Have you ever wondered what is written in God’s book about you? If you’ve answered yes, the following is for you. I gave my life to Christ seven years ago and would consider myself a devout Christian. However, when the Covid-19 crisis hit worldwide, I asked myself three crucial questions:
What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ?
What exactly does God expect of me in this end time?
How can I fulfil what I was created for?
The answers came gradually through additional questions and facts.
Jesus speaks to his sheep ===> Whose voice is dictating my actions and influencing my life? Is it the voice of my spouse, my friends, my ego, the enemy . . . or the voice of my Shepherd, Jesus Christ?
Jesus is the light of the world and instructs us to be lights as well ===> How’s my light? Is it dim, off, or shining bright?
We were all given talents ====> What are my talents? Am I using them in a way that pleases God?
Jesus overcame the world ===> Am I an overcomer when facing problems, trials, and temptations?
Sin separates me from God ===> Is my garment still spotless and clean? Do I truly know and do what pleases and displeases God?
Before praying I am supposed to settle all disputes ===> Could it be that my prayers are not reaching God when I have unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, or other sins in my life?
Being a follower of Jesus Christ means being a soul winner ===> How am I contributing in spreading the Gospel?
The Holy Spirit is on earth. The Father appointed him to be my helper, comforter and teacher ===> How well do I know him? Do my thoughts, words, and actions draw him close to me or chase him away?
The Bible is the living word of God. It’s a super food. In these dark times I must not be only physically but also spiritually strong ===> Is my soul man being fed or starving?
The blood of Jesus is powerful ===> Do I invoke and apply it?
Jesus fasted and prayed ===> Do I follow his example? It’s time to extend my prayer list and also fast and pray for the needy, lost, depressed, sick, suicidal, and those who hurt me.
They shall know us by our love ====> As a Christian I am called to be a reflection of God who is love. I must learn to love my neighbour as myself. May all my actions be rooted in selfless love.
Beloved, God needs you. The harvest is ripe and this dark world needs one more light: yours. Turn on your light. Rekindle your godly fire and fulfil what God has written in his heavenly book about you for this time. Cooperate with the Father on his terms. Time is short.
Maria T. Nagel is a wife, mother, inventor, author, and Illustrator. She is originally from Cameroon and currently lives with her family in Vienna, Austria. Maria went on mission by herself to the Philippines, China, and the Bahamas to share the gospel. Her eBooks for children are available free of charge in over 15 languages on her website.
Are you stuck at home due to the CoronaVirus? So am I, but once it is over I am looking forward to enjoying a lovely holiday somewhere special. You may be too.
BUT THE COST!!! And leaving your house empty carries many risks.
Don’t worry. We can help.
Christian House Sitters was started in order to provide rent-free vacations for Christians and reliable house sitters for homeowners who need someone they can trust to look after their home, pets, and garden while they are away.
Through a free registration with Christian House Sitters, we can help you go away feeling safe and secure knowing that your home is being looked after and, if necessary, your pets are being cared for and loved in their own home. Christian House Sitters offers rent-free vacation accommodation to our members all over the world.
Houseowners do not pay anything to have their property listed. House sitters are only charged £25 per year. In return for this, many enjoy numerous rent-free vacations each year.
We all enjoy travelling to new places, but accommodation can be very expensive. God designed us to take time off occasionally—we all need a holiday. Our spiritual, mental, and physical health benefits from having a break. We become more efficient as Christians and in our home and work lives. Christian House Sitters can help you do this. I hope you will visit our website to learn more about how it all works.
God bless you,
Recently Available Rent-Free Holidays through Christian House Sitters
Top Row: Gloucester England, New Zealand, Peak District England
Second Row: QLD Australia, Wisconsin USA
About Ray and Marilyn White
We are Marilyn and Ray White, a fun-loving Christian couple who have been in Christian work for over thirty years. Marilyn was born in England but moved to Zimbabwe as a baby. At the age of sixteen, she moved to South Africa. Ray was born in South Africa and grew up on a farm. We met in Johannesburg and got married in 1966.
Ray worked in business for many years. Then he worked for Youth for Christ in South Africa then went on to Bible College and pastored a church. In 1982 we moved from South Africa to England, where we now live in Somerset.
In addition to his theological training, Ray trained in psychology. Marilyn is also a trained counsellor and manager. In addition to the counselling, we trained Christian counsellors both in our local area and by invitation in other areas of the UK. In total over 700 people completed the training courses. Many are serving the Lord by working in or through their local churches. We also ran a secular Stress Management business.
We are now retired and focus our time and attention on Christian House Sitters (CHS), Home of Peace (the children’s home that is supported by CHS), TLC Children’s Trust TLC Children’s Trust (the charity that handles all the income from CHS and all funds for the children’s home).
Ray also has an active ministry preaching at various churches and running seminars by invitation. He served as a member of our Church Leadership Team for many years until we moved from Sussex to Somerset. He has written three books.
The age of the earth is an absolutely crucial topic in the controversy between evolutionists and Bible believing creationists, but it is not the real issue. In general evolutionists understand better than many Christians that the repeated assertion of long ages for the universe and earth itself casts doubt upon the veracity of Scripture. When that assertion is accomplished in the mind of an individual, then it naturally follows to have doubts about the veracity of the rest of the Bible, and the authority of Scripture is overturned.
So how can the Earth be dated? Rocks cannot be dated by appearance, chemical content, the order of the rock layers or by index fossils. Index fossils are said to be specific fossils that are characteristic of specific rock layers. The problem for the evolutionary model is that the order of the rock layers and of fossils in the rock record is not consistent from place to place.
Indeed in many locations layers according the secular geologists representing tens or hundreds of millions of years are missing in various places. The Grand Canyon has great examples of this, one of which is where the Coconino Sandstone directly rests upon the Hermit Shale. When you look at the contact between these two layers, it is level and so tight not even a razor blade can be inserted between them. There are no signs of unevenness, no erosion, for hundreds of miles. It is impossible for millions of years to pass with no unevenness developing. The simple explanation is that the supposed missing time simply never existed.
The attempted scientific fallback position lies in radiometric dating, using pairs of elements, a mother element, which is unstable and is therefore radioactive, and a daughter element, produced by decay of the nucleus of the mother element. A common example is the decay of uranium to lead. This method is unreliable because it depends upon three assumptions which cannot be observed, but which can be disproven.
The first assumption is that there was no daughter element in the sample when it came into existence. There is no way to know this, except for one special situation. The second assumption is that the rate of decay of the mother element has always proceeded at the very same rate at which it is measured to occur today. This has been disproven by elegant experiments. Go to https://www.icr.org/rate/ for details. The third assumption is that nothing ever entered or left the specimen to alter the ratio of mother element to daughter element. This also is unknowable, and in the case of Carbon-14/Carbon-12 this assumption has been disproven more than once.
When samples of known age have been dated using radiometric methods, the results are seriously in error. New rock formed after the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens measured 30 years later should have shown it to be around 30 years old, but standard radiometric dating gave the significantly incorrect date of 350,000 years. This is just one of many examples of wild disagreement between known dates with calculated dates using radiometric methods. Since this is the case with samples of known ages, how can we have confidence in dating of samples of an unknown age?
So how do secular geologists date rocks? You ask’ “How old is this particular rock?” The answer is, “300 million years because of the fossils we find in it.” You then ask, “How do you know the age of that fossil?” The answer is, “300 million years because of the rock it is found in.” Do you see how this works? Circular reasoning. The dates of the rock layers are arbitrarily assumed, in order to create a record of deep time, which is necessary to provide for long, long ages, to give evolution enough time to happen, since it is so improbable. Attempts are made to find dates by radiometric methods that are consistent with the assumed dates. Different pairs of mother-daughter elements give widely different dates from the very same sample, so the number most consistent with the desired date is cherry picked, to “prove” its age.
However, there are many methods that provide ages consistent with the biblical time frame of less than ten thousand years, even close to the six thousand year age of the universe and Earth given by the chronologies in Chapters 5 and 11 in Genesis. Some examples are the strength of Earth’s magnetic field, the decay of comets, the erosion of Niagara Falls, coral reef growth, sodium, potassium and uranium in the ocean, and spiral galaxies.
Scientific data from observations confirm what Scripture gives us about the age of Earth without relying upon assumptions. After all, the author of the world is the author of the Word. He does not contradict himself.
Joseph Kezele studied the sciences and music at the University of Arizona, while earning his B.A. in Russian in 1971, and his M.D. in 1975. He then completed a Pediatric Residency and practiced Emergency Medicine for 25 years in the Phoenix area, and was a diplomate of the American Board of Emergency Medicine and fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians. He is now retired from the practice of medicine, serves as President of the Arizona Origin Science Association, and is Associate Professor of Biology at Arizona Christian University in Glendale, teaching Human Genetics, Nutrition and Wellness, Biochemistry, Pathophysiology, Organic Chemistry and Creation Science Apologetics. Dr. Kezele has also been named a Logos Research Associate, and had the privilege of participating in a dinosaur dig in Montana and excavated a triceratops horn and the triceratops cervical condyle from which Mark Armitage isolated intact osteocytes in soft tissue.
He has participated in 24 foreign mission trips, teaching medicine, standard evangelism and creation science evangelism in India, Zambia, Mexico, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Ukraine, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Armenia and Moldova. Dr. Kezele is one of the principle presenters in the Institute for Creation Research’s 4 DVD series Made in His Image.
Dr. Kezele teaches Creation Science Evangelism at Black Mountain Baptist Church in Cave Creek, Arizona, where he and his wife Patty attend. Their three adult children live and work in the Phoenix area.
Money makes the world go around or does it make us drown in pride, selfishness and debt?
The subject of money seems taboo. We don’t want to talk about it with our aging parents or our friends. We hold onto it as if our life depends on it or we squander it anticipating that someone will ride in on a white horse and pay off all of our irresponsible behavior.
Let’s get real. Money gives us our security, puts our minds at ease and affords a sense of dignity. Why we don’t talk about it or get educated so that we can handle it responsibly? Several factors play into our emotional state around this subject and we have to recognize it’s not just paper.
The Bible tells us to be anxious for nothing. This should include our financial situation. Since the Bible discusses money frequently, we as believers should be examples for others to follow. Unfortunately, that isn’t necessarily the case.
73% of Americans are dying in poverty. 80% of Americans are in debt. If 50% of the population declares themselves to be Christian, then at least 23% are dying in poverty and 30% are in debt. As Christ followers we need financial wisdom for financial freedom.
It all starts with mindset
The wisdom book tells us to not be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). Many are falling prey to the sabotaging system of the world and thereby losing peace.
If our mindset shifts to following what God’s word proclaims and we also stand on His promises, then abundant living is our destiny.
The world’s thoughts look like this:
I’m afraid I won’t have money in the future so I hoard what I have. I’m stingy and won’t give.
I’m entitled to have this and since I want it, I’ll take it today. I’ve worked or my parents have so I’m owed.
The world revolves around me. If I’m not happy then no one should be. I deserve to be happy.
I have to keep up with everyone on Instagram. My life should match or exceed that of others.
Whatever it takes for me to have, I’ll do. I’m struggling so integrity and character go out the window.
I can handle money. I don’t need instructions. I don’t need anyone telling me what to do.
Well honestly, you only live once so I need to enjoy it.
The world’s system has many in modern day slavery trying to make bricks without straw. Struggling single family households stretch the dollar to pay for necessities but sometimes don’t categorize luxuries accurately. We use the convenience of credit cards and debit cards to buy now what we can’t afford with the false expectation that in the future we will have it covered. Our government continues kicking the can to the future generations as debt continues to mount at a rate we can’t envision. Credit card companies have found a way to invest their money and get 20% interest and that’s getting you to pay them. Most companies have their hand out to collect what seems a small amount monthly but the bill adds up. We are addicted to high priced coffee, beauty enhancements, technology upgrades, movies on demand and the like.
So how do we get off the world’s merry-go-round? We look to the wisdom of God! We take control of our money and change our mindset. We become responsible stewards. We make decisions today with our future in mind. We stop competing with others and recognize our journey is designed for us by God and running our race in our lane is all that’s required. We get a financial foundation of education so that we see clearly the systems set up so we can avoid the traps. We get a clear understanding of our income and our debt and we balance our budget. We get a plan to reverse the irresponsibility and get out of debt. We engineer our way to financial freedom.
The result – peace, security and dignity!
The question isn’t whether we need to be educated on what the Bible says about money. The question is when…
When will enough be enough?
When will the sleepless nights over finances rob us enough of our peace?
When will our relationship struggles over money force us into education?
When will the feeling of being trapped and isolated be enough for us to get our heads out of the sand and seek help?
When will the cost of anxiety, shame and/or guilt rise above the cost of the price of assistance?
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable… (2 Timothy 3:16)
I confess. There are days when I just want to power down all my electronics and
escape from the world. I know (as I sit at a computer and type) that technology has
its benefits. But there are drawbacks as well. It seems as though we are constantly
exposed to a world of dysfunction.
Today, we struggle with unjust business practices, an over-sexualized culture, and
toxic politics. Middle-class opportunities are slipping away. Gone are the days
when young children could maintain their carefree innocence at least into junior
high school. And as much as we look to our political parties to build roads to a
better future, our political system has proven its inability to even fix itself.
What would you think if I told you that the Lord has a plan to improve our lot, and
it isn’t all that complicated? Would you believe me? Would you want to get
The principles are quite simple. God’s plan for a better tomorrow involves His
people coming together with one heart and in one Spirit to pray.
The Body of Christ
If we consider the reasons that the church has lost so much influence in our culture,
there is one that quickly rises to the top of the list: we are divided. Jesus once said,
“Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself fails” (Matthew 12:25 NASB).
If we understand the nature of Christ’s body, we recognize that all genuine
followers of Jesus are members of the church. There aren’t many churches in a
community, but rather one church with various expressions.
We might say that we separate ourselves for biblical reasons, but if our theology is
truly accurate, shouldn’t we be coming together rather than breaking apart?
I am not suggesting that we ignore sin or avoid difficult conversations, but that we
honor our Lord’s directives to preserve the unity of the Spirit and to build up the
body of Christ.
Neither am I saying that our beliefs are inconsequential. Rather, our unity is found
not through uniformity but through Christ and Christ alone. We truly are brothers
and sisters in Christ, members of His body, and members of one another. And as
we come to pray, the Lord imparts an anointed blessing of life to transform our
Community Prayer Initiative
It is with this mind-set that Search for Me Ministries, Inc. has created the
Community Prayer Initiative. The initiative itself is not complicated. Church
leaders in a community use the Community Prayer Devotional to facilitate thirty
days of united prayer within their communities. And as momentum grows, other
steps to bless the community can be prayerfully taken.
The Community Prayer Devotional accomplishes three primary purposes:
1. It draws the people of God in a community together.
2. It actually gets them praying.
3. They pray with one voice about the same issues.
Search for Me Ministries has endeavored to make the Community Prayer Devotional accessible to all. Free PDF copies can be downloaded from Smashwords.com. The Amazon Kindle version is only .99. And paperback copies
“personalized” for a community can be purchased at a significant discount. (Please click here for more information.)
No doubt, we live in a challenging and tumultuous era. But our good God has by
no means abandoned us. Exciting times are ahead for those who set their hearts to
pray with one heart and through one Spirit!
Bob Santos is the founder and president of Search for Me Ministries, Inc.—a ministry devoted to helping to form and equip a generation of world changers for Christ. Bob has written eight books which all touch on topics relevant to spiritual growth. He and his wife Debi live in Indiana, PA and have two adult children.
How do you find your place within the people of God? Are you the eyes? ears? hands? feet? Or, maybe you are the heart, the liver, or the pancreas?
What does this anatomy quiz have to do with God’s people? Everything!
First Corinthians 12 says that the church is the body of Christ, and we, individual believers, are members (or parts) of that body. Each part is essential–just as our eyes and our pancreas are essential to our lives–to the healthy functioning of God’s interdependent people.
We have each been given unique spiritual gifts to equip us to do the things that God calls us to do. What gifts have you been given? Do you even know what your gifts are? Every believer in Jesus has at least one spiritual gift, usually more than one.
Have your gifts shifted since the last time you paid attention? Or, does it feel like yours are less important? Scripture tells us that each of us plays a crucial role—no one is more or less important than another. How can your gifts be used to glorify God and accomplish His work in the world?
So, are you the eyes—the person who notices everything, who sees people? The ears—someone who listens intently, who hears…or the inner ear—do you bring balance to the Body? Are you the hands—the one who helps, builds, crafts, touches? The feet—the person who feels compelled to go, to do, to act? Maybe you are the heart—the pulsing energy, the compassionate empathizer, or the liver—the one who helps the church filter truth from lies or good from bad…
God made you and gave you a unique combination of gifts and talents and personality and passion to fulfill a unique role in the universe. He has a variety of places and purposes—custom-built for you. To find those places of “fit” takes effort, exploration, discernment, and the help of others.
The God. Gifts. You.: Your Unique Calling and Design six-week study guide is intended to help you, your small group, and/or your church live more fully into the adventure of being a community of Christ-followers. As you explore your calling, purpose, and discover and understand your unique, God-given spiritual gifts, you will see your whole life as ministry, not just what is done in the context of Sunday or church or even community volunteering.
Find something you love to do…and go do it! Find someone to do it with. Follow your passion, your gifts and your interests. God has blessed you to be a blessing. For more thoughts on gifts and involvement, explore the GodGiftsYou.com website. Take the spiritual gifts assessment. Look for where God is active around you and join Him.
Remember—you are a grace-giver to others: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).
Shirley Giles Davis is a consultant/facilitator/coach/author with more than 30 years of experience in each arena. She has expertise in non-profit, government, and business management, leadership, marketing, strategic planning, evaluation, and implementation. Shirley has worked with a diverse clientele, including large and small businesses, city and county governments, state and national organizations, and religious and secular institutions. Her communications and public relations proficiency was developed working for both radio and television stations for more than 20 years. She also works in curriculum development, navigating change, community-building, conflict coaching, volunteer management, and resilience-building. Through her equipping work, she has helped guide nearly 4,000 individuals toward a better understanding of their unique gifts, passions, and callings.
Shirley has been Director of Equip-Connect-Serve Ministries at a church of 1,200 in Boulder, Colorado since 1999, connecting people with opportunities to serve and places of learning and fellowship. Shirley and her husband, a university professor, have been married since 1982. They are the parents of two adult daughters who are both pursuing their passions on the global stage. At any given time, one or more of their family is traveling somewhere outside the U.S. Contact Shirley.
Have you ever been having a casual conversation with someone, when suddenly the topic shifts over to a personal circumstance they are struggling with that you have already walked through, but never told anyone about?
In that moment you have to make a split second decision: Do you share your story….or do you keep silent, providing a sympathetic nod, while hoping that person will simply move onto another subject?
There are 3 Dangers to consider when sharing your story:
You become invincible.
You may save a life.
You will fall more in love with Jesus
Now, if you are wrinkling your forehead in confusion wondering how those 3 items can be considered “dangerous,” I’ll let you in on a little secret….your story, when shared with others, is one of the most dangerous weapons you have against the lion that prowls around looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
An article on ChristianityToday.com in 2007 asked 1000 Americans three questions to discover their feelings about fear, shame, guilt, and other issues. The result of the survey was this: 38% said they avoid shame the most, while 31% said guilt and 30% said fear.”
Thinking about publicly sharing the story of your journey through any sort of brokenness can elicit all three of those emotions. Fear about what others might think of you; shame at some of the things you did; and guilt around the people you hurt or the consequences that happened because of your choices.
Keeping your story locked up deep inside you as a bad memory and former life you want nothing to do with is certainly one way to move on from that painful experience. But it’s also the perfect recipe for the Adversary to hold you hostage to your past anytime he feels like it.
Let’s go back to that split-second decision….
….Did you ever consider that one of the ways the Lord had always planned to bring
beauty out of the ashes of your past (Isaiah 61:1-3) was to use your story as a redemptive opportunity to help others in their present situation?
Your story is DANGEROUS TO THE ENEMY for all 3 reasons I mentioned:
1) You become invincible
You know that saying, “Only a fool would underestimate a man with nothing to lose” ? It is more than true…it’s powerful. There’s a deep peace that settles inside you – which becomes stronger than anything that can happen around you – when you experience the freedom of letting go of your past through sharing your story.
In a sense, you really do become invincible because no one (especially the devil) can twist the information to use it against you once you’ve shared it publicly the way you experienced it!
The same thing happens in the political arena all the time whenever a negative story is about to break wide open. The person at the center of the story can either remain silent and wait for the public backlash, or they can rush to the media to tell their version of the story first in an attempt to control how it’s perceived.
Being Invincible certainly does not prohibit some consequences of sharing your story. What it does, though, is provide a solid foundation of self-worth and inner confidence as you “face the music” of those who might not understand and choose to treat you differently because of your choice to share your story.
As sons and daughters of Christ, we have to remember that the Lord did not put us on this earth to simply live a quiet 70+ years and then off to heaven we go. He has a purpose for each of us, and sharing our stories is part of that purpose (1 Peter 3:15).
2) You save lives
“I’m fine.” How many times have you heard that response from others only to find out later that those very same people have been experiencing life altering challenges; keeping everything quiet because they are barely holding it together and afraid of what will happen if they let someone into their extremely difficult situation.
What those people need are assurances that they are not alone, and that the God of the Impossible has the power to step in and turn everything around for our good (Romans 8:28). I know…because the Lord sent me on a “Crazy” 12K+ mile Adventure across the U.S. to share my story in order to bring hope and provide encouragement to hundreds of people currently walking out a variety of incredibly difficult situations in their own lives.
As I traveled from state to state, I recognized the Lord had not coordinated that “Crazy” Adventure just for me, but rather as an incredible testimony of HIS faithfulness and desire to take care of all His kids because of how much He loves us.
A recent article on CNN.com shows a very concerning statistic: “The suicide rate in the United States continues to climb, with a rate in 2017 that was 33% higher than in 1999.”
It’s the second leading cause of death for those 15 – 24 years-old. Often that is because they get stuck in a mindset of hopelessness, feeling trapped in a cycle of emotional pain, causing them to withdraw which increases loneliness and exacerbates the hopelessness/trapped feelings. After a while, stopping the pain any way they can causes suicide to become a viable option.
YOUR STORY might just be the light the Lord has chosen to help them find their way back out of that very dark placeto potentially save their life.
3) You fall more in love with Jesus
This is the most interesting by product of sharing your story. With each re-telling to the next person the Lord brings your way who needs to hear it, you step into a sacred place of thankfulness which becomes a tangible awareness of His love for you, which leads to a deeper place of intimacy with Him. Just like human relationships (marriage or friendship), intimacy builds trust which then activates more faith in the other person, which breeds more love resulting in more intimacy thus naturally experiencing more love….repeat!
Deeper love and intimacy with the Lord means your identity is no longer focused on “you.” It is now focused on Jesus flowing through you. That shift means that every need you have is met in Him, freeing you to join the Lord anywhere He leads, helping anyone He brings to you, in any way He asks of you….without concern for the outcome or the consequences.
HE WILL TAKE CARE OF THE OUTCOME because of your willingness to step out in faith to partner with Him (Isaiah 46:4).
Will you prayerfully consider sharing your story?
Here’s an easy and no-obligation way to begin that leap of faith to (consider) sharing your story:
Kris Castro is passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around her by giving them hope, encouraging them in their challenging circumstances, and helping them transform their relationship with the Lord in a deeper way. She describes herself as a Faithful Warrior, an Inspiring Visionary, and a Bold Change-Agent after 50 years of walking with the Lord through both joyful and extremely difficult seasons of her life. Kris’s company, Shift Inc.™, creates possibility-rich environments filled with laughter, encouragement, and affirmation, leading to endless personal and professional growth opportunities. Kris helps others truly realize their identity in Messiah, achieve the destiny the Lord desired for their lives, enhance their potential, increase their confidence levels, and overcome obstacles more easily to achieve their heart’s desire in every area. She absolutely loves coaching, training and mentoring others in a deeply transformative way using the Holy Spirit her guide.
Why did God invent the church? Scholars have advanced various ideas. My own thinking goes back to the very beginning, and it builds on the way Jesus most often referred to God: as Father.
I have sometimes considered developing what I call a “theology of fun,” based on the idea that God created the universe just for the fun of it. Certainly nobody could force God to create! But I think there must be more to it.
Let’s start at the beginning. Not Genesis 1:1, In the beginning God created. . . .I want to get behind that, to why God created. To do that we have to look at God himself.
How many ways can you think of that God is described in the Bible? God is great, God is just, God is holy, God is good, God is merciful. God is our refuge and strength and salvation. God is a spirit and a consuming fire. All these are descriptions of God. But one verse is not a description, it’s an equation. 1 John 4:8 says, God is love.Love is God’s essence. It’s who God is.
What is the greatest characteristic of love? Love wants to share. It’s a relationship. Love must be shared, or it isn’t love.
Since eternity, God has shared love in the Trinity. One of the most basic understandings of Christianity is that there is only one God, but this one God exists in three persons: God the Father, God the Son (who came to earth as Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. Without this community of divine persons to share love, God could not be love.
God, who is love, has been sharing love since eternity. But God’s love is not only eternal, it’s infinite. It’s overflowing. God’s love wanted to overflow the Trinity.
What provides the greatest opportunity for an ongoing expression of love? A family – different personalities living together, adapting to each other, adjusting to each other, caring for each other, putting each other first. A family creates infinite possibilities for love. So God decided to create a family to share his love, with God and with each other.
God could have created us so that we had no choice but to love him, but that wouldn’t be real love. God could force us to act like we love him, but that wouldn’t be real love. Love is only real if it is freely given. God wanted to share real love. So God gave us free will.
Unfortunately, our free will doesn’t just give us the opportunity to freely love God. It gives us the opportunity to cause a lot of trouble as well. We see this in the very first human beings God created.
Adam and Eve shared love with God for a time. Genesis 3 implies that God used to enjoy walking with them in the Garden of Eden. But one day they exercised their free will to disobey God, and that time of innocent family fellowship was broken.
When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the LORD God among the trees. Then the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” – Genesis 3:8-9
God experienced the heartbreak of a father whose children turn against him and get lost in the world. Adam and Eve’s disobedience broke up God’s family. The whole rest of the Bible records God’s plan throughout history to bring his children back.
For a while God tried to relate to the whole growing human race, but they turned from God and became so wicked that God had to destroy them all in Noah’s flood (Genesis 6-8). He tried again with Noah’s descendants, but instead of trusting God, they built a tower and put their trust in it. They were unified, but not in God. To keep it from happening again, God confused their language, and the human race scattered across the earth (Genesis 11).
So God changed strategies. He decided to relate in a special way to one group of people, who would get to know and love him. Then they could invite the rest of the world into God’s family. God chose the children of Abraham, the nation-family known as the Hebrews, Israel, or the Jews.
King Solomon understood. He prayed at the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem that all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do (2 Chronicles 6:33).
God’s desire has always been to live among his people. When Israel wandered in the wilderness, God told Moses, Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them (Exodus 25:8).
When the Hebrews conquered the Promised Land and started living in houses, God approved David’s plan to build a house where God could live. It was called the Temple, and God filled it with his presence (2 Chronicles 6:1). For the next thousand years, a series of temples in Jerusalem were the focus of God living among his people.
Unfortunately, somewhere between Solomon and Jesus the Hebrews lost their understanding of what it meant to be God’s chosen people. They forgot God chose them as messengers to invite the whole world into his family. Instead, they began to believe God chose them to be the only members of his family. Instead of welcoming other nations, they scorned them.
So God started again, with Jesus. But this time membership in the family wasn’t by genes but by choice. The Bible says, Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children (Romans 9:8). “The children of the promise” are the church.
The church – all people, of Jewish or non-Jewish descent, who put their faith in Jesus – is now the family of God. And our loving Father has commanded us to bring as many people into the family as will accept the invitation. When we do that, we become the fulfillment of God’s desire to live among his people. Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16). Where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them (Matthew 18:20).
God so longs to live among his people that when we die, God takes us to live with him until the end of time. And at the end of time, when everything is put the way God wants it, where will God live? With his people.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.” – Revelation 21:3
God is not looking for a place to live in. He has that in heaven. God is longing for a group of people to live with. God’s plan in creating human beings was that we would be his family. Fulfilling that plan is what the church is all about.
Like any father, God desires a home where he can rest and be himself. Like any father, God desires to raise up children who will be like him. And because God is the ultimate and infinite Father, God desires for his children to bring other people to become part of God’s family – ideally, every other person in the world!
These three desires of God show us the three purposes of the church.
First, the church exists to create a loving family home where God can rest and be himself. Arise, O Lord God, and enter your resting place (2 Chronicles 6:41). The way we do this is traditionally called worship.
Second, the church exists to raise God’s children to be like their heavenly father. Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children (Ephesians 5:1). The way we do this is traditionally called discipleship.
Third, the church exists to equip God’s children to bring other people into God’s family. Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). The way we do this is traditionally called evangelism.
Everything we do as a local church – in fact, everything we do as Christians – should contribute to fulfilling one or more of these three purposes. How does your church stack up? Top of Form
The above is taken from the first chapter of Pastoring: The Nuts and Bolts, by David Wentz. A comprehensive, theologically and culturally neutral compendium of practical options and best practices for being a pastor and leading a church, Pastoring is being used in pastor training courses in Africa and Asia as well as the US. It is available in print or e-book at www.books2read.com/pastoring. Scripture verses are from the New Living Translation.
About guest blogger David Wentz:
Serving as a pastor since 1981 has honed David’s passion for helping people connect with God and make a difference.
Add a varied church background, a first career in engineering, and graduate degrees from three very different seminaries (charismatic, mainstream and Wesleyan-evangelical) and you can see why he expresses God’s truth in ways everyone can appreciate.
Raised in the Episcopal church, David has also been part of Nazarene, Pentecostal Holiness, and non-denominational congregations. As a United Methodist pastor he has served small, large, and multi-cultural churches in rural, small town, suburban and urban settings. David served as a regional church consultant in the Maryland – D.C. area and has led workshops for pastors in Turkey. In 2015 he retired to the rural Ozarks, where he writes, works in God’s great outdoors, and continues to pastor part-time.
David earned a B.S. in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia; two Masters of Divinity, one from Melodyland School of Theology and one from Wesley Theological Seminary; and a Doctor of Ministry in Christian Leadership from Asbury Theological Seminary.
In his spare time David enjoys playing sax and flute in jazz and blues jams (though those are hard to come by in bluegrass country), and writing worship music with his guitar.
His heroes are John Wesley, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr. (And for you old baseball fans, Brooks Robinson.)
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and you shall be witness to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”
Is Christ On Trial?
Now and again, it looks like Christ is on trial. There are a lot more publications concerning the earthly life of Jesus than on any other figure in history. Yet people still doubt His coming to the earth.
The death of Jesus Christ is the most detailed, yet millions of people consider His death a myth.
The Bible records Christ’s resurrection and ascension, but many people trash such accounts. As a result, individuals treat lightly the return of Christ.
Christ Before another Court!
Much as Jesus’ death was God’s plan, the practical execution of His death was a court decision. Even after Jesus’ resurrection, the authorities made deliberate efforts to conceal the facts around His resurrection.
The chief priests and elders bribed guards of the tomb to report falsely that the disciples stole Jesus’ body.
Will You Be Recruited?
Because of the legal attempts to defeat the testimony and Life of Jesus, it makes sense that Jesus promised to empower His disciples, so they become His witnesses. By all means, Christ’s witness should be stronger than the deceit against Him.
You are that witness. You should covet the power of the Spirit, so your life can persuade men and women against the deceit of the devil regarding faith in Christ.
A Serious Matter!
Christ needs a witness where you live and thank God you are right there! How you present the gospel determines the eternal destiny of men and women. That is the extent of your influence. It is an eternal influence.
Nothing is as devastating as a silent witness. You’ve got to speak out. Put out a cause for Christ.
What Is Your Identity?
People know you by your political affiliation. You have identified with the tribe you come from or the football club you support. And people know these things concerning you because you are vocal about them. Yet you are almost silent about your faith in Christ.
Today, I set a challenge before you. Ask God for the power to witness to both known and unknown places. The time is now to employ a portion of your resources to sponsor the preaching of the gospel to places distant and near.
Above all, let your lifestyle witness for Christ. Jesus calls you to witness and be a witness. Many souls are depending on your witness.
Eryeza Kalalu is a pastor at Rivers of Life Healing Centre and author of Becoming an Influence, which is book 1 of a devotional series. He is married to Geraldine and they are the proud parents of a son.
His goal is to inspire men and women to dominate their spheres of influence. Above all, he wants to show the world how one can impact the earth whilst certain of his or her eternal destiny, which is anchored in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and how to impact communities without compromising godly principles.
Eryeza came to Christ when he was little. He has since never looked back. He has now grown, learnt many lessons, raised through the ranks Church ministry. He has made observations, studied and researched the Scriptures, and made conclusions on several concerns of life. His passion is to pass on those insights and principles to as many as he can. This is now the driving force behind his preaching, teaching, training and writing.
He lives with his family in Uganda – a beautiful country, home to the source of the River Nile, which Winston Churchill named the Pearl of Africa. Find Eryeza at his website www.eryezakalalu.com, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Paul recounts the measure of commitment it takes to follow Christ with an authentic heart…[T]he authentic believer will weigh the cost of following Jesus.
The apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,” (New International Version). Considering his long-term ministry, which included tortures, stonings, illness, starvation and imprisonment, among others (see 1 Thessalonians 1:21-17 for a list of sufferings he endured), this is a remarkable conviction to hold.
I think Paul was able to write this way because he understood 1) the impact of the Gospel in his life and 2) the measure of commitment it takes to follow Jesus with full devotion.
Unfortunately, the understanding that Paul displays, I think, escapes most who promote the Christian faith. For the most part, our devotion stops at our carnal natures. For some “would-be” Christians, pride in what they know (or think they know) about Christ, rather than esteem for Christ Himself blinds them from the Truth of the Gospel. Others ascribe to the notion of being a “good person,” considering this a mark of salvation. Still others justify sinful living, excusing themselves because they hold to a Christian (or “Christian-esque”) worldview. Instead of coming to the Throne Room of Christ in humility, too often we take snippets of the Truth and cut and paste them however we see fit, reducing Jesus to a caricature and discipleship to a formula.
Paul recounts the measure of commitment it takes to follow Christ with an authentic heart in Philippians 1. This cost is rarely communicated and more rarely accepted. Regardless, the authentic believer will weigh the cost of following Jesus and commit to the following:
This is not something that our western world wants to believe. Quite the opposite actually. We are bombarded with messages about how we are due what is owed us or how we should hold to our individual rights. The problem arises when we hold to these values, and then confronted by Christ–who commands His disciples to deny our very lives to follow Him (see Luke 9:23-24)–we are required to surrender, to succumb.
Paul wrote in Romans 6:2-4 (NIV),
We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
We must remember that Christianity is not about making Jesus our Lord and Saviour. It is acknowledging the Lordship of Christ over us and surrendering to His Will, and giving up rights to our own. Surrender is God’s call to the sinner, a call that Michael Beck states is “to those who are still fighting His rule.” Yet, the believer’s life is one that reflects surrender by “put[ting] up no residual battle once we have fully accepted the reality of the Holy Spirit’s control,” (P. C. Walker).
Where surrender is to succumb to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, submission is our allegiant response to it.
For many in our society, submission is a negative term, denoting some kind of tyrannical force is at play. Rather, to submit under Christ is to concede willfully to Him, while remaining free to rebel just the same. Submission is the call to the saint to obey even when logic, emotion or the empirical counteract.
In short, understanding submission as obedience when it doesn’t make sense can be summed up in one word thematic in Hebrews 11–“faith”. Faith to obey in the goodness of God is a choice that bears much fruit. For beginning believers, submitting in obedience will be harder than for those who have walked with the Lord for longer. This is because, as we become more familiar with the goodness and loving character of God, the experience we gain is something on which we can rely. Therefore, submitting under God’s rule becomes more natural.
Submission is a requisite of the surrendered life. For by submission, we are moving toward holiness and away from rebellion. It is functional faith–the doing of our belief in Christ as Lord.
Once more, the words of Paul chime, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1 NIV).
The sacrifice is the most humble method of worship as it is the giving up of something valuable in order to give worth to something else. To worship anything is to proclaim its worth (worship = worthship). This is certainly a call of the believer and it is certainly not without cost.
The authentic disciple will learn to live sacrificially, esteeming Jesus Christ above all, whether materials, relationships, beliefs, even principles. Living sacrificially does not necessitate that we forfeit such things. However, we are called to value Christ to the point where we would forfeit materials, relationships, etc. in light of the worth Christ has in our lives (see Matthew 10:37-39). A simple way to know how much worth we ascribe to Christ is by evaluating our willingness to forfeit all other things we hold dear in exchange for Him.
One thing, in my experience, that makes western Christians squirm is the biblical calling to suffer, as Paul continues in Philippians 1. He states, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:29 NIV).
Suffering is to lay down our own well-being or self-interest in order to bring God glory.
A. W. Tozer once regarded sanctification (the process of becoming godly) as suffering:
In human experience [the self] is made of living spiritual tissue; it is composed of the sentient, quivering stuff of which our whole beings consist, and to touch it is to touch us where we feel pain. To tear it away is to injure us, to hurt us and make us bleed. To say otherwise is to make the cross no cross and death no death at all. It is never fun to die. To rip through dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but painful. Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus, and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free.
Yes, the call to suffer for Christ involves the continuing pain of exposed sin and repentance. As the Holy Spirit convicts us, we must learn to relinquish those things that we have worshiped, loved and on which we have become dependent that take God’s place as Lord. These could be the things as mentioned above, but also the carnal patterns in our lives that God regards rebellion.
We are called to remove these things that have become normal in our lives. When they are removed abruptly, it is as unsettling as a sliver removed from under the skin. But this is the suffering that occurs when we are committed to godly living.
It is when we are responsive to suffer in this way that we can take on the suffering as stated in 1 Peter 4:1-2 NIV:
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
Weighing the Cost
We as Christians must weigh the cost of our life under Christ’s rule by consider the 4 S’s: Surrender, Submission, Sacrifice, and Suffering. For when we weigh these things, others can truly know where our allegiance lies and will not wait for us to confirm nor deny our position with God. It will be clear by our lives that the Gospel has impacted us and that our response is to follow Jesus with full devotion.
About Matt Giesbrecht, Guest Blogger
Matthew Giesbrecht (BTh) and his wife live in Southern Manitoba, Canada. They have two small children. Matt has always aspired to be a writer, and it is his greatest joy to use his talents for the goodness of his Heavenly Father.
Matt’s passions have led him to try his hand at blogging about his faith walk on his page Chronicles of a Broken Saint. He hopes that his inklings will inspire others to place their faith in Jesus Christ. Matt understands that faith in the One called Truth is not easy in our culture of so-called relativism, but that it is an exercise of surrender, humility, obedience and wonderment. Chronicles of a Broken Saint centers on these real life faith issues.