Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday Fragments, By: Dan Wolgemuth, YFC-USA President

March 30, 2007

The San Joaquin Valley is a volcano of green; an explosion of some of the most productive farmland in the world. For the past few days I’ve ridden across and flown over this incredible piece of California geography. Grape, almond, carrot, citrus and cotton fields by the miles crisscross the flatlands of the central valley.

I loved seeing it. Whether it’s a recently cultivated field or an expansive stand of mature almond trees… there is something about seeing fertile soil at work. The orchestration of seed, nutrients, sunshine, water, and careful oversight creates a practical beauty in row after row.

It’s here, in the center of the valley is Modesto… right in the middle of this breadbasket that I stood and looked at a vacant lot in the heart of the city. I looked at renderings for a youth center that will cover nearly a city block. By 2009, this center will provide mentoring, exercise, tutoring, fun, connection and hope for a diverse population. The transformation of this field on Vine Street will eclipse any farm field I saw in the valley. It will provide a place where the souls of young lives and adults can be plowed and planted with the message of love, compassion, mercy, and purpose that God provides in His son Jesus.

It will be on this corner, in this town, that the most productive crop of all will be cultivated. It’s right there that the seeds of life will find a fertile home, and a volcano… an explosion, will rip through a neighborhood… one deeply rooted life at a time.

A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. ~ Matthew 13:3-8

The orchestration of seed, nutrients, sunshine, water, and careful oversight creates a beauty that transforms communities. Right here in the heart of the nation’s “breadbasket.”

Dream big. Cultivate boldly. Plant liberally. Water generously. Nurture sacrificially. The soil is fertile. The need profound. The community is ready.

… on good soil… a hundredfold.

One Liners

I got the following one liners from my friend Joel Miller:

1. Give God what's right -- not what's left.
2. Man's way leads to a hopeless end -- God's way leads to an endless hope.
3. A lot of kneeling will keep you in good standing.
4. He who kneels before God can stand before anyone.
5. In the sentence of life, the devil may be a comma--but never let him be the period.
6. Don't put a question mark where God puts a period.
7. Are you wrinkled with burden? Come to the church for a face-lift.
8. When praying, don't give God instructions - just report for duty.
9. Don't wait for six strong men to take you to church.
10. We don't change God's message -- His message changes us.
11. The church is prayer-conditioned.
12. When God ordains, He sustains.
13. WARNING: Exposure to the Son may prevent burning.
14. Plan ahead -- It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.
15. Most people want to serve God, but only in an advisory position.
16. Suffering from truth decay? Brush up on your Bible.
17. Exercise daily -- walk with the Lord.
18. Never give the devil a ride -- he will always want to drive.
19. Nothing else ruins the truth like stretching it.
20. Compassion is difficult to give away because it keeps coming back.
21. He who angers you controls you.
22. Worry is the darkroom in which negatives can develop.
23. Give Satan an inch & he'll be a ruler.
24. Be ye fishers of men -- you catch them & He'll clean them.
25. God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called. 2
6. Read the Bible -- It will scare the hell out of you.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Spotting the Enemy

Spotting the Enemy

“And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil” (Luke 4:33a – King James Version).

Some of the most wonderful people I ever met in my life were the people of South Korea. For over a year I roomed with a Korean soldier in our post barracks. Also, my day to day assistant was a Korean soldier. Both were fine young men who I am privileged to have known and served with. Cpl. Jo worked along side me each day and I had a running joke with him. Often we rode together on daily missions and I used to look over at Cpl. Jo and say, “You know Jo, if war breaks out with North Korea you are going to be the first one I shoot.” Trust me, it was a joke and Jo knew that. The joke stemmed from a conversation Jo and I had once in which I asked him how I would tell the North Koreans from the South Koreans if war broke out. Jo couldn’t give me an answer. Hearing Jo and I joking about this one day, the executive officer of our battalion said, “Don’t worry boys…the 6/37 Field Artillery (that was our unit) is the number one target of the entire North Korean Air Force. If war does break out, you boys will probably be annihilated so fast, you will not have time to worry about whose side someone is on.” I knew Maj. Fernandez was kidding, but only to a degree.

Today’s verse shows us that evil lurks everywhere, even (or especially!) in the church. Jesus was in Capernaum, teaching in the synagogue, when a man with an unclean spirit cried out. One might think that places of worship would be the safest place to avoid the powers of evil, but I contend that Satan and his minions are never more present than in the times Christians gather together.

In Matthew 13:24-30, our Lord teaches us that Satan sows his weeds amongst God’s wheat. In that same passage Jesus says, “Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds and burn them and to put the wheat in the barn” (13:30 – NLT). Well, if we aren’t supposed to pull the weeds from amongst the wheat, what are we supposed to do? I think that answer is found in the instructions of the apostle Paul to Titus: “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9 – NKJV). Simply put, we are to work alongside God in seeing them changed! Certainly, if Christ can transform water into wine, He can transform weeds into wheat! Our job is to be salt and light, show Jesus, and share the truth of the word.

Sadly, I don’t think many of us care that evil is in the church. All too often we stand idly by and hope that we don’t have to get involved. That unclean spirit got mighty uncomfortable when Jesus came to the synagogue that day. In our churches, those unclean spirits sometimes never get uncomfortable because Jesus hasn’t shown up! What I mean to say…and I want to be perfectly understood here…is that we aren’t showing people Jesus! Believers are the vessel of His presence and if we are not letting Him be Lord of our lives from second to second, then often evil is not confronted by His holy presence. We are good at being nice and signing petitions, but we often fail when it comes down to actually being Christ-like.

When Jesus spoke in that synagogue that unclean spirit became afraid! He said, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are--the Holy One of God!” (4:34 – NKJV). Realizing this, we should also realize that when we are truly letting Christ live in and through us some folks are going to be uncomfortable around us. We are not to Lord it over them as if we have cornered the market on Jesus; rather, we should be ministers of reconciliation desiring freedom from bondage and forgiveness of sins for those caught by evil.

Yes, dear friends, call them weeds; call them tares; call them unclean spirits; whatever we call it evil is in the midst of the saints. Like my experience in South Korea, we may not be able to tell the difference between the enemy and the ally until it is too late. Jesus may come back to harvest the church before some are identified. Know this though, be Christ-like and they will cry out in holy terror.

I never wanted to kill a potential ally. I wanted to identify who was on my side. I wanted to win over those who were not. In my service to God through the church today, I take much the same attitude. Not only do I want to identify my adversary, but I want to win them over to my side too. That day, in the synagogue, Christ did just that. Today, in our churches, we can do the same. Jesus did not participate with the enemy, but He did not tolerate him either. Jesus rebuked the evil spirit and freed the man who was the vessel of it. Personally, I am not willing to wait until it is too late to see who is what. I am resolved to be Christ-like. If that makes people uncomfortable, so be it! At the end of the day, I hope I will be used of God to bring some over to His side. How about you?

Christian Cartoons at EZG Toons by Erin Gillespie

Keep Praying

Keep Praying

“But the angel said unto him, ‘Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John’” (Luke 1:13 – King James Version).

After I accepted Christ I wanted to tell my Grandma Bowes. About seven years before I surrendered to Jesus I had gotten a letter from Grandma while I was in boot camp. In the letter she told me how she was praying for me all the time. At the time it was just what I needed to hear. Boot camp was a tough experience at times and it was comforting to know that someone was praying that things would go easy for me. As it turned out, that things would be easy was not what Grandma was praying for. When I told her I had accepted Christ she said “I have prayed for you every day since before you were born. I prayed you would be saved.” Do the math; I was 25 years, 6 months, and 14 days old when I accepted Christ as my personal Savior. That’s approximately 9,319 days (I didn’t count leap years or do it exactly). Actually it was more days than that since Grandma had been praying for me before I was born. Either way, it’s an astounding thing to think of her faithfulness in prayer and her faith that God wanted to do

Zacharias had been praying for a son. How do I know? The angel said “thy prayer is heard” and “Elisabeth shall bear thee a son.” This prayer probably had been issued to God many times for the Scripture tells us that Zacharias and Elisabeth were both “well stricken in years” (Luke 1:6 – KJV). This shows the devotion and faithfulness of Zacharias’ prayer life.

Can the same be said of our prayer lives? Are we willing to pray long and hard? Are we willing to wait patiently on the Lord? The best thing to pray are those things that line up with the will of the Father. That’s what my Grandma did. It’s God will that people be saved and she prayed that I would be saved. That was a prayer that was in the heart of God.

Did Zacharias know that it was God’s will that Elisabeth and Zacharias bear a son? I don’t know. What I do learn from that is that if it is in God’s will He will show us by answering “Yes” to those prayers. It’s obviously NOT in God’s will for me to have a new truck because I have prayed for one and it hasn’t come! I say that in jest, but in seriousness also. Maybe Zacharias had read Psalm 127:3, which says “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him” (NLT). As an aside: does this mean that people that do not have children are unrewarded or unfavored? NO! People that do not have children have all that God is and that’s enough for anyone! It does mean that the child of Zacharias and Elisabeth was in God’s plan and that He chose to bless them in that way and to answer their prayer in that way.

Another thing that sticks out to me is that the answered prayer came with a command. Zacharias and Elisabeth were told to name their son John. They did just that even though some thought it was strange to not name John after his father (Luke 1:61-63). That called me to examine myself and ask myself “If God answers ‘Yes’ to my prayer, am I willing to do what He says?” Think about that. Hannah prayed for a child and vowed to give the child to the Lord. God answered and gave her Samuel (1 Samuel 1). True to her word, Hannah gave Samuel to the Lord for a life of service. Application: you may be praying for your child or children today, saying “Save my children and make them live for You O Lord.” In response, God MIGHT say “Yes. I will send them to Iraq to be missionaries. You will let them go.” Are we prepared to obey whatever God says in response to our prayers? You may even be praying “Make me like Jesus.” God WILL answer that prayer and say to you “Yes. Bear your cross.” Are you willing to obey Him then?

Our lessons? Pray hard; pray constantly; pray in faith believing God is listening and will act; be prepared to be obedient. Keep praying; don’t give up! God may so “No” to many of your prayers. Be prepared to act in compliance when He says “No” or when He says “Yes.” Whatever the case, keep praying.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mums the Word

Mums the Word

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14 – New King James Version).

Mmmm…fall…what a wonderful time of year! Mums must be the happiest flowers on the earth. It seems that every fall starts with an abundance of clouds and quite a bit of rain. I think that’s what makes mums so special. When the weather is bleak, they not only survive but thrive! They create a startling contrast against a cloudy sky with their vibrant color. The clouds can come and come, but those beautiful mums just keep on giving out a brightness that can be likened to light.

These are pretty bleak times, or at least it seems to be. Jesus understood that, even while He was in the midst of His earthly ministry. In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus sat on a mountainside teaching HIS DISCIPLES. He told them, “The folks are hungry. God wants to bless those that seek Him. You are to take the message to them. I know it’s going to be tough, but my Father blesses those that are persecuted for His name’s sake” (Matthew 5:3-12).

Jesus said that He was the light come into the world (John 12:46). If we know Him, that light lives in us. We are not to cover it up. We are to let our light shine before men. Regardless of the situation of the times, we are too share the love of Christ. We are to be salt, bringing flavor (5:13). We are to be like cities; beacons of hope for the weary traveler seeking rest (5:14). We are to be lights, leading the way (5:15).

John 1:1 says that Jesus was the Word, and verse 14 says He came and lived AMONG us. People flocked to Him or shunned Him. Expect the same, but, nevertheless, be a light! We just can’t hide Him in our lives once He has illuminated us with His presence.

We are to be like those beautiful mums. Be a bright, interminable, and joyous presence in a bleak, seemingly hopeless, world. Mums may be likened to the Word, but when it comes to sharing the love of Christ and the message of salvation, mum is not the word for Christians. We are to shine! We are to shout Christ, live Christ, share Christ, and, especially, not be hidden from a lost and dying world.

Times are tough. Will you be a mum to these cloudy times? Let your light shine!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Hues of the Heart

The Hues of the Heart

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’” (1 Samuel 16:7 – New King James Version).

Isn’t fall a beautiful time of year? The colors are breathtaking! God is the most awesome artist in the universe. I love to ride to the mountains in the fall of the year, so I can stand on a high place and look out on God’s painting. He uses such vivid hues and such a variety of color. Some shades are brilliant, and some rich earthy tones. Nothing clashes, but all the colors compliment each other. I am always inspired by creation to worship God who generated and conducts so many pieces of this orchestra of the eyes. What an overwhelming God He is!

When Samuel went to anoint a new king of Israel, his natural choice was the oldest, tallest, and best looking of the eight sons of Jesse. God plainly told Samuel to not choose the king by outward appearance. God was clear, He looks at the heart! So, what does Samuel do? He works his way through the sons in order of age and appearance anyway. Who does God lead Samuel to anoint? You’re right, David, the youngest, and scrawniest son of Jesse. This kid had been out in the sun, getting a deep tan, with those stinking sheep. You’ve seen folks coming in from working on the farm; you can bet David was a sight!

It’s a good thing that God looks at the heart. I sure wish we could, or should I say would? How can so many different color trees look so beautiful in our eyes, while we can’t appreciate the wonderful and rich colors God has made people? Are not the trees all made of wood? Are not people all made of flesh? What would fall be like if we chose and appointed one tree as superior and refused the beauty of the mixture of colors? Quite dull, at best, I’d say. It’d make for a tragic end of God’s artwork if we ignored all but one color of tree.

Israel found that out the hard way. Read chapter 8 of 1 Samuel sometime. The people refused God’s warning and chose a king themselves based on what THEY thought was right. They chose Saul. He nearly destroyed the kingdom of Israel.

We can choose by looks, and make severe mistakes. OR, we can do it God’s way, and look on the heart. That’s really what He is most concerned with. A man asked me very seriously one day did I think all colors of folks would make it to heaven. I had to answer and emphatic, “NO!” He said, rather surprised, “I AGREE! White people will go to heaven.” I said, again, “NO!” “Then,” he asked, “What is that one color?” I said, “Red.” Looking bewildered, he asked, “How do you figure that?” I quoted John 14:6 to this fellow. He agreed that Jesus was the only way to the Father. Then I quoted this verse; “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22 – NKJV). Everyone must be red because their sins must be covered by the blood of Jesus!

Now, dear Christian friend, we must understand that God chooses according to the heart and redeems all who come by the sacrifice of Christ. We must understand that it is the hue of the heart that matters most. NO, I’m not referring to literal color, but to the position of a person in Christ.

Color, however, is something to be appreciated; even embraced. If you want to appreciate one color and one color only, then appreciate that color that flowed freely at Calvary.

As you look out on this human race, think of it as trees in the fall. You will begin to see God’s artwork in living color and flesh. It will revolutionize your view of people. I beg you, however, look most at the hue of the heart. Red, yellow, black, and white…what is the hue of your heart?

Friday, March 23, 2007

This guy has the goods on Al...

More on this later from me...


Practicing what you preach
Kelly Boggs
Posted on Mar 23, 2007

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)--“A hypocrite,” someone once observed, “plays one tune while dancing to another.” Per this description, Al Gore deserves the unflattering designation. While he conducts an arrangement of global doom urging drastic action, he does a jig to conspicuous energy consumption.

The former vice-president turned film-maker recently testified before congressional committees concerning his beliefs about global warming. He described the situation as a “crisis that threatens the survival of our civilization.” Gore further emphasized that climate change represents a “true planetary emergency.”

“The planet has a fever. If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor,” Gore told members of Congress. “If the doctor says you need to intervene here, you don’t say, ‘Well I read a science fiction novel that told me it’s not a problem.’” He added, “If the crib’s on fire, you don’t speculate that the baby is flame retardant. You take action.”

Gore maintains that the chief culprit contributing to global warming is mankind. Hence, he argues, human beings must reduce the amount of greenhouse gases they produce. One way of achieving this reduction is by consuming less energy.

In the final frame of Gore’s Academy Award-winning film on climate change, “An Inconvenient Truth,” the following question appears on the screen: “Are you ready to change the way you live?”

Gore is all too ready to play his dirge of climate catastrophe for anyone who will lend an ear. However, when no one is looking he is busy boogying down to a beat of excessive energy consumption.

Reports have shown that Gore’s 10,000 square foot home consumes 20 times the amount of electrical power and natural gas as the average American household. His energy bill is more than $14,000 a year, according to records cited by the Associated Press.

Gore has attempted to justify his voracious appetite for energy by explaining that he purchases carbon credits to offset his excessive consumption. However, carbon credits -– most often a donation to an environmentally friendly project that “might” reduce future carbon emissions -– do nothing to reduce existing emissions. Further, it was discovered that Gore was purchasing credits from a company he set up to help celebrities and environmentalists find “green” projects to fund. Hence he was purchasing credits from himself.

The Nashville Tennessean reported in February that a zinc mine on Gore-owned property was one of the worst polluters in the state prior to its being shut down in 2003. The mine, from which Gore has earned almost $800,000, is scheduled to re-open some time this year.

According to Gore, the earth is experiencing global warming due, in large measure, to mankind’s excessive use of fossil fuels. He argues that the only way to thwart a planetary melt-down is for all of us to change the way we live in reference to energy consumption. This being the case, you might think that Gore would lead the way by practicing what he preaches, wouldn’t you? Well, if that is what you think, you are wrong.

During his recent visit to Capital Hill, Gore was asked by Sen James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking member of the Senate Environment of Public Works Committee, if he would sign a “Personal Energy Ethics Pledge.” Gore declined.

The energy pledge states: “As a believer that human-caused global warming is a moral, ethical and spiritual issue affecting our survival; that home energy use is a key component of overall energy use; that reducing my fossil fuel-based home energy usage will lead to lower greenhouse emissions and that leaders on moral issues should lead my example; I pledge to consume no more energy for use in my residence than the average American household by March 21, 2008.”

“There are hundreds of thousands of people who adore you,” Inhofe told Gore. They “would follow your example by reducing their energy usage if you did.”

Gore does drive a hybrid vehicle and has attempted to install solar panels on his house (a move blocked by zoning ordinances). But if global warming poses such an ominous threat and humans are the most significant aspect of the equation, why does he continue to use energy like there’s no tomorrow? If climate change truly is a “crisis that threatens the survival of our civilization,” why does he refuse to take more steps to reduce his own energy consumption?

Only Al Gore knows the answers to the aforementioned questions. However, could it be that he is not nearly as concerned about the crisis of global warming as he would lead us to believe? “He does not believe who does not live according to his belief,” said historian Thomas Fuller.

Someone has said, “Your religion is what you do when the sermon is over.” When Gore is not sermonizing about global warming his religion of climate change is nothing more than empty rhetoric. Quite simply, he does not practice what he preaches.

Friday Fragments, By: Dan Wolgemuth, YFC-USA President

March 23, 2007

He actually did it.

The woman in 1C moved to the front of the airplane where she lingered for a few moments too long. The flight attendant insisted that she return to her seat, and as if a trigger had been pulled, she spouted terse, inflammatory and dismissive language at him while she returned to her seat. He returned to filling drink glasses for distribution to the passengers on flight 819. She sat in her seat, neck flushed, non-verbally reflecting her disgust.

Ten minutes later, he approached her. She was still in 1C. He leaned over so that he could address her at eye level and said, “I’m sorry about our interaction earlier.” He didn’t qualify the statement with a “but;” in fact, he didn’t water down the statement at all. From my vantage point in seat 2D, I could she the whiplash on her face. When he had approached, she had recoiled. I’m sure that she was ready for a confrontation, for round 2… and what she received instead was humility. In 40 years of travel, I’ve never witnessed anything like it.

“I’m sorry” breathed life into a relational corpse. Humility extinguished what lightening had ignited. And when that happened, just moments after it did, this brusque woman, returned the volley… “I’m sorry too,” she said, with real sincerity.

It was a fragment of life. A moment. Interaction between two disconnected lives that will likely never intersect again… but for some reason, this woman, reconciliation, and an apology mattered to this flight attendant, and it was moving and inspirational.
Repentance, an authentic change of heart, is powerful. It cuts across the grain of ego. It marches against the current of self-righteousness and vindication. Only to submit.
It confesses without manipulation.
It’s so hard.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. ~ James 5:16
…and so I stopped on my way out the door. I shook his hand. I told him that I noticed. I told him that I thought it was noteworthy and valiant. I wanted to drink deeply of what I had witnessed at the front of a Boeing 737 bound for Denver.

Lesson learned… now it’s my turn. Powerful words, transformational results.

Volunteer News

Friends, the following is a devotional I recently read from Jim Liebelt of Home Word ministries. I thought it would be perfect for us. I think there is room for much discouragement in the work of evangelism and I think many of us experience it on a regular basis. I have often said that I expect lost people to act lost, so what they do does not surprise me. Still, I also feel that many times we serve and serve and serve and the students don't appreciate it and we share and share and share and sometimes it seems no one is listening. I think the following devotion is a God-send.

Living By Your New Nature
This devotional was written by Jim Liebelt

But I tell you, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." —Matthew 5:44-45 (NIV)

The story has been told of a man who while hiking in a desert, stumbled upon a rattlesnake that had become hopelessly wedged between a boulder and some limbs from a fallen tree. The man decided to save the rattlesnake, but in the process the snake tried to bite him. The man tried to free the snake a second time. Again, the snake tried to bite the man. Finally, on the third attempt the man succeeded in freeing the snake. And still, the snake coiled and attempted to strike its liberator. The man’s companion, who had observed from a safe distance, asked the man why he continued to risk himself to free the snake. The man responded, “The snake was attempting to strike because that is its nature. My nature is to love. Should I cease to love because the snake attempts to strike?”

Jesus demonstrated this same concept – a commitment to living by his own nature regardless of another’s nature - when he gave his life to die on our behalf. Hebrews 12:3 instructs us to “Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” The call of the Christ-follower is the call to live our lives following Jesus’ example and based on our new nature as God’s children. We are called to love and serve, regardless of the opposition or persecution we face from others.

Today, will you love even when others attempt to strike?

(1) Come to the banquet March 27 from 6-8 PM

(2) We will be cleaning all day Monday, March 26 and "setting up" on the 27th. We need: (a) cleaners and (b) chairs for Tuesday's banquet. If you can borrow folding chairs from your church and are willing to bring them and return them you would be such a blessing!

(3) I know that many of you have agreed to help with the banquet itself on Tuesday. THANKS!!!! If you are not able to help, PLEASE STILL COME AND ENJOY YOURSELF!

(4) We need volunteers for March 30-31 for all times during both days. PLEASE RESPOND!

(5) Our usual team that serves first Fridays is having a special service for that date (Good Friday). We need some fill in volunteers. That date is April 6. We will also be training new volunteers that weekend. Somerset Church is going to begin sending a few people on 1st Fridays and another team on 1st Saturdays. Their first service dates are those two dates that constistute the first weekend in April.

(6) Lastly, if any of you ever have a ministry testimony you would like to share with our newsletter community, please send it to me.

So, in conclusion, come to the banquet and tell me if you can volunteer on any of the upcoming dates (3/30; 3/31; 4/6; 4/7). Thanks y'all!

The volunteer calendar will be mailed out next week for the month of April.

Dust from the Wind

Dust from the Wind

“Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah” (Psalm 4:4 – New King James Version).

I was lying in bed one night reading a book. I felt like I had just stepped out of a whirlwind. My day had been so busy that I barely had time to think. It was great just to sit still for a few moments and reflect on my very busy day. I looked up at the ceiling fan, which was off for the first time in months as it was the first cool night of the fall. Have you ever noticed how much dirt collects on the fan blades? As I lay there, I found that the fan and I had much in common. It had been so busy spinning that it had collected a lot of real dust and I had been so full of activity that I had collected a bunch of real anxiety.

When David wrote this Psalm he was on the run. His son, Absalom, was taking over David’s kingdom. The two had not spoken for five years. You can find these happenings in David’s life in 2 Samuel 13-18. I say all this to help us understand that the Psalmist understood anxiety.

David, by this time, had already gone through his affair with Bathsheba. He had fought wars. He had been promoted from sheep herder to king. The father of David’s best friend had tried to murder David. Now, his family, job, ministry, and life in general was in absolute mayhem. He KNEW anxiety!

How had David learned to deal with it? His advice was simple. Allow me a paraphrase of our focus verse; “You’re going to get mad from time to time. Don’t let your anger lead you to sin. Get still, go to a quiet place, and think about what’s going on.” Once David got quiet, he concentrated on God. The four verses after verse four, David ascribes praise to God. He says to trust God (vs 5); he asked God to show His face (vs 6); David praises God for the gifts of joy and abundant provision (vs 7); he recognizes God as protector.

Friend, that’s the key…we need to be still and know He is God! Like the fan, we just keep going and going and going. Before we realize what has happened, we are laden down with a seemingly unbearable load. Let’s learn from David’s vast experience of trouble. By this point in his life, David had realized that the best thing for him to do was get calm and think things through.

So, my friend, are you in a whirlwind? Are you collecting spiritual dust? Stop, get quiet, get still, and experience tranquility by the power and Spirit of God.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Legacies and Crushed Dreams

Legacies and Crushed Dreams

“There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years” (Luke 1:5-7 – King James Version).

Rarely do things turn out like we want or think they should. When I was thirteen I had three big dreams. I wanted to be a professional baseball player, an army hero and I wanted to be like Jim. Jim was my oldest brother. He was my hero, my protector, and my friend. He was a good ball player in his own right; well, good doesn’t do his abilities justice…he was a fine ball player. Jim also had a notable military career. Both his ball playing and his military career were cut short.

Jim “messed up” in high school; his girlfriend became pregnant. Jim quit school, joined the army and nearly five years later was dead; it was an auto accident. I was thirteen.

Fast forward nine years; I was 22. This was a very surprising thing for me; I never thought I’d be that old. I had been compared to my brother so much (looks wise) that I figured I wouldn’t see my 22nd birthday just like he didn’t. Bad knees, poor eyes, and a less than healthy shoulder saw my baseball dreams flushed down the drain. A drinking problem, a bad attitude and a quick temper ruined my military career. Jim was dead. I was surprised to even be alive. There were no dreams; they’d all been crushed. I felt awfully young to be so empty inside.

I think Zacharias and Elisabeth could have felt my pain. In the days in which they lived, family was important. Women that did not bear children were considered to be out of God’s favor. I would imagine that when those two married they dreamed of family. It seemed, as they were old, that it was not to be…or was it?

Regardless of what happens in our lives we will respond in one of two ways; we will become bitter or better. Bitterness comes when we turn inward. Becoming better happens when we look upwards.

Let’s hit on a few things from this passage. Number one, those WERE tough times to live in Israel. The land was occupied. Judaism was ritual and religion and fraught with internal strife between sects such as the Pharisees and the Sadducees. In comparison, no one would deny that our world is a mess. There is little trust amongst denominations and little unity within them. Morals have taken a back seat. In Zacharias’ and Elisabeth’s case, what was their response? According to the Scripture, “they were both righteous before God.” Why was that? Easy, it was because they obeyed “all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord.” How do you react to the circumstances of the times?

Secondly, I’d imagine there were high expectations placed upon Zacharias and Elisabeth. They were both of the priestly tribe of Aaron. Their legacy was to serve God. That’s a lot of pressure. They did though. I believe it may have allowed them to keep their sanity in the midst of broken dreams. Does every Christian family produce Christian children? No! And God has no grandchildren. Each person’s relationship with God is one on One. Zacharias and Elisabeth may have been expected to worship God, but I doubt it was out of duty; rather it was out of love of God. That’s good. I am POSITIVE it sustained them. Can the same be said of you?

Thirdly, if we know anything of broken dreams, we know that sometimes they are mended. Only four of the twenty-four priestly courses are known to have came back from the Babylonian captivity; the course of Abia was not one of those courses (Ezra 2:36-39). God had organized those courses…that was His dream. He did not let it die. Though history does not record how that course came back, it did. Dreams don’t always die. Sometimes they just take a while to materialize. Some do die, but only at God’s pleasure. We can give up on some of our dreams; dreams can change too. We cannot give up on God. It was the same with the dream of parenthood for Zacharias and Elisabeth. They didn’t become bitter. They didn’t give up on God. Have you?

Fourthly, God works past the obvious. Zacharias and Elisabeth were old. So what! God is bigger than our limitations! Do you limit what God can do in your life? Do you let Him do big things in spite of your obvious limitations? Do you EXPECT Him to do just that?

Fifthly, mood and circumstance did not dictate Zacharias’ and Elisabeth’s devotion. They were faithful and found righteous. Are you?

Jim’s daughter is now a beautiful young lady in her early twenties. Jim’s “mess up” sure is pretty! That’s quite a legacy. I am sure none of this fit into Jim’s idea of a legacy, but God worked it out wonderfully. I am pretty sure Zacharias and Elisabeth never imagined there son would be a herald of God. Not a bad ending, huh?

I am not Jim. I am not a ball player. I am not a heroic soldier. Things RARELY turn out like we imagine they will. When God is in it, it’s always better! I am thankful in Christ that I am a child of God and a minister of the Gospel. I have a new dream. I want to see God face to face. I am resolved to live for Him, no matter my circumstances, others’ expectations, or my limitations.

How about you? Have you a dream that has been crushed or crushed you? Respond with righteousness. Look upward. Wait for God’s timing. He may take longer than you think He should. He may even give you a new dream. Will you become bitter or better in the meantime?

Baptist Press - The late Ted Stone honored by ERLC

Good story about Ted Stone's receiving a posthumous honor. Hit the link located below and check it out.

I wish we all of us Christians could be so brave as to take off and do EXACTLY what we feel God is calling us to do.

Baptist Press - The late Ted Stone honored by ERLC - News with a Christian Perspective

March YFC Newsletter - Part 1

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March YFC Newsletter - Part 2

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March YFC Newsletter - Part 3

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Local Announcements

The Baptist Children's Home Food Drive is thru April 18th for the churches. Items collected may be taken to the Person County drop off point, Somerset Church, on April 19 & 20. Hours are 9am to 5 pm. The Caswell County drop off point is Shiloh Church. Make arrangements to drop off items thru Mrs. Carolyn Hudson, 336-234-7546. Items need to be at Somerset by the 20th. If you have questions, contact Mrs. Wilma Foushee, contact person for the Children's Home, 336-364-2338 or call the association office.

Bethel Hill Bapitst Church
Ethiopia Mission Trip Fundraiser
BBQ & Gospel Sing
Saturday, March 24
BBQ ready at 4, singing at 7

North Roxboro Church Women's Conference
"Warm Up to Spring" Missions Event
March 24, 8:30 to 11 am
"Live the Call" will be presented by the BBA - WMU Leadership Team
Call Charlotte Good, 599-1584 or 598-6036 for more info

Youth for Christ, - 6th Annual Friend's Night
Tuesday, March 27th, 6-8 pm
Tour Talk and Reception
Call YFC 503-9327 for more info

Pregnancy Support Center
"Open House"
Friday, March 30, 6-9 pm
Contact the center, 597-2811 if you have questions

Gaither Style Singing
Somerset Baptist Church
Choir Plus Groups
Saturday, March 31, 2007, 6:30 pm

Corner to Corner from Dan Wolgemuth

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ~ John 14:6

This is serious business. The lines have been drawn… Jesus made sure of that.

In his book, “Letter to a Christian Nation,” Sam Harris, a self-proclaimed atheist, confronts the American Christian population with the profound realities of our claim. He starts his letter this way:

“You believe that the Bible is the word of God, and that Jesus is the son of God, and that only those who place their faith in Jesus will find salvation after death. As a Christian, you believe these propositions, not because they make you feel good, but because you think they are true. Before I point out some of the problems of this belief, I would like to acknowledge that there are many points on which you and I agree. We agree, for instance, that if one of us is right, then the other must be wrong. The Bible is either God’s Word or isn’t. Either Jesus offers humanity the one true path to salvation, or it does not. We agree that to be a true Christian is to believe that all other faiths are mistaken, and profoundly so. If Christianity is correct, and I persist in my unbelief, I should expect to suffer the torments of hell. Worse still, I have persuaded others, and many close to me, to reject the very idea of God…. If the basic doctrine of Christianity is correct, I have misused my life in the worst conceivable way.”

When you offer the healing and hope of Jesus, you draw a line — one that Sam Harris understands. I pray for courage, wisdom and love as you march boldly into a place that the evil one despises. You inspire me.

Flu Season, by Kelly McFadden

Flu Season

This devotional was written by Kelly McFadden

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” —Ephesians 6:10-12

During the coldest months of the year, sales of vitamin C and Echinacea go up as people prepare to battle the flu. Pharmacies and doctors’ offices offer vaccinations to increase immunity to the pesky virus. Resources for fighting the flu include making sure your immune system has a boost with extra vitamins, taking precautionary measures of flu shots, avoiding people who are sick, washing your hands and getting plenty of rest.

Throughout the Bible, differences are noted between the worldly and the spiritual. There is worldly wealth versus spiritual wealth, worldly teaching versus spiritual teaching and worldly health versus spiritual health. Ephesians’ chapter 6 talks about spiritual health. Paul is urging believers to build up their spiritual immune system so they are prepared to step into spiritual battle.

The Bible offers resources to make sure each person is spiritually strong. What is your strategy to combat a spiritual virus? What is your plan to be spiritually healthy, and not weakened by a spiritual flu? In the same way you work to stay physically healthy, you must take steps and measures to remain spiritually healthy. Equip yourself with truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Word of God and prayer. You don’t just need one or two of these to fight the battle effectively, you need them all.

There are spiritual disciplines that can help you to become spiritually strong. You must put on the full armor of God. Some of these disciplines are solitude, prayer, obedience, Bible study, confession, generosity, serving and worship. What are you doing to live a spiritually healthy lifestyle? How can you make sure you are staying healthy during every season of your life?
Don’t be surprised when spiritual battles come; be ready. For the real battle is not against the worldly forces, but the spiritual ones.
Youth for Christ Roxboro

Mar 21, 2007

....the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace. Luke 1.79

Praises: Prayed for opportunities to send word out about next week's public reception at the Warehouse and Board Member Ben Wilson got to announce it before 400 community leaders last night at the Horner Financial banquet before he gave the invocation. Three Hearts Learning Center moves in next week and takes $500 off of our rent payment each month! Daily hard labor by volunteers putting baseboards in bathrooms, cleaning out the proposed chapel, typing files, getting ready for this year's annual Friend's Night on March 27. A precious, older, toothless man from the group homes who came one evening to take out trash, mop bathrooms and talk to anyone who would listen about how he used to steal cars to support his cocaine habit, but the Lord freed him from that and now he wants to do anything he can to pay back this community for all the wrong he did.

Pleas: Thank You so much, Father, for being good all the way through, for shining Your light into dark, drug-addicted hearts, for pursuing children born into sin-ravaged homes that cannot find You on their own. Thank You for Your promise to guide our feet into Your path of peace. Jesus, You are our peace. You have fixed it so that there is nothing between us and the Father. Help us, Lord, to spread that news, to tell others (like DW) to leave the shadow of death and live in Your light. Please guide the feet of teens, God, to turn into Campus Life meetings and the Warehouse; and guide the feet of 5 staff, 4 summer interns, 200+ volunteers, 15 board members, 7 people to pray with You, and 400 attendees on March 27, to do Your will for Your glory.



“The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him” (Psalms 103:13 – New Living Translation).

I have a friend named Andy Solomon. Long before I had a child of my own, I watched Andy be a dad. He was taking me to fatherhood school. Well, really it was more than that. He was taking me to “daddy” school. Any man can father a child, it takes a real man to be a daddy. I saw Andy soothe his children when they were in pain and right them when they were wrong. I saw him correct one child with one breath and calm another of his children the next instant. It was a beautiful thing! There is no way I can repay Andy for letting God use him to teach me about being a dad. One thing that was always noticeable…there was genuine love and affection in every case, whether they were being rebuked or pacified.

Oh, my friend, what a Father we have in heaven! If you have ever seen a wonderful example of an earthly father, then imagine the blessedness of knowing the PERFECT FATHER. This God of wonder knows our needs more than anyone else, “for he understands how weak we are” (Psalm 103:14a – NLT). Psalm 103:8 says, “The LORD is merciful and gracious; he is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love” (NLT), so we can be assured that His correction is timely and right. Our heavenly Father does not hold grudges for His word rightly says, “He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever” (Psalm 103:9 – NLT).

THIS Father truly sheds amazing grace! It is no wonder that Jesus said, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven…” (Luke 11:2b – NKJV), for He knew of this amazing Father and wanted us to know Him the same way. Father, in this case, is not a distant term, but an intimate one. You see friend, this great God is tender and compassionate and HE is the true mark of a father. He lords His household and it is marked by mercy. His justice is true. His love knows to no end. He is tender in rebuke and kind to the hurting. WHAT A DADDY!

There is one thing, however, that we must know. We must “fear” Him. That means respect, obey, and revere. Of course we all know that there is no problem to obey someone we treasure. He deals with us with genuine love and affection, so it makes it joy to “fear” Him.

There is MUCH to be learned and gained from an earthly father. There is countless blessing to be gained from God the perfect father. I remarked to Andy once about how I admired his parenting. He told me to look at God’s example of fatherhood for it was perfect. Andy was right.

Do you see God as distant or do you know Him intimately? His children know His love. Do you know God as “daddy” today?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Dash

The Dash

“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” (2 Corinthians 5:10 – King James Version).

Have you ever walked through a graveyard? Many tombstones have things written on them, such as; “Beloved Father”; “WWII Veteran”; “Dearest Mother”. The ones that catch my attention the most are the tombstones that list the name and dates, and that is all they say. For example; John Doe, 1903-1972. The “dash” that appears between the dates always catches my attention. I have a tendency to wonder what that “dash” encompasses. The dates simply say the year the person was born and the year that they died. Nothing else is determined by those dates. Without comments on the stone, one is left to ponder what happened in between those years. In other words, what does that dash represent? What all has happened in that life between life and death?

We, who are now alive in the body, are in the midst of our dash. What are we composing to represent our dash?

According to the Scripture from 2 Corinthians, we all will one day stand before God almighty and have to give representation for the things we have done in life between life and death. That, honestly, is a sobering thought for me. What will my dash represent? Many people may one day look at my gravestone and wonder that themselves. One thing is for sure, God knows. He knows every second that constructs our dash.

I want my dash to represent a life lived for God. Paul said, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11 – NASB). There is one thing God must see in our dash. He must see that it was constructed on the foundation of Christ Jesus. At the judgment seat of Christ, God “will test the quality of each man's work” (1 Corinthians 3:13b – NASB). That work is what the dash is made of.

How do you feel about your dash today? I am concerned about mine. But I have a hope, and it is built on nothing less than Jesus and HIS righteousness! Man may question my dash, but I desire that God see only Jesus blood in mine. It is my sincerest craving that my dash be blotted over by Christ living in me. I want to surrender moment to moment to Christ, so that in that Day of Judgment Christ may look into a mirror.

I find this heart tingling! Of course, I do not see this as easy, and know it must consist of CONSTANT SURRENDER, but I want my dash to mean something.

I care not what man may see when he looks upon tombstone. I do hope that man, too, will see Christ in me. I earnestly hope my dash is a testimony. I pray that much of God will be seen in my life, even beyond the grave. I pray that my stone may record a life lived for God. Beyond that, God knows what man can only assume. In HIS holy eyes, what does your dash say about you today?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Blinded by the Flash

Blinded by the Flash

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 – New King James Version).

Has anyone ever surprised you with a quick snapshot at an unexpected moment? That can be traumatizing, especially when caught without makeup! Have you ever noticed how blinding that silly flash can be? It will confuse and disorient you for a few moments. Often, it can cause quite a bit of unrest. What last longer, the flash or the picture? The flash may blind us briefly, but the picture is what lasts.

Frequently, this is how we view our life. The time spent on earth is likened to the flash; blinding, confusing, and getting entirely too much attention. In comparison with the eternity with God that awaits the believer, life on earth is a fleeting flash.

Allow me some freedom for a moment. Paul tells the believers of Rome, “Looking at the awesome picture to come, that flash is not worth getting upset over.” Paul says, “I’m not going to get blinded by the flash, because it holds no comparison to the big picture.” Whatever suffering Paul had to face, he thought it peanuts compared to what he knew God had in store for him. The apostle understood that this world is a cruel place, but its proportional value was miniscule when laid next to the glory of God.

Now…what are you focused on? Are you being blinded by life (the flash)? Are you focused on the things of God (the picture)? No doubt life is a struggle, but the VICTORIOUS Christian understands that God is bigger and better than anything we may face. We have the Holy Spirit, which Paul calls “a foretaste of future glory” (Romans 8:23 - NLT), as a bit of heaven now. We know how good it is to be in the Spirit. What will it be like when we are in God’s presence all the time? WOW!

I love blackberries so much that I don’t mind the briars. I want the picture enough to ignore the flash. I want the fullness of God so much that the mess of this world does not hold candle to His glory! I can endure it. I can rejoice in spite of tribulation. God is so much MORE than all these troubles. The worst of this world is nothing beside the smallest thing of God.

So…are you being blinded? Listen friend, look at the picture…the big picture. Don’t let the flash mean more than the picture.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Time of Invitation

A Time of Invitation

And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. -- Luke 10:9; King James Version

We often call them "deadlines". That's the time when invitations come to a close. Think about the party invitation that comes in the mail and clearly is marked "RSVP" Sure, those are initials for a French phrase (répondez s'il vous plaît, meaning "please reply"), but we know it means, "Y'all better call me if you want to come to this shin-dig!" Have you ever had to write a paper for school? Sure you have! A deadline is issued and you know that means that the invitation to complete the paper comes to a close when you pass the deadline. My phone was cut off one time...okay, more than once. A bill was mailed to my house. I was called. A note was left on my door. I didn't respond to the deadline and my phone was cut off. I wanted to go to school. There was a registration time. I missed it. I tried to get in anyway. Too late, I missed the proverbial boat.

We understand invitations. We know about deadlines. I have, and have seen others, become awfully upset when it comes to deadlines.

Deadlines only become frustrating when invitations aren't acted upon.

Just stop and think about that before you read any further...deadlines only become frustrating when invitations aren't acted upon.

As Jesus was instructing His followers He wanted them to be the "inviters". What a privilege! It was like Jesus was telling them to say, "Hey, y'all, drop everything you are doing; turn from the way you are going and come to Jesus' life party!" Sure, this was a special time when God also gave them powers of healing too, but I want to focus on the invitation.

Are you an "inviter"? I am! I am privileged and blessed to invite people to Christ all the time. There was an old rap song that went like this: "Stop whatcha doin' 'cause I'm about to ruin the image and the style that ya used to." Honestly, it was a horrible song. I was a lost little puppy when I listened to it, but it's another of those silly things the Lord has allowed me to redeem in my service to Him. I often think of those opening lines when I sense an opportunity to witness to someone. I begin to think, "Wow, I am getting ready to tell this person something that may radically change their lives!" REPENT: Stop what you are doing. THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS COME NIGH UNTO YOU: Throw away your entire old life and pledge allegiance to the King! So, from that silly mess, I start hearing this tune in my head; my head starts to bob; it just comes out..."Stop whatcha doin'..."

What's that to do with being an "inviter"? I get excited! I want to share this awesome message! I want people to come to my eternal Jesus party!

You may think I am a nut. Okay, that's fine by me. I know this...the cross was (and still IS) a big invitation to the world. The deadline will come like a thief in the night.

I might be crazy. I might be a man of wacky methods. I might seem like a maniac running around inviting people to a bash. I might be a lot of things, but what I KNOW is that I am an inviter.

Like those people Jesus commissioned so long ago, we too have the message to preach: "Repent...the Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you." They were ushering in a time of invitation that we are still walking in today. We cannot force people to respond. We can't even tell them a deadline. But, yes BUT, we can invite. We should invite. We must invite.

Don't be shy. Don't be afraid. Don't worry about the response. INVITE!

Friday, March 16, 2007

All the great temptations appear first in the region of the mind and can be fought and conquered there. We have been given the power to close the door of the mind. We can lose this power through disuse or increase it by use, by the daily discipline of the inner man in things which seem small and by reliance upon the word of the Spirit of truth. It is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure. It is as though He said, 'Learn to live in your will, not in your feelings.' -- Amy Carmichael

Thursday, March 15, 2007



“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15 –New King James Version).

Almost every New Year we make promises of change. Every year I vow to lose weight only to close out January with a Super Bowl food fest (if I last that long!). It’s funny how we can make so many rash promises that a few weeks later mean nothing at all to us.

I believe there is one promise that is very worthy of keeping. It is the promise of serving the Lord. Joshua told the people to weigh it for themselves. IF you think God is evil, then serve someone else. However, regardless of what anyone else was going to do, Joshua said he was going to serve the Lord.

Just as important as serving the Lord, Joshua was willing to stand alone in that commitment. That is harder than it sounds. We all know the story of Peter. Peter said that he would stand by Jesus no matter what. Peter said that in front of his friends. Do you remember what he did later on? When it came time to stand for Christ, Peter failed. He was asked was he one of the disciples, and said no. None of the other disciples were around to back him up, and Peter fell flat on his face (John 18:19-27).

Have you ever had an experience like that? Have you ever said you would live for and stand for the Lord, but didn’t live up to it? I know I have. I think Joshua had the key. Look at Joshua 24:25; “So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day” (NASB). Joshua knew that the people would need help in keeping their focus on the Lord. So, he had them all do it together. In this way, they could hold one another accountable. This is a good thing. We can make a lot of decisions, but often we need the help of a friend to remind us of our resolutions.

Think about how that works when you’re dieting…you tell a friend about it and every time you sniff a cheesecake, your friend will hit you over the head with a spiked club! Well, maybe it’s not that drastic, but you know they’ll let you know about it. The hard part about letting your friends in on your commitments to the Lord is the fear that they will be disappointed if we are starting to forget our declarations.

I’ll tell you this much, the gain is worth the risk. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Will you help me by reminding me of that when I seem to forget? Thanks. Be resolute. I’ll help if you want me to!
There are three kinds of people: those who have sought God and found him, and these are reasonable and happy; those who seek God and have not yet found him, and these are reasonable and unhappy; and those who neither seek God nor find him, and these are unreasonable and unhappy. == Blaise Pascal

Are You a Missionary? By: Dr. David Alan Black

Are You a Missionary?

David Alan Black

Here’s a thought. If every Christian is called to be a witness, and if every church has a global mission at its door, why are only certain people called “missionaries,” and why do boards and agencies try to do the work of the local church? There is not a single hint in the New Testament that the early Christians saw evangelism as the responsibility of certain professionals. Of course, people and agencies that work with and through the local church may be said to be fulfilling their mission responsibility. But in reality, every one of us ought to be a “North American Missionary.” Weighty dissertations have been written by theologians on the “call of God” to missions, but every believer is called to missions – full time, I might add.

Jesus Himself was the ultimate missionary, and He entrusted to His followers world missions. And even if we cannot travel to a foreign field, the “uttermost parts of the world” have come to us. Just look at any college or university campus today. Missiologists call this “global missions in reverse,” but it is no less missions. That’s why I was so pleased and excited to hear that one of my doctoral students has been asked to teach communications at a secular university next fall. I imagine he will do more than disseminate information, too. I can see him giving himself in time-consuming acts of missional love simply because they are needed. After all, sharing one’s faith is simply helping anyone take a step closer to God.

I look back with awe at the mileposts God used in preparing me for my present responsibilities as a global “missionary” to Ethiopia, from meeting real live missionaries and missions-minded people while a child in Hawaii to missionary training in Wheaton with Greater Europe Mission’s Eurocorps team to sharing my faith as a student in Basel to preaching in such varied places as India and Korea. At the same time, I cannot and dare not lose sight of my “home mission field” of Mecklenburg County, Virginia, where the cultural and social barriers can be just as real as those in Ethiopia or India. A thrilling part of being evangelistic is seeing people of different citizenships becoming citizens of the kingdom of God and missionaries themselves. Think of a Bereket up in Gondar or Mohammed in an Alaba prison cell. I like to think that whatever work I do in my career as a professor and author, my ultimate task is to equip others to carry on Christ’s mission. And I mean all Christians, not just those who are professionally trained.

Are you, then, a true missionary of the Gospel? Are you creating cynicism or compassion by your actions? Are you heartbroken that countless people have never experienced the forgiveness of their sins? Or that their condition is wretched? Will you do whatever is needed in order to fulfill your commitment to God? In short, are you a missionary – locally, regionally, globally, even cross-culturally (see Acts 1:8)?

It’s a question worth pondering.

February 22, 2007

David Alan Black is the editor of



“For I am the LORD, I change not…” (Malachi 3:6a – King James Version).

Grandma Lessie kept me the majority of the time as a small child when my parents worked. In her front yard was a beautiful elm tree. It gave me shade, a place to climb, and a place to be alone. That elm tree and I grew strong and broad together. When fall came each year, that elm shed thousands of very small leaves, which we had to rake and burn. Switches for whippings (which I had much need of) were produced in abundance. Well into my manhood, the tree was cut down. A split down the trunk caused fear that the tree would fall onto Grandma’s house. I know I won’t miss those tiny leaves, and I definitely won’t miss the switches! However, the yard just doesn’t look the same anymore.

The fact that God is unchanging is a source of never ending comfort for me. I know that no matter how much technology passes me by; no matter how fads come and go; no matter what man may do, God remains the same. There is a saying that I have always wanted to put on a t-shirt; “God is…whether I like it or not.” When I am in need, God is God. When I am happy, God is God. When I hurt, God is God. It is no wonder to me that the Psalmist calls God a “refuge” (Psalm 46:1). He is! Whatever our situation may be, God IS God!

The tough part of that is that God is God, even when we are disobedient. We can rely on His unchanging mercy, but there is the reality of His unchanging justice.

In Malachi chapter 3, God is angry with His people. They sound very surprised. They ask God, “…But you say, 'What do you mean? How have we spoken against you?'” (Malachi 3:13 – NLT). God’s answer is clear; "But who will be able to endure it when He comes? Who will be able to stand and face Him when He appears? For He will be like a blazing fire that refines metal or like a strong soap that whitens clothes” (Malachi 3:2 – NLT). BUT, that is good news too! He tells His people, “…Now return to me, and I will return to you” (Malachi 3:7b – NLT). Even when men disobey, God does not change. We can return to Him!

That tree can never return. Its change is permanent. It’s gone. We, however, may change. We may alter our relationship with God through apathy and sin, but that never changes God. When we are split down the middle, God does not chop us down and throw us out, but waits like the father of a prodigal son. His mercy endures forever. He does not change. He is waiting, even now.

We can return home, and there is the possibility that much will have changed. We can return to God, and find He is still the same loving God that we left. Now that is comforting. Have you changed? Has your situation in life changed? HE HAS NOT! Will you let Him remind you of His unchanging love today? Return to Him, and He will return to you.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Useful Book

Internet Protect Your Kids:: Keep Your Children Safe from the Dark Side of Technology

Arterburn, Stephen (Author)
and Marsh, Roger (Author)

Five Tips for Handling Myspace by Dr. Jim Burns

Original Link:

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past year or so, you’ve likely already heard about social networking websites such as MySpace, Xanga, and others. There have been a lot of media reports recently about such websites, specifically regarding the safety of those who use them. There have been any number of reports regarding users who have had been stalked and assaulted by predators who seek out their victims by using these sites.

Personally, I’m very conservative when it comes to this subject. My wife, Cathy, and I have decided not to allow our kids to use MySpace in our home. I believe this is a wise decision and would encourage other parents to do the same. But, I also know my kids have been on MySpace. We can’t always be around them (in other kids’ homes, schools or libraries), but I can and do insist that they don’t access MySpace in our home. I feel like the stakes are too high and there are more than enough security concerns that make MySpace too dangerous. So, we’ve chosen to send a clear message to our kids that we don’t want it in our home.

But, this is the reality: Social networking websites have become part of the fabric of American youth culture. Over 60% of our country’s teens have used social networking websitesi, and 40% maintain profiles on these sites.ii MySpace has over 86 million registered accountsiii and is the fourth most-visited website on the Internet, behind Yahoo, MSN and Googleiv. Still, parents have to make choices about whether they will allow their adolescent kids to use these websites. And, if they allow their kids access to these sites, parents must provide both boundaries and oversight to their kids’ usage.

Parents must choose what they feel is right for their kids. I know that not every parent will choose what the Burns family has chosen. Many parents will allow their kids access to MySpace. And, that’s why I’m writing this article. I want to give you five tips for helping you to handle MySpace should you choose to allow your kids to use it.

1. Understand What MySpace Is.
In a comprehensive article about MySpace, my friend and youth ministry colleague, Jonathan McKee, provides a great summary of what it is all about. He writes, “MySpace is a free social networking Internet service that allows anyone with a valid email to set up his or her own customized MySpace page. It is everything ‘Generation @’ wants. It combines blogging, instant messaging, chatting, pictures, and music downloads, all in one nicely wrapped package that's free of charge.

“Users fill out individual profiles and surveys posting everything from their birthdates, schools, favorite movies, music they listen to, and sexual preference. Friends can post immediate comments or can contact the person directly. People dialogue and make comments back and forth for all to see – it’s like an interactive reality show.”v

2. Understand Why Your Kids Want Access to MySpace.
When we were teenagers and couldn’t hang out face-to-face with our friends, phones were the communication tools of the day. But, today’s teens now have online options such as social networking websites, instant messaging and using cell phone text messaging. Our kids find these options more to their liking than talking on the phone. They can multitask better via online methods, communicate briefly, and can’t be overheard by their parents.

Also, it’s been suggested that due to parents’ safety concerns in today’s culture, many kids don’t have the freedom to hang out with peers in settings that were common for us when we were teens. As a result, kids want access to websites like MySpace, where they can hang out “virtually” with their peers to socialize, chat, and share their thoughts.

Finally, let’s not forget the fad factor. Social networking websites are all the rage today. As noted earlier, a majority of teens use them. Very few kids want to be thought of as the “only one” who isn’t involved. They don’t want to be left out or left behind by their peers. This is a natural adolescent response.

3. Understand the Dangers of MySpace.
Just a Click Away: Mature and Inappropriate Content.
Although it is possible for kids to have a safe and positive experience on MySpace, understand that dangers lurk close by. It’s important to know that on MySpace, kids are just one or two clicks away from content that you don’t want them to view. If you were to log onto the MySpace website and start visiting profiles or clicking on ads that accompany the website, you would see that mature and inappropriate content, including what I would consider soft pornography, is just a few clicks away.

Predators on the Prowl
Because of the veil of anonymity afforded by social networking websites, predators often pose as imposters, giving false information about their age and identity, including criminal histories, in order to gain the trust of “friends.” They quite simply pretend to be someone that they are not. At some point, kids are lured into meeting the predator in person. One recent study indicates that 71% of teens have received messages from someone they don’t know, that 30% have considered meeting with a person they’ve only known through the Internet, and that 9% of 13-15 year-olds and 22% of 16-17 year-olds have actually met face-to-face with a person they had only known through the

Many kids use social networking websites to experiment with different personas. If they have multiple e-mail accounts, they can set up different profiles and “try on” being someone who they are not in real life. Even if kids only have one MySpace profile, the online setting emboldens kids to write things that they would not say in a face-to-face conversation. Sexual comments, criticisms, rants, and even cyber-bullying, are commonly-found posts on social networking websites.

4. Set Appropriate Boundaries and Provide Intentional Oversight for MySpace Usage.
Here are some practical ideas:

• Follow the MySpace Rules and Safety Tips and Set Privacy Settings.
MySpace doesn’t allow kids under the age of 14 to have profiles on their website. Yet, any number of kids under 14 do have MySpace accounts. How? They lie about their age when registering. MySpace has good safety tips on their website, both for usersvii and for parentsviii. If you allow your kids to have access to the site, be sure to follow these rules and tips. Additionally, when setting up a MySpace account, be sure to access the “account settings” area, click on “privacy settings” and then set the desired settings to make sure you’re child’s profile is private to insure only designated “friends” can access their profile.

• Set-up a closed circle of “friends.”
Only allow your kids to designate as “friends” people whom they know and of whom you approve. This will only allow your kids to communicate with a specific, closed group of people.

• Don’t allow kids to add new “friends” without your permission.
It’s not unlikely that over time, your children will want to add additional “friends” to their lists. Also, understand that it’s likely that your children will receive requests from people they don’t know to be added to their “friend” list. Set an expectation that no person can be added to the “friend” list without your permission.

• Don’t allow your kids to provide any personal information.
Don’t allow kids to post any information that would make it easy for a stranger to find them like addresses, phone numbers, where they regularly hang out, where they work and what time they get off work.

• Don’t allow kids to set up additional profiles.
From the beginning, set the expectation that your child is allowed only one account on MySpace. Make sure your child understands that a violation of this expectation is cause for disciplinary action.

• Make it clear that you intend to look at your child’s MySpace site regularly.
Your child will likely balk at this rule, as he or she will want the site to be private, free from a parent’s view. Don’t give in. This will serve a couple of good purposes, both to ensure your children think through what to post on their site before they do so, and it also gives you the opportunity to view the content that others post on the site, as well. Be sure to follow through and visit your child’s MySpace site frequently.

• Have your kids agree to tell you if they receive any inappropriate or threatening messages.
The possibility exists that your child will receive uninvited, inappropriate or threatening messages from others. So, set the expectation that you need to know if this occurs, so that you can deal with these messages.

5. Follow Through With Consistent Discipline.
Kids need consistent discipline from their parents in order to both survive and thrive. That means clearly defined limits, expectations and consequences clearly articulated to the children by the parents in ways that all involved parties understand. If your kids violate your boundaries, it’s key to follow through consistently with the agreed upon consequences.

Further Reading on MySpace and Social Networking Websites
Much more helpful information has been written about social networking websites, such as MySpace. I hope that you’ll find the time to do some further reading. Here are articles and reports that I recommend you spend some time considering:

Articles About Social Networking Websites:
Dear Diary, Dear World by Ken Mueller. Source: Center for Parent-Youth Understanding

Finding Teenagers Online. Source: Center for Parent-Youth Understanding

A Window into the “MySpace” Generation by Jonathan McKeee. Source: The Source for Youth Ministry
Part 1:
Part 2:

MySpace in the News
Mom on MySpace (A journalist-mother writes about her experience in dealing with her daughter’s use of MySpace.) Source: L.A. Times / Duluth Superior

MySpace Faces a Perp Problem Source: Wired News,70675-0.html

Teens Putting Themselves at Risk Online Source: USA Today

God is God, By: Kelly McFadden

God is God
This devotional was written by Kelly McFadden

“But Joseph said to them, ‘Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.” —Genesis 50:19-21

One of my favorite worship leaders often says, “I am thankful that God is God and I am not.” I always thought that was a pretty obvious thing to say, but as I was reading the story of Joseph, it struck me in a new light.

As a boy, Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. He was bought by an Egyptian, who learned to trust him and put him in charge of his entire household; however, his master’s wife plotted against him and he was thrown into jail. Joseph spent a number of years in prison, but while there, he successfully interpreted the dreams of two of Pharaoh’s workers. Two years later, when Pharaoh finally heard of this, he called for Joseph to interpret his dreams. Pharaoh saw great wisdom in Joseph and knew God was with him, so he put Joseph second in command over all of Egypt.

Years later, Joseph’s brothers came looking for food because of famine in the land. Joseph has the perfect opportunity to pay back the wrong inflicted on him by his brothers, but he does not. He embraces them, gives them gifts and calls for his father and father’s family to live in the riches of Egypt so he can care for them.

No one would have begrudged Joseph for being angry and bitter. No one would have blamed him for hating his brothers for the life they had stolen and for making them pay for their evil. Joseph responds differently. Instead, he says, “Am I God?” Joseph understood a truth much deeper that just knowing God as all-powerful, the Creator, the Righteous One. He understood that God’s purposes run deep. He knew it was not his place to seek revenge. He saw how God used all his circumstances for good. Even when being sold, sitting in jail, and times of distress, Joseph showed he always trusted the Lord and lived a righteous life. He knew that God is God, and he is not.

Tips for Building Relationships with Students

7 Tips for Building Better Relationships with Your Kids

By Jim Burns, Ph.D.

Our kids are looking for a relationship with the Lord – something they can count on. It’s up to us as parents to show our kids what that relationship with God really looks like. The best way we can do this is to model a healthy, accepting, God-honoring relationship between them and us. Recently, I sat down with Josh McDowell, to talk about his recent book, Beyond Belief to Convictions, and he shared seven principles for helping parents do just that – and I just can’t agree more with these principles.

Let me share with you these 7 Tips for Building Better Relationships with Your Kids.

1. Affirmation

When we affirm our kids’ emotions, it gives them a sense of authenticity. See Romans 12:15.Sharing their joys as well as their sorrows; their successes and their failures, conveys the message that you really care and are doing your best to understand!

2. Acceptance

Your unconditional acceptance of your child provides them with a strong sense of security. See Romans 15:7. Without realizing it, too many parents send the message that acceptance is based on performance (like when we praise our kids when they get A’s in school and withhold praise(or even criticize) when they get B’s or C’s). Unfortunately, many of our own parents used shame-based parenting when we were growing up – and so we use the same kind of parenting style with our kids. If you use shame-based parenting with your kids, I want to challenge you with the truth – it simply doesn’t work!

3. Appreciation

When parents express appreciation to their kids, they communicate that their kids are significant. See Romans 1:8 – where the Apostle Paul essentially says, “I appreciate you.” Rather than taking your kids and their contributions on behalf of your family for granted, look for times to express authentic appreciation. For some, it may take work, but catching your kids in the act of doing something good – and recognizing them for it will help to build an importance sense of self-worth in their lives.

4. Availability

When parents are available to their own children, they gain a sense that they are important. Your presence in their lives is one of the most significant ways that you can communicate your love and care. I call it the “Power of Being There”! Remember, kids spell love, T-I-M-E.

5. Affection

When parents give their kids affection, it sends them the message that they are lovable. Everyone wants to feel that they are lovable! Your kids are no different. They need to know they are loved both by your words, through your actions and through appropriate touch! Dads – particularly –never underestimate the power of a well-timed hug! Bless your kids with the gift of affection!

6. Approach Their World

When parents approach their kids’ world, it tells them that what is important to them is also important to you. Sometimes, this means moving out of your own comfort zones – in order to enter their world. You may not be thrilled by watching your kids participate in a certain sport or activity. But, remember that 1 Corinthians 12 says that “love does not seek it’s own.” When you show up at your kids’ events, it sends the all-important message that they really matter!

7. Accountability

Parents must set reasonable limits and boundaries for their kids. See the discussion about the value of discipline in Hebrews 12. Consistent discipline by parents teaches kids the skills of responsibility and self-control that they need to live a successful adult life. In fact, I don’t believe that parents can be sure they are sending the message that their kids are loved without providing consistent discipline.

To order Josh McDowell’s book, Beyond Belief to Convictions, click here.