “my home.”
Because I graduated from school, I had to leave the Christian Home. I had no money and no place to go, but I had one main goal in mind – I wanted to go to college. I was so determined and God placed people along the way who helped me. I worked hard and by God's Grace I got a Bachelors degree in Business Marketing from The Far Eastern University in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I was the first and only from my family to ever graduate from the University.
During my college years, I heard a lot about street children who are victims of the sex trade industry in Thailand. I felt like I needed to do something to help them. I began to spend time with these children and every time I did that I cried and cried. I couldn’t stop crying even when my eyes were open. My heart was broken for them because their story was very much like my story. I started asking God to help me to know how I could help. I wanted so much for them to stay in a safe place. I couldn’t stop thinking about this. I thought that eventually I was going to do be able to do something to help the children. Then something happened that convinced me that my time had come. One day I went to one of the worst neighborhoods in Chiang Mai to meet children. While there, I met a little, homeless orphan who was forced to work selling flowers to tourists at the street corners. He was six years old, very small and thin, no shorts, only a long dirty t-shirt on. His body bore the markings of many beatings from bamboo sticks. He was truly a modern-day slave. I looked at him and thought he was only three. Because he spoke my language, he opened his heart to me and with many tears told me how much he wanted to go to school but was not able to because of his miserable situation. From that time on I prayed more earnestly and asked God to help me learn whatever I could to be able to help the street children. And God did answer my prayer! By God’s grace, even though I had little money to support myself and my family on the mountains, I was able to support four children while I was in college. (Today, this boy lives in a Christian Home and he loves the Lord!). While working with street children, my heart was broken for them and I saw the need to provide them with a safe place to live, a home where I could take care of them and invest my life in their lives as a normal family would do. I prayed that God would let me start a home for some Akha children who were at risk. I wanted to start with Akha children because I am familiar with their language and culture and can relate to their story. God answered my prayers and gave me and my sister our first two children. I felt that God was confirming my calling to provide help and support for these children, as well as a safe place for them to learn, grow, and be introduced to the Lord Jesus Christ. Though I am still far from realizing my dream, I keep jumping out and trusting God to provide. It is very difficult to help the children without any kind of support from anywhere and that’s why I am asking my brothers and sisters in other parts of the world to help me reach these children with the love of God. My sister and I, by faith and trust in God alone, started a home in Chiang Mai with the specific purpose of rescuing children and youth who are at risk. We now have 3 girls and 2 boys living with us. I would like to have separate homes for girls and boys and my goal is to convert our first home into a home for girls, ages 5 to 9, right away. I would like for the children to know about Christ like I do and I would like to see them become good Christian leaders and be able to help others when they get older.
Item 17 The Church, a Sanctuary by Pastor Roger
Have you ever felt alone; like nobody cares and even if they do I’m not sure I can trust them with my ‘stuff’. We have all been there a one time or another. When we were children, people (especially family members) said stuff that hurt us. “You’re stupid.” “You’ll never amount to anything.” Maybe it was a little more subtle but they were words that stung. It happened on the play ground at school, maybe in the classroom from a teacher. With each wound we built a wall of protection, part of our personality was damaged and we created defense mechanisms to guard us from getting hurt again. Some people just shut down and never let anybody get too close. Some people use their anger as a defense; some will use humor, making a joke out of everything. Some will bury themselves in their work. Some turn to an addiction (alcohol, porn, drugs, etc.) We find ways to hide or protect what’s buried deep inside our heart. We are all wounded, whether we want to admit it or not. That’s why marriages have so much conflict. Most of us live alone in the areas we are wounded in. “I have been burned before when I shared a ‘secret’ about my life. I’ll never do that again.” Now, in my mind the church is the last place where you should have to worry about your dirty little secrets. I mean, isn’t ‘the church’ the body of Jesus Christ? Aren’t we supposed to be the place where Jesus is manifest? The truth is no matter where our wounds come from or how deep they are Jesus came for the very purpose of healing our heart. Isa. 61 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; John 14:27 My peace I leave with you…; Hebrews 13:5 I will never leave you nor forsake you. These are all wonderful truths but sometimes I look at them and think. ‘yeah right.’ Why is it that sometimes the truth of Jesus healing power eludes us? Could it be because we have been forsaken by Christ’s body? Could it be because we have put a heavy burden on people that we can’t even bare? (Matt.23) You have to look a certain way, act a certain way, dress a certain way, cut your hair a certain way, smell a certain way, be a certain way or Christ’s body won’t accept you. Could it be we don’t have Christ’s peace because we aren’t allowed to simply be who we are for fear of ridicule and/or rejection? Read the red in the gospels and it won’t take long for you to see that it was the rigid religious people who bore the wrath of Jesus. In Matt. 23 Jesus called them snakes and hypocrites. He told them they were play actors. They pretended to be something they weren’t and they expected things out of people they couldn’t live up to themselves. It was the woman caught in the act of adultery he had compassion on. It was the little lying, cheating, thieving tax collector he had compassion for. The lame, the blind, the leper, the crazy, the wild, were drawn to Jesus and Jesus was drawn to them. I used to struggle with depression and out of the depression emerged a couple nasty addictions. I kept all this to myself for fear of what people would think especially ‘the church.’ The church is ‘the body of Christ’’’; are you getting the picture? The place we gather the body together is called ‘the sanctuary.’ Isn’t that interesting because a sanctuary is a safe place. The definition of sanctuary is a sacred place; a place of refuge and protection. How many of you reading this feel safe in sanctuary with Christ’s body? How many of you reading this has hurt somebody because they didn’t match up to your religious expectations? Here’s a new’s flash: Rom. 3:23 “…for all have sinned…” That ‘all’ includes you. That’s why we need Jesus. I am not all I should be in Christ. I still have flaws. If I have to bare those flaws alone I may never know true freedom.Jesus really did come to set the captives free…. His burden really is light; he really does offer ‘peace that passes all understanding’. He offers it in community with his body. We are called to wash one another’s feet, love one another, bear one another’s burdens, forgive one another, and receive one another. Instead, too often we judge one another, pick at one another, gossip about one another, reject one another. I am getting a picture in my mind of a movie I saw years ago called, “Fight Club.” The main character turned out to be schizophrenic. When he fought, turns out he was beating the snot out of himself. Talk about counterproductive, but too often that’s what the church does. I guess what I am saying is let’s work hard at making Grace Community Church a real sanctuary. A place where it is safe to be real and know we can get encouragement and help. I wonder how many people would be drawn to the church if they knew from what they saw that it would be safe. (He who is without sin cast the first stone…)
Item 16 Sign of the Times? by Pastor Roger I know I have used these passages on a number of occasions, But as I read about some of the ridiculous things that are taking place in our country I can’t help but refer back to them because they are so true about our culture. I Timothy 4:1-2 1Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron… II Timothy 3:1-5 1This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. These 2 passages give us a good description of what the last days before Jesus comes back for his church are going to be like. Jesus said in Mt. 24:37-38 37But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark… What were the days of Noah like? Gen. 6:5 5And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. In other words they were influenced by seducing Spirits and doctrines of devils. Their conscience had been seared. They were lovers of their own selves… (Refer to II Timothy 3:1-5) I wonder; are the days we live in similar to the days of Noah? It seems to me the only way anybody could buy into some of the rhetoric that is being propagated these days is to give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. Many, even in the church are giving in to hypocritical lies. The lie of separation of church and state; the lie that homosexuality and almost any sexually deviant behavior is acceptable; the lie that marriage is a secondary option to cohabitation; the lie that Islam is a religion of peace and Jehovah and Allah are the same God. Somehow we think God has gone soft and will wink at all these things. Just have fun, whatever that means for the moment. Have ‘fun’ at the expense of your family; have ‘fun’ at the expense of your faith; have ‘fun’ at the expense of your culture.
‘Fun’?! We have overflowing prisons. That’s healthy and ‘fun’ isn’t it? How about all the children you are reading about that have been sexually assaulted. We’re having a blast aren’t we?! Did I mention depression and suicide among our youth? WHEEEEEE!!!! What a joy ride! Turns out being lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Do I sound cynical and maybe a little angry? Shouldn’t we be?
A Macy's employee in San Antonio, Texas, was fired after telling a cross-dresser he could not use the women's dressing room to try on apparel. The employee had pointed out to management the consequences of a policy that affirms the lesbian, "gay," bisexual, transgender (LGBT) lifestyle. "She says that mothers of young daughters come up to her periodically and ask her to keep the men from going into the women's fitting rooms."
The Pentagon has decided that military chaplains will be allowed to perform same-sex unions on military installations despite the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.
Last weekend, Home Depot set up a booth at the Atlanta Gay Pride festival and entered a float in the parade.Alongside Home Depot's float were marchers and other floats celebrating sadomasochism and bondage. For example, one group of marchers had large dog collars strapped around their necks and were being led by leather-clad "owners" holding chain leashes and whips. (I know for a fact that men expose themselves to children at these events and the police are told to do nothing.)
A young man was thrown out of his high school class and maligned by his teacher, (even made fun of on the Ellen DeGeneres show), after answering a question his teacher asked him. “What do you think of Homosexuality?” “As a catholic I don’t think it is good and moral behavior.” [Not an exact quote but you get the idea.]
It is reported that marriage is at an all time low. More people are ‘cohabitating’ rather than getting married because of finances, convenience, fear of a lasting commitment and many other lame excuses.
Lowes is being targeted by a U.S. senator for pulling their add from a reality show about the happy, friendly Muslim lifestyle. (I don’t have the space to tell you about the threat and danger Islam poses to the USA and the world. Does reject Jesus and confess Allah or lose your head sound happy? “There is no god but Allah, and Mohammad is his messenger” is the confession they demand. Allah orders his people to fight until ‘there is no one left on the earth that doesn’t worship Allah’.)
This is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg! I could go on and on, occupy Wall Street; the Emergent church; planned parenthood; John Freshwater; dare I say Barak Hussein Obama, the most pro abortion, pro homosexual agenda, pro socialist president we have ever had. (If you’re ok with that it is your American privilege.) Seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; hypocritical lies; seared conscience; lovers of themselves; lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God…
None of this is rocket science. You don’t get intimate with animals; our nation’s history screams Jesus; same sex marriage is unnatural no matter how you slice it; men, no matter what their perversion, don’t belong in the ladies changing room; Christianity offers grace and we won’t slit your throat if you disagree or don’t accept it. It makes your head feel like it is going to explode doesn’t it?
We, (the church), have been convinced we should be tolerant and quiet. At what cost? Do we remain silent and tolerant at the cost of our freedom; at the cost of our children’s future; at the cost of our nation’s heritage; at the cost of our faith in the one true God, creator of the universe who left his eternal throne in heaven to come to this earth as a mortal man and be permanently scarred so I could have a right relationship with him and an eternal reward in heaven? What price are we willing to pay?
We as Christians are called to be loving, joyful, peaceful, longsuffering, gentle, good, faithful, Meek, and temperate. (Galatians 5:22-23) However we are not called to be liked or passive, silent and tolerant of every godless deviant behavior that comes down the road.
Jesus condemned sin and offered the sinner an alternative life. Was his message met with rave reviews? They crucified him! Jesus said we would suffer with him in this world. Suffering comes when we stand for truth at any cost. “The world hates you because it first hated me.” Are we silent because we love the praises of man more than the blessing of God?
I believe I am having to write an article about this stuff because the church bought into political correctness and hid in the sanctuary. If anybody needs to come out of the closet it is the church. Let me close with this mandate from Jesus: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” This is the only hope we have for any good change.
Item 15 Don’t Have Time? by Paul Mark Miller, Freedom Hills Ministries
Recently I’ve become aware of a phrase commonly thrown around among most people, including myself, that is a lie. This lie destroys marriage relationships, parent – child relationships and also relationships with God. It consists of four simple words and is a very common part of our everyday conversation. I’ve heard it used to get people “off the hook” in all kinds of situations. Wondering what it is? It’s a phrase, “I don’t have time!” How often have we used that phrase in the last week? I hear things like, “I’d like to spend more time with my family, but I don’t have time. I’m too busy.” Incidentally, the last half of that statement is true. Most of us are too busy, but what about the first half?Have you ever heard someone say, “I just cut off my arm, but I don’t have time to go to the hospital or to bandage it.?” Did that person have a busy day planned, schedules to meet, things to get done? Probably. So, why did they do to the hospital? Because it was important to them. In fact, it became a priority.Time is a gift that God has given to each one of us to use however we choose. He has given everyone the same amount of time in a day – 24 hours, 1,440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds.Did you know that we do what is most important to us? “But”, we say, “I really want to spend more time with my family, however, I have to work. I have to provide. I have to sleep, etc.” Notice, we have time to do all the things that are a priority to us. I’m not saying those things aren’t important, but are they always the most important things? I wonder what would happen if we would be honest and start changing, “I don’t have time” to “I have too many other things that are more important to me.” It sounds a little different when we say, “I know I should spend more time with God, but I have too many other things that are more important to me.” Or how about, “I’d like to go fishing or play ball with my son, but I have too many other things that are more important to me.” Do you get the picture?I’ve heard many stories in my office of little boys and girls whose parents “didn’t have time”. “I knew that loved me, but they were always busy.”In Jesus’ parable of the talents, the King gave each one a “gift”. They were responsible to be stewards of the gifts. When He returned, He called each one of them to give an account of how they used the gifts. Will we be called to give an account of how we used the gift of time? Every minute, every second, every day? What will be the most important then? One thing I’m sure we won say – God, I wanted to, but I really didn’t have time.”
Think about it!
Item 15 A Mandate From Heaven by Pastor Roger
Melodee and I went to a poverty simulation put on by United Way. They set up chairs to separate families into a community. We got to pick out a name and an age from some name tags they had on a table. You could be a 16 year old girl or a single mother. They grouped you into families with real life situations. Melodee and I chose to be in our 50s, (if you can imagine that.) I was a 52 year old man on disability social security. Melodee was my 50 year old wife. She had to work a $9.50 an hour job to support us. Our two grand children lived with us because our son was nowhere to be found.
The object was to pay our bills, keep food on the table, get the necessary meds for our grandson, take the kids to school and pick them up etc. You know, normal every day stuff. Stuff we all have to deal with only on a very limited income with limited resources. Fifteen minutes was equal to one week. You had to survive for a month without getting arrested or losing your house or going bankrupt. The thing is you started out already behind the proverbial 8 ball.
At first it felt like a game. They even said don’t make a game out of this. It only took a few minutes to begin to realize the frustration and sometimes the humiliation you can endure when things haven’t gone too well for you financially and other wise. It only felt like a game for about 3 minutes. We weren’t able to buy food the first week. I was arrested for not picking up my grand kids after school. We came home to find we had been robbed. By the end of the month we barely had enough to make our mortgage payment. Melodee actually tried to get me to steal some money someone had dropped! A police officer was kind enough to give us some money. Social services made promises they didn’t keep. ARRRRRRRG!!! We had it better than most. Some ended up homeless, children in juvy, most just eked by.
It was a real eye opening experience. Someone reading this is thinking, “Welcome to my real world.” This is life for some people. You learn to survive.
I am not rich by any stretch of the imagination. We have been unemployed and on food stamps for a short time. We know what it feels like to wonder how you are going to pay the gas bill or the rent. However I thank God that those times were short lived. This is a life style for probably more people than a lot of us know.
Poverty is a reality for a lot of families. Some of it is self inflicted, some of it is learned. (Generational poverty is poverty that is learned and passed down from generation to generation.) Some are there because life has dealt them some tough blows. Maybe a divorce or a disease; maybe an accident or a sick or wayward child has put someone in dire straits; maybe they lost a job and because of age or skill level or the economy they can’t find a job. There are a whole host of reasons for poverty.
It is easy for us to stand back and pass judgment on the poor and blame them for their circumstances and say they just need to take responsibility and it’s not my job to bail them out. The fact of the matter is the church was called to take care of the poor.
The bible has a lot to say about the poor. Most of it is positive. Proverbs alone talks about the poor in 13 chapters. Prov.14:31 He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy. Prov.17:5 He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
In Mark 12 Jesus speaks very highly of the poor woman who gave all she had to the temple. (Read it for yourself.) Jesus himself, our creator, became poor for us so that no matter what our circumstance is here we can be rich. II Cor.8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
James rebukes those that put the rich on a pedestal and disregard the poor. James 2:2-6 Jesus tells us in Revelation we can think we are rich because we possess a lot of stuff and live in comfort yet be poor. Rev.3:17
Here’s the thing. We are to take care of the poor. Gal.2:10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do. People may be poor because of bad decisions or bad circumstances; I guess if we are going to error it is better to error on the side of grace. I know caution and wisdom have to be used but I wonder if sometimes we don’t replace those with judgment.
The bottom line isn’t how many possessions we can accumulate or how big of a bank account we can build up; (He with the most toys still dies), the bottom line is our integrity before God. If I am rich do I glorify God in it? If I am poor do I honor God with what little I have here? Am I (are we) laying up treasures in heaven where moth and rust can’t corrupt and thieves can’t break into and steal? Or are we laying treasures up on earth that will decay and vanish? Jesus said that where our treasure is, that’s where our heart will be. Matt.6:19-21
The poverty simulation was a real eye opener for us. Now the challenge is what do we do with it? How can we as a church better serve our community, especially those that struggle from day to day just to keep their heads above water? Any ideas?
There was a question on the survey our church took recently that keeps nagging at me. If Grace Community Church ceased to exist would the community miss us? I want the answer to that question to be YES. Think about it. What can we offer our community? We have a mandate from heaven to care for the poor. James 2:14-17 14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Item 14 Can Anybody Hear Me?! by Pastor Roger Tickle
Psa. 49:10 “Be still and know that I am God.” At the beginning of this passage the psalmist says: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not
fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Sounds like a lot of noise doesn’t it? The psalmist says in all the noise, learn to be quiet and understand. “I am God.”
Our ability to concentrate for any length of time seems to be subpar. This isn’t criticism, it is just reality.
I hear if a sermon is over 20 minutes long you lose people. We start trailing off into another world. It’s probably true. As a matter of fact as I am writing this article I find myself trailing off into another world of thought. I can’t even pay attention to myself for very long.
I have read about preachers of old who would preach for 2-4 hours, (sometimes every night for weeks!!), and draw huge crowds. They didn’t tell a lot of jokes and have a lot of entertainment to try to keep peoples’ attention. Charles Finney had to cut his preaching down to 2 hours a night when he became ill and was spitting up blood. Jonathan Edwards read his sermons. ‘Sinners in the hands of an angry God’ was 22 pages long. (I know this because I printed it out.) It was one of his most powerful sermons. People heard it and came under deep conviction. There was an ability to hear and listen that seems to be lost on some of us because of all the noise around us.
How often do we sit in the quiet and listen? Our world is so cluttered with noise. We have i-pods, CD’s, cell phones, TV, radio, all available 24-7 no matter where we are. We even have visual noise with face book, text messaging, e-mail and the World Wide Web. No matter where we are or what we are doing we are surrounded by noise.
Here’s a little test for you to see how the noise is affecting you. When you are having a face to face conversation, pay attention to how much you are really hearing. Monitor yourself. Are you listening or are you formulating your response?
Too often while in conversation we are thinking about how we are going to respond while the other person is talking. Our minds have been rewired to take in so much information from so many different sources that it is hard for us to be still and listen. (This isn’t scientific just a personal observation.) Husbands and wives often have difficulty resolving conflict because neither will stop and listen (be still) to hear what the other is really saying.
If we struggle with listening to a warm body standing in front of us then where does that put us when we are confronted with hearing God’s voice? Psa. 49:10 ‘BE STILL and know that I am God.’
‘Be still’ means to relax, be quiet. Find a solitary place, no computer, no phone, no TV, no head phones, just you and your bible and maybe a cup of coffee or tea. ‘Be still and know’ means to know by experience. There is no better place to experience God than in the quiet. With all the noise of the first few versus of Psalm 49, at the end he says ‘be quiet’. ‘Be still and know that I am God’. Elohyim is the Hebrew name translated God. It is plural. I believe it is talking about our triune God. Paul says in Colossians 3:11 ‘but Christ is all, and in all’. He is all encompassing, He is all we need.
Pay attention to your ability to listen. Does it need work? Here are some tips for listening to God and each other.
1) Ask Him to speak to you. He will.
2) Get in a quiet place. No computers, i-pods etc…
3) Have your bible and a note book handy so you can write down what he says.
4) Read your bible as though God is
talking directly to you. When a passage stands out ask; "what do you want me to see here?" I think you will be surprised at what you begin to hear and see.
1) Give your full attention on the person who is speaking. Don't look out the window or at what else is going on in the room.
2) Make sure your mind is focused, too. It can be easy to let your mind wander if you think you know what the person is going to say next, but you might be wrong! If you feel your mind wandering, change the position of your body and try to concentrate on the speaker's words.
3) Let the speaker finish before you begin to talk. Speakers appreciate having the chance to say everything they would like to say without being interrupted. (Don’t you?) When you interrupt, it looks like you aren't listening, even if you really are.
4) Let yourself finish listening before you begin to speak! You can't really listen if you are busy thinking about what you want say next.
5) When listening to a sermon or a speech take notes.
6) If you’re not sure you heard right ask questions. “Is this what you said?” “Is this what you meant?"
It takes intentional effort but if you practice you might be surprised at how much you begin to hear that you missed because of the noise. ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ ‘To him who has ears to hear let him hear what the Spirit says…’
Item 13 “That’s what Christians do . . ." In 1973 the Supreme Court said it was OK to kill unborn babies. Since then, we have killed more than the entire population of Canada. And it it continues. A woman's choice? Half of those who have died in their mothers' wombs have been women. They didn't have a choice. It is called abortion.
Item 13 “That’s what Christians do . . ." By Dr. Donald E. Wildmon, AFA founder
Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That’s what Christians do now.
First it was in dingy, dirty theaters. Then, convenience stores, Then, grocery stores. Then on television. Now it is in the homes of millions via the Internet. It is called pornography.
Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That’s what Christians do now.
They call it no-fault. Why should we blame anyone when something so tragic happens. Haven’t they already suffered enough? Half of the marriages in America end this way. The children suffered. The family broke down. It is called divorce.
Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That’s what Christians do now.
At one time it was a perversion. We kept it secret. We secured help and hope for those who practiced it. Now it is praised. We have parades celebrating it, and elected officials give it their blessing. Now it is endowed with special privileges and protected by special laws. Even some Christian leaders and denominations praise it. It is called homosexuality.
Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That’s what Christians do now.
It used to be an embarrassment. A shame. Now a third of all births are to mothers who aren’t married. Two-thirds of all African-American children are born into a home without a father. The state usually pays the tab. That is why we pay our taxes, so that government can take the place of parents. After all, government bureaucrats know much better how to raise children than parents do. It is called illegitimacy.
Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That’s what Christians do now.
At one time it was wrong. But then the state decided to legalize it, promote it and tax it. It has ripped apart families and destroyed lives. But just look at all the money the state has raised. No longer do we have to teach our children to study and work hard. Now we teach them they can get something for nothing. We spend millions encouraging people to join the fun and excitement. Just look at the big sums that people are winning. They will never have to work again! It is called gambling.
Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That’s what Christians do now.
Not long ago, Christians were the good guys. But now any positive image of Christians in movies or on TV is gone. We are now depicted as the bad guys — greedy, narrow-minded hypocrites. The teacher can’t have a Bible on her desk, but can have Playboy. We don’t have Christmas and Easter holidays — just winter and spring break. We can’t pray in school, but can use foul language. It’s called being tolerant.
Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That’s what Christians do now.
Yes, all these things came to pass within 30 years. Where were the Christians? Why, they were in church. All these things are for someone else to deal with. Times have changed. Involvement has been replaced with apathy.
But don’t blame me. I didn’t do anything. I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That’s what Christians do now.
Item 12 Emerging or Absolute, which Jesus do you follow? by Craig Clouston
The right of succession is a powerful thing. Youth and excitement contend that we should not be denied something exciting! But youngsters, left to themselves, will usually break the rules...and sometimes even a body part.
Trying to find a new entrance into our tree house was becoming a challenge. The old way offered no excitement. We had built the structure so well that we'd left no voids large enough to climb through. Young boys become bored quickly...so ignoring our parents warning to "stick to what works," we continued to seek new ways in...right up to the point when one of the neighborhood kids fell, breaking his arm, thus proving that even though the old way wasn't always exciting, it was the only safe way in. Our tree house was dismantled until a time when we could follow instruction and not let our unfulfilled urges exceed our wisdom.
Young boys lack restraint. Proverbs 29:18 says this is not limited to youth; "Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint." (NIV) There is a current move within the Christian Church that seems acceptable yet is dangerous because it is not completely anchored in scripture. It is a doctrine based on making Jesus a seeker-friendly Savior in a post-modern world...a more tolerant jesus that requires nothing of His followers except belief that He exists. To borrow from Oswald Chambers, "This type of experience is not supernatural nor miraculous, it did not cost the passion of God. Today He is being dispatched as the Figurehead of Religion, a mere Example." Emergence is not new, but it is persistent.
One local pastor wrote, "Christianity, therefore, is not saying that Christ is the only way, if it means that it is true and all others are false." Yes, it is! Jesus didn't say, "I am the way to the Father for awhile, but then I will reveal a new and better way later." He says "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through me." (Emphasis mine). That's an absolute, no place for compromise!
When we choose to wander from the truth we are in jeopardy. We, as Christians, are called to love all others, speaking truth into the darkness when it presents itself but we must never tolerate a brand of Christianity that denies the deity of our Savior, instead, we are to expose it to the light.
When we get bored it's because we've lost interest in the subject matter. So we recreate the subject matter in a new way that stimulates us and stirs our feelings. Emergence stresses "the worship experience." It's set in a pious atmosphere of low-lighted cathedrals for a deeper spiritual experience, stained glass on the view screen to hearken back to yesterday, icons for drawing you "closer to Christ." It's all about how Jesus makes you feel.
In our feelings-driven society, TV commercials would have us believe that to do what they suggest will bring happiness and fulfillment. The truth they present is their own brand of truth and is meant to sell their product, nothing more. "And they accept all forms of credit!"
The Emerging Church is based in tolerance of all world-view religions holding up a Jesus Who isn't Who He says He is. Their Jesus gives you the freedom to "worship" God as you see fit; whatever gets you to the throne is just fine. They say that it's narrow-minded to believe that Jesus is the only way to God. "Lighten up a little! Don't be so intolerant!"
Salvation was not, and never will be about how you feel about Jesus! It cost God His only Son, He doesn't care how you feel about it. He cares about you having a relationship with his Son. A Son Who gave His life for your sin.
The Emergent philosophy is all about you. Jesus actually says we should deny ourselves and follow Him.
Any form of Christianity that embraces anything outside of Scripture is wrong, no matter how it makes you feel. We can speak the truth in love and pry for revelation without joining them in an effort to get our feeling stirred at the cost of Christ.
So which Jesus do you follow?
Item 11 The Arms Dealer by Craig Clouston Ephesians 6:12: For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. The two Generals met at the middle of the battlefield to discuss the terms of a peace treaty. Unbeknownst to them, an arms dealer lay hidden in the bushes, rifle at hand, ready to make sure peace did not prevail. As the Generals were about to shake hands the arms dealer took aim at an unsuspecting infantryman and squeezed the trigger. Assuming the other side had fired the shot, the man standing next to him opened fire on the opposition. The battlefield erupted in gunfire, both sides believing the other had violated the cease fire agreement. They had no way of knowing they had been used as pawns in a chess match. Sneaking away under the cover of gunfire and foliage, the arms dealer retreated to safety. The war would last four years and claim the lives of more than ten thousand men and women. During that time the arms dealer sold more than three hundred thousand weapons to both sides, making millions. His plan had worked perfectly: get the soldiers to fight amongst themselves for as long as he could. He couldn’t have cared less about the casualties, or the lives of countless families that were destroyed. All he cared about was making money…any way he could. By means of deception, Satan gets us to fight amongst ourselves, carrying out his schemes of destruction. Instead of waging war against the unseen manipulator, we are lured into fighting an opponent who appears to be our antagonist, never realizing we’ve become tools in the hands of a cunning and vicious enemy, an enemy who wants to sow discord in our families, at our workplace, and especially in the Church. He will manipulate anyone, in any situation, to achieve his goal of chaos and destruction. Paul tells us that by recognizing this ploy as an attack from the enemy, and refusing to take part, we can demolish the devil’s schemes. Next time, before lashing out, look for the ‘arms dealer’, and then take up the Sword of Truth, and engage the real enemy. Try putting the Sword to work. Prov. 15:1 says ‘A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.’ Paul writes in Eph. 4:32 ‘Be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as Christ for God’s sake has forgiven you.’ Jesus talks about this in Matt. 6:43-48 ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you…’ Paul repeats this in Rom. 12. What would life look like if we engaged the real enemy, looking for the ‘arms dealer,’ using Gods word as our defense? Prayer“Show me when the enemy is scheming against me, Holy Spirit. And help me recognize the ‘arms dealers’ Satan sends my way so I can take appropriate action. In Jesus’ Name, amen.”
Item 10 ACLU: Communisim is the Goal (part 2) by Matt Barber
Now let's break it down. What do you suppose the Framers of the US Constitution -- a document expressly designed to limit the powers of federal government -- intended with the word "Congress"? Did they mean State government? Municipal government? Your local school district? Your third grade teacher?
Of course not. They meant exactly what they said: Congress. As in: The United States Congress! It takes someone with a distinctly disingenuous ulterior motive to derive anything else. Now what did they mean by "...shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion?" Well, in a letter to Benjamin Rush, a fellow-signer of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson -- often touted by the left as the great church-state separationst -- answered that question. The First Amendment's Establishment Clause was singularly intended to restrict Congress from affirmatively "establishing," through federal legislation, a national Christian denomination (similar to the Anglican Church of England). Or, as Jefferson put it: "[T]he clause of the Constitution" covering "freedom of religion" was intended to necessarily preclude "an establishment of a particular form of Christianity through the United States." How far removed we are today from the original intent of our Founding Fathers. The ACLU is largely responsible for creating the gulf between the Constitution's original construction and its modern misapplication. The ACLU remains one of America's most powerful secular-socialist political pressure groups. It relentlessly tramples underfoot the First Amendment, which guarantees sweeping and absolute liberty for all Americans -- including government employees -- to freely exercise their faith both publicly and privately without fear of reprisal: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Examples of its constitutional abuses are manifold, but one of the most recent involves an ACLU assault against a group of Christians in Santa Rosa County, FL. Liberty Counsel represents those Christians. An ACLU-crafted Consent Decree has been used as a weapon to threaten school district employees with fines and jail time for merely praying over a meal, and for exercising -- even while away from school -- their sincerely held Christian faith. You read that right. The ACLU is literally seeking to criminalize Christianity. In August of 2009, Liberty Counsel successfully defended staff member Michelle Winkler from contempt charges brought by the ACLU after her husband, who is not even employed by the district, offered a meal prayer at a privately sponsored event in a neighboring county. Liberty Counsel also successfully defended Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and Athletic Director Robert Freeman against criminal contempt charges, after the ACLU sought to have the men thrown in jail for blessing a lunch meal served to about 20 adult booster club members. Under the Consent Decree teachers are considered to be acting in their "official capacity" anytime a student is present, even at private functions off campus.Liberty Counsel describes this unconstitutional decree: Teachers cannot pray, bow their heads, or fold their hands to show agreement with anyone who does pray. Teachers and staff cannot 'Reply' to an email sent by a parent if the parent's email refers to God or Scripture. Teachers either have to delete such references from the original email or reply by initiating a new email. Teachers and staff are also required to stop students from praying in their own private club meetings. During witness testimony, Mrs. Winkler sobbed as she described how she and a coworker, who had recently lost a child, literally had to hide in a closet to pray. Although the case continues, on Monday the ACLU suffered a tremendous setback while freedom took a significant step forward. Federal District Court Judge M. Casey Rodgers granted in part a Preliminary Injunction in favor of Liberty Counsel's twenty-four Christian clients. Judge Rodgers concluded that even though "a preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy," one aspect of the Consent Decree -- its attempt to prohibit school employees from fully participating in private religious events -- is so flawed that it must be immediately halted. The Court thus enjoined the School Board "from enforcing any school policy that restrains in any way an employee's participation in, or speech or conduct during, a private religious service, including baccalaureate" pending a trial on the merits. "Progressives" are nothing if not consistent. As they gain confidence, they invariably rush across that bridge too far. They engage wild-eyed efforts to "fundamentally transform America" to reflect their own secular-socialist self-image. I'm certain that both the bare-knuckle spirit of the American people and Liberty Counsel's enduring 92 percent win record against the ACLU will maintain a durable safeguard - an "impenetrable wall of separation" if you will - between our constitutionally guaranteed liberties and a subversive "progressive" agenda built upon the distinctly un-American creed: "Communism is the goal."
Matt Barber is Director of Cultural Affairs with Liberty Counsel and also serves as Associate Dean with Liberty School of Law.
How many times does an idea take hold in our mind that eventually expands to take a form that is exciting and maybe even altruistic in nature. This idea can expand from a single thought that comes from; observing something that needs changed, or seeing a problem that needs remedied, or maybe even seeing an opportunity to create something, to a sequential and verifiable group of ideas. This group of ideas can even turn into a full fledge solution. How exciting to come up with a solution, especially when it involves helping others. What began with one single idea then progressed to a final conclusion can be so gratifying. How rewarding, how exciting! We see this process of reaching solutions, in the business world, in our personal lives, and to a great extent in our spiritual lives. The need can be very real and may even be urgent, and the pattern of solving the need may be of the heart but… How many times does the focus turn from the need itself to our own elevation? This change can be very subtle. It can even appear to be wise in the venue of solving the problem or need, however the surface wisdom does not diminish the tentacles of a hidden agenda…gratifying ME. Gratifying me, even the statement makes me uncomfortable almost like nails on a chalkboard. I don’t care for selfish people. I believe selfishness to be the opposite of following Christ. Therefore, since I have chosen to follow Christ with my heart, mind, body and soul this can’t apply to me…or can it? Like many others who have accepted Christ, I have focused much of my life on serving others because I genuinely believe this to be God’s will. It is a high calling. It is rewarding. It fulfills what I call my life’s motto and goal which is: To make it to heaven and take as many people with me as possible. This is truly no flippant statement! It is, what I believe, the highest and most important thing in life. I want to make it to heaven and see the One who gave His life for me. I so very much want to see as many people as possible there with me that at times it makes my heart ache and my spirit agonize over the separation some friends, loved ones, and even strangers, have chosen from Christ. But, even with this core belief and a foundational life motto based on Christ, I somehow can still manage to fall into the category of gratifying myself. Knowing, and I truly mean “knowing,” that someone loved you so much They and their Father made a choice to give you life and most importantly to lay down Their life for yours makes the desire of seeing Them someday a deep seeded, never ending desire. It is the reason for a life motto based on that goal. And this goal makes life a bit easier at times because it has simplified difficult decisions. These decisions can be made much quicker and with less worry when you base your decision against the important measuring stick of “making it to heaven”. This type of yard stick can use the words “will this bring me closer to heaven or farther away” or “will this encourage another toward heaven or push them away” and many other questions that make the decisions very clear. Essentially it saves me from much worry and sleepless nights and it has simplified some of the most complicated decisions I have made. However, as is true with many good and scripture based solutions flaws can occur when the Holy Spirit inspired solution allows for an element in the solution that should never be there; “my” service. There is a step in seeking an answer to any and all solutions that can never be left out or taken for granted. That step is prayerfully seeking God’s direction. This step must be done each and every time no matter if He has directed a certain way in like circumstances before, He is God and only He knows the specifics of each situation. What may seem apparent and similar in circumstances to us is only surface. We do not and can not see what is under the surface. Even when relying on the words of my life’s motto instead of the real core message I have at times forgot the main ingredient…Christ. In my hast and self reliance I simply skipped this vital step. I made the gravest of human errors and “assumed” I could handle things. What can, and has, taken the place of that step is self-worth that has gone a-rye. It has an underlying assumption that “my service” is of such importance that I somehow know the solution is of God’s will and direction…Wrong! The two do not always go hand in hand. We…I must always ask and rely on His immediate direction. Nothing can be assumed and there is an element that should not enter His solution…Me. It is true; I receive such gratification when I see Christ working in the lives of others and in my life. There is nothing that compares with that level of gratification! However, my gratification should be based on the same thing that saved me and continues to save me: Christ alone. Jeremiah 9:23-24, NIV says it best. “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this; that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. The following quotes say this in such a wonderfully understandable way. They come from Decision magazine June 2008 issue in an article titled “The End of Me.” John Piper was quoted saying, “How shall this insidious motive of pleasure in being made much of be broken except through bending all my faculties to delight in the pleasure of making much of God!... It is deeper than death to self. You have to go down deeper into the grave of flesh to find the truly freeing stream of miracle water that ravishes you with the taste of God’s glory. Only in that speechless, all-satisfying admiration is the end of self.” A prayerful seeking of the subtraction of self from all conclusions, remedies, and answers to any question is set forth by F.B. Meyer also from “The End of Me” article. “Deliver me, O my Lord and Master, from self-confidence, self-centeredness and self-consciousness. By my confidence, and the center of my activities; and may I always be more conscious of Your Presence than the presence or absence of others.” The Apostle Paul said it like this in Acts 20:24. “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” And the final conclusion comes in the beauty of this article which is shown next to a gorgeous waterfall. It demonstrates in the words of a poem and then in a visual representation of a waterfall the layers of unwinding that needs to take place before there can be an end to “Gratifying Me.” I wind and weave and elaborate
Item 9 GRATIFYING ME
Through intricate patterns of toil
A string of me’s and my’s and I’s
For someone, someday,
To notice and to praise
Until I find the string impossibly
Tangled, snarled and tied. I unloose the me’s and my’s
Then discover that with
Each unraveled strand of pride
And troubled knot
I begin to see
The forming of a tapestry.
For as my spool unwinds
And leaves me unconfined
I at last can see
That peace and love
Are yet to be
If I but come
To the end of me. Author: Billie Lou Cantewell
Trinity, Texas So, with a sense of God renewed and another lesson in giving myself away so that Christ can be expanded I am intrigued to the numerous possibilities that Christ has before Him. He can accomplish much when “I” get out of the way and gratification comes from being given such an honorable place of being used to further the gospel not myself. And, I do look forward to the day when I get to say, “Thank You for loving me, dying for me, and putting an “end to me” so that now You, Lord, are the one and only thing that has the power for “Gratifying Me.” Written on May 29, 2008 after reading “My Father’s Last Opportunity” and “The End of Me” in June 2008 Decision Magazine
Item 8 ACLU: Communisim is the Goal by Matt Barber
Irony is defined as "the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning." The term doublespeak means "evasive, ambiguous language that is intended to deceive or confuse."
There is perhaps no greater example of ironic doublespeak than inclusion of the phrase "civil liberties" within the inapt designation: "American Civil Liberties Union."
Indeed, few leftist organizations in existence today can compete with the ACLU in terms of demonstrated hostility toward what the Declaration of Independence describes as "certain unalienable rights" with which Americans are "endowed by their Creator."
Consider the doublespeak inherent throughout the "progressive" Goliath's flowery self-representation:
The ACLU is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.
Now contrast that depiction with ACLU founder Roger Baldwin's candid vision:
I am for socialism, disarmament, and, ultimately, for abolishing the state itself... I seek the social ownership of property, the abolition of the propertied class, and the sole control of those who produce wealth. Communism is the goal.
Ironic, isn't it? So much for "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." By combining straightforward segments from each ACLU rendering we arrive with an accurate portrayal. One that cuts through the doublespeak:
The ACLU is...working daily in courts, legislatures and communities. Communism is the goal.
In 1931, just eleven years after the ACLU's inception, the US Congress convened a Special House Committee to Investigate Communist Activities. On the ACLU it reported:
The American Civil Liberties Union is closely affiliated with the communist movement in the United States, and fully 90 percent of its efforts are on behalf of communists who have come into conflict with the law. It claims to stand for free speech, free press and free assembly, but it is quite apparent that the main function of the ACLU is an attempt to protect the communists.
To be sure, the "main function of the ACLU" is entirely counter-constitutional.
A shared objective between both Communism generally, and the ACLU specifically is the suppression of religious liberty; principally, the free exercise of Christianity .
Karl Marx, high priest of the ACLU's beloved cult of Communism, once said: "The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion."
Even the ACLU's own promotional materials overtly advocate religious discrimination: "The message of the Establishment Clause is that religious activities must be treated differently from other activities to ensure against governmental support for religion."
The First Amendment's Establishment Clause -- a mere 10 words -- says nothing of the sort. Its message is abundantly clear, requiring severe distortion to stuff within the ACLU's Marxist parameters. It merely states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." That's it.
Matt Barber is Director of Cultural Affairs with Liberty Counsel and also serves as Associate Dean with Liberty School of Law.
Item 7 Hope in Heaven by Pastor Roger Tickle
The book of Job has come to my mind a lot lately. When we go through a trial, great or small, Job almost always gets referred to. We look to it for comfort because Job and his wife (who, incidentally only gets a dishonorable mention in the account at the beginning, Job 2:9 Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. And then in the end she bears 10 more children for Job and her name is never brought up) are burdened with unimaginable grief from every corner of their life. They made it through the pain and heartache, Job suffers through the cruelty and well meaning rudeness of his friends who felt they needed to give an answer when all along Job didn’t need an answer, he and his wife needed a true friend.
They seemed to understand this at first. Job 2:13 says, So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great. You see, they didn’t need to say anything; they just needed to be there. And when Job opened his mouth to release some thoughts and feelings he was having towards his own miserable existence and God, the best thing his ‘friends’ could have done was to just quietly continue to be there. “My heart aches for you Job. I have no idea what you and Mrs. Job must be feeling right now. Somehow God will teach you something and he will get you through it.” This would have been much better than to accuse Job of being a sinful jerk who is reaping what he sowed. Just be there! I gotta be honest with you; a lot of my thoughts toward God were not kind for about a week and a half after our grandbaby Hope died. (In reality Hope didn’t die, she is with Jesus) Actually, it felt like a cruel cosmic joke. God built us up with good reports for 71/2 months only to body slam us with her, to date, unexplainable death. In Job, after he cries and complains and mourns, after his ‘friends’ have offered him their poor excuse for comfort (miserable comforters are ye all! Retorted Job.), God says in Job 38:1-4 Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if you know? Or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? In a nutshell, ‘I’m God and you’re not!’ For a time that just sounded plain arrogant to me. ‘So you being God have the right to be mean and cruel. You tell me that love is kind but that only applies to me not you!’ As time moves on and the cloud of mourning laced with anger towards God and his church begins to dissipate, it is starting to become a little clearer to me. I have to ask myself if I really believe this stuff I have been preaching and teaching for so many years, or does it just apply to me when all seems well? My son, Seth, went skydiving. Yes, he decided to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. To jump out of a plane moving 90+ mph at 7000 feet goes against all that is natural. God didn’t give us hollow bones and wings like a bird. So you are taking a chance when you jump. Will the chute open? Is it folded properly? Did those guys that trained me tell me the truth? None of these questions can be answered unless you jump out of the plane and pull the chord. Seth did, and found the answer to each of those questions to be yes. It is the same with my faith in an eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent God. I can’t know for sure he is who he claims to be unless my faith is put to the test. So is what I believe about God still true when all is not well? Even more so. The promise that Job recognized is the only sure thing any of us have. Job 19:25-27 For I know that my redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me. That redeemer that Job talks about understands our grief, our sorrow and our pain. (Isa. 52:3) He conquered all that when he arose from the dead and prepared an eternal, glorious home for us. That is what we as Christians should cling to. Hanging on to this sick, diseased, fallen world only breeds heartache, disappointment and frustration. That is why Jesus so wisely tells us in Matt. 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Losing baby Hope hurts to the very core of my being. Watching my children suffer with the loss of their daughter hurts. But I know that my redeemer lives…. We will all face unbearable pain in our life. How will we choose to respond to it Blame God? Let it destroy our faith? Or will we glorify God in it, understanding eternity is real? It’s our choice.
Item 6 We the People (March 2011, Issue 3) by Dan Offineer
The Constitution of the United States of America starts with “We the people”. The Declaration of Independence second paragraph states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. The Founding Fathers of the United States emphasized We. America was set up to be a Republic in which Representatives were elected by We the people (voters). Without participation from We the People, the system of representation does not work well. Many of us, especially Christians are a part of the “Silent Majority”; we wish to live our lives and are busy with our own family. But after a hundred years or so, the “Silent Majority” has been so effective at being silent that America has slowly been hijacked by those who were Not Silent. Our government was slowly infiltrated by forces that were anything but Christians. Our representatives and senators heard basically only from lobbyist and the anti-Christian movement for at least the last one hundred years.James Garfield, our 20th President wrote, “Now more than ever the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these qualities to represent them in the national legislature. If the next centennial does not find us a great nation, it will because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces”. James Garfield recognized the forces trying to corrupt this nation in 1877. Matthias Burnett, Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Norwalk in 1803, stated, “Consider well the important trust which God has put into your hands. To God and posterity you are accountable for your rights and your rulers. Let not your children have reason to curse you for giving up those rights. Think not that your interests will be safe in the hands of the weak and ignorant; or faithfully managed by the impious, the dissolute and the immoral. Think not that men who acknowledge not the providence of God nor regard His laws will be uncorrupt in office, firm in defense of the righteous cause against the oppressor, or resolutely oppose the torrent of iniquity. Watch over your liberties and privileges- civil and religious-with a careful eye”.
In November 2010 the public was unhappy with the direction the country was going at the National and State level. Conservative representatives were voted into office in Washington and in Ohio. Thus the political pendulum has swung to the conservative side. Many conservative pro-Christian bills have been introduced at the state and national level. So now we as Christian’s have the greatest opportunity to influence legislation. Become active in the political arena simply by calling or emailing your Washington and Ohio representatives.
Here in Ohio there are now 3 anti-abortion bills in the House. The best two are:HB 125 – This bill would prohibit the abortion of an unborn child with a detected fetal heartbeat. According to the American Pregnancy Association a heartbeat can usually be detected from 6 ½ to 7 weeks gestation. By 8 or 9 weeks gestation, the developing baby contains everything that is present in a human adult and an ultrasound can detect a strong heartbeat.HB79 prohibits coverage of abortion by any qualified health plan that participates in the health insurance exchange created under Obamacare.Contact our Ohio Representative (District 90)Margaret Ann Rule at 614-466-1431 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org Our Ohio Senator (Senate District 19) is Kris Jorden. Call his office at 614-466-8086 or email him at SD19@senate.state.oh.us
In Washington DC there are three anti-abortion bills worth mentioning.HR 361 titled the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act of 2011. This bill in short states: Amends the Public Health Service Act to codify provisions that prohibit the federal government and any state or local government that receives financial assistance from subjecting any health professional, a hospital, a provider sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, an accountable care organization , a health insurance plan, or any other type of health care facility, organization, or plan to discrimination on the basis that the entity refuses to participate in abortion-related activities. HR 3 titled No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. A brief summary this bill prohibits the expenditure of funds authorized or appropriated by federal law or funds in any trust to which funds are authorized or appropriated by federal law for any abortion.HR 358 titled Protect Life Act amends the Patient Protection and Affordable Act to prohibit federal funds from being used to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion services.Complete summaries of these Washington anti-abortion bills can be found at www. Thomas.gov
Contact our Congressional Representative Bob Gibbs in Washington at www.gibbs.house.gov , click on Contact Me and then Email Me and fill out the form. The Washington Office phone number is 202-225-6265. We have two Ohio Senators that serve us at of Washington DC., Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown. Contact Senator Rob Portman at www.portman.senate.gov, click on Contact Form or call 2022243353. Senator Sherrod Brown is pro-abortion and votes for every abortion bill there is. The best thing we can do for the Right to Life Movement is to vote him out of office in November 2012.
Item 5 What the H#*! is Wrong With Us?! (March 2011, Issue 3) by Craig Clouston
"S#*! My Dad Says" is one of TV's latest attacks on American morality, insulting our intelligence, taxing our tolerance, and testing to see just ow far the boundaries, and our silence, can be stretched. We even refuse to address the fact that "Stuff" is not a four letter word. Yes, the show’s creators have changed the audio translation for listening ears, but not the show’s name as it appears with suggestive expletives during its airing and in any and all advertisement.
So why hasn’t CBS launched a full-on assault by using the profanity in the cover-title of Justin Halpern’s book, the source from which the show is derived?
Could it be that deep down they know Americans wouldn’t remain silent if they took that last step? Or is it part of the continuing practice of desensitization TV audiences have been subjected to for the past two generations?
I could hope it was the former if not for all the historical evidence to the contrary, that, and the knowledge that evil is patient.
Evil, in this case progressive immorality, has all the time in the world and sees nothing wrong with waiting while each successive generation moves farther and farther from the self-censorship of the fifties and sixties, when morality and conscience refused to allow Hollywood the freedom to do as they please and to hell with what everyone thinks, or what residual effect it has on our children and society as a whole.
Sitcoms have become the ‘Out-of-the-closet’ platform of the Twenty-first century, testing the socially acceptable waters in the deepest parts of the ocean. And why not, no one has offered meaningful resistance. Up until now there has been nothing but token attempts at mounting opposition to the direction Hollywood and the liberal media are steering our nation.
Moral and societal decline happens when good men and women sit idly by hoping someone else will do or say something. When no opposition arises this evil becomes narcissistic, breeding in the vacuum of ambiguity, cloning and crossbreeding deadlier strains of immorality.
With each successive generation the lines are smudged a little more until there are no lines, and we are left with only a murky lens with which to view our sin-filled world.
We are in need of corrective lenses, lenses that humanity cannot produce the prescription for. And here in lies the problem. By refusing to admit to our blurred vision and hardened hearts it’s easier to claim ignorance. You can’t be held accountable for something you know nothing about, right?
We are comfortable letting godless men and women perpetrate their views and values on the world as long as they don’t bring us into the picture. And by this inaction we propagate the evil, quietly turning the channel if we encounter something that stretches the boundaries of impropriety and immorality. It’s still somebody else’s fight.
The truth is, in many cases, we are too busy to enter the battle. We have sold our soul to the demands of time. In a society that invented fast food for the sake of maximizing our time in order to cram even more events into our day, we can no longer answer the question of why we refuse to sit still. Not only can we not sit still, we must be entertained. If you are like most Christians you can’t remember the last time you contended for the presence of God. Mostly because we’ve not listened to wise instruction, or been taught the importance of contending as it relates to our relationship with God, and to the Church as a whole.
In his book ‘Escape to God’ Jim Hohnberger writes, ‘Organized religion may prove to be the greatest substitute for a saving knowledge of God that the world has ever known. A great danger lies in complacency.’ He goes on later in the book to say, ‘Within us lies the ability to choose whatever level of existence we want.
The freedom to choose, the ability to exercise our will, is the greatest gift with which God has endowed the human race. Properly used, the human power of choice, in response to God’s grace, connects us to the God of the universe, and through His power and direction, we will become a blessing to the world. Improperly used, the same power of choice will guide the human into actions that make the whole world shudder.’
So, if we would believe what Jim says, we can become an instrument of blessing and change. Or, we can, by our inaction, allow the encroachment of evil in a world our children and grandchildren will inherit.
As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we should be engaged in the Word of God, and in the battle. But the choice remains ours: change the channel, or ask God how we can effect change.
Know this ahead of time…there are no easy fixes. Stepping up to the responsibility of godly action requires spending time with God and in His word. That, or pull the veil back over our heart and mind and go back to ‘business as usual.’
2 Timothy 3:16 says, ‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’ God is seeking volunteers to equip.
Item 4 Life's Potholes (February 2011, Issue 2) by Pastor Roger Tickle
On our way to Children’s Hospital we were listening to the radio. Traffic was horrible. We heard on the radio that there were 5 or 6 cars with flat tires because of a huge pothole in the left lane of route 670.