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July 25, 2017, 9:51 AM

July 26, 2017

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:2

     Is it possible to have Christianity without Christ?  Is it possible to gain knowledge about God and His Word without being transformed?  Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship, and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ”.  We’ve experienced a major breakdown in America: politically, socially, and morally.  Yet, the greatest breakdown we’ve seen in this nation is the failure of Christians to carry out the Great Commission.  We’ve failed to make disciples for Jesus, and it is literally destroying us from within.

     Are we a discipling church?  If so, is our discipleship transformational?  What if we caught the fire of transformational discipleship?  You see, without Jesus, discipleship is non-transformational because it will leave us in the same spiritual condition.  It is only in and through Jesus that real change takes place in our lives.  Consider the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.  The knowledge and skills they learned had an impact on their lives, but their hearts were not truly transformed.  They ended up leading the people away from God’s grace.  Could we be guilty of doing the same?

     What about our young people today?  You can be assured they are being taught in numerous ways especially by the world.  Through countless marketing schemes, our young people are being targeted daily.  The world is constantly seeking to conform our minds to its ways.  The passage above reminds us that our minds must be renewed by a transformation.  True transformation occurs only when a person has a relationship with God by faith in Jesus.  Anything else will leave you side-tracked, depressed, and constantly seeking something real.  Folks, we have the only real truth.  We must be sharing with others, spending time with them and helping them understand Scripture.  That is discipleship!  Our prayer is that we become focused on the need for discipleship and the command God has given us to … make disciples.

                                                                                                                We love and appreciate all of you,

                                                                                                                Brad and Virginia




July 18, 2017, 12:04 PM

July 19, 2017

     Drifting.  The term can have both a positive and a negative meaning.  Drifting along a lazy river at a water park can be both relaxing and carefree.  Drifting along on a float in the ocean can also be a very relaxing experience.  However, drifting can also have a negative meaning.  If we are drifting away from the things that really matter to us, we will find ourselves experiencing difficult circumstances and possibly dire consequences.  There are some today who are drifting away from their once vibrant fellowship with God.
     Consider someone floating in the ocean on a warm, summer day.  It is a relaxing time and they may even find themselves taking a nap while floating along.  They do not realize it but all the while they are floating further and further away from the shore.  Many Christians today find themselves drifting away from God in the same manner.  It begins very subtly and without really noticing much, like the person floating away from the shore.  The concerns of family, job, health and even recreation become the major life focus while God is placed further down the priority list.
     What happens when the person drifting in the ocean wakes up and realizes the shore is no longer in sight?  A sense of helplessness and panic develops.  It is much the same when one realizes problems, circumstances and consequences are wreaking havoc in their life.  They have drifted in their fellowship with God.  Hopefully, they realize that God always welcomes us back when we come to Him.  The story of the Prodigal Son is a great example of drifting and coming back to God.  Are you in close fellowship with God or are you drifting aimlessly away pursuing the cares of this world?
     What are the warning signs that you may be drifting?  Probably one of the most obvious signs is one we discussed a few weeks ago.  It is becoming sporadic in church attendance.  Church attendance is not a requirement for salvation but Hebrews 10:24-25 reminds us very clearly that we are encouraged in our daily battles as we meet together.  If you are drifting in church attendance, chances are you are drifting in many other areas as well (Bible study, prayer and giving).  The world readily distracts us away from our focus on God and His ways and determines to lure us into a state of drifting.  If you are there, please know that God's arms are open wide just waiting for you to come back to real fellowship!
                                                                                                                                 We love you,
                                                                                                                                 Brad and Virginia



July 11, 2017, 3:33 PM

July 12, 2017

“Like newborn babes, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”  I Peter 2:2-3

God has a specific plan and purpose for your life.  More than likely, many if not most Christians live their entire life without really understanding God’s purpose.  What is it that God has prepared you to do that no one else is able to accomplish?  Chances are we get caught up in the everyday grind of life and lose our focus.  It’s sad because God has so much for us yet we settle for something much less.  Are you continually growing up in your salvation?  What is the major hindrance in your life to accomplishing God’s plan?  It probably centers on our finances or lack thereof.  We end up believing that we could never accomplish or be satisfied with God’s real calling in our life.  So, we tend to enclose God within our own parameters.

                We must grow up in our salvation.  Peter says in the passage above that we should be craving pure spiritual milk so that we can grow up in our salvation.  We often focus on numerical growth at the expense of spiritual growth.  In fact, the Church in America has become noted for its insatiable appetite for numerical growth.  There is nothing wrong with numerical growth if we are growing spiritually.  A major part of spiritual growth has so much to do with discipleship.  Discipleship is vital to the health of any church.  Evangelism and discipleship are different now than a few generations ago.  There was a time when street preaching and door to door evangelism were used effectively to share the Gospel.  However, today we must emphasize relationship building.  It takes more effort but we must be willing to spend time with others if we desire to see them experience spiritual growth.

                We tend to place far too much emphasis on what we think our church should look like.  Let me share a quote from a book titled What is a Healthy Church by Mark Dever.  “We’ve decided we want healthy churches.  We want congregations of people who increasingly reflect the character of God as it has been revealed in His Word.  Let churches be big.  Let churches be small.  Let them meet in houses, buildings, schools, or storefronts.  Just let them display for the world what our holy and loving God is like.  May they testify to God’s marvelous glory in word and deed.”  How do we display God to the world?  By renewing our focus and growing in His ways.  It’s not too late for any of us!  May we sense the urge from God to get busy in study, prayer and relationship building.  As we get involved in the lives of others, we all grow up in our salvation and experience a true understanding of discipleship making.      Then, the Great Commission can be accomplished as disciples are busy making other disciples.  We pray you are having a great week!

                                                                                                                                We love you,

                                                                                                                                Brad and Virginia




June 27, 2017, 1:23 PM

June 28, 2017

“After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, but Saul learned of their plan.  Day and night, they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him.  But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.”  Acts 9:23-25

            Paul is such a great example to us of perseverance.  Paul faced incredible trials throughout his life but continued to faithfully serve God.  However, there were some unnamed helpers for Paul along the way.  In the passage above, we see Paul fleeing Damascus because “there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him”.  There were some followers who took Paul and lowered him in a basket so that he could escape from his pursuers.

            What does that say about the work we do in the Kingdom?  Most of the time our work for Jesus is much like those who were holding the ropes on the basket for Paul.  They received no recognition and their names are not even mentioned in Scripture.  However, they were contributing mightily to the work of God by helping Paul escape from the city.  Who are we holding the rope for today?  We oftentimes have a real problem with our ego and want to be recognized for every effort we put forth.  Yet, we know that Kingdom work is not about us but all about the One who gave His life for us.  We’ve all heard stories from missionaries who served faithfully for years before seeing someone come to Christ.

            As we learned Sunday morning, our fellowship with God is about taking one step at a time as we obediently follow Him.  You may never be rewarded by man for faithful Kingdom service but the blessings here and the rewards later are worth every effort we could ever put forth.  Let us be faithful to hold the ropes for others and serve excitedly together to build the Kingdom even more as we feel the urgency of the times!

            Vacation Bible School is a prime example of holding the ropes.  There are many of you holding the ropes without recognition or thanks, and it’s because of people like you that help us all better understand the meaning of working together.  We’ve all had a great time during Vacation Bible School this week.  Thanks for your efforts in helping young people understand more about Jesus and their need for a relationship with Him.  May you have a blessed and prosperous week as we encourage each other and serve God faithfully together.

 

                                                                                                We love you,

                                                                                                Brad and Virginia




June 20, 2017, 12:57 PM

June 21, 2017

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path.”  Psalm 119:105

     Probably one of the first verses of Scripture we learn as children is Psalm 119:105.  However, even though we learn the verse we still struggle to live by it.  We would do so much better if we truly allowed God’s Word to guide our path daily.  The author of Psalm 119 is unknown but most scholars attribute this psalm to King David.  There is a tradition that says King David used this psalm to teach the alphabet to his young son, Solomon.  It was not just the alphabet for writing letters but also the alphabet of spiritual life.  What if dads today were careful to do that?  Assuredly, this country would be a better place.

     King David came to know very well the significance of following God’s path while also understanding the destruction that comes from going in the wrong direction.  In verse 104 David says, “I hate every wrong path”.  We do not understand the detriment of the wrong path unless we know the peace, security, and freedom of the right path.  David found out just how quickly life can change when following the wrong path.  He speaks frequently in the Psalms about God’s law, statutes, and precepts.  These are used to declare God’s power and authority.  David realized, sometimes the hard way like us, that God’s ways are always right.  God never leads us in the wrong direction although He will allow us to make unwise decisions to a point.  He constantly desires to teach us how much He loves us by providing the best for us.  The enemy, on the other hand, waits every day for the opportunity to steer us down the wrong path.  That is the reason David says very clearly, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet”.

     Why does it often take us so long to learn that?  We need God’s lamp to light every step we take.  If you walk along a trail at night with a flashlight, you shine the light down on the path.  You do not shine the light out in the distance to see where you are going because you may stumble and fall.  You shine the light directly on the path so that you can keep your footing and make it to your destination.  God’s desire is to help us take each step along the path of life.  Sadly, we often try to put the light on everything around us rather than the steps we need for each day.  May you make each step count as you use the light of God’s Word for clear directions.

                                                                                                                                             We love you,

                                                                                                                                             Brad and Virginia

 


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