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Monday, June 21, 2021

Weekly Blog: Jesus is at the Center of Our Lives

THE LORD IS THE EVERLASTING GOD, THE CREATOR OF THE ENDS OF THE EARTH. HE WILL NOT GROW TIRED OR WEARY, AND HIS UNDERSTANDING NO ONE CAN FATHOM. ( ISAIAH 40:28 *NIV )


                                                     The Puzzle: 

     A father wanted to read a magazine but was being bothered by his little daughter, Kelly. Finally, he tore a sheet out of his magazine on which was printed the map of the World. Then tearing it into small pieces, he gave it to Kelly, and said, "Go into the other room and see if you can put this together." He was sure that would keep her busy all afternoon! After only a few minutes, Kelly returned and handed him the map, correctly fitted together. The father was surprised and asked how she had finished so quickly. "Oh," she said, on the other side of the paper is a picture of Jesus. When I got all of Jesus back where He belonged, then the World came together. 

   We may Smile and have a Wonderful Day with Jesus in the center of our picture as well, for HE TENDS HIS FLOCK LIKE A SHEPHERD; HE GATHERS THE LAMBS IN HIS ARMS AND CARRIES THEM CLOSE TO HIS HEART; HE GENTLY LEADS THOSE WHO HAVE YOUNG. ( ISAIAH 40:11 ) 

    So always remember to keep Jesus in the center of your life, and your World will come together as well! Now, MAY THE GOD OF PEACE, WHO THROUGH THE BLOOD OF THE ETERNAL COVENANT BROUGHT BACK FROM THE DEAD OUR LORD JESUS, THE GREAT SHEPHERD OF THE SHEEP, EQUIP YOU WITH EVERYTHING GOOD FOR DOING HIS WILL, AND MAY HE WORK IN US WHAT IS PLEASING TO HIM, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, TO WHOM BE GLORY FOR EVER AND EVER. AMEN. (HEBREWS 13:20-21) 


 Reprint from God’s Minute

Monday, May 31, 2021

Reaching Out and Taking Risks

Let me guess. You are tired of the superficial.

You want to be a force for good in a world of evil—a person of authenticity in a world of hypocrisy. You are weary of witnessing what you see happening around you. You want to be part of the answer, not part of the problem.

There is no question that Jesus expected each of us to shine the light of God’s love among this dark, lost world. We are to spread it abroad and to share the truth that we have been granted. In our homes, schools, workplaces, recreations, and in every other area of our lives, there are ways we can serve others.

That means moving beyond theory and wishful thinking. That means reaching out, taking risks, and doing what Scripture commands.

Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him” (John 14:21).

I’d call that a promise worthy to be claimed.

To be loved by God and to experience the presence of Christ manifested in our lives is to possess a pearl of great price. It is to discover kingdom living while still earthbound. But to attain it, we must obey what Jesus taught us through His Word.

He commands us to love one another in word and in deed.


Pastors Blog: Chuck Swindoll

 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Doing the Lord's Work the Lord's Way

I’ll never forget a principle I first heard from Francis Schaeffer while attending one of his lectures. There he stood in knickers and a turtleneck sweater, delivering a message to a group of young, idealistic listeners—many of us struggling to find our way. I heard him say this again and again: “The Lord’s work must be done the Lord’s way. The Lord’s work must be done the Lord’s way. The Lord’s work must be done the Lord’s way.” 
If you’re in a hurry, you can make it work your way. It may have a pure motive and all the marks of spirituality, but it won’t be the Lord’s way. Stop and realize that. 


John Pollock, in his splendid book The Apostle, states, The irony was not lost on him that the mighty Paul, who had originally approached Damascus with all the panoply of the high priest’s representative, should make his last exit in a fish basket, helped by the very people he had come to hurt.  [John Pollock, The Apostle: A Life of Paul (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor, 1985), 45.] 
That about says it all, doesn’t it? 

Just to set the record straight, our lives and ministries are not caught “in the fell clutch of circumstance.” Our heads are not to be “bloodied, but unbowed.” You and I are neither the “masters of our fate” nor the “captains of our souls.” We are to be wholly, continually, and completely dependent on the mercy of God, if we want to do the Lord’s work the Lord’s way. Paul had to learn that. So must we. My question is: Are you learning that? If not, today would be a good day to start. 

Reprinted from "The Pastors Blog" - Chuck Swindoll

Saturday, April 3, 2021

An Honest and Transparent look at "Easter"

     

    Today we will look at the word "Easter” and trace  
it back to ancient England.  Today Easter is a purely Christian term,  
however it has a very dark past indeed.  Now I am sharing this with   
you not to ruin your Resurrection Celebration, but to share the truth with    
you.  Also let us keep in mind that most Christian Holidays, including   
Christmas in December, came from ancient pagan Holidays as well.

    The word "Easter" does not appear even one time in the Original
Transcripts.  After all, there are no Hebrew or Greek words for it.  
In the Original Manuscripts it uses the Hebrew word [ pesach ] which
means Passover, the same applies to the New Testament in the
Greek Transcripts [ paschal ] as well.  In fact, the first time that
Easter ever appeared in our Bible was with the very first King James
Bible in the 1600's, and it was used only one time in that Bible,
that was in (Acts 12:4) where it was substituted for the word
Passover, by whom we do not know.

    So where did the word "Easter" come from anyway?  Surprise,
surprise, a Pagan Holiday which was in honor of their goddess of
the dawn, of spring, and of reproduction. So let us begin.....

    Now an ancient Babylonian legend had it that a giant egg fell from
heaven, was rolled ashore by the little fishes, and hatched by doves
into Ishtar, or Aahtoreth.  This legend over time became known even
in Europe and became firmly entrenched in ancient Britain and was
celebrated during the Vernal Equinox.  The name Ashtoreth was
transliterated into the Gaelic tongue as "Eastre." This was a form of
Baal worship. (One might note that whenever Baal worship was
practiced, it included animal and human sacrifices involving children!)

    During this festival pagan priests called Druids performed religious
rites involving dancing around phallic pillars, temple prostitution, and
sacrifices in honor of Eastre.  Also, eggs have always been associated
with her, and wherever Baal worship has appeared. Thus, Easter eggs
are part of the ancient celebration of the goddess as well. The Easter
Bunny is a more recent twist on an ancient theme, inspired by the
same spirit, rabbits have long been associated with reproduction and
with Ashtoreth, or Eastre.

     
 How did ( Eastre ) or Easter replace Passover?

    
 Now since the pagans were already celebrating their holiday at
about the same time as Passover, the Church once again decided to
sanctify their holy day as a method of converting pagans to
Christianity.  So why not change the name just a little, clean it up and
get rid of their sacrifices, and make it a Christian Holy Day.  It was
then that Eastre's day became known as Easter.

    Also, remember our old friend Constantine the Roman emperor?
The man who decided to change the Sabbath from the seventh day to
the first day of the week, and then muscled the Church into accepting
that.  The man who dared to change God's Word, well he struck again.
You see Constantine convened the council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. a
council that he handpicked I might add.  This council unanimously
ruled that the Easter festival should be celebrated throughout the
Christian World on the first Sunday after the full moon following the
vernal equinox; and if the full moon should occur on a Sunday and
thereby coincide with the Passover festival, Easter should by moved
to the following Sunday.  Therefore, Easter and Passover would
become separated, and have been ever since.  This is why we
celebrate Easter on a different day each year!

   Of course, in the modern World today the term Easter has become
a purely Christian word. No one offers their children before phallic poles,
or worships the statue of a woman with many breasts on Easter day.
But Christ is equally pushed out, and I can't help but believe that our
old enemy 'satan' is behind the whole affair. He simply kept introducing
distractions such as eggs, bunnies, and Easter baskets until the
resurrection of Jesus became an afterthought, and finally not thought of
at all, except by a very few. Thus, the true significance, of Christ's
triumphal victory over death itself, is lost in the shuffle I am sorry to say.

                  _________________________________

 
A God’s Minute reprint -  Pastor Ron Allen

Sunday, March 7, 2021

The Pastor's Relationships - The Congregation


Your congregation represents people from all walks of life—all ages and stages of maturity. All flawed, yet all drawn together because they love Christ, and they love to be a part of the ministry.


  (Photo: By Justin. A. Wilcox, Own work. CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

What a unique creation from God!

Some of these people who come to your church need time to heal. Some have experienced what I call “toxic religion.” They have had former pastors who dominated and domineered them, who took advantage of them spiritually, and who told them it was a sin to attend another church. How tragic.

All Fearful, Welcome Here

These wounded people will often stumble into your church afraid.

§  They’re fearful, first of all, that they will be found out by their friends from their old church—most of whom are now shunning them because they left.

§  Second, they’re afraid of not knowing the “right” thing to do in their new church.

§  Third, they may even be afraid of you.

So please, have a heart. Be extremely patient with them. These individuals don’t come in and hit the floor running, ready to serve. Let your church be a place of refuge where they can find sufficient grace to heal. Be faithful to pray for them.

Feeding and Leading

Some of your sheep long to be affirmed, and all of them desire to be nourished.

§  So feed them well. I have discovered that frequent chiding and rebuking of the flock is not helpful. Help them stay balanced.

§  Lead the sheep. In my New England pastorate, I drove the sheep. That was a mistake. I learned that a pastor can’t really lead the sheep if he doesn’t love them. So, learn from my mistakes.

When you need to do some kind of reproving—and that’s part of our job—do it privately and confidentially.

§  Never embarrass a church member.

§  I suggest you have your difficult meeting off-site, so that not even the staff will know the individual showed up to talk to you alone.

Faithfulness and Tenderness

All will appreciate your faithfulness and your tenderness. They like to know that when you’re touched by something, tears will come. Never apologize for your tears. The older I get, the more tears seem to be on the surface. Jesus wept . . . remember?

Model for them the role of a shepherd. You’re working with sheep; it’s a great analogy. And remember that you’re a sheep too. (It’s easy to forget that.) You’re not even the Chief Shepherd—that’s Jesus. He’s the Head of the church.

Let’s keep Him as Head.


Reprinted from The Pastor's Blog by Chuck Swindoll


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Embracing Where God Has Placed You

Rather than racing into the limelight, we need to accept our roles in the shadows. I’m serious here. Don’t promote yourself. Don’t push yourself to the front. Don’t drop hints. Let someone else do that. Better yet, let God do that. 

Today would be a good time to resist going through life and ministry trying to live according to your own understanding—thinking if you can just climb one or two more rungs, you’ll be there. Then you’ll have what you need. Your family will be (what’s that word we like to use?) . . . comfortable. You know what your family needs most? They need you to be right with the Lord. That takes humility . . . especially as pastors. 

If God is pleased to expand your ministry, trust me, the word will get out. You’ll be found . . . in God’s time. If you’re necessary for His plan, God will put you in the right place at just the right time. God’s work is not about us. It’s His production, start to finish. So back off. Let Him pull the curtains and turn on the stage lights. 

Or He may choose you to be one of the nameless, lesser-known individuals who make the difference for someone else. View either path as a privilege . . . because it is. 

Your part, pure and simple: humble yourself. Go there, my friend, and stay there.


Pastors Blog - Chuck Swindoll

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Jesus and the money changers

“SO THEY CAME TO JERUSALEM. THEN JESUS WENT INTO THE TEMPLE AND BEGAN 
TO DRIVE OUT THOSE WHO BOUGHT AND SOLD IN THE TEMPLE, AND OVER- TURNED THE TABLES OF THE MONEY CHANGERS, AND THE SEATS OF THOSE WHO SOLD DOVES.” (MARK 11:15 *NKJV ) 

  Did you ever wonder why there were money changers, and other merchants in the Temple? 

  Well, the Passover was almost at hand, and Jews came from all over the World to take part in the Passover Festival each year, and to pay their Temple taxes. Those from foreign Countries had to have their money changed into Temple currency, because it was the only money accepted to pay for the purchase of sacrificial animals and pay for their taxes as well. 

  Often the inflated exchange rate enriched the money changers, and the exorbitant prices of animals made the merchants wealthy. Further, their stalls were set up in the Temple's Court of the Gentiles, frustrating the intentions of the Non-Jews who had come to worship God as well. (see ISAIAH 56:6-7) 

  Thus Jesus became angry because God's House of Worship had become a place of extortion, and a barrier to Non-Jews who wanted to worship there as well. 

  For; “THEN JESUS TAUGHT, SAYING TO THEM, "IS IT NOT WRITTEN, MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL NATIONS? BUT YOU HAVE MADE IT A DEN OF THIEVES." 
 
AND THE SCRIBES AND CHIEF PRIESTS HEARD IT AND SOUGHT HOW THE MIGHT DESTROY HIM; FOR THEY FEARED HIM, BECAUSE ALL THE PEOPLE WERE ASTONISHED AT HIS TEACHING.” (MARK 11:17-18 ) 

  Finally, if you are wondering why we don't follow the sacrificial laws anymore, please know that Christ became our Sacrificial Lamb to pay for our sins once and for all! 

 “FOR INDEED CHRIST, OUR PASSOVER, WAS SACRIFICED FOR US. THEREFORE LET US KEEP THE FEAST.” (1 CORINTHIANS 5:7)


A God's Minute reprint

Monday, January 18, 2021

Praying and Preaching

Adopting the Attitude of Paul 

You have to love Paul’s humility. Here was a man in his sixties who has been preaching for years asking for prayers for a clearer delivery. Read his words carefully:

 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak. (Colossians 4:2–4)

 There was no pretense with Paul. No degree of success or number of years in the ministry gave him a false sense of ultimate accomplishment. He knew he had not yet arrived. He remained dependent on the Spirit of God. He was convinced his preaching could be improved. And so with a genuinely thankful heart, he entreated his fellow believers for their prayers. 

Can you see the power of that kind of attitude? Very refreshing in the first century. And very rare in the twenty-first. No wonder the man made such a lasting impact for Christ.


reprint form Pastors Blog: Chuck Swindoll

Friday, January 1, 2021

JOY TO ALL PEOPLE?

 

Resting in the middle of all the beautiful images of the birth of our Lord we read a most disturbing account which may cause some to question the accuracy of the angel’s glorious proclamation: “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

In Matthew 2 we find the famous account of the wise men of whom we sing: they came from the east, following Christ’s star, bearing gifts for the “King of the Jews” which led them to Jesus. You will recall that Herod was very disturbed by the news and had the wise men brought to him and told them that after they found the Messiah, they were to come back and let him know so he could go and worship him also. (Yea, right?) The wise men are told in a dream not to go back to Herod and an angel appears to Joseph and tells him to “get out of Dodge”, go to Egypt for Herod would try to kill the babe.  

Now we pick up at Matthew 2:16-18: “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentations, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.

So much for that “good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.” Can you imagine the hollering and grief of losing all the male children 2 years old and under?  One might ask “Did these parents find great joy as a result of the birth of the “King of the Jews”?

 Even after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he, having paid the full ransom for the sins of the whole world and with believers receiving eternal life for faith in Jesus Christ, about 60 million people still die each year. Many are Christians and many are young, tragic deaths. Where is their joy in the birth of Jesus Christ?

  Open your Bibles and read Jeremiah chapter 31, a Messianic prophesy of hope and joy that He will establish in the coming kingdom of God on earth. God gives this message of hope at a time when Nebuchadnezzar has stomped Israel and taken the crops and all the best it has; copper, silver and gold, the best tradesmen, the most skilled and wisest people, and the best bred, most learned children off to Babylon and left the rest to fend with what is left.  Amid this devastation, God gives these assurances of a coming day: “For there will be a day when the watchmen will cry on Mount Ephraim “Arise and let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.” (6) and we pick up at vs 13 “Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, and young men and old, together, for I will turn their mourning to joy, will comfort them and make them rejoice rather than sorrow. I will satiate the soul of the priests with abundance and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the Lord.”  

Now as we continue let me tell you that in Jeremiah 40 we see that Ramah is a place outside of Jerusalem which was basically the holding place where the selected Jews including the well-bred and wisest children were gathered before being exiled to Babylon. Jeremiah continues with the quote we find in Mt 2: (18) “Thus says the Lord: “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.” This is “real time” description of what was happening in Jeremiah’s day as well as a prophecy for the crushed mothers in Jerusalem at the time around Jesus’ birth because Matthew places it there. Now hear the promise of hope and assurance that God gives to the mothers of the children swiped off to Babylon, the mothers of the massacred babies in Jerusalem and to you and me: (16) “Thus says the Lord: “Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope in your future, says the Lord, that your children shall come back to their border.”  

there is hope in your future”, God knows and has it covered is the message Matthew leaves all with the mothers of Jerusalem and you and I when he included the prophecy in Matthew 2:15. Not only is God letting the mothers know that He knew 600 years earlier that they would suffer such loss, but He has it covered.

Merry Christmas everybody! Jesus Christ is the hope of all ages and indeed is the “tidings of great joy that shall be to all people.” In God’s time.

                                                                            Br. Bruce