Eat to Live, Not Live to Eat

Fasting - 1-28-14

 

Introduction

 

I have made this post into a teaching so you will be encouraged and motivated to complete your fast from January 26 – February 1. It is lengthier because it contains Biblical encouragement to finish your fast when your body cries out for food. Remember, this fast is setting the course for the rest of the year in our private, family and church lives. We are creating a spiritual climate for God to work among us and in our community.

 

Eat to Live, Not Live to Eat

 

Food has become a focus for our society. Many of us are attracted to the creative ads and commercials that make our mouths water over the delicious foods we see. Business and social activities revolve around food. We know more about health and nutrition than ever before and yet America’s health is at an all-time low. Obesity now affects 60% of our society and a large portion of the additional 40% struggle with excess weight.

 

I once knew a consultant from Nashville who created new businesses and recruited investors. He was very convincing and knew his trade. However, there was one glaring problem with his leadership - his attitude toward health and eating! He literally bragged about his obesity and how much food he could consume. He loathed exercise and was terribly focused on himself.

 

I stayed at a distance from him because I felt this self-destructive attitude would affect his business world. My reasoning went something like this: If you don’t care about yourself, you probably won’t care about investor’s money.

 

I lost touch with this person.

 

Statistics tell us he won’t be on this plant very long if he doesn’t change his attitudes and habits.

 

We can learn a lot from history. The Romans had as many as 76 festivals per year. Food was a priority at these events. Often a banquet began at 4:00 pm and lasted into the evening or the next day. They ate rare fish, rare birds and rare fruit. Some of the fruit was valued in today’s currency at as much as $40 per pound.

 

Favorite dishes included ostrich wings, flamingo tongues and canary flesh. After dinner, many threw-up only to return to eat more.

 

Seneca wrote, “They vomit to eat and eat to vomit.”

 

People squandered their fortunes on food. M. Gavius Apicius, who lived in the times of Tiberius Caesar, was a wealthy glutton. It was said that he spent over 4 million dollars on food. He checked his account one day and found that he only had $400,000. This alarmed him and he committed suicide, because now he would have to curb his gluttony. Food was his god.

 

One Roman wrote, “Intent on stuffing themselves, they follow their noses and the shrieking women’s voices to the kitchen; and like a flock of starving and screeching peacocks, they stand on the tips of their toes, biting their fingernails, waiting for food to cool.”

 

Cicero warned the Romans to “eat to live, not live to eat.”

 

Fasting helps us to bring balance to food and health. It teaches us to be controlled by our spirit rather than our fleshly appetites. It directs our attention toward God and others rather than ourselves.

 

How do you dethrone “King Stomach”? It has been said that the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. The devil also knows this; he will use food to create a false sense of security.

 

In Matthew 4, Jesus starts His ministry with a 40-day fast. Satan approaches Him in verse 3, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

 

The devil knew His body was crying out for food, but Jesus answered him in verse 4, “It is written, people do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

 

Food must become a servant, not a master.

 

The Bible is filled with illustrations of how Satan used food to destroy people.

 

In Genesis 2, God told Adam and Eve that they could eat anything in the Garden of Eden, except the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

 

Genesis 3:6

 

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food…she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

 

Punishment came immediately. They literally ate themselves out of the will of God.

 

Ezekiel 16:49 – 50 describes the sins of Sodom and the reasons for their destruction. One sin had to do with food: fullness of food and gluttony.

 

In Genesis 25, Esau sold his birthright for bread and a pot of lentil stew.

 

Verse 34 says, “So Esau despised his birthright,” after this event. His stomach caused him to make an impulsive decision.

 

The Israelites complained about the manna God provided for them in the wilderness.

 

Numbers 11:4 – 7 describes their intense cravings for the foods they had in Egypt:

 

Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish, which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onion and the garlic, but now our whole being is dried up. There is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes.

 

Numbers 11:18 – 20 describes how God sent quail in such great abundance that they stacked it two and a half feet deep. They ate and ate and while the meat was in their mouths, thousands of them died and were buried there.

 

According to verse 34, that place was known as Kibroth Hattaavah, which means, “the graves of lusters”. Food destroyed their destiny.

 

There are three reasons starting the year with a fast is a good practice.

 

1. By doing so, you set the course for the rest of the year.

 

Just as beginning your day with prayer sets the course for the rest of the day and covers anything that may happen the same is true at the beginning of the year with a fast. You set the course for the entire year by what you do with these first few days of the new year. You can carry that even further to give God the first part of each day, the first day of every week, the first portion of every dollar and the first consideration in decisions.

 

2. Blessings will happen for you and your family throughout the year because you fasted in January.

 

Pay attention to how God blesses your family, finances, relationships, health, ministry, etc., throughout the year. You will discover that this practice brings blessings to many areas of your life.

 

3. When you fast and pray at the beginning of the year, you release the principle found in Matthew 6:33:

 

Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things [food, clothing, protection, health, finances…] will be added to you.

 

If you seek Him first in the year, get ready for all these things to be added to your life throughout the rest of the year.

 

Don’t let food become your master and destroy God’s plan for your life.

 

Eat to live, not live to eat.

 

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The Comfort of Daddy’s Arms


Dad and Kids - 1867


A single mom was diagnosed with brain cancer a few years ago and was told she had about 6 years to live. She is a very sweet and somewhat timid person, but the first visit to our church, gave her heart to Jesus.

 

She had attended other churches in the area, but came away with the idea that her situation was her fault. After attending our ladies retreat and receiving such love and encouragement from our church family, we watched her come to life, as we became the family she longed for.  

She was excited about serving at banquets and helping in any way she could. Even the way she dressed changed. She had been told that wearing bright colors (which fit her cute personality) were not appropriate for church.  

It saddened our hearts when it appeared that the tumor had grown and she required surgery and treatment again. The doctors removed most of the tumor and they were hopeful that she would recover completely, but it aggressively returned keeping her paralyzed on the left side.

My daughter and I visited her on Christmas Eve; we decorated her room (I think the nurse was a bit ticked) and gave her gifts and spent time with her in prayer. But through her tears and depressed words - I could see that she was losing her grip on the hope that she would regain use of her body.

 

As I held her close to me, kissing her cheek - I was overcome with such love, that I knew Father God was using me to hold His child and to comfort her. His love for His children is indescribable. It wasn't the gifts or the lights hanging in her room that she really wanted - it was feeling the arms of love around her.

As my daughter and I slowly walked through the halls holding hands, tears filled our eyes.

 

She said, "Mom, this was a memorable night - this is what Christmas is - bringing His love to those who may feel hopeless and forgotten."

Why am I writing about our precious sister today? I guess her life is a reminder to me, that there are so many people who need the love of their Heavenly Father to comfort and hold them in times like this. We have the privilege of sharing His love, hope and joy with them.

Psalm 36:5-10 is about The Father’s Love. Verse 7 is amazing to me:

 

How priceless is Your unfailing love! Whether the most prestigious or simplest person - we can All find comfort and safety in Your arms.

 

Blessings,
Pastor Judy

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Strong in 2014

Rope - 1-22-14

 

One of my favorite movies is Remember the Titans, which came out in 2000. This is a true story of a newly appointed African-American coach and his high school team on their first season as a racially integrated unit.

 

Denzel Washington played Coach Herman Boone. Under his leadership he united both African-American and white players into a state-championship team.

 

The film was inspirational because the racial tension was resolved when Coach Boone made each player get acquainted with each other’s family. The ethnic diversity allowed the team to play as brothers and with great enthusiasm. When they discovered each other’s strengths, they became a powerful football team.

 

There was a scene in the locker room where Gerry and Julius were getting their team inspired. Julius was African-American and Gerry was white. They hated each other during training camp, but later became close friends and leaders of the team.

 

During this scene, Gerry arouses the guys with this statement: “I’m strong! I’m so strong that two guys can’t stop me!”

 

Julius responds by saying, “I’m stronger! There ain’t nobody going to be able to stop me tonight!”

 

As a result, the team got excited and defeated their opponent.

 

How strong are you as you enter 2014?

 

I love the words of Gerry and Julius because strength produces confidence and confidence wins in life.

 

Ecclesiastes 4:12b

 

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

 

The basic design of a three-strand cord is strong.

 

In Matthew 6, there are three strands of truth that will make you spiritually strong in 2014 - giving, prayer and fasting.

 

Before I briefly give an explanation of these three strands, I need to remind you of one important word in this passage: when.

 

It does not say if you give, pray and fast, but when you give, pray and fast. Each of these spiritual disciplines is essential for spiritual strength.

 

GIVE

 

Matthew 6:2 - 4 refers to giving to the poor, not tithing. This type of giving goes beyond the tithe and is to be done in secret. This can be expressed by giving anonymously to someone or by contributing to a benevolence offering. Your giving must be motivated by internal obedience to God rather than external recognition by people.

 

PRAY

 

Matthew 6:5 – 15 tells us to pray in secret and model The Lord’s Prayer. Notice Jesus’ model prayer begins with praise and adoration to God before any requests are made. He instructs us to pray this way so we first focus on the greatness of God rather than the greatness of our problems, needs and concerns.

 

God wants us to spend time with Him so we can really know Him. Prayer involvs talking to God and listening to Him. Journaling is a wonderful way to record what God is saying to us as we pray. Block off time to pray each day.

 

Luke 11:9 – 10 says we are to ask, seek and knock. These words describe persistence and determination.

 

FAST

 

Like prayer, we are to do this in secret, expecting only God’s approval. Fasting plugs us into heaven’s supernatural power.

 

Isaiah 58 is a pivotal chapter on fasting. We do this to strengthen our spirit and to break chains that have bound us and others.

 

Isaiah 58:6 – 7 tells us the end result of fasting:

 

…Loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke…Share your food with the hungry and…provide the poor wanderer with shelter…clothe the naked and [do] not turn away from your own flesh and blood.

 

January 26 – February 1, is our annual week of fasting at Crossfire Church. Whether you participate in a total fast, a partial fast or a Daniel fast, would you make this a priority so the results of Isaiah 58:6 – 7 are experienced?

 

I would love to hear Crossfire worshippers inspiring one another like Gerry and Julius did in the locker room.

 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear conversation like this:

 

“How strong are you?”

 

“I’m strong in the Lord and His mighty power!” (Ephesians 6:10)

 

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!” (Philippians 4:13)

 

“I’m so strong that the devil is afraid of me!” (James 4:7)

 

“The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in me, so that makes me eternally strong!” (Romans 8:11)

 

You are strong because Jesus is working out His power and character in you. (Philippians 1:6)

 

Additional reading: "A Battle to Remind" by Pastor John Piper

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Sharpening Your Spiritual Focus

Iron Sharpens Iron Graphic

Photo: Kathy Fannon

 

Proverbs 27:17 has been a pivotal verse in my spiritual journey.

 

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

 

Our church is well aware of my love for bow hunting. Each year I take quality time to take an inventory of my hunting gear and I inspect each piece of equipment with great care.

 

Two items that demand special attention are broadheads for my arrows and my knife. The preparation of my clothing, masking of my scent, tree stand location, bow turning, etc., are all useless if my broadheads are not razor sharp.

 

Bow hunters know that a broadhead is designed to cut and penetrate the prey, which results in the animal’s death through blood loss. A dull broadhead can mean the difference between harvesting an animal and wounding it. A bow hunter’s greatest regret is wounding an animal with a dull broadhead.

 

Another vital piece of equipment that must be razor sharp is my knife. I always go bow hunting with the expectation that I will harvest a deer. Once I make a good shot I wait about forty-five minutes before I go after the deer. I follow the blood trail to the deceased animal. Now I must dress the deer, and do it correctly so the meat will be ready to be processed, stored in my freezer and ultimately eaten.

 

How a deer is harvested and processed is crucial to its taste. Dressing a deer properly is largely dependent on the sharpness of my knife. Nothing is more frustrating than dressing a deer with a dull knife after you have gone through all the preparation to harvest the animal.

 

In Proverbs 27:17, the writer talks about sharpening one another. We all need mentors and friends who will keep us sharp so we can cut through life with ease and effectiveness.

 

 

Judy and I have two special friends from the Toronto area who sharpen our love and focus for spiritual maturity. They are responsible for encouraging us to birth Crossfire Church eight years ago. They have personally prayed for us on a consistent basis and have contacted us on many occasions to encourage us in our personal lives and ministry.

 

After a week’s ministry in our church, they left our home this past Monday morning. This was their eighth visit to Crossfire; they have invested themselves in us and our assembly. Much of the spiritual DNA in us and our church was transferred from their lives and ministry.

 

They have reminded us to be focused on becoming sons and daughters of God, versus servants whose motivation is performance rather than relationship. Intimacy is always the goal we are to pursue in our spiritual journey. It is so easy to get caught up in the doing of ministry rather than taking time to be with God, and hearing Him in our daily quiet times through reading the Bible, prayer, scripture memorization and journaling.

 

Judy and I feel motivated, focused and excited for 2014. These folks impacted us to build people who will in turn build an effective church. We have a commitment to stay in contact with our friends because they remind us to focus on the essentials of our relationship with God.

 

I encourage you to find caring people like our friends who will speak into your life in 2014, and sharpen your spiritual focus.

 

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Servanthood or Sonship

Man - by Danka Peter

Photo: Danka Peter

 

My husband and I begin each new year by praying together and waiting on God for His direction for the year. He always gives us a slogan or theme. This year it is Preparing for More in 2-0-1-4! It is exciting, because this is our 8th year of pastoring this church family and eight is the number of New Beginnings.

 

It has been a personal 8-year journey for us on a pathway of Sonship. We have slowly come to understand the difference between being a 'servant' of God verses being a 'child' of God, which we call Sonship.

 

In this short blog, I can't possibly cover all we've learned, but it's a journey we are leading our church family on that will ultimately bring them to understand and enjoy truly being a Child of God.

 

The apostle Paul tried to convey this freeing truth to the people of Ephesus in Ephesians 2:8-10. (From the Judy Translation)

 

"It's by Grace you've become a child of God - through Faith - and even your Faith was a gift from God. You can't earn salvation by working hard to be good enough - then it would have depended on Your abilities to merit God’s love - this thinking results in 'Self-Righteousness'. No! It doesn't work that way! We are God’s workmanship, created to become His children through the 'Righteousness of Christ Jesus' - and as a result we still do good works, which God Prepared in advance for us to do - not because we are trying to earn His love, but because we know we Have His Love!"

 

In a conversation with my grandson last night, I saw a vivid picture of a father walking out a situation with his son. My grandson had been watching his dad buy cars at an auction, and wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps. However in his haste to get his purchase he didn't take time to check the car out by driving it first - something his dad always did. So, on the way home from the auction the engine blew!

 

I said, "What did your dad do?"

 

He said, "My dad helped me by giving me the number of a tow truck and then he made phone calls to repair places and dealers for advice. I lost money on that car, but I sure learned a lot!"

 

He learned more from his mistake than how to pick a good car for resale. He learned how to be a father by the way he was treated as a son. A servant could lose their position because of a mistake like this, but a Son is a Son Forever.

 

Blessings,

Pastor Judy

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Highest New Year Goal

Love is the Goal - 1-6-14

 

The great thing about a new year is that you can say good bye to the old one and all the disappointments of unmet expectations and look forward to a new year with renewed hope, that the coming year will be better and more fulfilling and closer to that feeling of accomplishment. 

 

Many people make new year’s resolutions, and they are often based on physical or financial goals. We often plan our life goals around our time on earth, focused on retirement...like the squirrel preparing for winter. That's Not a bad thing...unless we have placed that preparation Above our Eternal goals.  

 

Goals are all about preparing for something better. The older I get the more I realize that this life passes quickly and the need to prepare for Eternity is the greatest necessity...not only for me...but for those I love.  

 

After church Sunday, I was greeting people as they left the service. As our precious 84-year-old member, using his walker was moving by, I leaned close to him and kissed his cheek...his sweet eyes sparkled as he looked up into my eyes and smiled and said, "Oh, there you are!" His wife walking behind him, with big tears in her eyes said, "That's the first time he has smiled sense his illness...he must have been looking for you."  

 

He has lost the ability to recognize his loved ones and this was truly a tender moment for me. I fought back the tears...for I knew in that moment that being Loved and Loving those around us, should be our highest goal. We are all looking for the same thing, even if we don't know it. True Peace and Joy comes from knowing we are loved, this gives us the ability to love others.

 

Our Heavenly Father Loved us first, so we could know what True Love is and then have the understanding of how to Love others, because of the Grace He showed to us. 

 

We can't take the money with us to heaven, which we've worked so hard to store up. Our body that we worked so hard on will be replaced with a heavenly one. So, the only goal that makes sense and will last through out Eternity is...LOVE. 

 

This year my goal is to Know and Show the Love of Jesus More. I think I will begin everyday by reading 1 Corinthians 13 to remind me of what Love looks and acts like.

 

1 Corinthians 13:13

 

And Now these three remain: Faith, Hope and Love. But the greatest of these is Love.

 

In this New Year...May your highest goal also be to Know and Share the greatest gift ever given to mankind - The True Love of Jesus Christ...sent to us by His Heavenly Father and revealed to us by His precious Holy Spirit. 

 

Happy New Year!

 

Blessings,

Pastor Judy

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Who Are You Hanging Out With

Friends

 

I recently heard a life-changing statement: Show me your friends and I will show you your future.

 

Friends either lift and encourage you or bring you down to their level. All of us need good friends who will help us grow in our walk through life.

 

How do you choose good friends?

 

Matthew 7 gives us some good advice. It first commands us not to judge one another. This scripture has been misinterpreted by many who believe we should accept any person’s behavior and not judge it. Our society has become an entitlement nation where many believe the government is responsible to take care of them.

 

This attitude is also brought into the church. People love the message of grace and unconditional love God extends toward us. However, the message of discipleship and personal growth is not received with such enthusiasm. The message of the gospel must be balanced or else we will be responsible for presenting a gospel of greasy grace and sloppy agape.

 

If we are called to grow and mature in our faith then our choice of friends is very important. We must judge whether they inspire us or drain us. In this passage it tells us not to judge hypocritically or self-righteously. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were guilty of this type of judging. (Matthew 23:13 – 39)

 

They laid religious burdens on people who dealt with the outward appearance rather than the issues of the heart. They were heavy on performance and bankrupt on relationship. Performers don’t see the plank in their own eye; they choose to focus on the speck in another’s eye. This is called a religious spirit and God hates it. We, as Christ’s followers, must judge a religious spirit and eliminate it from our lives.

 

Do you have friends who have a religious spirit? They will cause you to feel condemned and discouraged when you are in their presence.

 

To obey Christ’s commands in this chapter, we must first evaluate a person’s character. Whether one is a dog (vs 6 – people who put religious burdens on people to control and use them), or a false prophet (vs 15) or whether one’s life shows fruit (vs 16).

 

Scripture repeatedly exhorts believers to evaluate carefully (John 7:24) and choose between good and bad people and things. (Sexually immoral, I Corinthians 5:9; those who masquerade as angels of light, II Corinthians 11:14; dogs, Philippians 3:2; false prophets, I John 4:1) The Christian is to test them all. (II Thessalonians 5:21)

 

Matthew 7:6 is a verse that every Christian must understand. It says, “Do not give to dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

 

There are people who act like pigs and dogs. The pearl of your ministry, time and love is not celebrated. These folks use you and when they get what they want they turn on you like a dog or pig.

 

As you approach 2014, I urge you to evaluate who your friends are and how they affect you. Spend 80% of your time with people who inspire you and 20% of your time with those from whom you don’t expect anything in return.

 

Eric is one of my favorite people at the gym; his enthusiasm for exercise, health and nutrition cause me to desire better health. If you want to quit a habit, hang around people who do not have your habit.

 

Pastor David Williams called two of our dear friends, Steve and Pam Marshall, and left this voice message: I just received your new CD. Every time I listen to it, it makes me want to be more like Jesus.

 

Who you hang out with will determine your future. Choose your friends carefully.

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True Christmas Expectations

Christmas - Vintage 1

 

Christmas has got to be my favorite time of the year! I know it can be the busiest time, but it's always filled with a sense of excitement too. I drag out the little people...dressed in their red outfits (that are stuffed with cotton batting) and of course, The Christmas Teddy Bear Family, the 9-foot Christmas tree and garland for all the fireplace mantles. We have angels peeking at us from every room and candles burning, making it feel cozy with the smell of evergreen and cinnamon. 

 

Can you tell that my best Christmas memories as a child were at My grandma’s house? Naturally, I want my grandkids to be able to have the same fun "Christmas Expectations". 

 

One of my greatest "Christmas Expectations" is having all the kids home. It's crazy with all the laughter and music coming from the grandkids’ guitars and piano as they sing fun songs, but I Love it!

 

I had great plans of family pictures taken around the Christmas tree and open staircases, with everyone dressed in their fun Christmas pjs that we gave them. I even scheduled my niece (a photographer) to surprise the family after lunch, to take all the fun pictures...but my "Christmas Expectations" would Not be met this year. 

 

Or would they? 

 

This year the weather played a mean trick on me...from having to cancel our Sunday Christmas Celebration at church...to preventing half the family from joining us for Christmas. I was very disappointed!

 

However, the Lord began to reveal to me that my "True Christmas Expectations" were being met after all. 

 

The ones in Chicago, who always make a fast trip here, were safe and cozy at home, actually enjoying a peaceful Christmas together. The ones in Lansing were helping house people who were without power during the storm. The ones in Minnesota were also safe and not on the icy roads. I was grateful that our daughter Tammy had flown in earlier in the week, and our family who lives nearby were also safe with us.

 

My prayer and greatest expectation has always been that my family would be safe at Christmas and filled with the Love, Peace and Joy of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

 

Plans of family pictures in pjs weren't fulfilled, but my "True Christmas Expectations" were. My family was safe, and enjoying the Presence of God. 

 

Perhaps you experienced unmet expectations or disappointments this season, but I encourage you to look deeper and see the love of God, working All things for our good and for those we love. 

 

Romans 8:28

 

For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

 

Blessings,

Pastor Judy

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Resist Chameleon Christianity

IMG 0059

 

During the 1980s, the Contemporary Christian group, Petra, became popular. The young men wrote music that penetrated the youth culture for Christ. Their message was simple: accept Christ as Lord and Savior and radically serve Him.

 

One of their songs dealt with being a chameleon Christian. A chameleon is a lizard that survives by changing its color so it blends in with its surroundings. This ability to blend in helps it to survive from its predators. 

 

This may be helpful for a chameleon but is dangerous for followers of Christ.

 

Matthew 5:13 - 14

 

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is not longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

 

This passage defines our purpose as Christians.

 

1. We are to be salt.

 

There were no refrigerators in that period of time so people used salt as a preservative.

 

We are called to the conscience of our culture.

 

Our nation was founded on Christian principles. This foundation has given us freedom and a way of life that the world envies. However, there are forces of darkness that are chipping away at our nation’s footings. Without strong Christian leadership and strong churches, our culture will continue to spiral downward.

 

Notice once the salt has lost its saltiness, or preservative quality, it is thrown out and people walk on it.

 

This is a warning to the Christian community to radically penetrate the culture for the cause of Christ.

 

2. We are to be light.

 

I once visited the notorious island penitentiary, Alcatraz, in the San Francisco Bay. 

 

At one point in the tour, our group was introduced to the solitary confinement cells for the most dangerous inmates. These cells were completely made of lead and steel. We were all given a chance to experience briefly what those convicts experienced when they were locked up in those cells. We were asked to go inside the cell and the tour guide closed the door for one minute. The total darkness was horrifying. One minute seemed like an eternity. 

 

When the door was opened, the light was celebrated by all of us in the cell.

 

Jesus said in John 8:12, that He is the light of the world. When He lives in us we are bearers of that light. Therefore, like a city on a hill, we can’t avoid being seen by others.

 

Let’s begin 2014 with a renewed commitment to represent Christ well. Let’s avoid the mistake of being chameleon Christians.

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Christmas Is A Time To Reflect

Ornament 2007

Photo: Kathy Fannon

 

We have spent some quality time with our kids, spouses and grandchildren in the past month. During Thanksgiving we made a trip to Minnesota to visit with two of our sons. Each has three children, but at different age levels.

 

Ryan’s three children are in their teen years, so they enjoy talking and playing games with their grandma and grandpa.

 

Aaron’s children are 4, 6 and 8 years of age. The minute they wake up they are off and running. They are busy children who love adventure and movement. Their enthusiasm is enjoyable but they quickly wear out their grandparents!

 

Now I know why my parents only visited us for three days at a time: they loved us, but had a difficult time resting in our daily routine. Older folks have learned the value of slowing down and reflecting upon life. High-speed living often results in a crash.

 

Reflection is important in our spiritual lives as well.

 

Years ago, a wise pastor gave me some valuable advice: “Keith, pastors often get so caught up with the ministry of preaching, teaching and caring for people that they forget about their own private world with the Lord. Everything focuses on performance rather than relationship. Always take time to reflect upon the word of God and God’s involvement in your life.”

 

Reflection is important because it draws us closer to God and makes us more aware of His involvement in our lives. By reflecting upon the past we make better decisions for the present and future.

 

God wants relationship with us.

 

John 1:12

 

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…

 

When we invite Jesus into our lives, He wants us to get to know Him. You can’t do this on the run, it takes time and planning.

 

My mother has been our guest for the past four days; her desire is to spend time with Judy and me. We talk on the telephone often but only see each other about twice per year. Simple things like cooking together, playing Five-Hundred Rummies, watching a good movie and catching up on family news interest her.

 

Of course, reflecting upon the past causes us to recognize how good God has been to each of us. We find ourselves crying over our losses and laughing at the humorous episodes. The end result of our time together has reminded us of the value of our family and how God has been present in every period of our existence.

 

As Mom gets ready to return to Minnesota, my heart is full of gratitude for the privilege of enjoying her company these past four days.

 

Take time this Christmas to reflect upon God’s love and involvement in your life. Take time to trace the path He has put you upon. Take time to enjoy Him and listen to His voice as you read His word and hear His voice in prayer and reflection.

 

I encourage you with the words of the apostle Paul to Timothy:

 

II Timothy 2:8

 

Remember Jesus Christ, raised form the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel…

 

Merry Christmas and Happy Reflection!

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Featured Events

We had a wonderful time having Randy McPherson join us on February 21st! Check out the fun in this video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQMnTkhWJts.
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Join Pastor Judy on Tuesday nights for the "Get a Grip" Study.
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Giving frees us from being self-centered to being God centered.

It is a trait of God's kingdom, because it acknowledges His ownership & Lordship in our lives. Malachi 3:6-12 instructs us to test God by giving our tithes and offerings. May you experience God's blessings as you sow into His kingdom.

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