Monday, April 30, 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Here's your chance to eat a little Q and help Youth For Christ at the same time!
If you purchase a meal from Hog Heaven Monday, April 30 from 5:3--8:00 10% of your purchase will be given to Youth For Christ Roxboro. You can eat in or take out, BUT if you take out you need to order and pay at the counter.
All you need to do is mention that you are eating to help Youth For Christ.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Are Christians supposed to have all the answers? Is it okay to admit that even though we are followers of the living God that sometimes we can’t understand what’s going on… or why? Sometimes we feel like it’s our job to fill the silence of an unanswered question with religious clichés… but I’m convinced that God isn’t afraid of the introspection.
When authentic questions fill the rooms where Christians reside… God isn’t defensive or hurt. In fact, God makes sure that we have a record of these kinds of questions in multiple places… like His dialog with Job:
Job said:“Why do the wicked live,reach old age, and grow mighty in power?”
Amazing that God didn’t strike this from the record… no, He documented and preserved it. But He didn’t stay silent. His answer was a question… 64 of them, in fact. And in them, He reminded us all, that He needs no help from us to make sense of the pain. He’s not ringing His hands hoping that we’ll come up with an appropriate reply. No, God has a history of making beautiful order out of the chaos of life.
So our hearts break for all those touched by the horror at Virginia Tech… and rightly so. But we’ll resist the urge to throw a one-word answer at an essay question. God doesn’t need our help to sort it out. He’s not afraid of the silence. His heart breaks as well… for the inhumanity, for the hatred, for the injustice…
Even in the silence… hope, even through the tears… promise.
Bring your questions… even the tough ones.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ~ John 1:5
Light… always and forever. Unbeatable light. Even in the chaos
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
The Truth Versus The Lie
This devotional was written by Kelly McFadden
The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy: I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.—John 10:10
I played competitive volleyball for thirteen years. I was fortunate to play not only in high school and college, but also for the National Team, and professionally, before I finally hung up my sneakers and retired. Most of the time, I was an energetic, passionate and free-spirited player. However, for part of my playing career when I was 18, I was plagued with fear.
If you came to watch a match, you might not have noticed. But if you were on my team, you would see that I simply froze during warm-ups. I could not perform and put the ball where I needed to during certain drills. It was humiliating. Somehow, the anxiety, fear, pressure, and desire to perform well all accumulated in those moments and I simply could not perform. All I could hear in my head was the imagined voice of my coach telling me I was weak, horrible, letting the team down.
It was a lie.
The truth is, God had gifted me with the ability to lead teams and play volleyball well. For every truth, though, there is a lie. Satan comes to steal our joy and keep us from believing the truth. These lies made me believe I would never be good enough, never be as good as, or never amount to anything. They were coupled with unrealistic expectations and a voice that simply said over and over, “You’re awful. There is something wrong with you.”
How often do we do this very thing in our own lives? Instead of resting in the fact that God loves us and made us just the way He wanted to, we get caught up in the lies. The lies say we are bad people. The lies say we cannot be forgiven, that we are unlovable, that we deserve pain, and if I don’t read my Bible enough, God will not be near…
Here is the truth: God made you with purpose. He uniquely crafted you with the exact right amount of skills, talents and abilities. We are to rejoice and be glad in how the Lord makes us. He is our Father and we are His adopted children. He wants to give us good gifts and He delights in us. He loves you unconditionally.
Don’t let the lies of Satan come into your life. Stand firm on the truth – God’s truth.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
(CNSNews.com) - The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday heard arguments in a case that will decide whether a leading Bible distribution group will be allowed to hand out the religious texts at public schools.
The Gideons International, the 108-year-old missionary organization best known for its Bible distribution program, passed out Bibles to students in the South Iron R-1 School District in Missouri under the district's policy allowing the open distribution of non-educational material.
But the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit, prompting District Judge Catherine Perry to issue a preliminary injunction last September halting the Bible distribution.
Liberty Counsel, a Christian litigation group, has appealed the decision, arguing that the injunction is unconstitutional because it singles out one religious text for exclusion.
"The First Amendment clearly provides that community groups must receive equal treatment," Liberty Counsel founder and Chairman Mathew Staver said. "The ACLU may not like the fact that an equal access policy gives equal access for religious speech, even the Bible, but in fact, it requires equal treatment.
"The Bible must be permitted because these other pieces [literature from organizations including the Red Cross and Boy and Girl Scouts] are also permitted, and to ban the Bible is clearly an unconstitutional viewpoint based discrimination," Staver told Cybercast News Service Thursday.
A spokesman for the ACLU's branch in Eastern Missouri, which is handling the case, did not respond to requests for comment.
ACLU Eastern Missouri Executive Director Brenda Jones argues the case is in fact about protecting religious liberty."Religious liberty is among the most fundamental of the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights," she said in an earlier statement. "And religious liberty is best protected by keeping the government out of the realm of religions."The case is not the only clash between the ACLU and the Gideons. In December of 2006, the Arkansas branch of the civil liberties group criticized a school district for permitting distribution of Bibles to students on school property.
"The First Amendment prohibits the government from putting children in the difficult position of deciding whether to accept or reject such religious materials offered to them at school," Arkansas ACLU Executive Director Rachel Sklar said in a letter to the school's superintendent.
"Distributing on school grounds religious materials designed to proselytize or convert violates the Establishment Clause value of official religious neutrality," she said.
In 1993, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Gideons in a similar case, ruling that "the First Amendment prohibits the government from putting children in this difficult position."
Friday, April 13, 2007
This is a story about victory. It is a story I figured I would share when I could point towards what I felt was a tangible triumph. In the past weeks, God has taught me something different about what victory means. He has given me a new definition.
For almost two years, my husband and I have hoped to have a baby. I have been anticipating sharing the story of how God answered our prayers by announcing that we were pregnant. But as each month passed, I continued to wait, trusting that in all things God works together for the good of those who love Him, but at the same time, waiting for the moment I could give Him glory when our prayer was answered.
God has shown me a different definition of victory. My victory is now. God lifts our burdens and gives us victory even when things don’t make sense. Victory comes from a loving relationship with our Creator. It comes from Jesus dying on the cross for my sins. It is through His ultimate sacrifice that we have victory in this world. Victory is found in the arms of the Creator and through His incredible mercy and grace. It comes from being called a child of God.
This devotional was written by Jim Liebelt
God is love.—1 John 4:16 (NIV)
An important reminder today: God is love. Surprised? I hope not, but in the midst of life’s situations – from the simple frustrations like being stuck in traffic on your way to a business appointment, or forgetting your homework to big life-dominating crises like a parent with cancer or a job that is making you miserable – it’s easy to forget that your heavenly father loves you more than anyone else!
God, our heavenly Father, loves each one of us better than any earthly father ever can. God wants us to think of Him and experience Him as our Daddy. In Romans 8:15, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For you did not receive a spirit of fear that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption. And by Him, we cry Abba Father.” (NIV) A literal way of translating the word Abba is Daddy – that close, intimate, loving word many kids use in addressing their fathers. God wants to be known as our ultimate Daddy.
To those who have been abused by the actions of your earthly fathers, let me encourage you, run to God – your heavenly father – who always loves you, always cares for you, and can always, always be trusted – even to the point where He will never, ever let you down.
Today, may we all find comfort and encouragement through the following descriptions of our heavenly Father found in the Scriptures:
“See how much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children, and we really are!” 1 John 3:1 (NLT)
“The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.” Psalm 103:13 (NLT)
“Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.” Psalm 27:10 (NLT)
“The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to get angry, full of unfailing love.” Psalm 145:8 (NLT)
“The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation.” Psalm 145:9 (NLT)
“The Lord is faithful in all he says; he is gracious in all he does.” Psalm 145:13 (NLT)
“The Lord helps the fallen and lifts up those bent beneath their loads.” Psalm 145:14 (NLT)
“The Lord is close to all who call upon him.” Psalm 145:18 (NLT)
“O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask your aid.” Psalm 86:5 (NLT)
“Father to the fatherless, defender of widows–this is God, whose dwelling is holy.” Psalm 68:5 (NLT)
“As for God, his way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.” Psalm 18:30 (NLT)
“For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?” (Luke 9:25 – King James Version).
Ask Adam…the whole world was his and he was given rule over it. He traded it for a moment’s indulgence. He might not have known, or perhaps he did not clearly understand it, but I believe it was unbelief. He just didn’t take God very seriously when the Lord said, “If you eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, you WILL SURELY die!” Adam had it all, the whole world and his soul. He was the only man that ever had it all. He’s the only one that has ever lost it all. It seems many times that we are trying to get it all back. It’s not going to work! If we do get it, what good would it be if losing our soul is the price? The world is going to burn one day anyway.
What if you had all the riches of Bill Gates? My wife told me recently that 0.2% of his worth is ten million dollars. That guy is rich! Is your soul worth all of that money?
What if you had the mind of Albert Einstein? What if you were the smartest person on the face of the planet? What if there were no fact that you did not know and no theory that you did not understand? Is your soul worth that?
What if you had the power of Alexander the Great? What if you ruled the known world and every person was at your beck and call? Is your soul worth that?
Really…what’s your soul worth? It’s worth more than the world and you know it. It was worth God stepping down from the lofty heights of heaven and putting on the flesh of man and dying on an ugly cross. That’s what your soul is worth.
The fact of the matter is that we rarely will ever get the chance at any of those things. I doubt any one reading this today has the temptation of billions of dollars. I doubt any one of us has the lure of great power or world-shaking intelligence. What we do have are opportunities that are a lot smaller that we trade our soul for. We work too much and pray too little. We buy too much and give too little. We find more to want and less to be content with all the time. We find more distractions in the world than we do attractions in the Lord. Sometimes we simply trade obedience to God for a selfish pursuit. I could go on and on.
The point is simple. We ALL need to truly analyze ourselves. What’s our soul worth? What’s worth risking it?
Thursday, April 12, 2007
“Yet God does not take away life, but plans ways so that the banished one will not be cast out from him” (2 Samuel 14:14b – New American Standard Bible).
Have you ever heard of a game called “Kick the Can”? It is a variation of hide and seek that we used to play a lot when I was a kid. Almost every time I visited my cousin, who lived in a large neighborhood with many houses, we played kick the can. I remember this kid who never won if would not let him win. He would stay “it” forever if we did not do something to prevent that. Invariably, we would play several rounds and someone would say that we need to let “Marvin” win. We would then formulate a plan that would allow “Marvin” to win. It was just the right thing to do.
In the Scripture above, King David’s friend, Joab, saw how troubled David was that his son, Absalom, and he were estranged. Joab sent a woman from Tekoa to tell David a made up story of two sons who had fought resulting in one son killing his brother. She tells the king that her family wants to put the other son to death. David decides to judge in the remaining son’s favor. He promises the woman that anyone who lays a hand on her son will be dealt with. Of course, Joab fabricates this story and has the woman tell it to the king so that David may see that is the very situation that David’s own family is in. David’s son, Absalom, had killed David’s other son, Amnon. She goes so far as to say, "Why then have you planned such a thing against the people of God? For in speaking this word the king is as one who is guilty, in that the king does not bring back his banished one?” (2 Samuel 14:13 – NASB). To which, David replies, "Behold now, I will surely do this thing; go therefore, bring back the young man Absalom" (2 Samuel 14:21 – NASB).
God will always make a way for us to succeed. He did it through the cross. God wants us to have a way to Him by salvation through Jesus. For His children who are currently away from Him, the answer is still Jesus. This is God’s plan to bring us back from banishment. He designed the plan in the Garden. He unveiled the plan in Christ’s life. He performed the plan at
It is not His desire that we be banished. It is a feeble example, but we did not want “Marvin” to fail. Seeing no way for “Marvin” to do it on his own, we made a way for “Marvin” to win. God, seeing no way for us to make it on our own, made a way. It is Jesus.
Have you accepted His plan? Christian friend, are you away from God? He would not have you be. He’s got a plan. He’s made a way. It is Jesus.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
On the Run
“Then Absalom fled…” (2 Samuel 13:34a – New King James Version).
Once, when I was a kid, I broke the key to the ignition of one of my dad’s trucks off in the switch. I freaked! I jumped out of the truck and started to run. Then, to make matters worse, I realized that I had left the truck out of gear, and as I turned around to go back I realized the truck was rolling. Not only was it rolling, but rolling toward the pond! I tried to stop it, but could not. It rolled into the edge of the pond. Let’s recap; I had broken the key off and let the truck roll into the pond. As if it could get any worse, my dad had told me to leave that truck alone. That’s not good. I fled. I ran home and hid under the couch. That was my first instinct…to flee.
That is where we find Absalom. His half-brother, Amnon, had forced himself upon Absalom’s sister, Tamar, which was also Amnon half-sister. Absalom was furious! He waited two years, and finally took his revenge upon Amnon. He invited Amnon to a sheep shearing celebration. Absalom told his servants to wait until Amnon was drunk and kill him. They did. Absalom’s first response, knowing his wrong, was to flee, because Absalom knew that his father, King David, would be angry with him.
Isn’t that what we do when we sin? We run from our Father. Why, do you think, don’t we run to our Father? Is it fear? Is it fear of punishment? Is it fear of the response we may get? Is it fear of rejection? Is it a lack of wanting to take responsibility for our actions? Most likely, it is a combination of them all.
We need not feel that way. Look at the last verse in 2 Samuel 13. It says, “And King David longed to go to Absalom…” (13:39a - NKJV). Absalom’s father wanted to see him. As a matter of fact, David “longed” to be with Absalom.
When we sin, God does not want us to run from Him, but TO Him. 1 John 1:9 says, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong” (NLT). Sure, there are consequences to be faced. Sure, we must take responsibility for our sins. But, the over riding truth is that God will NOT REJECT us. He will cleanse us. He will forgive us. We must, however, run TO Him and not FROM Him. We miss so much fellowship with Him because we flee from God rather than flying to Him.
If you are on the run, make sure it’s TO God and not FROM God.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
A Real Pro
“All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize” (1 Corinthians 9:25 – New Living Translation).
I watched a very famous basketball player perform marvelously in a game in which he was extremely ill. Previous to the game, many of the sports newscasters were reporting that it was very possible that the man would not play because of the severity of his illness. However, this was the playoffs. In the playoffs you either win or go home. So, this player gathered all his physical reserve and made a tremendous showing. He wanted to win and he wanted his team to win. It was such an extraordinary effort that nearly every time a story of about Michael Jordan is done that game is mentioned.
In Paul’s letter to the church at
Jesus told us to bear our cross daily. He knew that denying our selfish desires would keep us from the prize. He understood that to win, we need to deny ourselves some of the things we like most.
Think about it like this…how long would a fly weight boxer last in his division if all he ate was fudge? Not too long, right? As a matter of fact, Paul said, “So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches” (1 Corinthians 9:26 –NLT). A fly weight boxer, if he didn’t get kicked out of his weight class, would get too heavy to effectively throw and elude punches.
So, what weight is holding back your Christian discipline? What areas of your walk with Christ do you need to practice more strict self control?
According to the Bible, the weight that holds us down is sin. So if we want to win this eternal trophy we need to take the advice of Hebrews 12:1b; “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (NKJV). You may say, “I have tried!” I know I have and I am sure you have too. What, then, is the way? According to Hebrews 12:2a, we are to look “…unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross” (NKJV). You see friend, Christ has won for us. We must claim His victory and make it ours. We must lay our sins at the foot of the cross and cast our yoke upon Him. You will never be disciplined in this spiritual contest on your own.
To be a real pro in this contest; to exercise control; to win is to take on Christ sacrifice. Is the prize worth the surrender to you today?
Take Off the Mask
This devotional was written by Elizabeth Cole
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.—Proverbs 11:3
Have you ever noticed how many of the superheroes put on masks when it’s time to do their “superhero jobs”? In case you haven’t meditated on that thought lately (!), check out the new set of superhero postage stamps the next time you’re at the post office. There they are, coursing through the air with their colored masks hiding their true identity.
I’ll admit it. That’s one of the reasons I like Superman so much. When he’s doing his thing, being who he truly is, he takes OFF his mask -- those big ol’ black-rimmed glasses. When he’s doing what he was made to do, he’s doing it fully revealed, more himself than any other time.
Today, there is a heart-cry in our society for authenticity. We’ve been disappointed over and over by those who, come to find out, aren’t who they said they were. Certainly that’s the case on the national Christian scene lately…but, if we’re honest, maybe it’s true in our own relationships with other believers. If we’re even more honest, maybe we’ve been the cause of another’s disappointment. And perhaps that disappointment wasn’t due to something unsavory revealed in our lives, but because we were unwilling to reveal anything real in our lives. Why the masks? I wonder sometimes if our very DNA includes the chromosome labeled “image.” And behind image lies the word “pride.”
Dream for a moment. What would our lives look like individually if we took off the masks and relied solely on God’s power to do what He’s planned for us to do? It would mean hopping off the pedestal…it would mean being just the “signpost”….it would, indeed, be humbling. Think further: Imagine the impact of God’s people in this country (and the world) if, once and for all, we chose to remove the masks and crusade against our own pride and fight for truth -- real, authentic, life-sharing, humble truth. It’s time to take off the mask.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
“And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, ‘Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, ‘Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.’ And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed Him” (Luke 5:7-11 – King James Version).
My dad had a friend named Charlie when we lived in Texas that was a lot of fun to be around. Charlie loved kids and he did a lot of nice things for us. The first time I met Charlie he asked me to come over to his house; “It’s on the lake; you can go fishing,” he said. Well, fishing or no fishing, I didn’t know that fellow very well and I wasn’t too keen on the idea. My dad said, “Go ahead, boy, it’s all right.” Trying to find something that might interest me, Charlie said, “I’ve got a big, pink yacht over there and you can ride it!” Well, now…that changed things dramatically! First off, I liked riding boats and secondly a pink boat was a sight that shouldn’t be passed over. I decided to go.
On the way over to Charlie’s house he stopped at a convenience store. “Do you want a piece of gum?” asked Charlie. “Well, I guess so; thanks,” was my weak reply. I didn’t want to turn down Charlie’s kindness, but I wasn’t (nor am I now) in love with bubble gum. If I had to chew the stuff I wanted Super Bubble. I got a piece and was blowing bubbles pretty good when Charlie came out of the store. I noticed right away that Charlie had one of those large, plastic buckets of gum under his arm. He got into the truck and presented the bucket to me, exclaiming, “It’s all yours!” Though I neither needed nor wanted that much gum, I liked Charlie from that moment on.
We had not been in Texas long, so I was in want of making new friends. I found out that many kids went to the Dairy Queen every day. I went down to that ice cream shop and handed out gum. I made some new friends with that big bucket of Super Bubble. The bonus was that I was making friends with gifts that didn’t cost me a dime. (For the record…Charlie did have a big, pink boat…it was grand!)
When I reread these verses today I remembered good ‘ol Charlie and that story above. The big boat and the chewing gum served to get my attention and from there Charlie and I became good friends. Charlie was always good to me, so I tried my best to respond in kind.
The great catch of fish got Peter’s attention. From there he went on to become well acquainted with the Lord Jesus. How did Jesus first get your attention?
I cannot help but notice that Peter’s first instinct was to share the Lord’s blessing. Peter and his fishing mates “beckoned unto their partners” and both ships were filled with fish. The Lord has blessed us all in some way and many of us in many ways. What have you shared from His benevolent hand? I gave away gum that cost me nothing just as Peter gave away fish that cost him nothing. The Lord Jesus gives us things all the time (even the air of our lungs and the blood in our veins) and I truly believe He intends for us to share. Has God blessed you with money? Share it. Has God blessed you with the abundance to have more things (cars, property, clothes, houses, food, etc) than you have NEED of? Share them. Every thing we have comes by His grace and we have the RESPONSIBILITY to share those things. If Peter had kept all the fish his ship may have sank (verse 7). He gave them away and both boats nearly sank! We are drowning in things! We NEED to give some of them away before they pull us under!
The story with Charlie stops at things, but the truth of Jesus’ giving only begins with things. Christ then called those fellows to become fishers of men. Sure, they would continue to share the things that God gave them, but a higher gifting was at hand. The giving would be better as well as the gifts. Where once Peter had only fish to share, now he would be given the privilege of sharing the message of life (Acts 3:6)!
Do you want to give away something that cost you nothing? Do you want to have the proper response to the grace of God? Share the grace that has been given you! Share liberally for the supply is unending. Share confidently; “fear not,” the Giver will insure the gift! Share often, it cost us nothing and the price (a dear one at that), has been paid! Rather than material gifts that may weigh us down to near sinking, the gift of life in Jesus lifts us up! SHARE IT! Bubble gum will serve to make friends for a moment; the gift of life makes friends that last forever. Share it!
Friday, April 06, 2007
Glory to You for Your love.
Glory to You for Your mercy.
Glory to You for Your patience.
Glory to You for forgiving us all our sins.
Glory to You for coming to save our souls.
Glory to You for Your incarnation in the virgin's womb.
Glory to You for Your bonds.
Glory to You for receiving the cut of the lash.
Glory to You for accepting mockery.
Glory to You for Your crucifixion.
Glory to You for Your burial.
Glory to You for Your resurrection.
Glory to You who were preached to men and women.
Glory to You in whom they believed.
Glory to You who were taken up into heaven.
Glory to You who sit in great glory at the Father's right hand.
Glory to You whose will it is that the sinner should be saved through Your great mercy and compassion.
Ephraem of Syria (ca. 306-373)
John R. W. Stott
Arthur Tappan (A. T.) Pierson
John Newton, the author of the hymn “Amazing Grace,” found faith in Jesus onboard a ship as it was floundering in a storm. This was not just any ship; the ship he was on was a slave ship. In the mid 1700s, Newton’s professional trade was the trafficking of human life.
Newton and his crew would sale from England to Africa where they would pick up men, women and children who had been captured in tribal raids. They would trade arms and other goods for the finest of the prisoners. They would then chain them to prevent suicides, and lay them below deck side by side. As many as 600 people were stuffed together on the ship as it made its three week voyage. Due to the inhumane conditions, at times, up to 20% of those captured would die.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me,
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“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17 – New American Standard Bible).
One of my friends was at my house one time, and we were playing in the woods. There was a tall poplar tree that we always talked of climbing, but had not done it up to that point. It was huge, especially in the eyes of nine year old kids. I decided to climb it. My friend, Gary, told me not to. I called him a chicken and started to climb. He told me he didn’t care what I called him; he was not going to climb that tree. I was about two-thirds of the way up the tree when I yelled, “C’mon you ‘fraidy cat!” He yelled back, “I’ll be here when you land!” Guess what happened? You’re right; I fell out of that tree and landed at Gary’s feet with a thud. Several branches slowed my descent, and I was not seriously injured. What struck me most was not that I wasn’t hurt, or that I fell, but as I got hold of Gary’s extended hand, he said, “Hey man, are you okay?” I didn’t get the standard “I told you so!”, or a horse laugh, but a hand up and a concerned word.
There is so much wisdom in the Proverbs. In the verse above, we find an appropriate and Godly description of a friend and a brother. A friend is not a friend just because they do everything you do. A real friend will warn you of the danger. A real friend will, however, still be your friend when you do something stupid. They will not condone foolish behavior, but they will still love you. A real friend is someone you can call on when you have done something unwise. They may not have an answer or solution, but they will have love.
A true friend will love you in spite of the adversity in your life. The true friend will tell you, honestly, when you bring adversity on yourself. True friends feel no need to say “I told you so”. That same friend, though, will be there “when you land” speaking words of encouragement and concern.
We have a great friend in Christ. According to Proverbs 18:24, there is one that sticks closer than a brother. That friend is God. If a human friend can be so good for us, how much better is God who already knows our failings, faults, and weaknesses? The Holy Spirit is always trying to warn us when we are about to act foolish, and always waiting when we hit bottom. As the old song says, “What a friend we have in Jesus!”
Think of the folks you call your friends…what kind of friend are you to them? Do you love them at all times? Are you there in adversity? Have you told them of the greatest friend they can have?
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Posted on Apr 5, 2007 by Polly House
SAN FRANCISCO (BP)--Although the West Coast is not part of the Bible Belt, an observer wouldn't have known it by seeing the 9,000 women at Deeper Still, a conference event led by popular Bible teachers Beth Moore, Kay Arthur and Priscilla Shirer.
Women converged on downtown San Francisco to experience 10 hours of music, worship and study led by the three well-known speakers and authors: Moore, founder of Living Proof Ministries in Houston; Arthur, founder of Precept Ministries in Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Shirer, founder of Going Beyond Ministries in Dallas.
"We're not here to entertain you," Arthur said during a welcome time during the March 9-10 sessions sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. “We are here to join with you and go deeper still into the presence of God."
Deeper Still was the first time the three women had shared a teaching platform. Each spoke of her tremendous respect for the others' ministry and the joy of being able to come together for the event. Playing to the crowd, the women laughed and made jokes about puffy lips, big hair and high heels.
When it came time to delve into the Word, everyone got serious. Each speaker taught from a passage relating to King David.
Shirer began the teaching time by asking, "What was it about David that caused him to be a man seeking God's own heart?"He recognized God as his source," Shirer said.
"He realized everything he had and everything he was came from God.... [W]hen we give up control of our own lives and realize that God is in control, then when things start spinning out of control -- and they will -- we can look up at God and thank Him because He is going to have to take that responsibility."
Shirer cautioned the women that when asking God to become a presence and a passion in their lives, they must be ready to take in all that He is.
"David wanted the entirety of God -- not only the sweet vanilla parts, but also His power and wrath. We have to be willing to take all of God when we invite Him to be close," she said.
When God is close, there will be attacks, Shirer said.
"Sisters, let me tell you this: As long as you aren't a threat, the enemy will leave you alone," she said. "As long as you just go to church, he will ignore you. But when you start spending time with God every day, the enemy can't stand that. The enemy knows he can't destroy you, but he will spend the rest of your life trying to distract you."
Shirer reminded the women that all religions are not equal, noting, "What separates us from every other religion on the face of the earth is we can talk to our God and He will speak back to us."
Shirer gave five ways to discern God's voice: Look for the message of the Spirit; live in the mode of prayer; search out the model of Scripture, always remembering God's voice will never contradict Scripture; seek out a mentor and submit to the mentor's ministry, just as Samuel did to Eli; and expect the mercy of confirmation.
Moore began her teaching segment in 2 Samuel 7, saying God is a God of timing.
"When King David was settled into his palace and God had given him rest from his enemies, he was talking to the prophet Nathan," Moore said. "Then David decided it was wrong that he should be living in a palace while the ark of God sat in a tent. So Nathan told David to do whatever his heart told him. But later, Nathan got a word from God about it."
Moore said, "But God didn't ask David to build God a house. It was not time for that to happen. God had plans for one of David's descendants to build a house after David died. It wasn't David's time."
She continued by reminding the women that David, now king, was an unlikely choice. He had been a shepherd, not one of noble birth.
Transitioning to talking about the power of God manifesting itself in a believer's life, she said, "God gets glory when no one else can explain what has happened to you. Are you where you want to be? No, of course not. Neither am I. But, praise God, are we where we used to be? No!"
Only through the power of God can Christians live the abundant life, Moore said."The victorious, delivered life is just as contagious as a defeated one," she said. "I want to live totally sold out to God and I want to take people with me. I want to take my family with me."
Arthur continued using passages relating to David and his relationship with God, this time focusing on the time after his sin with Bathsheba.
"David was in the pit of despair when he was convicted of his sin," Arthur said. "Some of you are probably in the pit now. I've been in that same pit, one of my own making."
Quoting 2 Corinthians 12:9, Arthur said, "His power is perfected in my weakness." She said David understood that God is a God of grace."Even after his sin, David moved forward because he really understood that. God told David that he would live under His chastening hand for the rest of his life," Arthur said.
She listed four consequences of David's sin: The sword would never depart from his house; evil would rise up against him in his own household; his wives would be given to others in his household; and the baby he and Bathsheba had would die.
Despite all this, Arthur said, "God's grace was sufficient."
Arthur shared with the women the most important thing she has learned in her years of ministry: "God is sovereign. There is no greater authority than His. His sovereignty reigns over all. If you think you've gone too far away from God, remember this, ladies. If God has not taken you out, He still has a purpose for you."
Speaking for herself, Moore and Shirer, Arthur said, "It is our heart's desire that you would be so confident in God so that you could say, 'If I live, praise the Lord; if I die, praise the Lord.'"
Faith Whatley, director of women's ministries at LifeWay, said the Deeper Still conference was the most cross-generational and multiethnic of any of the women's events sponsored by LifeWay.
"You have these three wonderful godly women who draw different groups. Women of all ages from high school to senior adults are here. We've seen black, white, Asian and Hispanic women. It's wonderful," Whatley said.
Whatley hadn’t been sure what to expect with the event in San Francisco.
"What we have learned is that there are thousands of godly women in this area of the country who are hungry for solid biblical teaching," she said. "I'm honored that LifeWay was able to meet their heartfelt need."
A second Deeper Still event is scheduled for Sept. 7-8 in Nashville, Tenn., but already has sold out Nashville's largest arena -- the 17,500-seat Nashville Arena.
Paige Greene, director of LifeWay's women's events, said women who were unable to get tickets for the September Deeper Still event should continue checking the LifeWay website, www.lifeway.com/women, for information about a satellite location being set up in Nashville.
ORIGINALLY POSTED HERE: http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=25345
Wasp or Crow?
“Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2 – New American Standard Bible).
A wasp grows from its larvae state to its fullness before it ever leaves the nest. When it flies from the nest, it flies away as big as it will ever get. A crow, on the other hand, continues to grow until its death. The crow will hatch from the egg and continually grow in size over a life span that can last well over fifty years. The bigger a crow, the older that crow is.
A poll of “born again” Christians yielded some astonishing results. Only eighteen percent of polled Christians said they read the Bible every day, while twenty-three percent said they NEVER read it. It is IMPOSSIBLE to grow as a Christian without CONTINUAL study of God’s word.
Peter tells us about our call to holy living in 1 Peter 1:13-2:3. If you read that, you will see some tough things to live up to, but Peter tells us in verse 2 to desire the WORD. Why? He knows it will help us to see God’s character, correct us in our wrongs, learn of what Jesus commanded and did, and provide instruction for living, serving, and relating to one another. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 put it this way; “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (NASB). I think we often fear God’s word because we KNOW it will convict us to change our actions and attitudes. James tells us that that fear turns to freedom and blessing; “But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25 – NASB).
Look closely…how does Peter tell us to desire the word? Yes, like a baby wants milk. If you’ve ever been around a baby, you know that when they get hungry, they will wail until you feed them. Everyone around will know when a baby is hungry. I think that is a beautiful picture of how God wants us to yearn for His word. He wants us to know Him! And, just like a baby needs milk to grow, we need God’s word to grow.
Don’t wait for someone to feed it to you all the time! Feed yourself, and as you have questions pray, seek out mature Christians, Sunday school teachers, and/or your pastor to discuss these things with.
Some Christians are like the wasp; they are saved (fly from nest) and never grow. Some are like the crow: they are saved (hatched from the egg), and they grow and grow and grow right up until they are gone.One question; are you a wasp or crow?
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
You, O God, are my King from of old;
You bring salvation upon the earth. Ps 74.12
Praises: more kids each week at Campus Life; a policeman noticing that a
boy attending Campus Life meetings at Northern has stopped running with a
gang; Three Hearts Learning center now tutoring kids upstairs at the
Warehouse; great article about YFCR in the Courier; opportunity for
Tim to teach/minister to policemen in regard to youth of our county; teens
sharing troubles with volunteers and accepting prayer for their problems
Pleas: You DID bring salvation upon the earth, Lord, in the most amazing
way--somehow cloning Yourself to take on the sin that You can’t touch to
allow us to live WITH You and IN You and THROUGH You forever. Now we ask
that You help us deliver that incredible news to our young people (DW).
Thank You, Father, that You are willing to take on the whole burden opening
our hearts and mouths to tell others about what Jesus accomplished for us,
and opening their hearts and ears to take in what we are saying. Protect us
all--staff, volunteers, teens, and our families--from the evil one, Lord, in
all his thieving, murdering, destroying guises. Keep gang and drug activity
far from us. Send Your Holy Spirit to teach, convict and bring honor to
Your Name and word at the Warehouse this week. Deepen our relationships
with these young people, Lord, so that they will know You by Your love.
The Great Adventure
“…for you have not passed this way before" (Joshua 3:4c – New King James Version).
Have you ever played laser tag? The first time I played was the best. Not because I got to shoot people with an electronic gun, rather the maze we played in was fun to search through. It was generally dark, but lights were flashing. There were strobe lights, and some places on the walls were painted with fluorescent paint. It was exciting to run around looking for different passages. Every time I thought I’d seen the entire maze, I’d find a new hallway or hiding place. I stopped shooting, because I was having great fun “discovering” new places. It wasn’t a new maze, but it was new to me.
That’s Christian life for me. I am generally in a dark place (the world), and there are bells and whistles (flashing lights and fluorescent paint) every where I turn. The exciting part is that every time I think I have things figured out, God shows me something new. God is not a new God, but He is new to me. I like that. I want to thirst for Him as the Psalmist does in Psalm 42:1.
In Joshua 3, the people entered a new phase in their relationship with God. They went into the land God had promised them. He sent out the Ark of the Covenant before them as a guide for them. Every step they took was a new place that they had not passed through before. How exciting!
Sure, I’ve been through this world before, but now I’m going through it with God. I have new vision. I am seeing things as He leads me, not as I lead myself. This is great! Joshua told the people, "Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you" (Joshua 3:5b). I want that to be my prayer every night…”Lord, set me apart, help me to see the great adventure that you have for me tomorrow!”
Paul said, “To live is Christ…” (Philippians 1:21). He understood that great adventure. As he lived on this earth, Paul was discovering the world moment by moment in Christ’s eyes, getting to know Him more all the time.
I know there will be dead ends in a maze, and I know that there will be trouble. Still, I am excited to go through one. In the same way, I know I will experience difficulties in life, but I am excited to go through it with God. I want to pass through a way that I have never been before. I want to experience Him moment by moment as I go through this world. I WANT THIS GREAT ADVENTURE!Every step with Christ is one that I never made before. The explorer in me can’t wait to see what wonders He will do next in my life. Are you enjoying YOUR great adventure?
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
“As she was praying to the LORD, Eli watched her. Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. ‘Must you come here drunk?’ he demanded. ‘Throw away your wine!’" (1 Samuel 1:12-14 – New Living Translation).
Don’t you hate misunderstandings? Sitcoms are built on them. One character misunderstands what another is doing, and you get thirty minutes of mayhem. Too bad life’s misunderstandings don’t always end up in laughs. Some do, but most have an ending where friendships change and feelings get hurt.
Hannah certainly knew what it meant to be misunderstood. As she was in the Temple praying, the High Priest thought she was drunk! Did you catch that? In the place where one would think they would get the most understanding, Hannah’s actions are misunderstood in the Temple. She is misunderstood by the High Priest, and one would think he would be the most understanding. She was misunderstood while engaged in the act and attitude of prayer, and one would think that would be the last thing you would be doing and be misunderstood.
Hannah was misunderstood by her High Priest, in her church, while doing something spiritual…that’s hard to swallow. She obviously didn’t think so. Do you want to know why? She KNEW that God understood. She didn’t take offense. She didn’t leave her church (Temple) in a rage. She didn’t slander or try to run off her preacher (the High Priest). She didn’t get out of religion (stop praying). What she did was very clearly explain what was going on in her life (1 Samuel 1:15-16). The priest, then, prayed blessing on her. No relationships were destroyed; no feelings of bitterness reigned; no revenge was necessary; no lives destroyed by slander. Why? Hannah KNEW God understood, swallowed her pride, and explained herself. Granted, she shouldn’t have HAD to explain herself, but she did.
I wish the Church would grasp this. So many Christian folks hop from congregation to congregation because of misunderstandings about their actions from their preachers and fellow congregants. So many relationships are altered or ended by misunderstandings. Feelings get hurt, often with no one knowing the wound but the one who was hurt.
Have you ever been misunderstood? God knows. He is fully aware of your intentions. Look at Hannah’s prayer in chapter two of 2 Samuel. You will see a formerly misunderstood lady praising God for His greatness and for His kindness to her. She didn’t leave the Temple experience bitter, but better.
If you have been misunderstood, and it caused hurt, trust me, God knows. In the future, if you are misunderstood, stop, swallow hurt and pride, and explain yourself. It could mean the world of difference in a relationship with an individual, your spiritual leaders, and your congregation.
Monday, April 02, 2007
A man took his hang glider out on a turbulent day. Wisdom should have told him not to, but his eagerness for his new hobby drew him to the air. All went well for the first part of this trip. Then it hit - a sudden change in the air began to force his small craft to fall barrelling towards the earth. He began to pray, sensing that he was soon to crash. At this point he had no earthly idea of how to pull out of this draft. Then - out of the corner of his eye, he saw an eagle caught in the same draft. He watched the eagle's responses. The eagle, with spread wings, seemed to be diving into the ground. Without a moment of hesitation, he too aimed his glider toward the ground. In a few short flashes of time both he and the eagle had miraculously pulled out of the draft. Because the man knew he could do nothing to save himself he simply followed the example of the one who knew more than he.
This illustration parallels what we as Christians can do when it comes to life. There are often moments in our life when it seems like our world is crashing around us. At that moment we must fix our eyes on Jesus. He is our example, our very life, and our breath. He is the reason we exist.
Those who live life to the fullest keep their eyes fixed on Jesus, the author of life.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
“Then the Spirit said unto Philip, ‘Go near, and join thyself to this chariot’” (Acts 8:29 – King James Version).
I was visiting with a congregation in revival services one time, and spent some time in prayer with two gentlemen who worked together. They told me how tough it was to be the only two Christians on their shift. We prayed for quite awhile, asking God to give them strength, give them opportunities to witness, and prepare the soil of the hearts of their lost co-workers. When we finished praying, I think they expected me to say something profound. I told them that I truly believed that God had them there for a reason. It seemed as if they wanted me to say more, so, like the knucklehead that I am, I said, “Hang in there.” Little did I realize what I said! I ran into one of those guys at a local restaurant a few weeks later. He was beaming from ear to ear. He told me how God used him to lead a lost co-worker to salvation in Christ.
Sometimes, we seem to be in tough situations. We honestly wonder what God is up to. That happens a lot in our life situations. We may be strained, and seem to be in a place that we don’t belong. Then, God, in His timing, shows us why we were there all along. We simply need to be obedient, prepared, and ready to serve.
That is where we find Philip. First off, he’s preaching in Samaria (Acts 8:5), and we know that Jews and Samarians didn’t get along very well. Nevertheless, Philip was there, being obedient, prepared to share Christ, and serving God. Secondly, we find Philip talking to an Ethiopian of the royal court in the desert south of Jerusalem (Acts 8:26-39). Let’s remember something here…Philip was a Jew, probably a peasant. What in the world is he doing talking to Samarians and Ethiopians?!? He probably wondered that himself. Yet, like as not, there Philip was; obedient, prepared to testify, and serving.
Imagine yourself in that position; God says to you, “Go catch up with that moving vehicle and talk with those folks.” Your reaction might be, “Excuse me, what did your say? I can’t do that. That’s too hard! I wouldn’t fit in!” To which God might reply, “Hang in there!”
That may be where you are in your workplace, your community, your school, or possibly even your home. Hang in there! God wants to use you! It may seem like a strained, strange, and tough place to be, but grab hold to the “chariot” that God has you on the road with, and hang in there.
Philip did. He was used of God, much like my friend, to lead someone to Christ (Acts 8:37) in spite of difficult circumstances. God knows exactly what YOUR situation is. Will you be used in His service? Hang in there!