Staying Inbounds

Staying Inbounds

“Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set.”   Proverbs 22:28 (NKJV)

Inbound

Lately I have noticed so much being said about “The Emerging Church” that I wonder if anybody even remembers the actual concept behind church. Thanks to social media there has been much put out there by friends just sharing what they read about how the church is straying and buying into another Gospel that it boggles the mind. Even I belong to a few “social media” groups that claim good sound Biblical doctrine but that doesn’t stop the “knuckleheads” from creeping in…”For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4) There wasn’t social media when this was written in Jude (back when it was called Face to Face) but it is still true centuries later.

So that doesn’t mean we should cast a wary eye on everyone who come into our churches when they are looking to become a part of a church and then hopefully part of the body of Christ. I even think we have gone as far as to having our language amongst ourselves so complicated that when someone who needs the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ on a beginners level comes in and hears us talk they can’t relate and then wind up going to a place that can tickle their ears without them knowing about it. We can chase people away simply because they can’t relate to our five points of Calvinism’s and the eight; no wait nine, dispensations that we discuss right out in the lobby. Or maybe we’re just too churchy with our Sunday morning faces that the new believer can see past the plastic and thinks they can’t fit in.

Well that’s not how the Apostle Paul saw it, oh no…so much so that I dare share it like this, “Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-

saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!”—1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (The Message)

And yes I have just used “The Message”.  Not to be sarcastic, however, but to pull something out, the phrase “I kept my bearings in Christ.” That tells me that I need to keep my moral compass set on the things of Christ; because that is the main thing to me. King Solomon said, “Don’t cheat your neighbor by moving the ancient boundary markers set up by previous generations” and it really speaks to the ownership of land, to me the boundary marker has been set up by Christ and the “religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever” needs to see that in me. And the only way to do that is to meet them at their level and introduce them to The Cross and let Jesus Christ raise them up to His level.

I like this phrase also, “I didn’t want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” Being part of a church is an important thing to me but being a member of the Body of Christ is something totally different. My fellow Freedom Fighter writer, Rob Russomano, has said at times that he “gets the privilege” to do for the body of Christ. I think that’s where we all need to be. Not so much that this puts us in some club with a silly handshake but part of “The Club” that puts us out there bringing the lost to a saving grace knowledge of Jesus Christ. It will be to this effect that we won’t need to put special “MEME’s” on our social media pages to warn people of an EMERGING doom. The Message will be simple and they will know we are Christians by our love. Amen? Chris Hughes is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and blogs weekly for Freedom Fighter. You can email him at cphughes515@verizon.net

Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 34-35; James 3

Think About This: “You and I are going to be one in the Name of the Lord and stand our ground against the enemy! There we have something altogether different from the attempt to get on with one another on a natural basis; we have a dynamic for fellowship. We have to get on with one another in the Name of the Lord, or else the Lord’s testimony is not established.”—T. Austin-Sparks

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: For the honor of your name, O Lord, forgive my many, many sins. Psalm 25:11

Characteristics of a Servant According to God’s Heart

Characteristics of a Servant According to God’s Heart

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28

Servant heart

If we are honest, we are all servants at one point or another. If you serve in the work environment, as an employee we serve our boss, or if an employer, we are called to serve our staff. In marriage, we are to serve each other. As a parent, we need to have a servant heart with our kids.

Author Don Lessin in his book Abba Cry, (Dayspring) shares 31 characteristics of a servant according to God’s heart:

  1. The presence of the Lord rests upon his life.
    2. He speaks with power and authority.
    3. He loves what God loves.
    4. He seeks God’s purposes.
    5. He is fearful of displeasing God.
    6. He inspires trust.
    7. His word is true.
    8. He is deeply identified with God’s heart.
    9. He is the same with everyone.
    10. He does not minister legalism or licentiousness.
    11. He is wise in his walk.
    12. He takes people beyond themselves.
    13. He despises anything that hurts others.
    14. He proclaims his dependence on God.
    15. He is well balanced.
    16. He is efficient, but not at the cost to others.
    17. His life is in order.
    18. Jesus is His audience.
    19. He knows how to bear injustice.
    20. He loves the truth.
    21. His goal is to know God, and make Him known to others.
    22. He is not satisfied if he doesn’t give his best.
    23. He is an optimist, not a pessimist.
    24. His greatest passion is Jesus.
    25. He delights in giving.
    26. Others say of him, “That is how my God is.”
    27. He doesn’t exploit others.
    28. He respects other servants.
    29. He is always learning.
    30. His convictions are firm, although he can be flexible.
    31. He loves being nothing.

Was there something from this list that jumped off the page that you can say, I need to work on that? What were two or three that you will commit to work on? Bill Welte is President/CEO America’s Keswick

Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 31-33; James 2

Think About This: Let temporal things serve thy use, but the eternal be the object of thy desire. Thomas a Kempis

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. Psalm 25:11

Serving God in the Midst of Godlessness

Serving God in the Midst of Godlessness

Bind up the testimony, Seal the law among my disciples. (Isaiah 8: 16)

Isaiah served God at a most difficult time . The Lord revealed that, as a prophet, he would see his audience, outside of a small remnant, reject the word from God (6: 10-13). Even so, Isaiah remained faithful, preaching the message of His God over several decades under different earthly kings.

Think Victory_2 EDIT

How does one remain so faithful to such a God-rejecting culture? The key to remaining strong spiritually is found in verse 11 of our chapter, For the LORD spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people… To walk God’s narrow way in opposition to the broad way of the surrounding culture demands the resolve to love and obey our God. In his obedience Isaiah was mentoring others to walk the same path as he states, …among my disciples.

As the Word from God had gone forth and been rejected by the majority, God’s man determined that his mind would be stayed on the revelation of God and he declared further that he would go, To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word; it is because there is no light in them (v. 20).

To walk godly in a godless culture requires unwavering faith in the revelation of God as the Truth to be accepted and acted upon each and every day. Isaiah was able to remain faithful in the face of great opposition because he had been allowed a glimpse of God which revealed his own sinful and needy condition (chapter 6). Such an ongoing revelation is necessary for the disciple to understand the need of total reliance upon God. Jesus would state it this way, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me (Luke 9: 23).

Our revelation is God speaking to us through His Word. Our daily time in the Word and in prayer is our “conversation” with a God Who reveals His love to us in such a way that we grow in love toward Him. The outworking of this is a life of loving obedience lived out as light in the midst of the cultural darkness around us. Dr. Joe Olachea serves on the Board of Trustees at America’s Keswick and is the Senior Pastor of Lakes Community Chapel in Medford, NJ

Keswick, America’s  (2012-12-13). Real Victory for Real Life Volume 2 (Kindle Locations 2974-2987).  . Kindle Edition.

Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 23-24; 2 Thessalonians 3

Think About This: Evil is always suggesting some compromise. To listen to it is to remain enslaved. The only way into liberty is to leave the land of evil. G Campbell Morgan

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: The Lord judges the peoples; Vindicate me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me. Psalm 7:8

What Does the Lord Require?

What does the Lord require?

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 ESV)

There are always questions about the way we should apply to our life. There many discussions that believers have concluded to agree to disagree. And as I grow in the Lord the conversation varies determine to whom you talk to. However, universally there are some certainties in our found in the Word that are unavoidable and must be absolute.

Micah 6 8 II

Does the prophet ask the children of Israel a rhetorical question, because he answers quickly thereafter? The question is to prick the hearts of Israelites and any listener. The question is to those who really want to do well in the sight of God, and understand that there are some requirements.

  1. To do right: There is notion that we have no part in the work, and that is if individuals decide to work hard in kingdom business that we are taking a Catholic Church mentality, or a work based theology. God elected us through his mercy to do the good work in sharing and carrying the gospel to a lost world, as well as love each other toward the heavenly calling; this our reasonable service. We understand that our righteousness is through Christ, but are we upright in our attitudes, morality, and service to our Lord. Therefore doing good is not evil, but being good is not enough. Our heart must motivate us.
  2. Love Kindness: Some versions translate to love mercy. We love when we receive mercy and I personally love when someone is kind to me. But am I known for showing kindness and being a lover of mercy for other individuals. These are just a few of the fruit of the spirit that are mention in Galatians 5. The love God is encouragement that fuels our love towards one another.
  3. Walk humbly: God resist the proud, and gives graces to humble is warning as well as a promise. It all depends on where which position you’re in. Pride rears its evil head in many areas of our life, it shapes itself in various forms and is not always obvious to detect. I learn that I need outside accountability to give me honest assessment, and not be my own measuring stick. Jesus Christ is the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, and the great I Am. He entered in time, in the form of a baby, lived as man, amongst humanity. Beating, and humiliated without uttering a Word. This is the ultimate example of humility, and until we reach anything close to this, we have work to do.

Micah provides a nice blueprint toward a goal to do what pleases the Lord, but before any attempt, the reality is that we can do nothing without the personal relationship and faith that God can do it through you. Juan Mendez is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and serves there as a Chaplain. You can email Juan @ jmendez@americaskeswick.org

Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 23-24; 2 Thessalonians 2

Think About This: Slaves find freedom when released from their duties; children find freedom in doing their duty. John Owens

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: The Lord judges the peoples; Vindicate me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me. Psalm 7:8

Life Breaks Through: Joy Will Find a Way

Life Breaks Through: Joy Will Find a Way

Preserve me, O God, for in You I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from You.” As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all My delight.The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips. The Lord is My chosen portion and My cup; You hold My lot. The lines have fallen for Me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives Me counsel; in the night also My heart instructs Me. I have set the Lord always before Me; because He is at My right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore My heart is glad, and My whole being rejoices; My flesh also dwells secure. For You will not abandon My soul to Sheol, or let Your Holy One see corruption. You make known to Me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. ~ David, an oracle of Jesus, in Psalm 16

Love BreakthroughOh beloved, it is true. The life of this world will hammer you and strike you down. There is, within this sphere, a near-lethal dose of pain for each of us. And just as we get up, it tries to strike us down again.

Pain upon pain
Failure upon failure
Loss upon loss
Ache upon ache
Wish upon wish

We lay there, awash in the detritus of the fallen world, made worse by our adding to its waste. Nothing seems to work. We thrash and moan and try to get up out of the muck, but we gain no traction in our attempts. Nothing works.

The pain of life hammers in upon us. And nothing we do makes it any better. The only motivation we now have it seems is to make the pain go away. There seems no hope in any other approach. Yet, as we now work to numb the pain through whatever, a dull cynicism overtakes us, and any hope we had just bleeds away into the mire.

Something in us just finally breaks, and we fall over fully into the pit. We give up, and simply wish we could die. “Please G_d,” we say. “Please let me die. I can’t take this anymore. Are you even there?” And, while we don’t know it yet, this is the very best moment of our life to this point.

For, in coming to this place of despair, we are finally able to accept what G_d has intended for us all along. He does not want to soothe us while we lay in despair. No, rather He intends to slay us outright with Him and take us down through His same death He partook of – on our behalf.

In this moment, we do indeed die. But the most unexpected thing happens. The seed shell-husk of our old man cracks open and begins to pull away from the new center. One moment we were dying, and then we were dead. However, in some infinitesimal moment we have become more alive than we ever thought possible.

At first, we still sense all the hammer blows of the world around us (and in fact the blows never really end). Except now, the blows do not strike us down into some sort of dirty muck of our own making. Now, the blows drive us further into the Loving Hands of the One who has just set us free from the muck and our willingness to live in it.

Can we see it? In being driven towards G_d, we do not lose hope as before. No, now, the closer we are driven to Him, the more joyful strength He imparts onto us, and into us, to stand against the blows. He even fits us with an integrated full-armour protection system that is so effective we begin to nearly laugh at the attempts of the world to beat us down.

So, are you feeling the hope draining away? Perhaps your wish to die really does need to come true. Don’t take this into your own hands though, let Him do it. Don’t be surprised, though, if you do not fade out of existence. Instead, be assured that in allowing G_d to take you down through the death He has for you – you will indeed find a joyful and powerful life beyond measure. Tonight is your night beloved. Time to die. – Makala Doulos is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and is currently serving as pastor/teacher in Jakarta, Indonesia

Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 21-22; 2 Thessalonians 1

Think About This: One proof of the inspiration of the Bible is that it has withstood so much poor preaching. —A.T. Robertson

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: The Lord judges the peoples; Vindicate me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me. Psalm 7:8

Keswick Morning’s at Ed’s Desk

Keswick Mornings at Ed’s Desk

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)

Over the past few years when I would spend any length of time at America’s Keswick I would make it a point to stop in and have a sit down with the guy that headed up Guest Services, Ed Weiss. Not too sure how I really got introduced to Ed but over his time at Keswick I got to know a guy who I could call a brother. Early in the morning after coming back with my WaWa coffee I would find Ed at his desk beginning his day and he would tell me to take a seat. We shared a lot of things that would always end up with the both of us saying “But for the grace of God…” Those conversations have come to end, first by Ed moving on from Keswick and then, more recently, Ed moving on into glory.

Ed Weiss 2

I got the news while at work and it was very difficult to keep my emotion together. God, in His infinite wisdom, chose to take another close friend from me. Month’s earlier it was James Getz and in both cases I had to find a time and the place to shed a tear. I don’t cry very much but when I hear that someone who God used to sharpen me has gone home I feel as if something inside of me has come to an end. James and I were kinda similar with our view of the world around us but Ed came from a different direction but both always ended at the foot of The Cross. The one thing I told Ed that he would always have over me was he did “The Suit” way better than I could or even feel like, but that was never meant to diminish the servant’s heart that Ed had.

I think of Proverbs 27:17 when it comes to Colony brothers who leave an impact like Ed Weiss did. The KJV put’s it like this, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Basically saying brothers are to have conversation with each other to turn that frown…upside down. We need to keep our minds sharp so we are aware of the schemes of our adversary, to remind each other of God’s grace and the gifts that come from that so that as a band of brothers we can go out to love an unlovable world and do God’s work without prejudice. We need to be of good cheer when we do get to sharpening each other because there is a 180° turn in this and that is as “iron strikes iron and sharpens it, so a wrathful man irritates and provokes wrath in another.” So it is imperative that we remember that “as iron delighteth in iron, so a man rejoiceth the countenance of his friend”

Keep in mind that there is both the pleasure and the advantage of conversation. No man should think himself an island nor doesn’t it do him any good putting himself in a corner to read his Bible alone, thinking he is coming to any complete understanding of it.  Wise and profitable conversation sharpens men’s minds; it sharpens men’s looks, puts a briskness and liveliness into the countenance, and gives a man such an air as shows he is pleased himself and makes him pleasing to those about him. (very Matt Henry there) Good men’s graces are sharpened by talking with those that are good, and bad men’s lusts and passions are sharpened by talking with those that are bad. That’s just the long and short of it.

Even though we grew up in different worlds, Ed and I had some conversations that only could come from what Jesus Christ did in both of our lives, but what of the rest of you? Are you sitting down having coffee and conversation with a brother who is one with you in Christ even if he has come from the other side of the tracks? If you are that is absolutely bringing a smile on the face of Jesus but if that isn’t the case in your life I ask you to consider this,  “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12-13).  Jesus said this in His last conversation with The Apostles along with a great many things done to encourage them not to lose heart. I’ll be remembering Ed as the guy who reflected this…I hope you can say the same about a brother who encourages you not to lose heart. Amen? Chris Hughes is a weekly Freedom Fighter blogger and a graduate of the Colony of Mercy. You can email him at cphughes@verizon.net

Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 19-20; 1 Thessalonians 5

Think About This: “If you become a necessity to someone else’s life, you are out of God’s will. As a servant, your primary responsibility is to be a “friend of the bridegroom” (John 3:29). When you see a person who is close to grasping the claims of Jesus Christ, you know your influence has been used in the right direction.”—Oswald Chambers

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: The Lord judges the peoples; Vindicate me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me. Psalm 7:8

Don’t Fear Being Weak

Don’t Fear Being Weak

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

2 Corinthians 12 9 His strengthLast week I shared with you what happened on the day after my friend, Ed Weiss had his fatal heart attack.

The Lord continued to speak to me about my weakness and His strength through Dr. Paul David Tripp’s new daily devotional, New Morning Mercies – A Daily Gospel Devotional. Here is what he shared on February 19th

Don’t fear your weaknesses— God supplies all the strength you need. Be afraid of those moments when you think you’re independently strong. Admit it, you don’t like being weak. It’s not fun being the last one chosen to play on the team. It’s embarrassing to be asked a question you can’t answer. It’s frustrating not to be able to figure out the directions for assembling the furniture you just bought. It’s mortifying to forget that important appointment or the name of a good friend. It’s humbling to fail at a task, to drop the ball, or to make a promise and not be able to keep it. We don’t like getting lost or forgetting a phone number. We all hate those moments when we feel unqualified or unprepared. We don’t like being confused or not knowing. We covet the muscles and the brains of others. We all hate being afraid and wish we had more courage. In the face of heroes, we feel anything but. In the face of the accomplishments of others, we wonder if we have done much that’s worthwhile. We don’t like facing the truth that we’re all weak in our own ways. It is the universal condition of humanity. In a world where you are on your own, where you have to find your own way and independently build your life, weakness is a thing to be feared.

In a world where all you have in the end is your thinking, your drive, your performance, and your achievements, weakness is a thing to be regretted. In a world where you have no one to turn to for strength and few who accept you when you don’t have it, weakness is a thing to be avoided. But here is what you need to understand. Weakness is not the big danger to be avoided. What you need to avoid is your delusions of strength. Those assessments of independent strength are much more dangerous.

Are you confused? The fact is that we are all weak. We’re weak in wisdom, weak in strength, and weak in righteousness. Sin has left us weak of heart and hands. It has left us feeble and lame in many ways. But God’s grace makes weakness a thing to be feared no longer. The God of grace who calls you to himself and calls you to live for him blesses you with all the strength you need to do what he’s called you to do. The way to enter into that strength is to admit how little strength you actually have. Grace frees me from being devastated that I can no longer trust me because grace connects me to One who is worthy of my trust and who will always deliver what I need. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the L ORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright” (Ps. 20: 7– 8).

Tripp, Paul David (2014-10-31). New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional (Kindle Locations 1312-1332). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

So where are you feeling weak today? In what ways can you now rely on Him for His strength? I’d love to hear from some fellow travelers. – Bill Welte is President/CEO of America’s Keswick

Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 16-18; 1 Thessalonians 4

Think About This: Don’t fear your weaknesses— God supplies all the strength you need. Be afraid of those moments when you think you’re independently strong. Paul David Tripp

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: The Lord judges the peoples; Vindicate me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me. Psalm 7:8 NASB