Yellow boots on the road. A man standing on the road. The road arrow

Don’t Assume Jesus is with You: Luke 2:41-51

Yellow boots on the road

“43 But when the feast was over, as they were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but (because they assumed that he was in their group of travelers) they went a day’s journey. Then they began to look for him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” (Luke 2:43-46)

It is understandable that Jesus’ parents lost track of Jesus given they were most likely travelling in a large caravan full of family and friends from Nazareth to Jerusalem and back. If Jesus was hanging out with His cousins (possibly playing tag) then His parents could have easily lost track of Him. However, it is interesting that the text says that “they assumed” Jesus was still with their group. And this should be familiar to us all. How many times have we as Christians in America ventured off with our plans, and our goals, all while assuming that Jesus is with us? It is as though we presume that whatever we do Jesus will automatically endorse, offering His divine stamp of approval.

This can be seen in big and small decisions we make every day or through the materialistic and financial focus we operate by. We often are trying to climb the corporate ladder or accumulate more toys, like big houses and fancy cars. We just chase after our dreams and take for granted that God also wants that path for our lives.

Jesus’ parents are disrupted from this assumption when they realize that Jesus indeed was no longer journeying with them. How devastating it must have been to realize their child had been left behind in the big city (remember, they are small time country folk from Galilee), and they have no clue as to where He is. As a father myself, I can only assume that they felt helpless, vulnerable, broken, and scared. It is no coincidence that they must go three days in Jerusalem, because for them the loss of their child would have begun to feel like God had abandoned them in their despair.

After three days of searching, they finally decide to look in the Temple. Contrast the parents with Jesus. The parents are anxious and frantic while Jesus is hanging out, seemingly un-phased by this familial separation. Like any Mom, after realizing that their child is fine, Mary digs into Jesus, disturbed with how their child could put them through such agony. Jesus simply says “didn’t you know” that I had to be “in the things of My Father” (that’s the literal Greek translation). Again contrast the parents’ posture and approach with that of Jesus. The parents began assuming that Jesus was journeying with them. However, Jesus had actually intentionally aligned and arranged His life with, and around, the things of His Father. And there we find a timely challenge for us to follow after. May we, like Jesus, surrender our will to the Father and rearrange our lives and decisions around the Lordship of the Messiah. And may we join God in His radical in-breaking kingdom rather than assuming Jesus will go along with all of our pursuits.

Written by Dr. Drew Hart: Dr. Hart is a professor in theology at Messiah College, author of “Trouble I’ve Seen”, and an activist with ten years of pastoral experience. Dr. Hart recently spoke at a America’s Keswick this past summer with his father, Dr. Tony Hart.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 115; Proverbs 23

Daily Quote:God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing. ~C.S. Lewis

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

both hand cleaning glasses with cloth

A Bit Clearer

cleaning glasses “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” ~1 Corinthians 13:12

While watching my wife upgrade her prescription for her glasses I tried on her old pair of glasses. Wow! For a person that never checked his vision I was blown away at how much clearer the world appeared. The details, the rich colors, the ability to read a bit better. Then she received her new glasses, which were HD lenses, and just when I was captivated with the clarity of the sight from the first pair of glasses, these enhanced every element further. It was like transitioning from an old tube TV to LED flat screen or VCR tape to Blu-Ray disc.

This is a glimpse of how our walks unfold. By faith, We move through our Christian life growing more aware, more clearer, from the world and sin, to kingdom living and peace, from selfish ambitions to Christ centered love, from lovers of evil to loving God and His people.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

“I have found a desire within myself that no experience in this world can satisfy; the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” C. S. Lewis

I thank God that his promises are not limited to the world or elements that are seen, but our hope rest in a greater more eternal glory. We can only imagine!

Written by Juan Mendez: Juan is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and full-time staff member at America’s Keswick. 

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 114; Proverbs 22

Daily Quote: True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. ~C.S. Lewis

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

Old faded baseball scoreboard background

No More Scorekeeping

Old baseball scoreboard background

I’ve decided that if I had my life to live over again, I would not only climb more mountains, swim more rivers, and watch more sunsets; I wouldn’t only jettison my hot water bottle, raincoat, umbrella, parachute, and raft; I would not only go barefoot earlier in the spring and stay out later in the fall; but I would devote not one more minute to monitoring my spiritual growth. No, not one. ~Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in Him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him. ~Paul, The Least of The Apostles, in Colossians 2

Oh beloved, it is true. There is an accuser of the brethren. He is a liar. And beyond his continuous attempts to pull us back into remembrance of our failures (that we might repeat them – have no doubt about this), this liar has an accomplice.

Us.

The liar will tempt us towards the things that will kill us, and so will the desires of our flesh. And have no doubt that sin is a very bad idea. We can indeed kill ourselves in our stupidity. But worse, is that the evil one – and our religiously-minded flesh – will attempt to kill us off too.

Plus, sin takes us off of our main purpose now in Life. We have the opportunity to be the friend of G_d. This now, is never in doubt. But sin is painful to our souls, it is like poking ourselves in the eye, or hitting our finger with a hammer. It is, as the author says, “Grace is no more a license to sin, than electricity is a license to electrocute ourselves.”

So, yes, it is vital to see sin for what it is: Sin is that “self-ness” within me which is paid with death. It is such an enormous deal that Jesus Himself died to pay off the payment. It was a payoff so gargantuan that none other could have ever even come close to making this payment.

But, it is here where we miss it.

Can we see it? Jesus has bought a freedom for us that is so large, that condemnation (that of the accuser, or of our own false shame) is no longer appropriate. Jesus has given His very own blood for us. Jesus has experienced the death we could not have endured – and has triumphed gloriously over it all, that we would be free.

Free from condemnation

Free from worrying about our spiritual growth

Free from wonder about our standing with G_d

Free from the lies of the Liar

Free from my own screaming voice of shame.

Now, before you readers go off at think this is some sort of “feel good” gospel, this fool of a writer is going to ask you to do a little considering of your last failure. What helped pull you back into freedom? Was it you groveling in some sort of false guilt and condemnation? If your experience is anything like most of us, that kind of approach is just a path to further sin and pain.

However, now consider the time (hopefully many times) where you have honestly agreed with G_d that you are in need of the forgiveness, mercy, and grace He has already provided. Do you remember that sense of the weight of your failure falling off your shoulders as it is swallowed up at the foot of the cross? Yes, you may remember this, because any of us who have, are experiencing The Truth.

So, are you looking at a recent failure in your life? May i suggest something. Don’t. Because He doesn’t. Do not touch the foul thing of guilt and shame. It is a trap! It will do you no good. Tonight is your night. Time to believe you are forgiven, and loved, and free.

The word of knowledge was exceptionally sure that night, and the second minister and his wife marveled at the accuracy and truth in the prophetic word. The third couple stepped forward for ministry, and again the word of knowledge was present. The prophet spoke to the husband, revealing his past, present, and insight into his future. Then the man of God turned to this third minister’s wife. As he began to speak of her past, suddenly he paused. Then he said, “There was a very serious sin in your past.” The woman, with her worst fear upon her, turned pale and closed her eyes. The congregation hushed and moved to the edge of their seats.

Written by Makala Doulos: Makala Doulos is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 113; Proverbs 21

Daily Quote: The prophet continued, “And I asked the Lord, ‘What was this sin that she committed?’ And the Lord answered, ‘I do not remember!'” ~Francis Frangipane

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

anxious

Who Can Imagine Life Without Worry? THE WRAP-UP

 

anxious

“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” ~Matthew 6:26-27 (NLT)

Time to put this baby to bed. As you may know I’ve been covering something that can be a deterrent to our faith and that deterrent is worry. My friend Matt Henry says, “There is scarcely any sin against which our Lord Jesus more warns his disciples, than disquieting, distracting, distrustful cares about the things of this life.” Guess that’s his way of saying we shouldn’t be so worldly-minded and so much so that Jesus came right out and addressed it during the Sermon on The Mount. Jesus wants us to understand that we have a Kingdom value to God and that we need to stop questioning our worth in this world.

A great deal of us tend to dress ourselves in material security when we only need to put on the garment of Christ and suit up in the armor of God. Guess it’s a matter of answering a simple question…Can you serve two masters? Maybe for us it’s like having two jobs at once in order to make ends meet. Eventually one is gonna dominate the other depending on what can rule your ambition better. You can call it “Doin’ what I gotta do” all you want but misplaced ambition is a joy killer and when your joy is gone worry can flow into your life to fill the void. That’s why Jesus says “Therefore I tell you do NOT be anxious about your life…”

Now what do I mean by misplaced ambition? Well what I’m not saying is that planning ahead is foolhardy. J.C. Ryle (the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool 1880-1900) once said that “Prudent provision for the future is right; wearing, corroding, self-tormenting anxiety is wrong.” If all you live for today is to make sure you have a tomorrow Jesus pretty says you’re missing the point. “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Bottom line here is that worry is incompatible with the Christian faith (Stott) so when we worry about stuff that hasn’t happened we ain’t addin’ nuttin’ to our lives (well maybe acid reflux). It doesn’t make sense to carry a fear over something that may never happen…it stunts your growth of faith in what God has already planned for you.

This may be easy to read or write than to live out but we need to develop a true Christian ambition for God. I mean everyone is ambitious to be or do something. When Jesus took to The Mount that day it was to split anxiety down the middle. We have a false ambition where all its about is building up stuff on this earth and being bogged down by worrying if we’re gonna get what we think is ours. Then we have a true ambition where the spiritual matters and we strive to build up treasures in heaven. To quote John Stott on the matter, “In the end, just as there are only two kinds of piety, the self-centred and the God-centred, so there are only two kinds of ambition: one can be ambitious either for oneself or for God. There is no third alternative.”

I started a journey into a book titled “Laugh Again…Experience Outrageous Joy” and what I gleaned outta the whole thing was I let worry over an issue dominate my whole existence. My joy in serving the Lord was crushed and I wanted out from serving God’s people. My faith got seriously rocked and I wondered why I even bothered being in His House. I dove into my job with a fury that said “All that I got going right is this job” Man was I so wrong. Truth be told brethren I straddled the fence (was doing it for months) but my God loves me too much to have allowed me to stay that way…and God’s people wouldn’t leave me alone either. So what is a boy to do from this point forward? How about a little diddy from a guy who found his joy in the Lord while in prison?

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.” Amen?

Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 112; Proverbs 20

Daily Quote: So anybody who divides his allegiance between God and mammon has already given it to mammon, since God can be served only with an entire and exclusive devotion. This is simply because He is God; “I am the Lord, that is my name; My glory I give to no other” (Isaiah 42:8, 48:11) To try to share Him with other loyalties is to have opted for idolatry.” ~John Stott

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

millennials

How To Communicate With Millennials – Part #3

millennials

Well here is one more blog about communicating with millennials. I appreciate the guys who have shared that this discussion was helpful in understanding this generation that is so much a part of today’s world.

I want to finally answer the question: How do I communicate with millennials?

There is no magic bullet. I want to answer the question by asking YOU a question: How do YOU like to be communicated to/with?

That pretty much answers the question. With any generation the Bible lays a pretty solid foundation to help us with communicating. Proverbs is a classic book of God’s Word that addresses how much I need to think about my words and how I communicate with my words.

I don’t really think communicating with millennials is any different than communicating with the silent generation, the boomers, or busters.

But let me offer some insight: 

1. This generation will not be motivated by the false guilt that worked for some generations. I shared before that they don’t want to just talk about issues – they want to do something about it. Recently I was taken to task because it appeared that America’s Keswick was not addressing the who black/white/racism issue. Quite frankly I was stunned at the comment that was posted on my Facebook wall. The reality is that America’s Keswick HAS addressed these issues. This summer we had three black preachers share God’s Word for our summer conferences. Two specifically addressed the racism issues. Over the past 20 years, our ministry has become a ministry of color and every ethnic group. 50% of our Labor Day weekend guests were comprised of ethnic groups: Hispanic, Black, Asian and Indian. It was cool. My response to my critic was that we are not talking about it – we are living it.

All that to say is that if you want to motivate this generation – tell them the issues and then give them the freedom to use their giftedness to address that issue – not just financially – but hands on.

2. I am 62 years of age and I laugh because some of my “senior” friends still speak to me as if I was still 20 years old. Robert Hayes and I often joke that we must wear signs on our foreheads that read “ Village Idiot.” Sometime we are treated like we have no clue how to run a multi-millionaire non-profit ministry. So what am I say? The millennial generation are not just “kids!” They are educated, well-read, technologically equipped and connected, and eager to learn. Don’t come on to them as “I have all the answers and you are just a kid” mindset. Open your ears. Open your heart and let them verbalize what they are thinking. Listen to how they will solve a problem, address an issue, handle a task. Want a secret? Sometimes there ideas are even better than ours and you might be able to say, “Why didn’t I think about that?”

3. Focus on what’s right with millennials, not what’s wrong with them. They are far from perfect. But guess what – neither were we. The good old days were not necessarily all the good old days. My wife had to take me to task once in how I was communicating with our son, Zach. I was focusing in one all the things he wasn’t doing the way I thought he should. She looked me in the eye and said, “He’s a good kid. Keep this up, and you are going to lose him.” That really hurt and was a HUGE wake-up call. I wish I could tell you that I get it right with Zach all the time. But I have made huge progress – we’ll maybe you need to ask Zach that question.

So there you have it. I’d love to hear your feedback. Thanks for letting me share my heart.

Written by Dr. Bill Welte is President/CEO of America’s Keswick: He has been married to his child sweetheart for 40+ years, and has three married kids, one that is engaged, and 10 amazing grand kids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 111; Proverbs 19

Daily Quote: Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. RUDYARD KIPLING

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

Dekoration King`s crown

Who is Your King?

Golden royal crown

“Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” – 1 Samuel 8:19-20

In 1 Samuel 8, we see the people of Israel approaching Samuel to ask God for a king. This doesn’t seem like a big deal. All the other nations had kings, Israel was under constant attack, and Samuel’s sons had become corrupt judges who did not walk in the ways of the Lord. Someone looking at the situation from the outside could see how their plea for a king was warranted. The only problem was that they already had a King: God. In verse 7, the Lord says, “for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.” The people failed to recognize that God was their King, that he was sufficient, that he was their security, their protection, their justice, and their peace. Israel looked to the outside world and saw that other nations gleaned their confidence and security from a king, and therefore Israel sought to become like the outside world. Despite Samuel’s warning (1 Samuel 8:10-18) of impending oppression from the very king they sought, the people still insisted.

Who is your king? Who reigns over your life? Where do you turn when you feel threatened? What do you look to when injustices seem to be happening all around you? Who or what do you put confidence in when the difficulties of life become too much? Do you look to God as your conquering King or do you look to the world around you? It’s easy to become like the Israelites. It’s easy to look at the world around us and reason that we should find our comfort and security in the same way. We look to money, possessions, relationships, education and success to provide us with the security that can only be found in the King who already reigns over us. We try to replace God as king of our lives. We even boldly ask Him, as the Israelites did, to provide us with these God-replacements. We ask God to provide us with the amount of money that would make us comfortable or with the relationship that would make us feel loved. We ask Him to put into power the political leader who makes us feel the most at ease. We ask Him for the things we think we need to provide us with the sense of security we are looking for instead of resting in the sufficiency of His grace, His love, His wisdom, His presence.

Who is your king?

As we face the uncertainty of the future, let our confidence be in the one and only true King.

Written by Jim Lang: Jim is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and full-time staff member at America’s Keswick.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 108; Proverbs 16

Daily Quote: If you’re alive, there’s a purpose for your life. Rick Warren

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

~Romans 8:35-37

Hand reaching for the cloud in the sky

The Reckless, Raging, Impatience of G_d

Hand reaching for the cloud in the sky

First, if we continue to picture God as a small-minded bookkeeper, a niggling customs officer rifling through our moral suitcase, as a policeman with a club who is going to bat us over the head every time we stumble and fall, or as a whimsical, capricious, and cantankerous thief who delights in raining on our parade and stealing our joy, we flatly deny what John writes in his first letter (4:16)—‘God is love.’ In human beings, love is a quality, a high-prized virtue; in God, love is His identity. Secondly, if we continue to view ourselves as moral lepers and spiritual failures, if our lives are shadowed by low self-esteem, shame, remorse, unhealthy guilt, and self-hatred, we reject the teaching of Jesus and cling to our negative self-image. ~Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God

The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;

you shall never again fear evil.

“Fear not, O Zion;

On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:

let not your hands grow weak.

He will rejoice over you with gladness;

The Lord your God is in your midst,

a Mighty One Who will save;

He will quiet you by His love;

so that you will no longer suffer reproach.

He will exult over you with loud singing.

I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,

Behold, at that time I will deal

and renown in all the earth.

with all your oppressors.

And I will save the lame and gather the outcast,

and I will change their shame into praise

At that time I will bring you in,

before your eyes,” says the Lord.

at the time when I gather you together;

for I will make you renowned and praised

among all the peoples of the earth,

when I restore your fortunes

before your eyes,”

says the Lord.

~ from Zephaniah 3

Oh beloved, it is true. And we cannot even begin to comprehend it. Any way we try to grab ahold of this is to fall off into some sort of downgrading of G_d, or a false uplifting of ourselves. But, for us to not begin to see it, is to miss the very heart of our King.

G_d is Reckless.

Oh, you may very well say: “How dare you! G_d is perfect. He is infinitely patient. He is utterly holy. How could you use such a messy – and fallen – word in describing the Almighty!” And… you would be right. Perhaps it is the foolishness of a writer like this one, who has come to the end of his theological rope, to say that G_d is reckless, and impatient.

Or, is it really all of us who get it wrong?

The infinitely Perfect One who has bought us with His blood, has an agenda. He is about the work of making us like Himself. And this process, in the normal human being, is terrible. It involves the actual killing of a man that he might come alive as a wholly new creation.

And then, He doesn’t even slow down. He goes about crushing down all the old defenses our flesh had against Him. He rips our lives to shreds. He disorients us as He sets us on the paths of Life in Him. And to make things even more difficult, we find that our old ways become miserable if we even think about going back to them.

He seems to be in a terrible hurry.

He is.

G_d knows the end our lives from the beginning. He fully understands that our tiny little temporal existence is but a few clicks of a clock. We really do sprout up like late spring grass, only to be burned up in the wildfires of a hot summer. And so, this One who inhabits eternity has quite a clear picture of what needs to be done before our process of sanctification is complete.

But there is more.

Can we see it? G_d is in Love with you. He is absolutely delighted at the prospect of having you Home with Him one day. He is exultant over the prospect of sharing His Life with you forever. He is – quite actually – more excited about Heaven, and you being in it, than you are. And, as True Love does, it breaks down any barriers to that Love being consummated!

So, are you looking forward to exploring His Life and Love and Heart in the Kingdom? This fool of a writer is. But, only recently have i come to realize that my desires for Him are NOTHING in comparison to the furious longing He has for each of us. Tonight is your night beloved. Time to see Him for who He is.

Makala_FF 2016Written by Makala Doulos: Makala Doulos is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 107; Proverbs 15

Daily Quote: The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creation. Not to make people with better morals but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friend, is what it really means to be a Christian. ~Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

~Romans 8:35-37

Christian Teenager

You Were Created for so Much More!

African American man reading.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

The book of Romans packs a plethora of wisdom and discernment that clarifies many doctrines. I realized that it’s a concise version of the Bible and it is not for the faint hearted. I studied chapter-by-chapter, verse by verse and was blessed beyond measure of the revelation that God gave me. A good book to study if you are looking for meat. Let’s look at this one verse.

And we know: A lot people like to separate and unpack the doctrines of election and free will. But and the end the day We Know. And since we know we can rest assured that rest of this verse pertains to us. Who knows? Those who put their faith in Jesus Christ know.

Who love God: Are you a Lover of God? Simple answer; “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”(Jesus) For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)

All things work together for good: Are you resting that God is working it out?

Let’s let the Bible answer this!

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. (Psalms 119:67)

“It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn your decrees.” (Psalms 119:71)

“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 12:1)

Who are called according to his purpose: Do you fully understand the Call on your life?

It is an effectual call, from self and the world to God, Christ, heaven, as our end; from sin and vanity to grace and holiness, as our way. This is the gospel; that the love of God, ruling in the hearts of those who once were enemies to him, proves that they have been called according to his purpose.

God is very clear and intentional about the call on your life. He has created you for good works and indulging in pointless sin does not help accomplish His divine will. Yes, there are liberties and yes, the grace God is flawless, but is it wise to use our God given privilege for its intended purpose? God bless you saints. You Were Created for so Much More!

Juan Mendez_FF 2016Written by Juan Mendez: Juan is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and full-time staff member at America’s Keswick. 

 

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 106; Proverbs 14

Daily Quote: No one can get Joy by merely asking for it. It is one of the ripest fruits of the Christian life, and, like all fruits, must be grown. ~Henry Drummond

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

~Romans 8:35-37

Young desperate man in casual clothes abandoned lost in depression sitting on ground street concrete stairs alone suffering emotional pain, sadness, looking sick in grunge lighting

Who Can Imagine Life Without Worry? Part #2

Young man suffering depression sitting on ground street concrete stairs

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” ~Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG)

When I was with you last I was going on about freedom and how important it was for us to understand that Jesus came to set us free from sin. I also said I would get to “the most universal of all addictions” which is summed up in one word…worry. Worry is a verb that, according to The American Heritage Dictionary, means to feel uneasy about some uncertain or threatening matter; be troubled. Be troubled…hmm somehow I remember a story about a king-wanna-be saying he was troubled when a bunch of dudes showed up in his throne room and told him about a King that had been born. His worry leads him to what history calls “The Massacre of the Innocents.” Anyway…

Worry is something that gets done by us all in some way, shape or form. It can happen in the smallest way just as much as it does in the biggest. 20th Century theologian, John Stott comes right out and says that “worry is waste—a waste of time, thought and nervous energy.” Worry is so engrained into the human condition that we justify its existence much like other addictions however Jesus made it a point to address this “universal addiction” when He gave His Sermon on the Mount. He begins the dialogue with this key phrase, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)

Then Jesus will tell folks not to be anxious about their lives, what they’ll eat, what they’ll drink, and what they’ll wear. Now during those Roman Empire times dem’s was some everyday “where’s it gonna come froms” and now this guy says don’t worry about it ‘cos even the birds get fed by the hand of God. ALRIGHTY THEN…but Jesus doesn’t leave them hanging on thread, AU CONTRAIRE, He gives the straight up deal right here, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33) So basically it is matter of perspective. Doom along the horizontal and hope in following the vertical.

Now don’t go sitting there thinking that I am advertising a worry-free Gospel and that I think this Christian life should be free of it, once again I say AU CONTRAIRE because there are things we can take worry or anxiousness to. We should take thought

for each other especially for those who we call brother or sister. We can be concerned for the things that are of The Church (that doesn’t include carpet color, wallpaper style or should there a chicken dinner versus a potluck dinner). We can be concerned for the eternal salvation of loved ones or the lost in an unsaved world but as with everything there are limits…” All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.” (1 Cor 10:23)

That about does it for me today but I am not completely done covering the universal addiction of worry. Next time I am with you I would like us to spend some time gleaning why Jesus made it a point to tell those in attendance during His Sermon on the Mount why being anxious in our everyday lives stunts our growth of faith. Until then why not take a look at Matthew Gospel 6:24-34 and see for yourself why Jesus would have use consider the issue of serving two masters. I think it is plausible to think that He knew that people had an enslavement to material security (we still do, don’t we?) and He came to give us assurances that set us free from stuff that has no eternal value. Bottom line…if it serves no purpose in eternity it is eternally useless. Amen?

Chris Hughes_FF 2016Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.

 

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 105; Proverbs 13

Daily Quote: “God never intended His people to become prisoners to worry. Such an unbelieving, energy-draining addiction strangles our faith and makes us unable to bear fruit.” —Charles Swindoll.

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

~Romans 8:35-37

New York Harbor pre 9/11/2001 .Scanned from original 35mm negative showing statue of liberty in foreground and twin towers and lower Manhattan in background

Where Were You 15 Year Ago Yesterday?

New York Harbor

“God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in time of trouble.” Psalm 46:1

So for those of you who are old enough to remember the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, my guess is you can tell me exactly where you were and what you were doing.

I was working as a delivery boy for the pharmacy up the street and delivering a prescription that day and walked in to deliver a prescription and can still here the lady screaming, “The President’s been shot!”

On September 11th, I was in my office at America’s Keswick when my wife called to tell me about the first plane to hit the World Trade Center. Our staff went to the lobby to watch the horrific footage as the events of the day unfolded.

We gathered together the staff and the men of the Colony of Mercy in the Raws Dining Room and on our knees cried out to the Lord for our nation and all the families impacted by this tragedy. Several of the men cried out to the Lord at that moment, repented of their sin and were converted.

In the early afternoon we planned a time of worship and prayer for our Keswick family and on the way to conduct the service I received the news that Board member, Don Peterson and his wife, were on Flight 93 and lost their lives when that plane crashed. 9/11 became very real and personal.peterson

Months later we learned that when the rescue workers arrived at the crash site in Shanksville, the only visible things at the site were a tire and a Bible. A Bible? Could it be? No – impossible! But it was. It was Don Peterson’s Bible. And tucked inside was his list of men he was praying for – men who were residents of the Colony of Mercy.

pbible

We remember today that in the midst of horrendous moments, tragedy, unexplainable events – that God is not far off and uninvolved. Psalm 46:1 reminds us that even when the earth shakes and its foundations are crumbling, God is there. He is there to be our refuge and strength. He is an ever-present help in our time of trouble.

I don’t want to ever forget what took place on September 11, 2001. Lots of lives were taken and families destroyed for a lifetime. It’s a good reminder

of another life that 2000+ years ago that was sacrificed on a hill in Israel – He gave his very blood so that you and I could be free from the power and bondage of sin and death. Jesus Christ paid for your sin and mine. May we never forget.

There’s not too many days that go by that I don’t think and Don and Jean Peterson. The legacy of their lives continues not just at the Flight 93 memorial in Pennsylvania, but every time someone views the Bible picture and theirs, people remember their sacrifice. We must never forget.

Written by Dr. Bill Welte is President/CEO of America’s Keswick: He has been married to his child sweetheart for 40+ years, and has three married kids, one that is engaged, and 10 amazing grand kids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 104; Proverbs 12

Daily Quote: Our real freedom from sin and the bondage to sin is found in our enslavement, both body and soul, to Christ, the Lord of all. ~Spiros Zodhiates

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

~Romans 8:35-37