Fan the Flame

Settling into our family cabin, I determined to start a big crackling fire in the fireplace. After wadding up several sheets of newspaper, I positioned the logs in tepee style to create a nice little vent for the oxygen to fuel the flame. Completely satisfied, and patting myself on the back, my dancing fire lasted for maybe five minutes before fizzling out.

Fortunately, my husband came to the rescue. It didn’t take long before he chipped away several smaller slivers of wood with the ax before tucking them under my larger charred log. With a little poking and prodding, he had a steady flame atop a bed of hot embers in no time. But he didn’t stop there. As the furnace kicked in, he jumped up to crack the front door open for ventilation so smoke wouldn’t flood the room. When the flame dwindled, he persistently stoked it. Thus we, (I), enjoyed relaxing by the warm glow all afternoon. 🙂

This is where my analogy breaks down, at least in the comparison of keeping the flame fueled in a relationship, with only Eric doing most of the work. But you get the picture. It takes observation and consistent effort to keep a good thing going. Whether in marriage, another relationship, or maybe something God has called you to, keep pressing on. Maybe your faith has been waning. Fan the flame with regular Bible reading, prayer, and regular fellowship. Do the work to keep the fire burning.

If you are God’s child, remember that He is on your side. He will not only equip you in the good work(s) He has predetermined, but will also fuel into you the needed wisdom, faith and strength for the asking.

Build Upon the Rock

Almost lured to sleep atop his air mattress by the gentle rhythmic incoming tide, my dad didn’t see it coming. BAM! A random large wave pelted him downward into the sand before catapulting him onto the shore. That was the end of an otherwise relaxing vacation, and the beginning of his back pain.

Hopefully you haven’t been literally pelted by a random wave, or regular wave for that matter! But all of us experience setbacks and storms in life at one time or another. Like that wave, an unexpected storm barges in with surging winds of adversity, stripping everything bare, exposing our foundation.

All through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus presented Himself as both the final authority and fulfiller of the Law. He finishes His sermon with not only a call to heed His message, but also to find one’s security in Him (1 Corinthians 3:11).

Jesus tells a story about two men: one who builds his house upon a rock and another who builds his house upon sand. I’m sure you know which house weathers the storm. Jesus calls this builder wise. But the house built on the sand collapses during the storm, and the builder is dubbed foolish.

A good foundation is obvious, but its importance can’t be overemphasized. The strength of a building lies in its foundation. The main purpose of the foundation is to hold the structure above it and keep it upright.

In this parable, Jesus gives us some wise words about the foundation of our lives: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

Our life foundation is crucial. We will face some storms in this life, and may even need to rebuild. Sometimes the pressure to heed the world’s advice and turn away from God’s words hits with hurricane force. At times, our own feelings bombard us inwardly to do the opposite of God’s will.

But despite these tensions, the wise person will follow God’s words as a result of trust and thankfulness. God will bless the one whose life is built upon the Rock, Jesus Christ. As we grow in trust and obedience, He will anchor our “house” in Him so that we are able to weather the storms. It is God who grows our hope and faith. The wise person is like the tree planted by the riverside, whose leaf does not wither (Psalm 1:1–3).

Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted for Righteousness Sake

The Beatitudes describe traits that are the heart of the Christian way of life. They are characteristics we should bury deep within our souls. If we are living by the Beatitudes, then we will no longer be like the chameleon who easily blends in with its surroundings. Pursuit of living a godly lifestyle will result in standing out from those who live by the world’s standards.

Living a God-pleasing lifestyle will inevitably bring some hardship. Being different in a godly way will bring persecution.

In some areas of the world, following Jesus carries the death penalty. For those of us who live in the Western world, persecution might result in some form of harassment at school or work, or being bullied.

How does persecution bring blessing? Why would Jesus honor those who experience this pain in the eighth Beatitude? Who will undergo persecution and what is His promise to those who undergo this “honor”?

Rev. Mike Michael Glodo writes more about this topic. You may read it here: Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted. Wishing you a blessed week!

Blessed Are The Pure In Heart

I, for one, want to see God someday. But is it even possible to truly be pure in heart? Can anyone consistently hold to this high standard? What exactly does Jesus mean in His sixth beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart”?

The Greek word for “pure” in Matthew 5:8 is katharos. It means to be “clean, blameless, unstained from guilt.” Interestingly, the word can refer specifically to that which is purified by fire or by pruning.

Got Questions does a great job summarizing this important topic. You may read it here: Blessed Are the Pure In Heart.

Blessed Are the Merciful

What did Jesus mean when He said, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice?'” (Matthew 9:13).

I find John Piper’s article about Jesus’ idea of mercy insightful. John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Why I Love the Apostle Paul: 30 Reasons.

You may read his post here: Blessed Are the Merciful. Have a great week!


Blessed Are Those Who Hunger . . .

While the first four beatitudes build on each other and describe the needs of Jesus’ disciples, the fifth beatitude is essential.

If we know our weakness and sin, we will ask God to meet our need for righteousness. You may read more about this topic here: Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness. Wishing you a wonderful week!

Why did Jesus say “Blessed are the Meek”?

Meekness is not weakness. Sometimes we confuse the two. But the difference between a meek person and a weak person is this: a weak person can’t do anything. A meek person, on the other hand, can do something but chooses not to.

Christianity.com

If meekness isn’t weakness and God chooses to bless the one who walks in this virtue, then I want to know the truth of what meekness really means.

Christianity.com describes meekness as a virtue that draws courage, strength, conviction, and good disposition from God, not from self-centered human resources. I found their post really insightful about Jesus’ third beatitude from His Sermon on the Mount. You may read it here: Who are the Meek?

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4 NIV).

I wonder what went through the minds of Jesus’ disciples when Jesus shared this beatitude. For these collection of truths, which we know as the Beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, seems to go against society’s way of thinking and living. Jesus, however, was not directing these teachings to the general population, but rather to His closest friends. His teaching aims to prepare His followers for His kingdom. Living out these truths will result in a lifestyle radically different from the world’s.

We usually attribute “blessed” to someone who has acquired wealth, good health, power, or prestige. But Jesus challenges our thinking as He calls some people “blessed” who appear quite the opposite. How exactly is the person who mourns blessed? Mourning seems to depict images of funerals and suffering. It’s not a natural thing to view oneself as blessed when struggling, resulting in a bucket of tears, red puffy eyes, and a burdened heart.

Although blessed usually means “happy” in the Bible, the context of Matthew 5 seems to convey more of “an enviable state”. Jesus is distinguishing the world’s image of happiness with true blessedness—spiritual riches—which only comes from a right relationship with God.

GotQuestons.org notes: The term mourn means “to experience deep grief.” In keeping with His theme of spiritual blessedness, Jesus seems to indicate that this mourning is due to grief over sin. The people who agree with God about the evil of their own hearts can attain an “enviable state of blessedness,” due to the comfort they receive from communion with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Comforter (John 14:162615:262 Corinthians 1:4). The Spirit comforts those who are honest about their own sin and humble enough to ask for forgiveness and healing. Deep repentance requires deep conviction that comes from deep brokenness. Those who hide their sin or try to justify it before God can never know the comfort that comes from a pure heart, as Jesus talks about in Matthew 5:8 (cf. Proverbs 28:13Isaiah 57:15). This is the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow.

What Does It Mean to be Poor In Spirit?

In His longest recorded sermon, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-11), Jesus begins by describing the attributes He looks for in His followers. He promises something special awaits those who attempt to develop and live out these attributes. Fair warning, however, like a salmon swimming upstream, our sincere attempts to develop these traits will create opposition since each beatitude goes against the current of society’s typical way of life. But as challenging as this way of living may be, God meets us in our humble efforts. For He desires for us to be close to Him and experience His abundant life.

Beatitude #1

In His first beatitude, Jesus states, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). What exactly does this mean? Why would God want us to be “poor in spirit”?

Some people think Jesus is referring to financial poverty with the thought that being poor will keep riches from being a relational hedge between us and God. While it’s true that Jesus warns us of the dangers of seeking riches (Matthew 6:24), this doesn’t seem to be His aim in Matthew 5:3. So what exactly is Jesus referring to?

Jesus is concerned with spiritual realities in the beatitudes, not material possessions. So being “poor in spirit” means being “spiritually poor”. This thought becomes clearer by exchanging the word “humble” in place of the word “poor”. When we recognize our impoverished and utter spiritual bankruptcy before God, we are being humble in spirit. It’s the realization that we have absolutely nothing of worth to offer a holy, powerful God. When we admit that we are completely destitute spiritually, due to our sin, and are personally powerless to deliver ourselves, we position ourselves to receive “the kingdom of heaven”. God’s kingdom is not only eternity in heaven with God after death (Romans 6:23), but also the eternal quality of life with God before death (John 10:10).

The opposite of “poor (humble) in spirit” is a self-satisfied, proud heart. The results of pride may take on different forms, but the worst is spiritual pride. God cannot bless the one who thinks he/she doesn’t need Him. For “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

We can’t earn our way to God or heaven. No matter our position in life, when we acknowledge our spiritual poverty, we can come to God in faith to receive the salvation He freely offers. Often the richer we are in material possessions, or when we place more confidence in ourselves rather than in God, the poorer our hearts’ condition will be. God never forces Himself on anyone. But for the surrendered, humbled heart, He will not only save one from sin, but will also add abundant blessing to his/her life.

Do you see your own need for Christ? Do you recognize that you are a sinner and need God’s forgiveness? By refusing to let pride─or anything else─stand in the way, you position yourself to turn to Christ in humility and faith.

Five Habits of Highly Missional People: Sent

So far in this series, I’ve covered the four habits of highly missional people─ using the acronym BELLS─from Michael Frost’s book, Surprise the World!. These weekly habits include: Bless, Eat, Listen, and Learn. The final habit is to begin identifying yourself as a missionary ─ a Sent one. Frost encourages journaling to reflect how you either demonstrate or announce (describe it, explain it, advocate for it, champion it) God’s universal reign.  

Our English term mission (from Latin missio) means “to send; to be propelled outward”. In the past, this word has been used almost solely to describe someone who travels overseas to spread Christianity. Frost notes that in more recent years we’ve adopted the term to describe all Christians who attempt to glorify God in their daily lives. We are not all called to be evangelists, but if our mission is to alert others to the universal reign of God through Christ, then all believers should see themselves as missionaries.

Trailers are tasters, short film versions of the soon-to-be-released feature, and they usually include the best special effects or the funniest scenes or the most romantic moments depending on the film of the upcoming feature. Now, watch those around you in the theater at the end of each trailer. If it has done its job, usually one person will turn to the other and say, “I want to see that movie.” This is a great metaphor for the missional church. If it does its job well, people will see what it does and say, “I want to see the world they come from.”

Michael Frost

So what does the reign of God look like? As believers, what exactly are we to point others toward? N.T. Wright proposes the following objectives. The way in which we carry out these objectives will vary, but the manner in which we speak and act always needs to be covered in God’s love and grace. Otherwise, we do more harm than good (1 Corinthians 13).

Reconciliation

Reconciliation between God and humankind is the foundation of Christ’s work on the cross. We see this concept woven into Scripture: reconciliation between slave and free, Gentile and Jew. We are instructed to announce reconciliation and demonstrate it. The more we write/journal on how we are agents of reconciliation, the more we will become aware and live it out.

Justice

Christians have a history of living out the Scriptural admonition to defend and uphold the well-being of all people, especially the powerless and poor. Past leaders have campaigned for prison reform, labor reform, the abolition of slavery, and the temperance movement. Leaders such as Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, Dorothy Day, John Stott, and Jim Wallis have more recently committed to antipoverty, antiwar, environmental, and immigration causes.

Today, there are many ways we can demonstrate God’s reign through justice: fight homelessness, eliminate sex trafficking, promote fair-trade products, campaign for clean water, or some other specific cause. Many Christians in my church have fostered and/or adopted disadvantaged children. Whether signing an online petition, donating to a cause, or inviting a disadvantaged person into your home, begin journaling ways God has sent you to promote justice this week.  

Beauty

Where do you often feel closest to God? Is it inside a beautiful cathedral? Maybe music or art leaves you with a sense of wonder. Do you sense His presence in the mountains or on the beach? For me, being outdoors reminds me not only of God’s power and creativity, but also that He is the author of true beauty who wants to share His creation with me.

Rudolph Otto, a German theologian listed some responses associated with an awe-encounter with God: a sense of majesty, unapproachability, a feeling of fascination, including both fear and attraction. The feeling that we are important enough to be invited to encounter the Holy, but in its presence are overwhelmed and made aware of our smallness. We need these paradoxical frightening, yet comforting experiences that usher in God’s reign. Consider how you can invite your friends to encounter God’s beauty.

What are your gifts and abilities? Can you create beautiful music, art, craft and/or food and invite others to join you? How can we alert others to the universal reign of God through Christ by an observation of His creation and personally creating expressions of beauty? Remember to write it down.

Wholeness

Jesus healed the lame, the lepers, the blind, and the deaf─even raised the dead─as proof of God’s kingdom coming in glory (Luke 7:22). So wholeness, the healing of broken people, is key proof of His reign today. Beyond the important work of doctors, nurses, psychologists, and counselors, Christians also usher in God’s reign when they provide emergency relief for natural disasters and/or help repair a broken marriage. Is there someone you can pray for supernatural healing? When we see God’s restoration, record it as a reminder of His great work.

Weekly Challenge

  • Bless three people, at least one of whom is not a member of your church.
  • Eat with three people, at least one of whom is not a member of your church.
  • Listen – Spend at least one period of the week listening for the Spirit’s voice.
  • Learn – Spend at least one period of the week learning Christ.
  • Sent – Briefly journal throughout the week all the ways you alerted others to the universal reign of God through Christ.

I wouldn’t be surprised if heavenly bells chime along with angelic chorus when we attempt even one of these following disciplines! Wishing you a wonderful week!

Five Habits of Highly Missional People: Learn Jesus

What kind of living ushers in God’s reign by arousing curiosity among unbelievers, which lead to questions and faith sharing? How can we foster a set of habits that will help shape others’ beliefs and values?

BELLS is an acronym from Michael Frost’s book, Surprise the World! He gives practical steps to help us develop rhythm and accountability as we align ourselves to be more like Jesus while sharing His love and hope to those around us. These steps include: Bless others, Eat together, Listen to the Holy Spirit, Learn Jesus, and Sent.

“Adoration” davidbowmanart.com

Learn Jesus

There are two main reasons Frost places emphasis on learning Jesus. First, there is the devotional value of growing close to Jesus. We sense His presence through His Word and learn to hear the Holy Spirit’s promptings. God also enables us to become more Christ-like when we not only study Jesus’ teachings, but also increasingly submit ourselves to His will. The second, more missional reason to learn Jesus is our need to know Him if we’re going to effectively share Him as the reason for the hope in us.

Frost writes: When we’re living questionable lives, both the devotional and missional purposes for studying the Gospels intersect. I think that if we’re being sent into the world to live intriguing lives, arouse curiosity, and answer people’s inquiries about the hope we have within, we need more than ever to know what Jesus would do or say in any circumstance. And we can’t know that without a deep and ongoing study of the biographies of Jesus written by those who knew him best ─ the Gospels. . . . We need to be students of the whole Scripture, which includes understanding the Gospels in their total biblical context.

Frost also encourages us to go deep with others, in which he terms “Incarnational” Mission. While the term mission (from Latin missio) means “to be sent; to be propelled outward”, the term incarnational refers to another aspect of mission. It describes not simply going out, but also the difficult work of going deep with others. As God took on flesh and made His dwelling among us in Jesus, so we too are called to dwell among those to whom we’re sent. How are we to do this, unless we become devoted students of the life, work, and teaching of Jesus?

Frost suggests learning Christ through the following disciplines:

  1. Study the four canonical Gospels (without neglecting regular Bible devotional reading and/or Bible study.) You can read the Gospels in sections, or with the use of commentaries and/or devotions. Read, reread, and reread again Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
  2. Read about Jesus. Your church might have a collection of reading material, including chapters from preferred books, articles, and blogs. My pastor recently recommended The Challenge of Jesus, Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is by N.T. Wright: “A rigorous historian and true academic, Wright will wash the insecure and pretend foundations of a folk fable version of Jesus right out from under you (me),” (Pastor Cliff Purcell).
  3. Further viewing: Explore a range of films to get a better sense of what the Gospels teach. According to Frost, Godspell and Jesus of Montreal aren’t technically films about Jesus himself, but beautifully capture different aspects of Jesus’ character and action.

Although we’re not all called to be evangelists, every Christian is called to live evangelistic lives and be prepared to give the answer for our hope.

Weekly Challenge

Including our previous challenges, here is one more for us this week: 🙂

  • Bless three people, at least one of whom is not a member of your church.
  • Eat with three people, at least one of whom is not a member of your church.
  • Listen – Spend at least one period of the week listening for the Spirit’s voice.
  • Learn – Spend at least one period of the week learning Christ.

Five Habits of Highly Missional People: Listen

Taken from Michael Frost’s book, Surprise the World!, the third habit of highly missional people is to listen for the Holy Spirit’s voice.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:14-16

For Christians, the Holy Spirit is our constant friend and endless supply of strength and guidance. Without Him, we are subject to get off course and falter in sin. We need to set apart time to stop talking, quiet our hearts, and ask Him to speak to us. This is no small task in the busy culture we live in, especially for the extroverts among us. But we need to listen to God’s voice, especially if we want to be instruments of His love and peace. Otherwise, how are we going to be salt and light if we are hurried and harried like so many around us?  

The Holy Spirit will never instruct against God’s Word. He often gives us understanding and/or a realization through His still small voice.

Bruce Demarest (Satisfy Your Soul) writes: A quieted heart is our best preparation for all this work of God. . . . Meditation refocuses us from ourselves and from the world so that we reflect on God’s Word, His nature, His abilities, and His works . . . . So we prayerfully ponder, muse, and “chew” the words of Scripture. . . . The goal is simply to permit the Holy Spirit to activate the life-giving Word of God.

So how are we to take this challenge of silence and solitude as a missional habit? Frost gives the following advice:

Set Aside a Designated Time

Start with one designated time block a week for 15-20 minutes. View it as a special time between you and God. Don’t count your designated time when you are on the run.

Eliminate Distractions

Find a place free from noise and interruptions. Avoid sensory distractions: touch, sights, sounds, smells, taste. The quieter your surroundings, the better one can listen to the Holy Spirit. Find a comfortable position in a chair and close your eyes. Allow the distractions in your mind to dissipate, which usually takes 15-20 minutes.

Let God In

Begin your time by simply enjoying God’s presence. Don’t ask questions (something I need to work on!), or tell the Holy Spirit what you need or want. He knows before we do. Don’t listen to the Enemy’s lies either, reminding you of your unworthiness and sins. Remember how much God loves you. I know this sounds cliché, but let his love wash over you. For He’s the One who created you in the first place. His Spirit longs to dwell in your heart, the temple He created for Himself. Try to focus your thoughts with a simple centering prayer: Abba, peace, grace, love or Jesus’ prayer from Luke 18:13: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Frost writes: Centering prayer is different from classic Eastern mediation, which is attempting to empty your mind by pushing thoughts away or by having no thoughts. Christian contemplative practices expert Phil Fox Rose says that when engaging in centering prayer, the key is to “resist no thought.” Most of us simply can’t stop thinking anyway. Our minds are constantly racing. If we make having no thoughts the goal, we’ll get discouraged. In centering prayer, we let thoughts happen, but we don’t engage them.”

Follow God’s Promptings

We need to be governed by the Spirit’s promptings. Frost writes: The Spirit might bring to your mind the name or face of a person you are to bless or eat with. He might convict you of sin or encourage you in your faithfulness. He might prompt you to reengage with someone you blessed last week. . . . If we allow the Spirit to guide us, we will be free to enjoy our appetites in a redeemed, godly fashion.

How do we know if the prompting is of the Holy Spirit? You will sense His presence in your heart. He will reward you with the fruit of love, joy, peace, etc.

Weekly Challenge

Adding to the previous challenges, here is our challenge for the week:

  1. Bless three people, at least one of whom is not a member of your church.
  2. Eat with three people, at least one of whom is not a member of your church.
  3. Listen – Spend at least one period of the week listening for the Spirit’s voice.

Five Habits of Highly Missional People: Eat Together

Last week, the focus of my post was on ways Christians can intentionally bless others. We can do this in three simple ways: 1) words of affirmation, 2) acts of kindness, and 3) giving a gift. Did you take the challenge of blessing three people during the week, one of whom is not a member of your church? If it slipped your mind, no worries, we have a new week coming up! Along with this challenge, I have added one more for you at the end of this post. I think you’re going to like it. 🙂

Highly Missional People Habit #2: Eat Together

Yes, you read those words correctly. Highly missional people intentionally eat together. In our highly digital world, connecting face to face is becoming a rare, but treasured feat. Honestly, I feel challenged in this area. My breakfast is usually on the run, lunch is eaten during work break, and dinner is a toss-up between a family meal and/or snacks at a baseball game. But in reality, grabbing a snack or drink with someone at a ball game is easily attainable. After all, everyone needs to eat and drink. And most of us eat at least three times a day, which equates to 21 meals a week.

Eating together has been a common practice among Christians since the beginning of God’s church. Sharing a meal together is one of the primary ways where people connect not only with God, but also with others. It’s a place where relationships begin and flourish. When we take the time to eat together, we are showing the other person that we care enough about them to live ordinary life with them. It satisfies our need to know and be known through face-to-face conversation.

In his book, Surprise the World!, Michael Frost shares a posed question: How would you complete the following sentence: ‘The Son of Man came . . . ?” There are three ways that the New Testament completes that sentence: while the first two are well known, the third is surprising:

  • “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45, ESV).
  • “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10, ESV).
  • “The Son of Man came eating and drinking” (Luke 7:34).

While the first two oft-quoted verses tell us about Jesus’ purpose in coming—to serve, to give his life as a ransom, to seek and save the lost—the third describes his method. How did Jesus come? He came eating and drinking.

During Jesus’ earthly ministry, we see him reclining “at the table” while interacting with common people and sinners as He furthers His kingdom work. This is also where true community and genuine fellowship among His disciples developed (Luke 5:29; 7:36; 11:37; 14:15). The early church gathered regularly in homes to “break bread together” as a practical expression of their fellowship in Christ (Acts 2:46). The Apostles also exhort us to show hospitality (Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9). (A great article on hospitality can be found here: A Meal Says More Than You Think: The Importance of Hospitality.)

Finally, God declares that eating together is important through the depiction of the great marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 9:6-10). Joyous, soul-quenching eternal communion with God and our brothers and sisters in Christ is detailed through the sharing of a meal together.

Weekly Challenge

So here’s our challenge for this week:

  1. Bless three people, at least one of whom is not a member of your church.
  2. Eat with three people, at least one of whom is not a member of your church. It doesn’t have to be a big fancy meal. If you’re a coffee lover, go ahead and have that cup of coffee with that person who has been on your mind.

Five Habits of Highly Missional People: Bless

Last week I shared how God blessed my family by answering our prayer to send help when our boat engine decided to take a nap. In the midst of catching Kokanee, these people reeled in their lines before one man dove into the lake and secured a rope between our boats. Then they towed us for an hour back to the main dock. (You may read my story here: When God Winks.)

Do you recall a time when someone blessed you through an act of kindness? Did you wonder why that person took the time to put you first?

Knowing full well how serious most fishermen around here are when they find a great spot, I couldn’t help but wonder: Why would they set aside their successful Kokanee run just to give us a personal tow back to the dock? They could have pretended they didn’t see our boys rowing and let the next boaters who happened into our cove help out. They could have saved themselves precious time by flagging down the sheriff on patrol. But no, in the middle of their cherished recreation, they set aside their agenda and favored us as though we had been lifetime friends.

What a blessing! Although we didn’t ask why they helped us out, I couldn’t help but think, that’s exactly what Jesus would have done! What a shining example of what Christian living should look like! As Christians, our task is to surprise the world in a positive light. We may not all be called to be evangelists (2 Timothy 4:5, Ephesians 4:11) or missionaries overseas, but we are all called to pray and conduct ourselves in word and deed to provoke others to question their beliefs and engage in an evangelistic conversation.

In his book, Surprise the World!, Michael Frost writes: The trick is to develop habits that unite us together as believers, while also propelling us into the lives of others. We also need habitual practices that don’t deplete our energy and burn us out, but rather reenergize us, replenishing our reserves and connecting us more deeply to Jesus. I have seen these missional habits do just that:

BELLS – Bless, Eat, Listen, Learn, Sent

What kind of living ushers in God’s reign by arousing curiosity among unbelievers, which leads to questions and faith sharing? How can we foster a set of habits that will help shape others’ beliefs and values? The first habit of highly missional people is to intentionally bless others.

Generosity Challenge

Bless three people this week, one of whom is not a member of your church. We can do this in three ways: 1) words of affirmation, 2) acts of kindness, and/or 3) giving a gift. Do this and see if you won’t be blessed by being a blessing!

When God Winks

Wafts of fried chicken wet our appetites as we back our boat away from the dock. Can’t beat this weather, I think as I determine to make the most of our last family outing before our oldest son returns to college for his summer session.

This boat might be old, but it still has kick. The wind cools our skin as we zip across the lake to our own quiet cove, tucked away from other boaters. Eric, my husband, kills the engine and we dive into the bucket of chicken while taking in the blue sky and surrounding pine covered mountains. With three teenagers, it doesn’t take long to clean out our lunch.

“Who’s up for wakeboarding?” Eric asks as he turns the key.

Silence. Not from our kids – from our boat engine!

Maybe he needs to push the button on the throttle first? He tries a second time . . . and a third . . . still nothing, not even a click from the starter.  

Handing the oars to the boys and pointing, Eric lays out the plan: “We need to get past that point so we can flag down a boater for help.” The boys are good sports as they start to row. But we’re not the only ones enjoying the water today. Persistent boat waves from many boats on the lake prove to be a daunting challenge with our heavy boat. None of us voiced what we all knew to be true. It would take at least a couple of hours before anybody would see our dilemma because the closest boat is not very close.

“Maybe we should pray,” I offer. We bow our heads. “Lord, please bring another boater and/or a sheriff soon who can help us get back to the loading dock.”

I kid you not, maybe three or four minutes pass before a fishing boat rounds the corner. I signal them with our orange flag. “They’re heading our way!”

“We see you!” A lady yells. It’s not long before the boat with two couples are within 20 feet.

“How’s the fishing?” I ask, my attempt at small talk.

“It’s been great . . . catching lots of Kokanee,” the lady answers.

“Looks like you need a tow. Do you have a rope we can use?” The dark haired man (I’ll call Nick) asks. Well aware of disrupting their fishing, none of us were about to object to receiving a tow. So Eric throws him our rope as Nick assesses our boat. He secures one end of the rope to their boat. Without hesitation, he dives into the water and ties the other end to the lower tow hook on the bow of our boat. And without much more verbal exchange aside from saying “thank you so much”, we gratefully accept their help.

Back at the main dock, Nick declines our offer to pay him something, but tells us to repay the favor to the next person who needs a helping hand. I tell him that he and his friends are a speedy answer to our prayer— which was that God would send a boater and/or a sheriff.

“Well, I am a deputy sheriff in another county” he says with a big grin.

I think God must have been smiling, perhaps winking too. Not only did He remind us that He is closer to us than our heartbeats, but He also cares about every little detail of our lives. He may not answer every prayer that quickly. But He certainly hears our prayers and savors the time and attention we give Him.

Nick and his friends could have ignored us and kept on fishing. But instead, they dropped what they were doing, and helped us out. What an example and huge blessing! My challenge to myself, my family, and to you Dear Reader, is to be watchful and intentional on how we might bless others. Have a wonderful week!

Destiny and Decision

“And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.” ~Romans 8:28 (TLB)

God has a destiny for your life. He knew you before you were even born. You can join Him, or resist His plan. Listen to Pastor Cliff Purcell as he shares this powerful truth: Destiny and Decision (June 2, 2019).

Conscience, Part 2

An alarm clock that doesn’t go off when it should is bad news, but one that goes off when it shouldn’t is a problem as well.”

Pastor Colin Smith
A good alarm clock does two things: It stays quiet when you should be asleep, and it makes a noise when you need to wake up! That’s how your conscience is supposed to work. Paul says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Col. 3:15). When you are on the right path, a good conscience will be at peace. But when you are tempted towards the wrong path, a good conscience will sound the alarm.

How many times have you heard the advice, “Follow your conscience”? Sounds reasonable, but what if conscience isn’t the ultimate judge of right and wrong? Pastor Colin talks about the reasons why. You may listen to his message here: Conscience, Part 2. Have a great week! 🙂

Conscience, Part 1

"Think of conscience like an alarm clock. A good alarm clock stays quiet when you should be asleep, and it makes a noise when you need to wake up!" ~ Pastor Colin Smith

My past three posts have been about unity in diversity within the church. How we as believers need to find the balance of heeding our consciences while giving grace to those around us who differ in the gray, nonessential areas of the Gospel.

The question arises: Can we always trust our conscience? Is it possible, like a broken alarm clock, for our conscience to get off kilter? Or, as in my case too many times, the alarm clock sounds, but I snooze through it? Does it really matter when we go against or “over-rule” our own conscience?

Colin Smith is senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church and president of Unlocking the Bible. He is the author of several books. His preaching ministry is shared around the world through Unlocking the Bible.

From his Regeneration series, Pastor Colin talks about what happens when we ignore our conscience warning. You may listen to his message here: Conscience, Part 1.

Have a wonderful week!

The Church: Unity in Diversity (Part 3), Romans 15:1-13

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”    – Romans 15:5

You may read Romans 15:1-13 here: Bible Gateway. This section wraps up Paul’s talk from chapter 14 and highlights the last principle in this series for promoting unity in the church.

Principle #3: Follow Christ’s example of mercy

Paul identifies himself as a strong Christian as he encourages the “strong” to bear with the failings of the “weak.” To help others mature in the faith, he exhorts the “strong” to build his neighbor up. How? He cites Jesus as our greatest example of self-denial for the sake of others.

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The Relevance of Scripture (vs. 4)

Paul also reminds his readers that all of Scripture—although written in the past—is still alive and relevant today, meeting our deepest needs (1 Cor. 10:11; Rom. 4:23-24).

Paul’s Benediction (vs. 5-6)

Paul prayed for unity among the Roman Jews and Gentiles as they followed Christ so they would glorify God with one heart and voice.

Shepherd’s Notes comments on the remainder of this section: “In support of the universal scope of God’s redemptive work through Christ His Son, Paul cited four Old Testament Scriptures . . . . Christ’s acceptance of both Jewish and Gentile believers, played out in the universal scope of His redemptive work, is to be the measure of their acceptance of one another.”

So What?

Self-denial doesn’t mean we are to be people-pleasers (see Galatians 1:10), but rather set aside our self-pleasing actions and/or willfulness in order to build others up. If Christ—God’s Son—prioritized others above His own comforts and desires, how much more should we?

God communicates hope and encouragement through His Word, the Bible. We can live in unity when we read God’s Word with a receptive heart, focus on Christ, and genuinely accept each other.

 

The Church: Unity in Diversity (Part 2), Romans 14:13-22

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.”  – Romans 14:13

You may read Romans 14:13-22 here: Bible Gateway.

With the Roman believers in disagreement about eating meat and observance of special days, Paul laid out three principles to encourage peaceful relationships.

Last week highlighted the first principle: Judgment is God’s right, not man’s (vs. 1-12) . . . . Next principle please:

Principle #2: Love requires self-limitations for the sake of others

(Biblesurprise.com)

(Biblesurprise.com)

Paul directs his advice to mature believers. He warns them to beware of placing obstacles—or occasion to sin—before the weaker Christian.

Although the old rules about ceremonial foods were dismissed by Jesus (Matthew 15:10-11; 16-20), Paul addressed the issue of those who felt compelled to follow Judaism’s regulations: Anyone who violates their conscience, and doesn’t act in faith, has sinned (vs. 23).

Shepherd’s Notes comments: “God has called us to a life of faith. Trust is the willingness to put all of life before God for His approval. Any doubt about the rightness of an action removes it from the category of what is acceptable. This principle is of special help to the Christian in what is sometimes called the ‘gray area.’ If it is gray to you, it is wrong—not in itself, but in the eyes of the one who considers it inappropriate.”

Paul warned mature believers to take into account their influential actions. Those who encouraged others to violate their conscience “no longer walked in love” (vs. 15).

So What?

Although we live in a different time and culture than the early Roman Christians, we still vary in our convictions today. It’s important to continually monitor our behavior and its effects on other believers, even if we don’t feel convicted in a “gray area”. Although we don’t have to give up our freedom in Christ, if God convicts another believer differently we should avoid exercising that action in his/her presence. Mutual respect and love mark Christ’s true disciples.

What steps can believers take to ensure peace when differences arise? How does focusing our minds on Christ help promote unity?

The Church: Unity in Diversity (Part 1), Romans 14:1-12

Unity in essentials, liberty in non-essentials, charity in all things.” – The Puritans

(shereadstruth.com)

(shereadstruth.com)

You may read this passage here: Romans 14:1-12.

God is able

Paul’s writing to the early Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome certainly reflects this belief. Although God was—and is—“able”, effort from every believer would be needed. In an arena immersed in vast cultural and societal differences Paul offered some guidelines to help bring about this seemingly impossible task: unity in diversity.

Principle # 1: Judgment is God’s Right, Not Man’s

“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand,” (vs. 4). Paul made it clear: Observing or not observing special days and/or food laws—the early church’s main divisive issues—wasn’t sin to God, so long as one’s conscience was clear. Rather, the flaunting and flouting of other believers’ convictions was the culprit. Convictions vary. God has accepted both the “weak” and “strong” servant by grace. Equal desire to honor God may be found in both the observer and nonobserver of special days and food laws (vs. 6).

“None of us lives to himself alone” (vs. 7)

Shepherd’s Notes comments: “This has been understood in the sense of John Donne’s statement, ‘No man is an island.’ Paul’s statement, however, was not a sociological observation regarding the oneness of the human race. What he said is that all believers live out their lives accountable to God. Decisions about such matters as special days and eating meat are not made in isolation, but in accordance with the will of God as understood by the individual.”

So What?

Judgment belongs to God alone. And we will all stand before the judgment seat of God (vs. 10-12; 2 Cor. 5:10). Individuals should act according to their own conviction in trivial gray areas that are unclear in the Bible, without passing judgment on those with different convictions. We can—and should—rub shoulders with other believers without judging in these areas. If something offends a brother or sister, then we should abstain from that activity in their presence.

Are there strained relationships in your church? How might this principle help bring the unity God desires?

Jesus: The Door, The Way and Truth

The more we study the names and titles of Jesus, the more we understand who He really is.

10 More Titles and Names of Jesus

The Door – “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” John 10:9

 

The Way – “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6

 

The Word – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

 

True Vine – “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1

 

Truth – “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

 

Victorious One – “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.” Revelation 3:21

 

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace – “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

 

I hope you had a wonderful Easter and were able to attend a worship service. If not, my pastor, Cliff Purcell, gave a great message. If you are connected to Facebook, you may listen to him here: Easter Sunday.

What is Good Friday?

Why do Christians refer to Good Friday as “good”? After all, the Romans and Jewish authorities were anything but good to Jesus (see Matthew 26-27).

The results from Christ’s death, however, go far beyond “good”. There really are no words that ascribe the greatness of Jesus’ sacrifice, or the depth of gratitude we should have for the eternal, abundant life He purchased for those of us who believe and place our faith in Him as Lord and Savior!

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.” 1 Peter 3:18

Many Christian churches celebrate Good Friday in a serious and reverent manner. This is a time of remembrance of Christ’s death, usually expressed through prayers of thanksgiving, solemn hymns, a message centered on Christ’s suffering, and observance of the Lord’s Supper.

The events of that day, Good Friday, should always be present in our hearts and minds. For Christ’s death on the cross—along with His bodily resurrection—is the foundation of our Christian faith. You may read more about Good Friday here, What is Good Friday/Holy Friday?

You can trust the One who laid down His life so we might live. Blessings!

What About Jesus?

“What about Jesus? ‘And you shall call his name Jesus,’ the angel told Joseph, ‘for he will save his people from their sins’ (Matt. 1:21). More than a great teacher, more than an enlightened man, more than a worker of miracles, more than a source of meaning in life, more than a self-help guru, more than a self-esteem builder, more than a political liberator, more than a caring friend, more than a transformer of cultures, more than a purpose for the purposeless, Jesus is the Savior of sinners.” –  Pastor Kevin DeYoung

10 More Names and Titles of Jesus

Prophet – “And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” Mark 6:4

Redeemer – “And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.” Job 19:25

Risen Lord – “…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

Rock – “For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10:4

Sacrifice for Our Sins  “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

Savior – “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

Son of Man – “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10

Son of the Most High – “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.” Luke 1:32

Supreme Creator Over All – “By Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” 1 Corinthians 1:16-17

Resurrection and the Life – “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.’” John 11:25

This may sound shocking to some, but Jesus is the only way to heaven. The Bible clearly teaches that there is no other way to salvation than through Jesus Christ. If you haven’t checked out what the Bible teaches about where we go after life here on earth, and how we can attain eternal life, then I encourage you to not put it off for later. A great starting place is to explore via questions. I like gotquestions.org. Type in a question, or topic, in the search field and you’ll find some concise and insightful biblical teaching. Here is one such post to explore: Is Jesus the Only Way to Heaven?

Wishing you a wonderful week!

More, More!

Whenever I, or one of my high school basketball teammates made a basket in a game, we would hear the bellowing voice of an older faithful fan yell, “More, more!”

I can still hear the passion behind his words as I take a closer look at Jesus: his life, character, and mission. Jesus was, and is, so much more than just a great man and teacher. He is Light, Hope, The One Who Sets Us Free, and so much more.

Ten More Names and Titles the Bible Ascribes to Jesus

Lamb of God – “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

Light of the World“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Lion of the Tribe of Judah“Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” Revelation 5:5

Lord of All“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

Mediator “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5

Messiah “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).” John 1:41

Mighty One “Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” Isaiah 60:16

One Who Sets Free“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  John 8:36

Our Hope “…Christ Jesus our hope.” 1 Timothy 1:1

Peace“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,” Ephesians 2:14

If you don’t know Jesus by these names, why not ask Him to reveal Himself more to you?

 

10 More Names and Titles of Jesus

The gift of salvation through Jesus is free and indescribable. Take a few minutes to thank God for His amazing love. Together, let’s pray for others to know Jesus as Savior.

Follow-up from my last post, here are 10 more names and titles of Jesus from God’s Word.

Faithful and True“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.” Revelation 19:11

Good Shepherd “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

Great High Priest“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” Hebrews 4:14

Head of the Church“And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church.” Ephesians 1:22

Holy Servant “…and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” Acts 4:29-30

I Am“Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:58

Immanuel “…She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God with us.’” Isaiah 7:14

Indescribable Gift“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.” 2 Corinthians 9:15

Judge“…he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.” Acts 10:42

King of Kings“These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” Revelation 17:14

Most of us review the benefits of a potential job. Have you considered the many benefits of getting to know Jesus? . . . . Wishing you a great week!

10 Names and Titles of Jesus

If you have been reading my posts the past couple of months, you’ll notice I’ve been focusing on the different names of God that emphasize His character. With Easter around the corner, I thought it would be fitting to zoom in on Jesus’ names and titles.

We have an Advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the One who is truly righteous, (1 John 2:1).

The Bible is filled with many references to who Jesus is: His life, His mission, His Lordship. Here are 10 of those names and titles, along with verses from God’s Word.

Almighty One  “…who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8

Alpha and Omega– “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:13

Advocate– “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” 1 John 2:1

Author and Perfecter of Our Faith  “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Authority“Jesus said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Matthew 28:18

Bread of Life“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” John 6:35

Beloved Son of God– “And behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17

Bridegroom“And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” Matthew 9:15

Chief Cornerstone“The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone.” Psalm 118:22

Deliverer – “And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thessalonians 1:10

I think Awesome Savior is also a fitting name. The Beloved Son of God, Alpha and Omega, gave up heaven to enter our world. He not only offers us abundant life, but also delivers us from our sin and God’s wrath.

To be continued . . . . Have a wonderful week!

Jesus, Son of Man

This is the clearest statement of Jesus’ divinity He ever made.

We know that Jesus was a great teacher and a good man. But his claim to be God is unmistakable. If the accounts in the New Testament Gospels are actually true, we must come to grips with the question, “Is Jesus actually the Son of God?” and “Is he really the Messiah?”

According to my Life Application Study Bible, Son of Man was Jesus’ favorite reference to himself during his time on earth. But, why? Out of all the glorious traits Jesus possesses, why would he favor this name that includes our imperfect humanity? My Study Bible notes: “It emphasized his humanity—but the way he used it, it was a claim to divinity.”

In Jesus, we see the perfect revelation of God. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty of heaven”, (Hebrews 1:3).

Although Jesus and his Father are not the same person, they are one in nature and essence. Before Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, He prayed for his disciples and for us, future believers. He asked God the Father that we may be one, “just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:21).

John 17:24 continues Jesus’ prayer, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

Son of Man. God. Human. And exactly what I need. Listen to Pastor Cliff Purcell’s podcast as he shares scripture about Jesus the Son of Man, Trans-Fi-What? (March 10, 2019). Wishing you a great week!

What Does the Name Yahweh Mean?

Although the Bible attributes many names to God, the name Yahweh is a bedrock name that can stand alone.

The original story of Yahweh goes back to Exodus 3:13-15 where God is speaking to Moses through the burning bush. He gives him the ultimate mission: Free the Israelite people from Egyptian bondage.

Moses wonders: How in the world will I convince my people that God is really sending me on this mission, and that it will be successful?

Going along with my last post, God tells Moses: “I am who I am. . . . Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations, (Exodus 3:14-15).

This passage tells us that God’s name I AM and Yahweh are used interchangeably. So I Am is one interpretation of Yahweh.

Yahweh in Jewish tradition was too sacred a name to say out loud. So as time passed, Jews began speaking the name Adonai, or My Lord, in place of Yahweh. Sometimes Elohim replaced this holy name, but these two replacements could also be used for other things. Yahweh, however, holds an exclusive claim as God’s name. Although our English language doesn’t have an exact translation for Yahweh, the Old Testament references this name as LORD with all capital letters.

From Bible Study Tools, Jenna Martin shares a great post: 7 Meanings of Yahweh & Why It’s Such an Important Name for God. Amongst other pertinent information that she shares, I love this nugget of truth: “Yahweh is only used in the Bible when the author is talking about God’s personal, relationship with his people. The fact that God introduces himself to us as ‘Yahweh’ tells us that his first priority in relating to us is making sure we know that he is the intensely personal God, seeking to have a relationship with his people.”

God certainly doesn’t need us, but He wants us. Nothing illustrates this truth more clearly than Jesus entering our world and taking our punishment upon himself so we can have eternal life.

“I AM WHO I AM”

“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you. . . . This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.” -Exodus 3:14-15

We are all changing from our birth to our death, both physically and growing into something different from what we just were mentally and spiritually. First we’re born, then we are constantly growing older, as I was just reminded on my recent birthday. But thankfully, God is not only always present, He is also unchanging.

The great I AM, sounds simple, yet this description is packed with significance. This name encompasses God’s many roles that we also see in Jesus: Healer, Restorer, Advocate, Counselor, High Priest, Deliverer, Comforter, Savior, Redeemer, and Provider.

In a world where morals, values, and laws are constantly changing, we find security and stability in the same unchanging God who helped Moses and the great patriarchs. We also find salvation through His Son, Jesus: I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die,” John 11:25.

Here are a couple of links to further explore God with this name/characteristic: Jesus is the Great “I AM”. Pastor Cliff Purcell also shares from his “Just Jesus” series, The Next Time (Feb. 24, 2019). Have a wonderfdul week!

Miracles: Promises or Signs?

Do you ever feel like a tidal wave is crashing down on you? There are times when situations arise that are completely out of our control. Although we feel powerless during those times, God does not. For there is no limit to His power and understanding. But where do miracles fit into the life of the believer? My pastor, Cliff Purcell, has some great insights about the subject of miracles in the Christian’s life. You may listen to his podcast from his “Just Jesus” series here: Miracles: Promises or Signs? (Feb. 17, 2019). Blessings!

El Shaddai, The All-Sufficient One

What does the word Shaddai mean in the Old Testament? There are some differences of opinion surrounding God’s name, Shaddai. Dawn Wilson, founder and director of Heart Choices Today, has an interesting view on the differing interpretations. She writes, “the various possibilities are shades of meaning that give us greater understanding of who God is and what He does.”

The most common perception of shaddai among Christians today is “mighty”. So El Shaddai would render “God Almighty.” This root meaning would go along with El Shaddai being “The Overpowerer.” God overpowers every opposition against Him. Whatever He purposes, He will bring forth. But the primary meaning of God’s power in this name denotes all-bountifulness, The “Pourer-forth” of blessings that are both temporal and spiritual.

Some Christians also interpret shaddai as “sufficient”, which is also an accurate description of God. For He is the “All-sufficient One.”

Wilson explains yet another possible meaning of El Shaddai: “The God of the Mountain. Some Messianic teachers say shaddai comes from the Akkadian word shaddu, meaning ‘mountain.’ God lives in heaven, but He also inhabited a mountain top—Mount Sinai. It was on this mountain Moses met with God and received the Ten Commandments. It might be argued God’s presence on that mountain reminded the Israelites of His power and provision. The God of the Mountain was the same God who mightily led His people from Egypt and appeared to them as a cloud by day and a fire at night. He is the God who expected obedience to His commands, and swiftly and powerfully took action against those who rebelled and ignored His will.”

God is definitely both mighty and sufficient. He is the Almighty One who is more than enough! Although I grew up going to church and knew God as my Savior, I didn’t know Him as El Shaddai, the all-sufficient One, until I went to college. When I hit rock bottom, El Shaddai became more than words on a page to me. (You may read my story here: My Lifeboat). But before that time, and since, He has been both protector and lover of my soul.

People in the Old Testament who came to know El Shaddai include Abraham and Job. Even though God had promised Abram and Sarah a child at the ripe age of ninety-nine and eighty-nine, the baby had yet to make his entrance.

As God reveals Himself to Abram by this name, He also adds something to Abram’s name. He adds the chief letter of His own name “Jehovah”, the letter ‘He’. This sound can only be uttered by an out-breathing, giving something of His own nature. Genesis 17:1-3 tells us that when Abram comes to know God as El Shaddai, he falls on his face and immediately submits to God in everything.

Although Job argued with God at first, the Almighty’s show of wisdom and power resulted in changing this Patriarch’s attitude to quiet reverence before the Lord’s authority and sovereignty.

This same mighty God, embodied in Jesus Christ, worked mighty miracles to help people, rescue them, and prove He is God. He fed thousands from small provisions, healed people, and cast out tormenting demons. Yet, what blows my mind the most, is that El Shaddai would humble Himself to become a servant, “becoming obedient to deatheven death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8) in order that we might have salvation through His Son.

We serve a mighty God who deserves all of our thanks and praise. In His mighty power, He never grows weary. He is our all-in-all who compassionately sustains, nourishes and protects. In His sufficiency, He can take our weaknesses and inadequate resources and use them for His great purposes. He alone is more than able! No need is too difficult for El Shaddai. He wants us to come to Him through prayer. For He knows His power and provision will lead to peace, hope, and praise. As with Abraham, God desires to work mightily in our lives and use us as a channel of His blessing to others.

Do you know God as El Shaddai?

El Roi, The God Who Sees

Have you ever felt like an outcast, or used for another’s profit or pleasure before being thrown out like an old rag? That is how Hagar felt when Sarai took matters into her own hands by arranging for Hagar to have a child with Abram (Genesis 16).

Where is God when rejection cuts deep? Where is the One who promises to work all things together for the good of those who love Him? Does He care? Does He see?

In our broken, sinful world it’s easy to buy into the lie that God doesn’t see, or that He sees, but doesn’t care. The truth is, our omnipresent God not only sees, but He also cares . . . deeply.

He is El Roi, the God who sees. The God who is aware of every painful circumstance.

The first time we encounter God in the Bible as El Roi we discover that He tells Hagar to go back and face her problem. Even though it seems so much easier to bury our problems, they usually only manifest in more harmful ways. But with God’s help, we can face the problem(s) and begin to heal in His strong arms.

God sees.

Even though God may have allowed the wrong, as in Hagar’s situation, He can still use it for good. But you must first know Him, believe in Him, and put your trust in His name. For He promises to never forsake those who seek Him (Psalm 9:10).

One day He will right every wrong. It will be a day of righteous judgment. For God saw all of it (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). Thankfully, God is also rich in forgiveness. But it’s a scary thought to think of the fate of those who reject the “Lamb of God” who paid the penalty for the sin of everyone who seeks forgiveness.

Have you ever considered the benefit of knowing God as El Roi?

El Elyon, God Most High

God is not only our Elohim, He is also our El Elyon, the Most High. This name not only distinguishes Him as the sovereign ruler of all the universe, but also implies that nothing in life is more sacred. El Elyon, “God Most High” delivered Abraham’s enemies into his hand (Genesis 14:20). El Elyon was, and is, Israel’s Redeemer (Psalm 78:35). He is also the Most High God who reigns over the affairs of men and women today: “For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What hast Thou done?’ (Daniel 4:34-35). So “Nebuchadnezzar . . . blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever” (Daniel 4:34).

Other scriptures that refer to God as El Elyon in relation to His sovereignty include the following:

Kay Arthur, (Lord I Want to Know You), writes: “If ‘the name of the God of Jacob’ would ‘set you securely on high,’ if you would trust Him to ‘send you help from the sanctuary, and support you from Zion (Psalm 20:1-2), then you must know him as El Elyon, the Most High. For if God is not sovereign, if He is not in control, if all things are not under His dominion, then He is not the Most High, and you and I are either in the hands of fate (whatever that is), in the hands of man, or in the hands of the devil.”

Satan’s relationship to God’s sovereignty and control can be found in Job 1:6-12, Job 2:1-10; and Luke 22:31. I love that, just as in Joseph’s story (Genesis 45:5, 7-8; 50:20), God in His sovereignty can take all the ugly details in our lives and “work together for good to those who love [Him], to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

How do you see El Elyon’s work in your own life?

What Does Elohim Mean?

Why have biblical writers referred to the one God with different names? The different names of God are a way to emphasize one quality of His character. Elohim is one such name that is used frequently in the Scriptures. This term “Elohim” means “supreme one” or “mighty one” and appears about 2,750 times in the Old Testament. “In the beginning [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth,” Genesis 1:1.

Although the term “Elohim” is used on occasion to refer to judges, human rulers, and even angels, it is also used to express the one true God in his supreme rule and almighty power. Mike Leake, Lead Pastor at FBC Marionville in Marionville, Missouri, writes: This is the word [Elohim] which is most frequently used when referring to God’s dealings with creation in general or with the nations of the world apart from his covenant with Israel.”

God’s very essence is glorious and unlimited power. His creation is a testament to His awesome creativity and might. For since the creation of the world God’s [Elohim’s] invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse,” Romans 1:20.

I love that, starting with Genesis, God increasingly reveals Himself to us. He first places himself as Elohim in covenant with his creation. Next, he enters into a special relationship with Israel through the Abrahamic covenant. Finally, his covenantal promises (Genesis 12) find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ, God’s supreme revelation (Hebrews 1). This knowledge of Christ has the ability to move us from a vague understanding of Elohim into an exciting relationship with our Maker.

How do you know this God? Do you know him just as a mighty, far away power? Or can you address him as “my Lord and my God”? I’m so thankful that Jesus has given us a clear frame of reference to who this mighty God is and his mission, when Jesus entered our world. My Pastor, Cliff Purcell, is currently preaching a series called “Just Jesus”. His last message is from the second chapter of Mark. You may listen to his podcast here: Closer than You Think, (Jan. 20, 2019). Blessings!

What is an Examen Prayer?

My pastor is currently teaching a series on prayer, helpful ways to better connect with God. These ways are not intended to be a “one size fits all”, or a rigid method of “you must do this in order to grow in your walk with God”. But I thought his latest class about the Examen Prayer was really interesting. Although I have heard about this kind of prayer, I really knew little about it. So I am sharing what I have learned. I’ll give you a Facebook link to his class at the end of this post if you wish to hear it. There are also a couple of good (free) apps from the Examen Prayer available through Google’s Play Store and Apple: “Reimagining the Examen”, and “Examen Prayer”.

Some Christians find a specific approach to prayer a helpful discipline, while others prefer to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18). The Examen Prayer is a practice in meditation and prayer. Many people throughout the centuries have found this helpful in sensing God’s daily presence and guidance. This prayer is credited to Roman Catholic Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556) who, a Spanish soldier from his youth, pursued military glory and personal pleasure until age 30. After a severe battle wound, during a prolonged and painful recovery, he dove into Christian literature. This motivated him to renounce his old habits and commit himself to serving God.

After Ignatius spent hours of his convalescence in meditation and prayer he became convinced that any believer could benefit from prayer. He felt prayer is more effective when one approaches it in more of a conversational way with Jesus as a friend rather than in a ritual method. In 1548, Ignatius published his discovery in the Spiritual Exercises, a simple set of prayers, mental exercises, and meditations devised to be completed in 28 to 30 days. The Examen Prayer gives suggested “points” or “movements” when “praying the Examen.” These points are as follows:

Movement 1: Thanksgiving
Movement 2: Guidance
Movement 3: Review
Movement 4: Grace
Movement 5: Resolution

Whatever approach believers take in prayer, they may find the Examen Prayer helpful as long as they keep grounded in God’s Word (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2). Here is a link to Pastor Cliff Purcell’s class: Prayer Like You Never Experienced It, Episode 3. Blessings!

What does it mean to bless God?

(Photo and quote by Jacqueline Cooper.)

How has God blessed you? I’m sure many of you would agree that God is a loving, gracious Father. That His love and forgiveness alone is more than we deserve. If we are in Christ, God has poured blessing upon blessing into our lives. He even turns our messes into something beautiful if we let Him.

I love the The Message translation of Ephesians 1:3: How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.”

Did you know that it is possible to bless God? Some may argue: Because God is altogether perfect and lacks nothing, He doesn’t need our blessings. Though I agree that we don’t add to God’s character, or somehow strengthen Him through our blessings, I do believe that our attitudes, words, and actions can bring joy to his heart and a smile to His face. When we bless, praise and acknowledge God, we are fulfilling His original purpose of creating us.

What if we make it our priority to daily bless God in 2019? For He truly deserves it! You may read more on this topic here: What Does It Mean to Bless God? And for all of you scholarly readers, you might enjoy John Piper’s thesis: What Does It Mean to Bless God? 

God Finishes What He Starts

I love this verse! There are times when I wonder if I am making any gains in my spiritual life. Too many times I start the new year with well-meaning goals and resolutions. Not that they can’t be attained, but on my own, my best efforts usually hit a wall at some point. But thankfully, when God starts a project, He finishes it!

Paul is describing the Christian’s growth process here. God’s work for us began when Christ took our place with His sacrificial death on the cross. His work in us begins when we first believe. With Jesus Christ as our foundation, He continues framing and building our character while daily enabling us to be more Christ-like through His indwelling, empowering Holy Spirit. If you are God’s child, rest in the promise that He will finish this good work when we meet Him face to face.

Happy New Year!

I hope that joy and peace graced your Christmas. I also hope you have managed to find some rest time, especially if you have a house full of kids.:) Reflecting on this past year, I’ve found myself enjoying lots of our kids’ sporting events. Other highlights from 2018 include:

  • Cameron’s high school graduation, (our oldest son). He attends Grand Canyon University and loves it.
  • Eric and I celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary in Coeur d’Alene, ID in June.
  • Our family enjoyed a vacation in Whitefish, Montana and visiting Glacier National Park in July. We spent our time hiking, mountain biking, ziplining, and viewing some beautiful scenery.

God has graciously blessed our family in many ways, for which I’m grateful. He has also led me into some new ministry terrain that is challenging and rewarding at the same time.

I am also starting a new business called L&L Abode. So far my products comprise canvas and mugs with pictures that I photograph and/or digitally create. But I plan on adding more products and variety in the near future. (If you’re interested in checking it out, this link will take you to my store: L&L Abode.)

As you reflect on this past year and set your sights on new horizons, I hope and pray that God makes His will clear for you and that you see his hand at work in your life. We can trust God in the year ahead, for he has good plans for our future. The following Bible verses, shared by Mary Fairchild, are grounds for excitement!

NEW BIRTH – A LIVING HOPE

Salvation in Jesus Christ represents new birth — a transformation of who we are. The start of a new year is a great time to reflect on the new and living hope we have in this life and in the life to come:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3, NIV)

A NEW CREATION

This passage describes a transformation that will eventually lead to the full enjoyment of eternal life in the new heavens and new earth. Christ’s life, death, and resurrection introduce followers of Jesus Christ to a foretaste of the new world to come.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV)

A NEW HEART

Believers are not merely changed externally, they undergo a radical renewal of heart. This total cleansing and transformation reveal the holiness of God to an unholy world:

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so you will obey my laws and do whatever I command. (Ezekiel 36:25-27, NLT)

FORGET THE PAST – LEARN FROM MISTAKES

Christians aren’t perfect. The more we grow in Christ, the more we realize how far we have to go. We can learn from our mistakes, but they are in the past and need to stay there. We look forward toward the resurrection. We keep our eyes on the prize. And by maintaining our focus on the goal, we are pulled heavenward.

Both discipline and perseverance are required to accomplish this objective.

No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. (Philippians 3:13-14, NLT)

Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:10-11, NIV)

WAIT ON THE LORD – GOD’S TIMING IS PERFECT

We can be content and wait for God’s timing, for it is sure to be the right time. By waiting and trusting patiently, we gain quiet strength:

Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. (Psalm 37:7, NLT)

Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:31, NASB)

Merry Christmas!

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this." -Isaiah 9:6-7

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” – Isaiah 9:6-7

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas!

 

More Than Pieces of Peace

True and lasting peace is rare in our sin-ravaged world. Fear, sin, uncertainty, doubt, and many other forces war within us. The holidays don’t invoke good memories and/or warm fuzzy feelings for many people. Just a quick read through the newspaper can leave one’s mind and heart reeling in a state of unrest. While most of us manage to grasp pieces of peace here and there, what is the secret to the few who find a confident assurance that everything is going to be okay, even in the midst of adversity?

Jesus says He will give us peace if we are willing to accept it from Him. Unlike worldly peace, which is usually defined as the absence of conflict, the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives produces deep and lasting peace. With Christ’s peace, we have no need to fear the present or the future.

Beginning a new series on peace, Pastor Cliff Purcell shares some practical ways to secure deep and lasting peace. His first podcast can be found here: Making Peace With God” (Dec. 2, 2018). The next podcast can be accessed here: “Making Peace With My Past” (Dec. 9, 2018). Wishing you God’s gift of His deep and lasting peace!

Why We Need Advent

Ten Old Testament Prophecies fulfilled by Jesus’ birth as recorded in the New Testament.

Don’t celebrate Christmas too early. Before unleashing the joyful revelry of the holiday, enter a season that readies your heart for the celebration. . . . Wake up on Christmas morning with a hard-fought hope grown out of a rich season of spiritual preparation. That’s what Advent is all about.” -Scott James

Scott James is the author of the Advent devotional book, The Expected One, and The Littlest Watchman, an Advent book for children. Scott reminds us that it is important to prepare our hearts for the Christmas celebration. Advent also reminds us of the people of God awaiting the promised Messiah and “helps us hone those same sentiments as we await his second coming.”

You may read Scott’s post here: Why We Need Advent. Blessings!

 

 

 

 

The Unpopular Sermon

With Thanksgiving tucked under our belts, if we’re able to cinch our belts :), many of us are feeling the financial bulge warring against our desire to buy that perfect Christmas gift(s). After all, who wants to rob our loved ones from the joy of receiving this season?

But what about God? Is it possible to rob Him? What kind of gifts are pleasing to Him? What offends God and constitutes this idea of robbing Him? Continuing in the book of Malachi, Pastor Cliff Purcell shares an unpopular teaching that challenges even the most generous and courageous heart. Among my “thankful” list of blessings and people, I am grateful for a pastor who doesn’t water down the truth of the Gospel. You may listen to his message here: The Sermon We Wish Cliff Wouldn’t Preach (Nov. 18, 2018).

I am also thankful for you! Wishing you God’s abundant blessing this holiday season!

Marriage, Divorce and the People of God – Part Two

God desires and deserves faithfulness in every part of our lives, including marriage.

Pastor Cliff Purcell expounds on what Scriptures teach in this area, specifically from the book of Malachi. You may listen to his podcast here: Marriage, Divorce and the People of God – Part Two, (Nov. 11, 2018).

Have a great week!

Divorce, Marriage and the People of God

Coming back to our study in Malachi, this book delivers hard truth. But we are also given a glimpse of God’s truth sprinkled with grace. Listen to Pastor Cliff Purcell’s message and be encouraged. Although God hates divorce because of the damage it creates, He loves divorced people. You may listen to this podcast here: Divorce, Marriage and the People of God (Nov. 4, 2018).

Pastor Purcell also just began a series on “The Marital Area of Life”, which he live-streams from his Facebook page. The areas he covers are: “Two Becoming One”, “Psychological Intimacy”, “Spiritual Intimacy”, and “Restoring Intimacy”.  His teaching is packed with great insights and practical application, geared for people at different phases: seasoned couples, newlyweds, or single people just wanting more information in the marital relationship. You may find this information here: The Marital Area of Life. Have a great week!

How Can I Know God’s Will for My Life?

Do you ever struggle with knowing what God’s will is? What does the Bible say about knowing God’s will?

At its most basic, the will of God is to repent of our sin and trust in Christ. If we have not taken that first step, then we have not yet accepted God’s will,” (gotquestions.org).

To read more about knowing God’s will, the following post from Got Questions does a great job summarizing what the Bible teaches on this topic. You may find this post here: How Can I Know God’s Will for My Life?  Have a wonderful week!

 

Unique Opportunity: Reach North Korea With the Gospel

We starve, but it’s not food we want. We thirst, but not for water. We are sick and have no medicine but we know that only the Gospel can heal our people.”

With tears in her eyes, this is what one woman told FEBC President, Ed Cannon, from his recent travel to Asia to meet with a group of North Korean refugees.

Who is FEBC? Far East Broadcasting Company is an interdenominational ministry whose sole purpose is to share the Good News to the world through radio, the Internet, and emerging technologies. FEBC seeks to cooperate with and support existing missionary efforts and the ministry of the greater body of Christ worldwide, based on a common belief in the Bible as the infallible, authoritative Word of God.

What is the one message FEBC proclaims? “The truth of salvation through Jesus Christ.”

Where does FEBC minister? For 73 years, FEBC has been committed to reaching people in the most unreached places on earth. The 10-40 Window, a geographic area between lines of latitude 40 degrees and 10 degrees north of the equator, hosts 69 nations containing 4.65 billion people. This is where 90% of the world’s poorest people live; 95% of these people are unevangelized. The Christian minorities here are often heavily persecuted for their faith.

FEBC is committed to seizing the moment by boldly positioning all of their resources for God. Their broadcasts are heard in 113 languages and 49 countries around the world aired from 149 stations and transmitters, totaling 842 hours of programming a day/365 days a year. Last year alone, 2.6 million responses to the Gospel were made in response to their ministry. While these numbers are impressive stats, the reality is that these people are being transformed because of the hope they now have through Jesus Christ.

And now God has uniquely positioned FEBC to broadcast the Good News into one of the darkest, most hopeless place in the world: North Korea. President Ed Cannon writes: “With the help of friends like you, we are dramatically expanding our ministry through a powerful new radio tower in South Korea that will blanket the entire country of North Korea with the Gospel!”

The cost estimate of this radio tower is $320,000. Would you pray for this endeavor as well as prayerfully consider giving to this ministry? You may check out their ministry at their website: FEBC. Here is a link to donate toward the radio tower in North Korea: https://www.febc.org/north-korea. Thank you for your consideration!

How Far Would You Go?

Do you ever wonder how far God would go in order to have a relationship with you? How far would you go to pursue, or keep, a friendship with God? Pastor Cliff Purcell addresses these questions as he continues his series in the book of Malachi. You may listen to his podcast here: How Far Would You Go? (Oct. 14, 2018).