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November 14, 2018, 9:59 AM

November 14, 2018

“They have turned their backs to Me and not their faces; yet when they are in trouble, they say, `Come and save us!’” Jeremiah 2:27

As we recognized our veterans this past Sunday, it was truly a time of reflection. A time to reflect on our great nation and the many blessings God has poured out on us. However, it was also a time to reflect upon the real difficulties we face in America. The words above speak volumes and sound very familiar to us today. In fact, those very words have been spoken when tragedy strikes our nation. The people of Jeremiah’s day did not really want to hear anything that he had to say because it revealed the sin in their lives. Yet, God told Jeremiah not to be terrified of the people because He would surely protect him. The people had abandoned God and turned to fulfill their own desires. Jeremiah indeed faced many hardships for his obedience to God. God has never promised that obedience to Him would be easy but that in every circumstance He would be with us.

The book of Jeremiah sounds all too familiar because we are experiencing many of the same problems in our nation. We, as a nation, have literally turned away from God. We have replaced the true worship of God with a lukewarm, feel good response. It seems now as though people must be lured to worship or Bible study rather than having an attitude of excitement to meet with God. Non-Christians desire to push God away from every aspect of society while Christians have become apathetic and comfortable with the status quo. There seems to be no doubt that Christianity is losing ground in the United States while it is flourishing in other, very hostile parts of the world. In fact, many in our country have no use for God and consider Him as only one of many gods or do not believe that He even exists. Others have lost all sense of patriotism; have no wisdom (common sense) and desire to be enslaved by a government that grows exponentially every year.

This week I want to leave you with a famous quote by Alexander Tyler and follow with a question. “The average of the world’s great civilizations before they decline has been 200 years. These nations have progressed in this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; from faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency; from dependency back again to bondage.” The question is: Where is the United States in this cycle of nations? It seems to be very clear! We have been so blessed but, just as the people of Jeremiah’s day, we’ve turned our backs to God rather than our faces. Hard words but true!

                                                                                                           We love you,                                                                                                                                                                                            Brad and Virginia

November 6, 2018, 3:30 PM

November 7, 2018

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” Psalm 118:1

As we enter this season of thanksgiving, what things are you most thankful for? It is really a time to consider and count our blessings. God has so lavished His grace and mercy on each of us. This week, as we contemplate the meaning of this season, let us focus our attention on our nation. We have been tremendously blessed as a nation. We can see God’s hand in the military battles for this nation, in the lives of so many of our founding fathers, and in His guidance through the many upheavals we have come through. We have experienced God working in a nation that loved Him, desired His principles, and willingly sent and supported missionaries all around the world to proclaim His goodness. What has happened?

Is it possible to be so blessed that we become strangers to the One who is the author of all blessings? It happened to Israel and it is happening here right before our eyes. We have developed the idea that we can flourish without God’s leadership and presence. There are those who are continually warning of the dangers we are facing but it seems to be falling on deaf ears. There are those constantly trying to share truth only to find opposition at every turn. There has developed such a spirit of disunity among our people as everything has become so politicized. It now seems that every subject becomes an opportunity to take sides as every word is scrutinized for political correctness. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could understand the peace offered to each of us through Jesus? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could understand that the constant struggles in our nation are not the bombarding issues of media outlets but problems of the individual heart? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could see a movement of God once again among us to bring us back to the One who is the author of the blessings we experience?

Let me say that we are indeed grateful to live in the United States of America. However, it is not the same nation of our childhood. Throughout the history of the world, great nations have come and gone. Each one existed for the plan and purpose of Almighty God. There is no reason to think differently about the United States. Our future is really very easy to predict. We either turn back to God, realizing that He is our only hope, or we will continue on this downward spiral from which there is no return. We must be intercessors before God, as Moses and Daniel were for their people, pleading with Him to send a great movement among our people. May we understand that we only exist for His purpose and His alone. In spite of all that we see around us, there is still so much reason to give thanks to God for His enduring love!

                                                                                                        We love and appreciate each of you,

                                                                                                         Brad and Virginia

October 30, 2018, 1:16 PM

October 31, 2018

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Time is an extremely valuable resource. How much do we value our time? To some, the hours in each day seem to move at a rapid pace. To others, the same amount of time seems to creep by as though it will never end. It really depends on our circumstances. We have all experienced hours that seemed to fly as well as hours that crept along at a snail’s pace. Why do we enjoy some days so much and yet feel so unfulfilled during others? It probably has to do with our level of contentment and sense of purpose. Are you where God has called you to be and are you living each day with purpose?

Are we guilty of wasting time? We can all certainly answer yes to that question! How would your priorities, time management and serving God change if you knew you only had one month to live? We would suddenly be aware of every minute and make the most of every day. What would your top priorities be? You know the B word (busy) we all use so often? It is the reason we cannot possibly accomplish all we need to do each day. If we knew our life limit, we would do a much better job of managing our activities. The truth is that we are all living on borrowed time. Not a one of us knows the future or the end of our days here on earth. Yet, God desires that we use every day wisely. Not many of us can say that we do that effectively.

“One of the challenges for most of us is the productivity paradox. We’re conditioned to believe that in order for our time to be worthwhile, we must have something to show for it. We produce something -- another report, a new document, a better system, an improved product. Many people feel pressured to produce -- even during their vacation and free time! They can’t enjoy just relaxing by the pool or going for a walk or sleeping late, because they don’t have anything to show for it. The result is that we all need downtime to rest and to worship, to still ourselves before God, to think about our lives and to listen to His voice. The paradox is that we may not have anything to show for these truly productive moments.” (This quote and some thoughts taken from One Month to Live by Kerry and Chris Shook). How productive have we lived this week? It is so easy to become the mouse on the wheel, running and running, yet going nowhere. As you plan your busy days, make sure you take some time to be productive even though you may not have anything to show for it!

                                                                                                            We love and appreciate all of you,

                                                                                                             Brad and Virginia

October 24, 2018, 11:02 AM

October 24, 2018

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."  Colossians 4:2
     Paul says so much to the church at Colossae in the short passage above.  Can it be said of us that we devote ourselves to prayer?  Paul encouraged the Colossians to be steadfast in prayer and to always be watchful for opportunities of service.  In reading recent reports from storm devastated areas, we are beginning to see the real impact of a disaster area.  After the initial shock of the physical devastation, there are numerous reports of mental anguish as many remain without utilities or life necessities.  Our community has been so blessed as God has spared us from such tragedy many times.  He has once again given us the opportunity and privilege of helping others in times of need.  We are thankful to our Lord for each of you as you have been so diligent about helping others in this recent crisis.  We have seen a very clear opportunity to share the love of Christ during the aftermath of the hurricane.  Thank-you for your love for God, your faithfulness in serving Him and always being willing to aid those suffering in extreme hardship.  You are truly an amazing congregation!
     Speaking of amazing, words cannot adequately express our thanks to each of you for sharing your love for us through pastor appreciation.  It is hard to believe that we have just entered our ninth year of service at Plant City.  It seems only yesterday that we were talking with the search committee and so unfamiliar with everyone and everything here.  You've taken us in and lavished on us your love, kindness, and hospitality.  Thank-you so much for your continual words of encouragement, your prayers for us (they are certainly felt), your genuine concern, and your teamwork as we strive diligently to share the message of Jesus.  Thank-you for all of the cards, gifts and love you shared with us Sunday.
     However, we thank-you most of all for your love for Jesus that is constantly displayed not only to us personally but also to our community and beyond.  You work tirelessly in presenting Plant City as a lighthouse to those blinded by the world.  We are now seeing the vision God has for our church family as we are beginning to better understand what it means to be and build disciples.  We are looking forward to the next eight years and beyond as we all devote ourselves to prayer, watch for every opportunity to serve and give God thanks for all that He is doing among us.  To Him be glory and praise now and always!  We love and appreciate each of you so much!
                                                                                                               Brad and Virginia

October 16, 2018, 10:21 AM

October 17, 2018

"For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish.  And who knows but maybe you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?  Esther 4:14
We so often lose sight of the big picture.  It is so easy to get enamored by our own little world.  In fact, Esther got somewhat caught up in her little world until called upon to come to the aide of fellow Jews.  Mordecai made it very clear that, because she was a Jew, she would be subject to suffering right along with all the others.  He also made the point clear to Esther that maybe she was in her position so that God would use her as a tool to rescue His people.
Why is it that we often fail to consider our purpose and the real reason for which we live?  We easily become distracted by all of the events taking place around us.  God had placed Esther in a unique situation to bring protection for her people. We may not be in a position anywhere close to Esther's yet God desires to use us for Kingdom work.  You may be where you are right now in order to lead someone to Christ by being a Christian example to them.  What we so often fail to understand is that it may be in that unfulfilling job, that difficult relationship or that seemingly unfruitful ministry that God has placed us for a specific purpose.
Who knows, maybe you have come to your particular position in life for such a time as this.  After all, our lives are really about serving God and understanding our place in the Kingdom.  Mordecai's words struck a very deep chord in Esther's life.  She became willing to carry out God's plan even if it meant losing her life.  In other words, she got it!  God had placed her in the position as a unique way to serve His purposes.  Do we get it?  The big picture is about serving God.  Wherever you are and whatever is going on, look for God's purpose and be willing to carry out the plan.  Remember, there were some very touchy moments as Esther fulfilled God's purpose.  However, there was much celebrating, rejoicing and praising God for the outcome.  A very timely lesson for us!  We pray that you are having a very blessed week as you fulfill God's purpose for ?such a time as this?.
                                                                                                       We love you,
                                                                                                       Brad and Virginia

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