Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Hear Voices...

The title of this blog topic is not aimed at mental illness...

I heard the song "I Hear Voices all the Time" by Chris Young this morning and it made me think: Situations arise sometimes that make me contemplate, 'What would Dad do?' or 'What would Grandpa do?' or 'What would Mom say?' or the more currently trendy 'What Would Jesus Do?'

The song goes on to talk about him "hearing voices" such as things different family members told him as he was growing up.

Some of us call this a conscience. Undisputably, a guide, good or bad.

The older I get, the more I realize my parents are a lot smarter than I once thought they were. People who love me-friends, parents, siblings, cousins-are on my side and usually want what is best for me.

God placed friends and family around us to help us discover his purpose for us. He gave us loved ones who know us and can give us a different perspective in difficult situations. Loved ones with different experiences and different opinions broaden our world and help us discover ourselves.

Allow them to speak wisdom into your life so that you can learn something new.

This week, thank loved ones for their valuable input into your life.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veteran's Day...a Visit to the Past

As Veteran's Day approaches, I always remember my late Grandpa...He was a US Army Infantry Soldier during WWII. He served in 3 of the major battles in the European Theatre in 1944...I remember very few stories about that, he left me to read the history books in search of these places...France, the Rhine, Germany, and the Hultgren Forest...instead, he taught me what was important: how to hunt, fish, live off the land, and survive on your own, the importance of a man's reputation, and a strong hand shake usually was enough to seal the deal. He taught me how to respect nature and to always "pack out" what you carried in. He is one of many reasons of why I am the way I am today. Veteran's Day is the special day I remember him.

Remember, it took all of your past-the good and the bad-to mature you into the person you are today. Trials kept you leaning on God. Good times allowed you to rejoice in the beauty of His creation and the life He has given you. Honoring the past, but not dwelling on it, enables you to appreceiate the marvelous memories and avoid making the same mistakes again.

Walk down memory lane and recall the beginning of your relationship with God. What challenges have you overcome? What joys did you experience? Thank Him for all that He has done and all that He will do with you. Remember, God has wonderful plans for you.

The Beauty of Baptism

There are multiple reasons for being baptized as someone who has been saved by faith in Christ.  Perhaps the most important is simply that Christ and His apostles have set an example of baptism which we desire to obediently follow (e.g. Matthew 3:13f, Acts 2:37-39, etc).   We are also baptized publicly to communicate our membership in God's family to the Church.

But I think the most beautiful reason for baptism lies in the symbolism that the apostle Paul outlines so clearly in Romans 6: "...when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death...For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives" (v3-4).

Think about that! In one instant we are plunged beneath the water--buried with Christ--and in the next we come surging out of the water--raised to a new life in Him.  Through baptism we say farewell to an old way of life and to sin.  And through baptism we greet a new life made possible by Christ's sacrifice on the Cross and by His Spirit's work within us.  And that is the beauty of baptism!

Have you accepted Christ as your Savior?  If so, have you been baptized?  We are actually going to be baptizing some folks on November 20th, 2011 and if you'd like to baptized, let us know.  Just contact any of our staff.  If November 20th doesn't work for you, still contact us and we'll work it out!

The beauty of baptism seen at Camp Sharon.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Am I Even Qualified?

Hi All! First of all, let me start by saying have a great weekend!

Where I work, certain tasks and skills have to be demonstrated on a regular basis to ensure that I am "qualified" to do the job. As Christians, we are called to share the gospel to ALL nations and make disciples with ALL nations.

Are we even qualified?

The other day, as the Reaching Team was brain-storming with a few members of the staff, a very sobering thought came to me, "How are we to share the Gospel with a world at play, with no apparent regard for spiritual matters? Do people really believe there is no eternal consequence for how we live our lives?"

Hebrews 9:27 says: "Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment." Romans 3:23 says: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.")

At the end of our meeting, we closed by posing the question: “If you had one week before judgment day, where would you go to reach the most people, and what would you say (or do) to convince them that Christ is the only way to salvation?"

On my way home, as I pondered the aforementioned question, another question entered my mind, “How can we ever be qualified or competent enough to tell other people about God's truth?”

C.H. Spurgeon, one of the great pastors of the times, was once asked how to defend the Bible. He answered, "You don't defend the Bible any more than you would a roaring lion. Just open the cage and let it out."

So how do we "let the lion out"? By quoting the Word of God -- it needs no defense. It's not necessary to be a Bible expert or know the answer to every possible question. Just live by Paul's example and speak its truth. And at the same time -- let Jesus take Lordship and control over your life. It's how God gets done what He intends (Philippians 2:13: "For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.")

One of the ways to get “in” to the Scripture, is to find a partner and challenge yourself to study certain specific portions. For example, try 21 chapters in 21 days (John’s Gospel) or 31 chapters in 31 days (Proverbs), etc. The important thing is to find a partner, make the commitment, stick to it, and make them stick to it. Oh, and ask God to use you the way he used the Apostle Paul to reach His lost sheep.

Till Next Time

In Christ’s Love