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October 5, 2016, 10:41 AM

October 5, 2016

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  They will come in and go out, and find pasture.”   John 10:9

    Do you remember a simpler time?  A time before remote controls and fancy electronic equipment?  I can remember a time when I was the remote control for the television, air conditioner and the farm gate.  Many times I went to the farm with my dad and at least 95% of the time it was my job to open the gates.  The gates were narrow, being just wide enough for the pick-up truck.  I can remember looking at two well-worn tire tracks that sufficed as the road to the pond.  The gate was rusted and worn but always seemed to have a welcoming impact on a young boy.  It was a much simpler time!

    As we read through the Bible, it describes several gates.  One passage in Matthew 7 describes two gates representing two different life paths.  One gate is wide with many people traveling that way.  The Bible describes that gate as certainly leading to destruction.  The other gate is narrow and much less travelled.  Yet, it is the narrow gate that leads to real life. 

    Have you ever been on a four-lane freeway and, because of road-work or an accident, the traffic narrowed to only one lane?  People quickly become bitter, angry and frustrated.  That describes so many people who are travelling the broad and destructive way.  At first, it seems like the right way because everyone else is heading down the same path.  However, with each passing life event, the people become ever-so-surely boxed in to a defeated life.  The Bible is very clear that the broad way leads to destruction (difficulty in this life and eternity apart from Christ).

    What about the narrow gate?  If the narrow gate leads to life, then why are so few people entering through it?  It is because the enemy has blinded their eyes to the truth.  The enemy says to follow the crowd and become involved with them.  Jesus says to follow Him and experience real, lasting life.  I am constantly amazed at the people who claim the Christian life must be boring.  The problem is: They have never experienced it!  The Christian life is “joy unspeakable and full of glory”.  I cannot help but reminisce a little about the old, narrow farm gate and the worn narrow path.  Those narrow tire trails led to real fun and great experiences as a child.  However, the real narrow gate is the way of Jesus that leads to the greatest life of all … heaven!  Are you on your way there?

                                                                                                                                We love you,

                                                                                                                                Brad and Virginia




September 27, 2016, 4:29 PM

September 28, 2016

“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.”  Psalm 32:1

    Fellowship among believers is very important for us in the Body of Christ.  Yet, there are many today, who neglect the opportunity to fellowship with brothers and sisters.  A recent article examined 30 ways that Christians are missing fellowship with each other.  You can probably name several of them.  As the days become more chaotic, Christian fellowship becomes more and more important.  The opportunity for fellowship should never be taken for granted.  However, there is a much deeper issue in the Church today.  It is characterized by a distant fellowship with our Heavenly Father.

    One of the quickest ways for our fellowship with God to be compromised is due to disobedience.  Disobedience is sin and sin disrupts the peace and security we experience as we walk with Him.  Remember, it is the enemy’s desire to disrupt our walk with God.  Why?  Because the enemy thrives on making our lives miserable.  There are many Christians who are living miserable lives today because they are experiencing a distant fellowship with God.  In other words, their walk with God has become very weak and shallow.  As a result, they are experiencing guilt and frustration.  God does not intend for His children to live that way and always offers an avenue of correction.  It is called confession.  Psalm 32 reveals to us the way David felt when there was unconfessed sin in his life.  The same is true for all of us.

    Is there something (maybe some unconfessed sin) that is wreaking havoc in your life?  Do you feel, as did David, like your “bones are wasting away and that your strength is sapped as in the heat of summer”?  We cannot be like Adam and Eve and try to hide from God.  He knows everything about us including the very things we may be trying to cover up.  David said, “then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity”.   What happened next?  God forgave him and restored the fellowship!

    Our fellowship with other believers is certainly important to us, and we must not neglect it.  However, our close walk with God is absolutely vital for our well-being and for the Christian impact we have on others.  Let us all examine our lives and determine if there is anything that is affecting our fellowship with our Father.  Praying you each have a blessed and prosperous week!

                                                                                               

                                                                                                                We love you,

                                                                                                                Brad and Virginia         




September 21, 2016, 9:45 AM

September 21, 2016

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”  John 3:19

    Missing pieces:  Do you like jigsaw puzzles?  Some people, including me, stay away from them because we are afraid we will get close to having it all together only to find a piece or pieces missing.  That would really make some of us very uneasy!  Would you frame a puzzle picture that had a piece or several pieces missing?  We live in a world of missing pieces.  As Christians, it should make us very uneasy because the missing pieces represent a multitude of problems we face as well as a multitude of lost people.  Our nation is much like a puzzle with pieces missing.  The largest, most prominent piece in the center of the puzzle is about to be missing as well!

    Picture our nation as that puzzle.  Many of our citizens are very aware of the missing pieces, know the reason they have fallen off, understand the solution and strive to tell others.  Other citizens see that pieces are missing but, unfortunately, fail to understand the real problem or solution.  Still others seem way too busy to notice the missing pieces and really do not care about them.  What we really see are pieces of a once great puzzle one by one falling away.  It would look very similar to our community mills coming down brick by brick.  Yet, the largest and most important piece in the very center has not completely fallen away but is only holding on by mere threads.  That particular piece is the only reason any of the other pieces could possibly hold together.

    We develop plans, strategies and technological wonders in order to put all of the pieces back together.  However, our strategies are backwards and have little impact on the rest of the puzzle because the large, most important piece has been neglected.  We must focus on that particular piece!  That piece is Jesus and apart from Him being in the most prominent, important place none of the other pieces will ever continue to hold together.  It is so sad that we do not recognize the seriousness of our problems.  The passage above really says it all.  “Light (Jesus) has come into the world but people loved the darkness instead of the light because their deeds were evil.”  Be thankful if your eyes have been opened so that you see, understand and personally know the Light that has come into the world.  The world fails to understand that without Him the puzzle quickly crumbles apart. We pray that you will be diligent to tell others the reason for so many missing pieces around us and the importance of the most prominent piece … Jesus!

                                                                                                We love you,

                                                                                                Brad and Virginia




September 13, 2016, 11:52 AM

September 14, 2016

“We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.”  II Corinthians 5:20
     There was once a common thread that permeated throughout our country.  It was the sense of being a part of the greatest country of our time.  We have certainly had our struggles as a nation, but somehow we knew we could rally together when we faced a common enemy.  The common thread of unity seems to be waning at a rapid pace.  We seem to be more focused on what we are able to do individually rather than collectively.  Any football team or business understands that much more is accomplished when team members work together.  What has made this such a great nation?  First and foremost, it has been our history of dependence on Almighty God.  There was a time when we depended heavily upon God and trusted Him to solve our issues.  However, we see less and less dependence on God which has brought about the moral decline and the negativity we face today.  Secondly, this nation has been great because there was an attitude of working together toward a common goal with a commitment to excellence that would ensure success.  Yet, we have not seen that among our leaders or our people in quite some time!
     One of the big problems we face today is that so many people live without any sense of purpose.  Without a sense of purpose, our life goal is to only please ourselves.  Do we have a right to protest and speak out against issues we deem controversial?  Sure we do because that's who we are as Americans.  However, is that the real answer to the issues we face today?  The real answer is to foster a sense of unity among our people.  The real question is not whether or not we should protest but how we can be a part of a real solution.  What things can I do to help bring about unity in the community?
      For us, as Christians, we are to be Christ's ambassadors in our society.  That means we are showing God's love and sharing real purpose with those we contact each day.  We should be sharing with people the real life principles needed to draw them closer to God and help them understand the purpose for living.  There is a strong message for the Church.  We must be showing unity among ourselves if we are to help instill unity among others.  Let us, as God's people, seek to please God while helping others rather than living a life to please ourselves!  May you experience God's blessings in many ways this week!
 
                                                                                                                                    We love you,
                                                                                                                                    Brad and Virginia



September 6, 2016, 5:15 PM

September 7, 2016

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.”  Philippians 2:13

As Christians, we must be constantly mindful of the big picture.  It is so easy to get caught in our little world where everything revolves around us.  God has blessed us with a gift or many gifts to be used for Kingdom purposes.  We all have many strengths and weaknesses.  The strengths are usually the basis of God’s gifts.  The strengths in our lives are those things that we enjoy doing and feel a sense of accomplishment when completed.  We all have weaknesses too!  Our weaknesses tend to draw us away from the close relationship that God desires with each of us.  Guess what?  The enemy knows our weaknesses very well.  He knows exactly how to disrupt our lives by using our weaknesses to wreak havoc.  Therefore, we must know our weaknesses, know that they will work against us and understand we must flee when the enemy brings them up.

            What are your strengths?  How has God gifted you to make a difference in the lives of others?  In sports, athletes are trained to “play to their strengths”.  As Christians, we should be doing the same.  It is very sad that so many Christians do not realize their strengths and are not even aware of their spiritual gift(s).  Oftentimes, Christians find themselves doing the same things as others even though they never feel a sense of joy and accomplishment.  Hopefully, we are learning that we cannot live someone else’s life nor can we effectively fulfill our purpose if we try.  A recent quote says this: “Different people find their ways through different paths, and if you take someone else’s path, you may not like where you end up”.

            What impact does God desire for you to have on the big picture?  Your life has purpose and meaning which is used to impact others for Christ.  God has gifted you so that you are unique and are able to do things no one else can as effectively accomplish.  How do we fulfill God’s plan?  First, we must travel the path God has for us.  It is so tempting to follow along the path of others.  Second, we must remember that life is a continual learning process.  We do not get everything right but should learn from every event in our lives.  God never promised that life would always be easy but that He would always be with us.  Do not be afraid to step out on faith while using your gifts to accomplish Kingdom purposes.  Third, we must be in a continual state of renewal.  As Christians, we should never become stagnant in our calling.  We must be constantly growing in our relationship with God and “playing to the strengths” He has given us so that we can impact our culture.  It is definitely not an easy task but God has “equipped us for every good work”!

                                                                                                We love you,

                                                                                                Brad and Virginia


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