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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

 




June 14, 2017, 12:00 AM

June 14, 2017

“A wise son heeds his father’s instruction; but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.”  Proverbs 13:1

     There was a time, not too long ago, when fathers taught their children the important details of life.  The most important details included sharing with them the need to know Jesus in a personal way.  In fact, fathers were once known as the leader and instructor in the home.  Now, through the devil’s devious ways, many fathers do not take being the household leader very serious.  In so many cases, the father is not even present in the home.  The devil has done whatever he can to see that the home is destroyed and that fathers spend as little time with their children as possible.  Even though we have seen this massive breakdown, we all seem to continue along our merry way.

     Parents have a tremendous responsibility and accountability for their children.  Fathers have an even greater responsibility because they are the ones God has put in place as the home leader.  Children may very well go a different path but the likelihood is much less for those well rooted and grounded in the ways of God.  The father’s responsibility is to make sure their children know and understand those ways.  There is much more to sharing those ways with them than just telling them.  It also means living a lifestyle before them that is a constant example of a Christian life.  It means living a life that is pleasing to God.  Look carefully at the Bible passage above.  Fathers, are you giving your children the proper foundation in the ways of God?  Do your children see a reason to follow your instructions?  Do your children, regardless of age, see you following Jesus and desiring to know Him better each day?

     The instructions you give your children will be woefully lacking unless you have a personal relationship with God.  Do you remember the hymn, “Faith of Our Fathers”?  The chorus to the hymn is this: “Faith of Our fathers, holy faith!  We will be true to Thee till death”.  Is that the real description of fathers in our generation?  We desperately need men to step up during these trying days.  We need men of faith who are not ashamed to show it nor are they ashamed to instruct their children in the ways of God.

     May you have a blessed and prosperous week as you strive to know God more and serve Him better this week.  For all of you dads, have a happy, safe and blessed Father’s Day!

 

                                                                                                                We love you,

                                                                                                                Brad and Virginia

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