Fired Up or Frozen Out

Fire

Photo: flickr.com

 

I have followed the ministry of Christ for All Nations, founded by Reinhard Bonnke, for the past four decades. This wonderful evangelist focused his ministry on the continent of Africa. 

 

Since 2000, over 55 million people have made decisions to follow Christ in his gospel crusades. His crusades outnumber any gathering we have had in the United States. The hunger for having a relationship with God is so intense that over one million people gather at one time for his meetings. The crowds are staggering and the response to the invitation to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior is humbling. Vast numbers of people pray to receive Christ and sign decision cards so proper follow up can be completed.

 

Bonnke emphatically states that, “Jesus didn't die on the cross to make preachers famous. Jesus didn't die on the cross to give pastors a well-paid career. Jesus died on the cross to seek and save those who are lost. I do not seek applause. I am not after the honor of men. I am after souls, nothing more! God wants to save people and he uses you and me for His purposes.”

 

Bonnke does not stop here! He introduces them to the experience the early disciples had in the book of Acts – the baptism in the Holy Spirit!

 

Luke 24:49 states Jesus’ words before He ascended into heaven after His resurrection:

 

I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city (Jerusalem) until you have been clothed with power from on high.

 

These words were repeated by Jesus in Acts 1:5, 8. When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he recognized Him by the Spirit descending upon Him and remaining on Him. Jesus wanted the same for His disciples in order for them to live successfully in the Roman culture that persecuted Christians. Jesus had an intimacy with God the Father that guided Him through His earthly ministry. He wanted the disciples to experience and use this power to share the gospel with lost people.

 

Acts 1:8

 

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

 

Evangelist Bonnke knows that these new converts need the Holy Spirit’s fire and power to live in them to affect non-believers for the cause of Christ.

 

He shares this truth with them to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit immediately after the crowd prays a prayer to receive Christ. The whole crowd begins to speak in other tongues; this was a common occurrence in the book of Acts.

 

Jude 20

 

But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit…

 

I Corinthians 14:4 says praying in tongues edifies, or encourages us.

 

Romans 8:26-27 says the Spirit intercedes to pray through us in accordance to the will of God.

 

There are wonderful brothers and sisters who love Jesus who would dismiss this experience for the believer. They believe this phenomenon ceased with the early apostles. However, there are over 500 million Pentecostal-Charismatic Christians around the world who would testify of the necessity to be baptized in the Holy Spirit with the ability to speak in other tongues.

 

This experience develops intimacy with Jesus, power to win others to Christ and the desire to live a holy life.

 

Look at the words of Ephesians 4:24

 

…And to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

 

We actually have the ability to live the same way Jesus did by the Holy Spirit’s power. We also develop fearlessness, love, power and self-control from the Spirit who lives in us.

 

Bonnke recently spoke to thousands of American young people. His message was, The Presence of the Finger of God. The Finger-of-God is another name for the Holy Spirit.

 

The Holy Spirit is looking for willing young and older people to say yes to God’s call to Christian service. These people will be the new generation of evangelists, pastors, church builders and missionaries. Thousands in the video responded. Revival starts with developing Christian leaders and workers from this present generation.

 

Bonnke has turned his attention to America because he believes the greatest revival in America’s history is about to visit our country. The same Holy Spirit power that has been present in Bonnke’s African crusades is now present in American gatherings.

 

A frozen religion rejects the power of the Holy Spirit. They attempt spiritual ministry with physical strength. The result: they freeze out! One who is baptized in the Holy Spirit is energized by God’s fire and desires spiritual fruit in his or her life.

 

Bonnke states, “There is no fellowship with fire and icicles. You can ignore this experience or embrace it. The choice is yours.”

 

The Bible says we are in a war with spiritual darkness. Ephesians 6:18 commands us to “pray in the Spirit at all times.”

 

Why?

 

This verse has its context in putting on our spiritual armor so we will be ready to do battle with the forces of darkness. We need to embrace and use this wonderful spiritual weapon to annihilate the powers of darkness.

 

I pray you will choose the fire of the Holy Spirit rather than the frozen efforts of doing spiritual battle in your own strength.

 

Be fired up, not frozen out!

 

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Celebration

Judy and Bethany - 7-16-14

Photo: Judy and Bethany, July 16, 2014

 

At Crossfire Church July is a month to celebrate the relationships we have in our lives. We slow down our ministries so our people can rest and enjoy family and friends.

 

Our worship services celebrate the goodness of God and the joy of relationship with brothers and sisters in our congregation. We encourage our people to spend time with one another in their families and to connect with their church family without an agenda.

 

My wife and I had the privilege of hosting the worship team and their spouses at our home on July 9. We ate together, talked and laughed our way through the evening. Our agenda was simply relationship and fellowship.

 

Sometimes our lives are driven by schedules and agendas rather than people. When the last person left our house that Thursday night, Judy and I realized again how important it is to live together in community.

 

Today is my wife’s birthday, plus we have the privilege of our granddaughter’s company for the entire week.

 

Bethany recently graduated from Hillcrest Academy in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. She has already entered the nursing program in her local junior college and is working at an assisted living facility getting hands-on experience.

 

It seems like yesterday that Bethany was crawling through the house making sure I did not get out of her sight. This little baby has now become a beautiful, godly young lady who is preparing to serve our Lord in the nursing field.

 

I am celebrating my wife, Judy, and my granddaughter, Bethany, this week. I have slowed my pace down so I can take time to observe their beautiful qualities and sensitive emotions.

 

The above picture of Judy and Bethany was taken at Charlie’s Crab in Grand Rapids. Some celebrations call for dressy clothes, fancier restaurants and special attention. Both of these ladies have affected me in positive ways.

 

Judy’s gentle nature and love for Jesus has helped me become a more sensitive and compassionate man. Her concern for people challenges me to be more caring and available for friends, family and others. Her humor and creativity have created a joyful and peaceful atmosphere in our home that blesses me and those who enter it. I celebrate her today on her birthday and pray daily she will know how fabulous she is to me, our family and others. I echo the words of Jerry McGuire, “She completes me.”

 

I celebrate Bethany also because she represents another generation in our family tree that is pursuing God. Because of distance and family schedules I have had little time and opportunity to be with her alone. She’s all ours this week and I’m enjoying every minute. I enjoy her excitement for life and her focus for her nursing career. She’s a great example of a daughter who has made right choices, honored her parents, submitted to spiritual authority in her church, and now is honoring us with her time and love.

 

Bethany makes us feel special because she wants to be with us. She is open about her faith and welcomes our input. She exercises with me daily at MVP Fitness Center; she is the first grandchild to accompany me to the gym! She runs five to six miles per day, eats wisely and has a disciplined devotional life. Her church family is a priority and she wants God’s favor in her life.

 

She also likes to wear tasteful clothes so shopping with Grandma is a priority. She refers to Grandma Judy as her “cool grandma” because she dresses classy and listens attentively to her, giving input when needed.

 

There is nothing more rewarding in life than seeing your faith being transferred to your children and grandchildren.

 

I celebrate Judy and Bethany today. Let’s treasure and multiply ourselves through our family and those who need a helping hand in life.

 

Ephesians 4:24 encourages us to “put on a new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

 

Let’s allow our lives to be transparent so those closest to us will see Jesus in us. God created us to be like Him. Let’s celebrate people because God celebrates us.

 

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Winning Over Worry

Winning Over Worry

 

I make it a priority to watch the news daily so I understand the world I live in. It’s important to understand the events that affect people so I’m able to understand how people perceive and cope with life.

 

However, it is difficult to maintain a positive faith among the turmoil and destruction that is happening all around the globe. Wars and discontent are surfacing in the Ukraine and Mid-East, financial collapse of the US dollar is being projected by many economists, the prospects for a better life are fading and giving way to worry. People are living under the constant pressure of uncertainty.

 

How do we respond as Christians to this giant of chaos that surrounds us?

 

The first and foremost choice we must make is to interpret the events in the world through the eyes of scripture…the Bible.

 

II Timothy 3:16

 

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

 

When we read the Bible God instructs us how to live and interpret life properly.

 

Last week, I wrote these words in my journal: You become like the God you serve and focus upon.

 

In Numbers 25, the Israelites began to worship the gods of the Moabites and intermarried with their people. Their lifestyle became promiscuous because the gods they served promoted immorality.

 

Worry can become an idol, also, if we fail or are unwilling to consult God’s word. God has some wise advice and words of comfort on this subject in two key passages.

 

Matthew 6:25-34 is the first passage of scripture that everyone should highlight in their Bibles.

 

Matthew 6:25

 

Therefore, I tell you, do no worry about your life…

 

The word therefore is a concluding thought from verses 19 through 24. These verses contrast temporal treasures on earth with eternal treasures in heaven. Verse 24 ends with, “you cannot serve God and mammon.”

 

Mammon represents money and material things.

 

Four times in verses 25, 28, 31 and 34, this passage commands us not to worry. Why? He gives us two reasons.

 

First, verse 32 says the pagans, or non-believers, live this way on a regular basis. When the follower of Christ worries, he or she acts the same way the world does; our testimony for Christ is greatly weakened.

 

Verse 33 encourages us to “seek first His kingdom and all these things [temporal things we need on a daily basis] will be given to you.”

 

The conclusion of this passage is to interpret life through the eyes of eternity and you will win over worry.

 

The second key passage is Philippians 4:4-9. Worry is annihilated when you learn to rejoice in the Lord, not your circumstances.

 

The origin of the Philippian church is described in Acts 16. Paul, the apostle, and writer of this letter, knew firsthand what he was writing about. While in jail, he and his companion Silas were beaten and put in stocks. Their response was to sing hymns and songs that caused them to rejoice in the Lord.

 

Focus on God’s greatness, not the enormity of your problem!

 

Once we have focused on God’s greatness, Philippians 4:6 commands us not to be anxious about anything. How do you do this?

 

He goes on to say that we are to pray and give God our concerns and thank Him immediately that He will grant us our requests. The result is that peace will guard our hearts.

 

Philippians 4:8 encourages us to follow up our prayers with disciplined thinking that focuses upon godly values and virtues so that peace will rest upon us on a daily basis.

 

Philippians 4:9 also instructs us to follow godly examples of people who model peace in their lives. The apostle Paul said, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

 

Learn how to win over worry for yourself and then model it before others.

 

I have had many opportunities to lean upon these two passages of scripture. In May 2009, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I was fearful because my father went through the same physical problem. He had many complications so in the back of my mind I had concerns about how effective this surgery would be and the complications that could arise because of this operation.

 

I appreciated the prayers of family, friends and our church. However, the real peace came when these two passages became part of my life.

 

I can report today that I’m 100% healed and I have no complications from the surgery.

 

When life becomes difficult, don’t worry and choose peace! You will live a lot longer and you will enjoy life a lot more.

 

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Freedom

Sir William Wallace Statue Aberdeen

Sir William Wallace

 

Epic films are watched by millions of people from different generations. They are popular because they tell a great story or illustrate a timeless truth.

 

One of the classic films I have watched repeatedly is Braveheart, released in 1995. Mel Gibson played the part of William Wallace, who was the primary leader responsible for Scotland’s freedom from English tyranny.

 

Many classic quotes were included in the script; while getting his men ready for battle with the English, Wallace says these words to his men:

 

You have come to fight as free men and free men you are. What will you do with your freedom? Will you fight? Aye, fight and you may die, run and you will live, at lease a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom?

 

Freedom has two dimensions – external and internal.

 

Externally, our freedom is being assaulted by secular humanism, immorality, drugs, alcohol, abortions, pornography and rejection of the Judeo-Christian faith our country was founded upon. Sacred principles such as traditional marriage are being blatantly challenged by the homosexual community. A dark cloud of judgment is about to cover America.

 

Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, recently sent out a sobering plea to churches and Christian organizations throughout America for concentrated prayer during the first seven days in July to avert judgment. (Click here for more information.)

 

II Chronicles 7:14 gives us the recipe for reversing this wave of wickedness that threatens our land:

 

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

 

The second dimension of freedom in internal. Every form of government will fail if its people are slaves to sin. Sin is a dynamic power that separates us from God and causes us to live life on our own terms – we become our own gods.

 

The apostle Paul asks this question in Romans 7:24:

 

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

 

He gives the answer to this question in Romans 7:25:

 

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

 

Romans 6:18

 

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

 

This means that followers of Christ have the capacity to make right choices and live the right way.

 

The church in America is being called out to pursue its original mission, one that literally changed the Roman world in which they lived.

 

Romans 1:16-17 speak about the gospel’s power:

 

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

 

This gospel changes people and people affect nations.

 

After World War II and the Korean War, America pleaded for missionaries to be sent to Korea. The Japanese had destroyed their culture prior to World War II and the influence of communism divided their land into North and South Korea. The North remained communist and is still in rebellion and isolation to the rest of the word.

 

South Korea’s destiny was affected by missionaries who introduced the gospel of Jesus. They filled a spiritual void left by the wars that ravaged their country. Today, some of the largest and most effective churches in the world make their home in South Korea. As a result of strong spiritual growth, South Korea has enjoyed economic strength and a rich quality of life.

 

As we approach July 4th, let’s proclaim the word of William Wallace before he died: Freedom!

 

Galatians 5:13

 

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

 

Freedom always expresses itself in serving others.

 

Happy Fourth of July!

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Develop Eternal Focus

focus

Last week I had cataract surgery in my right eye. Four-and-a-half years ago I had the same surgery in my left eye. It’s amazing how my sight has changed with these two simple eye procedures. Within a short period of time my right eye will adjust properly and I will see clearly.

 

Blurred vision definitely affects how you see the physical world.

 

Focus for our spiritual life is also very important. Our sight must not be blurred by temporal issues, but rather clearly viewed through the eyes of eternity. What we focus upon determines our success in life.

 

For example, if we focus upon problems and negative events our energy will be depleted and fear will be a side effect. On the other hand, those who focus on solutions will enjoy the benefits of increased energy, creativity and joy.

 

Acts 1:6 – 7

 

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.”

 

The disciples still focused on the physical resurrection of the country of Israel rather than the kingdom of God. Their eyes were fixated on the temporal not the eternal. God’s plan in Christ encompassed the world, (John 3:16) where his reign would rule in the hearts of all people who receive him as Lord and Savior.

 

Last week I watched a special program sponsored by Joni and Friends concerning disabled people in Haiti. Joni Eareckson Tada hosted the program.

 

Her ministry to handicapped people is a direct result of her own tragedy. She was paralyzed from her shoulders to her feet from a diving accident in 1967. Joni developed a strong spiritual center as a young woman and used this event to build a larger platform to influence others for Christ. She became better rather than bitter. She learned to focus on what she could do rather than on the limitations from her accident. She became an amazing painter by gripping the paintbrush with her teeth and using her neck muscles to move the brush to create beautiful paintings.

 

She also became a great speaker and created a ministry to encourage handicapped people. Over the years she has expanded her ministry to foreign countries, like Haiti. Using her ministry’s resources, she provides wheelchairs to crippled people, and uses these acts of kindness to give the gospel of Jesus Christ to them.

 

She is an amazing woman who lives in the light of eternity. Heaven is real and exciting for her because someday she will enjoy a new body and be freed from all limitations.

 

I also recently read about another person, who focused only on himself. Christopher Coleman was a former Marine and pastor’s son. He was convicted of killing his wife and two sons on May 5, 2009, in the family’s lakeside home in Columbia, Illinois. He feared his affair with his wife’s long-time friend would cost him his $400,000 per year job as the security chief for the Missouri-based Joyce Meyer Ministries.

 

His case, with a mix of religion, adultery and violence, caused him to do the unthinkable. He will be incarcerated for the rest of his life dealing with the nightmares from his actions. He had a bright future, but destroyed it with selfish, sinful choices.

 

What are you focusing on today? Are you looking at the opportunities or deficits? Solutions or problems? Temporal or eternal issues?

 

Clear focus creates 20/20 vision for daily living.

 

Develop eternal focus!

 

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The Spiritual Twister

Twister

 

This time of year we are hearing a lot about tornadoes touching down in various parts of the country. The devastation left behind this horrible force is heartbreaking.

 

On one newscast, they reported that an entire town had been wiped off the map in a few minutes. These people had put years into building homes and communities with churches, schools and parks and perhaps were even feeling a sense of safety, comfort and accomplishment for all their efforts and dedication.

 

Then in a moment, suddenly all their hard work and possessions were gone, only memories in their mind remained, because family pictures and treasured items were destroyed. The saddest news was to hear of a loved one who was taken from them. Things can be replaced over time, but our loved ones can't. 

 

It's in these times that I am once again reminded of the temporary things in our lives that can often distract us from what is really valuable and irreplaceable. 

 

A few years ago there was a movie out about tornadoes called Twister. Dedicated men and women actually put their lives in danger as they studied the manifestation of nature’s temper tantrum and tried to devise methods to lessen or stop its destructive force. 

 

We are living in the season of 'Spiritual Storms and Twisters'. We need to study the scriptures in order to know God's strategy to silent this destructive storm. This 'Spiritual Twister' of deception and ungodliness wants to destroy all that is righteous and holy in our personal lives, families and country.

 

Wanting to live a life of truth and love according to God’s word and the foundations on which our country was founded, is becoming increasingly harder. God gave us commandments on how to live, because He wanted to keep us free of disease and evil, yet that has been twisted in such a perverted way, that people choosing to live a godless life aren't content in just living it. No! There is an evil force driving them and that evil force wants to impose godless views and practices on everyone.

 

Standing up for what is right has been twisted into what is called hate crimes. We are called to Love All people, but to hate sinful practices, because of its destructive results on our fellow man.

 

This ‘Spiritual Twister’ has formed because of the cold, evil force of darkness coming headlong against the hot, righteous force of the Kingdom of God. The only way we will neutralize or silence this horrific Twister, is by joining together the Word of God with our prayers of intercession and throwing this combination into the center of the storm.

 

Other countries have been hit by this ‘Spiritual Twister’ leaving it in a state of spiritual and economic devastation. Children are sold for wicked pleasures, women are treated brutally and good men are killed and tortured for their faith. I believe that God is rallying His people in America to Rise Up and use the only weapons that will stop this 'Spiritual Twister'.

 

Joel 2:1 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm in My holy mountain!

 

II Corinthians 10:3-5 says that our weapons are Mighty Through God!!!

 

Ephesians 1:15-23 is a prayer for Spiritual Wisdom.

 

Hebrews 10:19-25 - Using our Faith and the power of God’s Love and Joining together is vital...as we see the Day approaching!

 

Blessings,

Pastor Judy

 

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Honoring Fathers

Howard HemmilaHoward Hemmila, 1943 (18-years-old)

 

Honor is a powerful word. When we honor someone we put value on them. Father's Day is a wonderful opportunity to remember our biological and spiritual fathers by showing honor with acts of thoughtfulness and words of appreciation.

 

I want to honor my deceased father, Howard Hemmila. Dad left us on June 2, 2011, at 4:30 am. His funeral was on June 5, and gravesite committal on June 6, which was my mother's birthday. That was a hard day for our family, but especially for my mother. September 7 of that year my parents would have been married 65 years.

 

Dad grew up in a loveless home. His biological father, Abraham Hemmila, was killed in a car accident when Dad was 2 1/2-years-old. My grandma was alone taking care of two young boys. She married quickly so her boys would have food and a roof over their heads.

 

She married a crude, rough man named Isaac Point, who was 20-years older than her. He had already raised seven children and had experienced the death of his wife. When he met my grandma it was quite a picture of two opposite people.

 

Grandma came from a somewhat sophisticated city family, and Isaac came from a hard-working, agricultural background. Isaac was also an atheist so whatever spiritual input my grandma gave my dad, Isaac would renounce and show his disgust.

 

Dad endured this loveless atmosphere through reading and the outdoors. He enjoyed the woods, hunting, fishing and gardening. Later in his retirement he attended the University of Minnesota master gardening program to become a certified Master Gardner. Dad enjoyed the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables and the beauty of trees and flowers.

 

He and Mom were high school sweethearts and married after Dad was discharged from the Navy. In a relatively short time four boys and one girl were added to their family.

 

The early years were a little rocky because there was no spiritual center in their lives. This all changed when I was 10-years-old, Dad and Mom both received Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. The love of the folks at Cloquet Gospel Tabernacle reached out to our family so that we could accept the love of God through Jesus Christ.

 

Dad changed remarkably over the years. Jesus gave him the ability to love our mom, his family and others. The older he got, the sweeter he became. He loved his family and he made it clear to us kids the difference between his wife and our mother. He loved Mom and made sure he told her daily how precious she was to him and his family. Each grandchild that spoke on Dad's behalf at his funeral remarked how much Grandma was loved by Grandpa. He passed down to his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren the precious gift of love.

 

My prayer for my life is that I will love my wife, Judy, the same way Dad loved Mom. Thank you, Dad, for such a great example to follow.

 

Dad had many other great qualities that I do not have room to mention in this post. If I wrote about his amazing qualities, this post would turn into a book.

 

The picture I have included is of my father when he was in the Navy, when he was young and vibrant. Today he is enjoying Jesus and the wonders of heaven. He is not old, but forever young. I am so thankful I will see him again in eternity.

 

Some of you will identify with my comments and others will not. I know some of you experienced pain and shame from your fathers. Others have grown up without fathers. This is truly a deficit because fathers bring purpose and identity to their children. The absence of a father-figure lays a huge burden on young men and women. However, I have good news for you: my dad was raised by an unloving step-father but became loving because he was reparented by our Heavenly Father and fatherly models within his church. There is only one perfect father - God himself.

 

Psalm 27:10

 

Though my father and mother forsake me, The Lord will receive me.

 

II Corinthians 6:18

 

I will be a father to you and you will be my sons and daughters, says The Lord almighty.

 

Let's honor our biological fathers and father-figures and pay special tribute to our Heavenly Father who loves us with an everlasting love. (Hebrews 13:5)

 

Happy Father's Day!

 

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You Did It! You Finished the Race!

Finish Line 2

 

This has been the year of graduations for our grandkids. Josh graduated in May from Cornerstone Christian University, Bethany from Hillcrest Academy Christian School and entered a nursing program the end of May, and Amanda also graduated in May with honors from Tri-Unity Christian School and will be attending Cornerstone University in the fall.

 

We are so proud of them and it's been fun cheering them on since they were small. We were especially moved and challenged as we listened to the principal read the Creed that Amanda's class had written in the sixth grade.

 

Tri-Unity Class of 2014 Creed:

We, the class of 2014, declare ourselves to be a holy generation that fears God. Together we shall be a shining light unto the world and be good examples to the young and the old. Our class will be humble and will always fight for what is right. We promise to witness to the unsaved, and we commit ourselves to respecting all authority. We want to be known as a class that stands strong for God and will encourage others in their faith. We will be on fire for God and have the mind of Christ. We will hide the Word in our hearts and be bold witnesses for Jesus. We may be small, but we have a huge hunger for the things of God. We're not just cute; we are dangerous! Things happen when we pray! We pray that God will use us to be a generation that prepares the way for Christ's return.

 

Wow! This was one of the most powerful statements I had ever heard...and to think 6th graders wrote it...is even more amazing.

 

Angela Thomas shared a story at our last Women of Faith event, of her two young sons deciding to run a race with adults. She cheered her sons on at the Finish Line as they struggled to finish.

 

I loved it when she told how they fell into her arms from exhaustion, and she held them close and kissed them all over their face and said, "You did it!! I'm so proud of you!! You finished the race!"

 

The youngest (finishing about 45 minutes after the others) said, "Mom, I never want to do that again."

 

He experienced at a young age, what many of us face. Life can be hard and it takes faith in God to maintain the strength to endure the pain as we run our race in life and we can't look back or at other runners...we must keep looking ahead to the One who is waiting for us at the Finish line. 

 

2 Timothy 4:7

 

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2 (Judy Version)

 

Let's throw off Anything that weights us down: hurtful words, failures, the enemy’s accusations & discouragement, any sin or habit that's trying to hold us back...And let's Run with Endurance! We can do this! Jesus, our example, has given us all the faith we need. He set His heart and mind on the Joy at the end of His race.

 

I truly believe He just wanted to hear these words from His Father, "Well done, Son, You finished Well, come and take Your place by me.”

 

My goal and prayer for you is, Lord, by the power of Your Spirit, We Will Finish Well!

 

Blessings,

Pastor Judy

 

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Don't Think Of You

Today we welcome guest blogger, Kathy Fannon; Kathy is the office manager at Crossfire Church. At Pastor Keith's request, Kathy is sharing a post originally published on her blog, Bless Your Pastor.

 

Francis Chan

 

Earlier this week I found out that the mother of a long-time friend is fighting for her life. I was told she’s in hospice and may not make it through the week. My understanding is that cancer came upon her pretty quick.

 

I’ve also been concerned about a long-time friend who has been battling cancer. She’s been sick for quite some time and has spent the past few weeks in hospice. Every day I check the Facebook page of a mutual friend to see if she’s still with us.

 

A few days ago I began emailing with a friend from high school who I’ve recently connected with. We haven’t seen each other since graduation, and I was told a story of this single parent who has raised a severely handicapped child. I cannot even begin to imagine what day-to-day life must be like for them. (And yet, the days seem to be faced with joy.)

 

Another friend lost her baby brother this week, the second brother she’s lost in the past few years.

 

With these events in the forefront of my mind, I’m finding I have less tolerance for some of the things that people say and do. Jealously, insecurity, pettiness, back-biting, gossiping and a what-about-ME attitude is becoming annoying.

 

Life is so incredibly short, and as I get older I’m focusing on what really matters – other people.

 

There are so many true needs out there: hurts, desires, longings, even basic everyday provisions.

 

Don’t think only of yourself – how you’ve been overlooked, offended or left out. Don’t complain. Don’t argue. Don’t have a bad attitude.

 

You may be perfectly healthy in body, but how is your mind? Is it sick? Are you self-centered? Do you only think and talk about yourself? Or do you lay down your own passions and desires to help others succeed? Maybe somebody needs a listening, understanding ear. Maybe they need an arm around them as they struggle through hardships, loss and pain – or grief. Maybe they need to know they are special, important and have worth and value.

 

When I think of the process of losing a loved one, or even the loss of a life that was expected while young to take care of a loved one while older, the things we get upset about in the day-to-day are so small and trivial.

 

Before you complain about being offended or hurt next time, ask yourself if it’s really that big of a deal in the overall scheme of life.

 

Colossians 3:12 - 14 (MSG)

 

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

 

My pastor showed this video by Francis Chan a few months ago. This life and its struggles are nothing compared to serving Jesus and living all of eternity.

 

 

 

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Walk With Wise People

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Photo: Tirza van Dijk

 

This is a wise saying that has guided my life: Whoever you hang out with determines your destiny.

 

Another way of describing this statement is: Whoever you allow to influence you will be the type of person you become.

 

We can’t avoid negative, self-absorbed people, but we can prevent them from infecting our lives. Martin Luther said, “We can't prevent birds from flying about our head, but we can prevent them from nesting in our hair.”

 

Recently, Alan Ross from Glasgow, Scotland, visited our church. Alan teaches churches about prophetic ministry and uses his prophetic gift to encourage them. He was at Crossfire Church for only one service, but the affects of his ministry are positively being felt today.

 

Alan is gentle, firm and uplifting. His purpose is to partner with local churches rather than to bring attention to himself or his ministry; he came to serve Crossfire Church. The strength behind his prophetic gift is a yielded life to Jesus.

 

Alan stayed in our home for a few days and we had the opportunity to become friends. Judy and I listened attentively as he shared about his spiritual journey and gave insights from his ministry over the last eighteen years, spanning some twenty countries. Both of us felt we were in the presence of a mature man of God. Alan gave us a deeper desire to become more like Christ.

 

We just came back from Minnesota where our granddaughter, Bethany, graduated from Hillcrest Academy. Four years ago her parents made a critical and sacrificial decision to enroll Bethany and her two brothers into Hillcrest. Financially it was a big sacrifice but the rewards were to be far greater. All the children have benefitted from the strong academic and relational opportunities offered by the school.

 

Hillcrest also has its foreign students from South Korea and Norway staying in dormitories. Bethany’s best friend is from Korea, which has caused her to have a worldview of life. Bethany also has a strong church family that has supported her over the years.

 

I watched her at her commencement as she participated in the songs of worship. She closed her eyes and lifted her hands with thankfulness and tears of joy. The little girl I enjoyed over the years is now a wonderful woman of God.

 

Her friends from school and church family showed their love and support by attending her open house party. Over 150 people demonstrated their love for her and her family by greeting her personally and presenting her with gifts of encouragement. Some stayed for hours enjoying the delicious food prepared by the family and the rich fellowship of relationship. This event created an important memory for Bethany to build upon for her future.

 

All of us need people in our lives like Alan Ross. They make our lives better and give us desire to be more godly. We also need encouragement from institutions like Hillcrest Academy, and the church Bethany attends. We need to hang around growing and caring people who inspire us to do our best.

 

Proverbs 27:17

 

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

 

Do your relationships sharpen you or make you dull? Do they push you up or bring you down?

 

Proverbs 13:20 instructs us to… 

 

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.

 

Cherish the wise people in your life and have the courage to let go of foolish relationships.

 

Walk with the wise!

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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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