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March 9, 2016, 2:04 PM

March 9, 2016

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:10

It is so easy for us in these chaotic times to lose our real focus.  With so much bad news all around us our focus swings toward the negative.  It is certainly true that our world is filled with bad and negative news.  However, we have such a responsibility to share the Gospel especially in these difficult times.  The enemy loves to distract us in any way to shift our eyes and minds from our real purpose.  Lest we forget among all the negative news, there is good news all around us.  God is still working all around us and having such an impact amidst the negative. 

Virginia and I had the opportunity this week to go out to eat for her birthday.  While we were there, we had the opportunity to share very briefly with one of my former students.  She will be graduating high school in May (I am really getting old) and will be attending Georgia Tech pursuing a career in chemical engineering.  She is one of those students you do not forget because of all of her good qualities.  There are many students that I remember for different reasons!  She will do fine and experience many opportunities in life.

Why do I share that story this week?  We talk sometimes about our younger generations as though they have no wisdom or understanding.  We were vividly reminded Tuesday night that there are still really good young people around us who will contribute quality to our society.  We hear of all the problems around us and yet it seems we rarely hear good stories.  We are also reminded every time we meet at church that our young people are doing some great things among us and we are so proud of them.  They love the Lord and it shows in all that they do.  It’s just fun to be with them!  We see so many young people that still “get it”. 

In spite of the negative we see and hear around us, let us seek out some good stories and tell others about them.  Let us remember our purpose and not let the enemy divert our focus.  We know the enemy only comes to steal, kill and destroy.  However, even in the midst of chaos, we know the One who gives the full and abundant life!  May your week be filled with positive, uplifting stories in the midst of negative all around us.

We love you,
Brad and Virginia

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March 2, 2016, 9:31 AM

March 2, 2016

“This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.”  2 Corinthians 9:12

We have so many opportunities to serve the Lord.  In fact, every opportunity should be seen as a way to reveal Christ to others.  Even our civic duties are a way to express our faithfulness to God.  We have had a great privilege this week.  We’ve had the privilege to vote.  However, voting is not only a privilege but it is also a responsibility.  As Christians, we should take voting very seriously.  One of the very real problems we face in our nation is the unconcern among many Christians about the direction of our nation.  Our nation is definitely moving away from God and that should be a huge motivation for Christians to get out and vote.  There are recent reports stating that approximately 40 million Christians did not vote in the previous national election.  That is quite shameful.  How can we ever expect to make changes with those statistics?
                Does it really matter?  Does it really matter which direction our nation is moving?  Does it really matter that we have pushed God away from every facet of American life?  Does it really matter that there seems no difference in morality between those who are lost and those who are saved?  Does it really matter that we are being led by people who seemingly have no regard for the things of God?  Does it really matter if we vote?  Ask those who have served in our nation’s military.  Ask those in other countries who do not have the right to vote. 
                Our present problem is that we have all grown accustomed to the “good life”.  We’ve taken for granted that we will just live out our days on “easy street”.  We’ve built our homes, driven our cars and chased our every dream all the while not really being thankful to God for His provisions.  We have become, in many ways, like the church at Ephesus.  We have forgotten our first love … God.   Without real Christian influence, our nation will cease to exist as we now know it.  Our prayer is that we all realize that our civic duties really do matter.  Whether it is voting, paying taxes or serving on a jury in a courtroom we must do our part to be involved.   Let’s let our voices be heard because we are the ones that know and understand the truth.  May you be blessed abundantly this week as you serve God in every opportunity that He gives.

We love you,
Brad and Virginia


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February 24, 2016, 12:00 PM

February 24, 2016

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”  1 Timothy 6:6

                Do you ever take the people around you for granted?  We are all guilty of that from time to time.  We easily get caught up in the circumstances of life and tend to forget those around us.  In our culture, we become so busy in our own little world that we often overlook the people who provide so much.   That can happen at home and in the workplace.  We have heard it said many times that we never appreciate something (someone) until it is gone.  Does that ever happen to you?  We would all have to answer yes to that!  It is much like our health.  We all seem to take our health for granted until something happens.  Then, we wish we had spent more time with things that matter the most.

                There are so many people in our culture who are totally miserable.  They are trying to find happiness in all the wrong things.  Let us all take a good look at our lives.  Do we appreciate the things that we already have or are we striving to attain something else to really make us happy.  After all (I hear it all the time), God wants me to be happy … right?  You see, God has given us so much to make us happy.  We have family and friends that He has placed around us.  Most of us have more than enough food, clothes and shelter.  Yet, we constantly struggle to attain just one more thing to make us happy.  The problem comes when that one thing turns into multiple things which really never bring the joy desired.  You see, the goal is not how much you can acquire so that you will be happy.  The real goal is to be content with what God has given and use it for His glory.  Let us start today being thankful for the people God has placed in our lives. 

                I would like to take a little space this week to say thank-you.  Jan, our church secretary, is retiring this week after 22 years of hard work at Plant City.  We have all grown to love and appreciate her so much.  She just knows our people and generally has the answer to any question we can throw at her.  It has been my pleasure to work with Jan the past 5 ½ years.  I know that I have made her want to scream on more than a few occasions.  The good thing for me is that Jan struggles to talk above a whisper!  So, Jan, we wish you all of the best in your retirement.  May God’s blessings abound in your life as you enter this new phase and please come back to visit us often as we will miss you so much!

We love you all,
Brad and Virginia

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February 17, 2016, 12:00 AM

February 17, 2016

"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves his day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15

    What does the word commitment mean to you? We can be (and probably are) committed to many things. When it comes to our relationship with God and displaying the Christian life, are we as committed as we should be? While reading and studying through the book of Joshua, the word commitment became very real to me. Joshua described all of the alternatives that would challenge the Israelites. He laid out the very real possibilities of turning from God to the gods of the people around them. The message that Joshua gave the people sums up his commitment to the Lord. We've probably quoted the verse many times. Look carefully at the passage above. Joshua was determined that, regardless of the plans of everyone else, he would continue to serve God.
    Joshua's concern for the people was that they would become easily distracted by those around them. Our lives are much the same way. It is so easy to become distracted by those around us, by our circumstances and by the media. The enemy loves to use any distraction possible to keep us from continual commitment to the ways of God. Although we blame the enemy for many (if not all) of our distractions, the truth is that we allow many things to creep in that will compete with our devotion to our Father. Think about your own life for a moment. Would the word commitment really describe where you are in Christ? Are you as committed as you desire to be? In all honesty, we all need to be more committed. We all, like Joshua, need to understand the importance of a committed life.
   What things are we committed to that are taking time away from sharing with God? We are all committed to many good things. However, the good things we are committed to will so often steal our time away from the things of the Lord. We should also take Joshua's words to heart. Let us take a few minutes to inventory our own lives. What things are taking up a majority of our time? May we, like Joshua, yearn to know God more and strive to be totally committed to Him. May we lead our families to that commitment and be ever mindful of the enemy's constant distractions.

We Love You,
Brad and Virginia

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February 10, 2016, 1:11 PM

February 10, 2016

Sunday morning you heard an illustration from the men’s conference this past weekend.  Charles Lowrey shared with us a great word about focus.  We are a people of focus.  The problem is that so often our main focus is not right.  We may focus on work, relationships, schedules and even the church.  Those are all good things as long as our main focus is Jesus.  You see, the enemy constantly desires to take your eyes away from Jesus to make sure your main focus is on temporary things.  Paul said, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”.

            Do your children and grandchildren have a reason for listening and following what you say?  Do they see, hear and understand that your main focus is Jesus?  Have you given them a real reason to listen to you?  Look very carefully at the following words from the Proverbs.

“My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free from perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

In our world and our culture, it is so easy to become distracted.  We are constantly bombarded by things that demand our time and energy.  Our relationship with God seems so often to be the first thing we compromise.  If we are honest, can we say that our real focus in life is on Jesus?  I love astronomy.  I do not stargaze nearly as much as I did at one time.  However, I learned some things that have stayed with me.  The higher the magnification of an object the harder it is to focus and stay focused.  The devil knows that, too.  The more he can magnify your problems (or the people causing them), the harder it is to really focus on Jesus.  Let us be ever mindful of the enemy’s schemes and always keep our eyes on Jesus, the “author and finisher of our faith”.  We are praying God’s blessings for you this week! 

Brad and Virginia                                                                    

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