So What’s Your Story?

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Every one of us has one – yes, that includes you and me. Welcome to this new week of Freedom Fighters. We do not take for granted your willingness to click “open” if you are reading via email, or reading it through the web-blog.

This week we will begin to think through the greatest story ever told. It’s a story like no other. His story was quite different than yours and mine.

His birth was pretty dramatic – especially since it had been predicted decades before he was ever born. In fact, His story goes all the way back to the book of Genesis.

Despite the 400 silent years that separated the Old and New Testament, prophets were waiting for His birth.

And then it happened! His birth wasn’t in the finest hospital in the world. There were attending physicians and nurses. Not even a midwife. It was just his mother and father, and we assume because of the description of the location, He might have been surrounded by a bunch of barn animals.

For most of His life, He lived in obscurity. But for three and a half years – well let’s just say, He hit the ground running.

It started with a miracle in Canaan when His Mom told Him that they had run out of Coca-Cola at a pretty important wedding reception (It has to be Coca-Cola – I serve at America’s Keswick).

From that point on, He was pretty visible, and His life touched so many in such profound and impactful ways.

He talked with a Samaritan woman at a well – unheard of in the culture of that day. He healed sick people – lame, deaf, blind.

Although a son of a simple carpenter, once He became known – people from everywhere started following Him. When He went to the synagogues, He blew away even the Rabbis because of how at this young age, He could quote the Scripture and explain it so well.

His followers on Sunday, Palm Sunday, followed Him into the city shouting praises to His name. There was such excitement in the air.

But somehow everything turned. Life is like that sometimes. Everything was going so well – but then everything went south.

He was betrayed by one of His followers – one of the guys who had hung out with Him during the past several years. After a special dinner, He ended up getting arrested – falsely accused for crimes He never committed.

He was not just arrested – He was put on public display. People spit on Him. They pulled on His beard. They ripped his clothes off. He was beaten beyond recognition. Where was the cry about the brutality that we hear about today?

And He wasn’t just beaten with fists and hands – he was beaten with a whip that had stone and glass attached. 39 times!!! They had to stop at 39 because the 40th beating would have resulted in His death.

Finally, He was given a crown of thorns and then nailed to a wooden cross – nails in His hands and feet. A sign was placed above His head – King of the Jews.

He suffered – and oh he suffered. We sanitize the story – but truth be told, His death was horrific.

And then He died. But that was only the beginning of the story. His accusers thought it was over. His enemies thought they had silenced His voice. Everyone including the His greatest enemy thought the final chapter had been written.

But what they didn’t know was this – it’s Friday – but Sunday is coming. That’s where the story gets really exciting. And for you my friend, that Good Friday was just the beginning of YOUR story.

Overflowing and abounding with joy,

Bill Welte
President/CEO America’s Keswick

Written by Bill Welte, President/CEO of America’s Keswick: Bill has been married to his child sweetheart for 40+ years and has four married kids and 11 amazing grand kids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

The Daily Bible Reading: Joshua 12-15| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Think About This: “If you knew that only a few would care that you came, would you still come? If you knew that those you loved would laugh in your face, would you still care? If you knew that the tongues you made would mock you, the mouths you made would spit at you, the hands you made would crucify you, would you still make them? Christ did.” – Max Lucado

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

For You are my hope, O Lord GOD; You are my trust from my youth.
Psalm 71:5

 

What Sin Do You Cherish? 10 Questions To Unhinder Prayer

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2018 is here. A time for self examination. 10 questions below are not self-righteous finger-pointing questions. I have written them out realizing I have more than enough Sins of commission and omission of my own, so I don’t have time to check yours. You’re on your own. If the questions help you to pray more effectively in 2018, I say God bless you because your prayers will benefit us all.

  1. What Sin do I cherish?

Cherish is a good word. It means to protect or care for someone or something lovingly; to hold something dear; to keep a hope or ambition in one’s mind. We look at Cherish as good, but the Bible tells us it can be bad too. Psalm 66:18(ESV) states it this way “If I had cherished iniquity (Sin) in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” It hinders answered prayer. Psalm 141:3,4 defines iniquity for us: “Send a guard, oh Lord over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Do not let my heart incline to any evil, too busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity and let me not eat of their delicacies.” In other words, to cherish iniquity means to love my sin more than I love God, to toy with known sin in my mind and doing nothing about it even acting on it. Cherishing iniquity will put me on the path of sin James 1:13-15 explains.

  1. In what areas am I disobedient?

Deuteronomy 1:45 in context v.v. 19-46 it is a sad story of the Israelites rebellion against God‘s command. “And you returned and wept before the Lord, but the Lord did not listen to your voice or give ear to you.”

  1. Am I holding on to sin?

What sin am I holding onto and doing nothing about it? Psalm 66:18, “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” cf. John 9:31

  1. Am I indifferent to God and the things of God?

Proverbs 1:22-31, v.28 “Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer, they will seek me diligently but will not find me.”

  1. Am I neglecting Mercy?

Proverbs 21:13 “Whoever closes his ear to the poor will himself call out and not be answered.” cf. Matthew 9:13; Matthew 23:23

  1. Have I stopped hearing and heeding God’s Word?

Proverbs 28:9 “If ONeil turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21

  1. Has my heart become diamond-hard in resistance to the Lord?

Zechariah 7:12,13 (v.13) “As ,I called and they would not hear, so they called, And I would not here, says the Lord of Hosts.”

  1. Is my faith wavering?

James 1:6,7 “ But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord”

  1. Am I living in Sin?

Isaiah 59:2 (Micah 3:4) “ but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.“

  1. In what way are my prayers self-indulgent?

James 4:3 “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your own passions.” Prayers seeking to gratify self-centered passions do not honor God or advance his purposes (1 John 5:14,15). We need to know the Scriptures well enough to pray according to God’s revealed thoughts not our own.

An Affirmation for 2018: Before I pray, I will invite the Holy Spirit to reveal my sin. I will confess my sin (name my sin) and forsake it. I will pray having received His forgiveness and a restored relationship with God. Psalm 139:23,24; 1 John 1:9,ESV “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Written by Pastor Bob Wood: Pastor Bob is a retired Pastor and a dear friend of America’s Keswick.

The Daily Bible Reading: Joshua 1-4 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote:  “Every kind of prayer, not intercessory prayer only, which is the highest kind of prayer, but all prayer, from the lowest kind to the highest, is impossible in a life of known and allowed sin.” – Alexander Whyte

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Do not trust in oppression, Nor vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, Do not set your heart on them. Psalm 62:10

Returning to Our Old Ways?

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“And the people contended with Moses and spoke, saying: If only we had died when our brethren died before the LORD!’” (Numbers 20:3)

Here’s how it sounds in the New Living translation.

“and they began to speak against God and Moses. ‘Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?’ they complained. ‘There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!’” — Numbers 21:5 NLT

God had provided and delivered the children of Israel and this was their response. They were very inconsiderate to the Lord’s great work already accomplished in their lives. They complained, even to the point to desire to return to slavery. Seems illogical.

But is it?

In my little surroundings, I’m observing men consistently return to their addiction, women staying with abusive spouses, individuals doing time in prison and repeating the same patterns, pastor and leader enslaved to pornography, the list goes on…

“Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” (Proverbs 26:11)

“Though you pound a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him.” (Proverbs 27:22)

The Israelites and Moses suffered grave consequence for their harden, ungrateful hearts. Let’s not repeat the same mistakes and glorify God regardless of the situation.

Are you grumbling about God’s provision, are you looking ways to escape that are not unhealthy, are you habitually sinning?

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Corinthians 7:14).

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: Deuteronomy 32-34 ; Psalm 91 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Temptations are like tramps. Treat them kindly, and they will return bringing others with them.”

– Dwight L. Moody

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Do not trust in oppression, Nor vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, Do not set your heart on them. Psalm 62:10

 

 

Chasing Perfection

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There is a direct connection between what we focus on in the development of our character and our ability to be strong and courageous in our everyday lives. Most people can rattle off some pompous phrase or idiom, but does their walk match their talk… and do our shallow words and efforts really rise to the level of excellence? Paul tells us if you want to stand fast and know Perfection, or as he puts it, ‘the peace of God that guards your heart and mind in Christ Jesus,’ then you must focus on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].” (Phil 4:8) Notice he says what is ‘right and good’ is that which is confirmed by God’s Word. So anything not established on God’s Word would be ‘starting from the point of a lie, being neither right nor good’, and therefore will eventually crumble, taking everything and everyone who trusted the lie down with it. There are only two things that last forever, people and God’s Word (1 Peter 1:24-25). Therefore those who have trusted in God’s Word as the standard of ‘right and good’ remain steadfast and imperishable into eternity, while those who did not know only eternal judgment.

Paul’s list has provided you with markers or points of reference to help you chase perfection, all of which correspond with God’s Word. Since each of these are of the category of what is excellent and ‘that which brings order’; if you simply ask if what you are establishing your character on… or making your choice by… leads to order, then you can be confident you will know ‘the Perfect peace of God that guards your heart and mind through Christ Jesus.’

Choose wisely….

“Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” (2 Peter 3:17-18)

Praying you choose Christ today

Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, and grandfather with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is a member of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.

The Daily Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 30-31 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”  ~ Lombardi

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Do not trust in oppression, Nor vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, Do not set your heart on them. Psalm 62:10

 

“With Me”

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Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” — John 13:8

I can still remember the words of a wise man, “Don’t walk too far behind or walk ahead of Jesus, make sure you are walking with Him.” I must admit, the words, when spoken, didn’t sink in.

The word “with” can be defined as accompanied by, escorted by, or in the company of, and it denotes the act of fellowship. Our walk with the Lord can become complicated for me, especially when it comes to all the books that are supposed to make things easy. The conversation between Peter and Jesus is a very telling situation as to where we need to be. The moment Peter is told he will have no part with Jesus, he seems to go into panic mode and goes to the extreme, Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” It would seem that Jesus was trying to get His point across of servanthood and forgiveness. The confusion comes when we walk ahead or behind.

The question was asked at a Men’s study I attend at Church, “what does spiritual growth look like?” There were lots of definitions but the one I liked the best was “seeing the unseen” (which was mine of course). It seems that when we are in proper step with the Lord there is an unseen meaning to the situations and circumstances in life. If I walk ahead of the Lord I miss it, if I’m too far behind it’s gone. I get this picture of having spiritual eyes to decipher the thing that God is trying to show me. Peter, not getting the meaning of the act of servanthood and forgiveness is an example of what can happen if we’re not in tune. Over and over we see examples in scripture of the Disciples trek with Jesus being confusing. It’s not until they have the Holy Spirit and are walking with Him that all they saw and heard from Him makes sense.  “His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him” John 12:16.

We begin to understand the way people react, that an insult can actually be a cry for help and needs to be ministered to. We can identify when we are being tested and it’s helpful to see when temptation comes our way or if the Lord is trying to discipline us. The importance of keeping in stride with the Lord is as simple as remaining teachable, humble, staying in fellowship, and most important, being in His word. Understanding the true meaning of our experiences and circumstances can help us navigate through life. This should ultimately lead us into a more personal relationship with our Savior, Amen.

So don’t get ahead and don’t fall too far behind, walk with our Lord.

Written by Rob Russomano: Rob Russomano is married to Terri, and serves with her as full time staff members. He is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and is also available as a speaker of the grace of God with a message of Hope for church events. You can contact him at rrussomano@americaskeswick.org.

The Daily Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 28-29| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him, and expect help from Him, He will never fail you.”

– George Mueller

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Do not trust in oppression, Nor vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, Do not set your heart on them. Psalm 62:10

 

Mentoring 101 (Part 2)

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“You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” — 2 Timothy 2:1-2

Last week we began a dialog on the topic of mentoring. This week I would like to give you some questions you can use when you are mentoring someone.

The questions are taken from a little book called, Great Questions for Leading Well, by Steve Brown (not the radio preacher). They will be good discussion starters for that special person in your life that you would like to build into:

Please don’t tell me your story … let them do that. Don’t ask the question and delve into your story.

  1. Share five key turning points into your life so far.
  2. Describe your journey with God.
  3. What do you sense are your biggest strengths?
  4. What are the top three challenges you are facing at the moment?
  5. What makes you laugh? What keeps you up at night?
  6. What are your “big rocks” or priorities for the next season?
  7. If the evil one were to target an area of your life to seek your downfall, what area do you think he would target?
  8. How do you best receive feedback and critique?
  9. What are your three hopes for the future?
  10. Where are you sensing progress in your life?
  11. Where are you feeling stuck?
  12. How are things with you and God?
  13. How is your family? What is one way they would like to see you grow?
  14. What one thing could you change in your routine that would have the greatest positive impact on your family relationships?
  15. Who are your friends? When did you last connect with them?
  16. What do you do to recharge and have fun?

Steve Brown gives this great definition of mentoring: Christian mentoring is a dynamic, intentional relationship of trust in which one person enables another to maximize the grace of God in their life and service. All biblical mentoring is under-mentoring. Jesus Christ is the real and decisive agent in Christian mentoring. He claims our whole-hearted trust in Him as present enabler. – John Mallison, Mentoring To Develop Leaders.

Suggestions:

  1. Don’t overwhelm the person you want to mentor by giving him all the questions to answer at your first time of getting together. Give him two or three.
  2. Give the questions out ahead of time and ask your mentee to write out the answers to the questions.
  3. Your role is to listen rather than speak. Let him answer the questions and listen to his answers. Be all there. Don’t let your mind wander. Be fully engaged.
  4. As you are listening, ask the Holy Spirit to give you any insight that would be helpful in sharing with your mentee. He needs to feel safe in sharing his heart with you.

Overflowing and abounding in hope,

Bill Welte, President/CEO
America’s Keswick

Written by Bill Welte, President/CEO of America’s Keswick: Bill has been married to his child sweetheart for 40+ years and has four married kids and 11 amazing grand kids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

The Daily Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 24-27 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Think About This:  The devil knows you by your name, but calls you by your sin. God knows your sin, but calls you by your name. ~Craig Groeschel

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Do not trust in oppression, Nor vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, Do not set your heart on them. Psalm 62:10

 

 

 

Beware The Pleasures of This World

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How mistaken are those people who seek happiness outside of themselves, in foreign lands and journeys, in riches and glory, in great possessions and pleasures, in diversions and vain things, which have a bitter end! In the same thing to construct the tower of happiness outside of ourselves as it is to build a house in a place that is consistently shaken by earthquakes. Happiness is found within ourselves, and blessed is the man who has understood this. Happiness is a pure heart, for such a heart becomes the throne of God. Thus says Christ of those who have pure hearts: “I will visit them, and will walk in them, and I will be a God to them, and they will be my people.” (II Cor. 6:16) What can be lacking to them? Nothing, nothing at all! For they have the greatest good in their hearts: God Himself!
~St. Nektarios of Aegina

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.
~Paul, The Least of The Apostles, in Titus 3

Oh beloved, it is true.

We, those who have been made alive in Him, were built for pleasure. Jesus Himself was a party guy in this life, and He did nothing but what the Father desired for Him to do. Get this, and don’t forget it: Heaven and The Kingdom of G_d is a place where the deepest and richest pleasures we have ever experienced will be there for us to partake in. And, this sense of pleasure will grow forever.

This is the measure of true pleasure: Is it something we can enjoy with everyone we have ever known, and wish for it to continue forever?

Oh, we thought our chemicals, and images, and activities were what we wanted. But, we know deep down that if we just keep going, we will be going nowhere. They will isolate us, they will drain us, and they will kill us.

Can we see it?

What the devil and the flesh offer are not even pleasures in its true sense. They offer the feelings that the brain can give for a moment – but they miss the reality that what God gives is not a sensation, but an actual presence and relationship and expanding joy, forever.

Oh yes, there will be amazing food and drink, and probably even other things even more amazing for us to enjoy in The Kingdom… But, they will be entirely secondary to the immense pleasure of simply being known by G_d – and to know Him in return. Beyond this, there will be no fear in any of our relationships. We will be totally at ease, and not in a hurry, and totally available to get into the deepest and most incredible relationships with billions of others – forever!

So, are you still believing that the “pleasures of this world” are good enough? Don’t believe it. The King of The Universe wants to make you His bride. And the devil? He just wants a few whores to use and throw away.

Tonight is your night. Time to turn towards true pleasure.

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: Deuteronomy 14-16| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: Lust is as it were desire and desire, will which extends beyond the natural will, passionate, not governed by the law and moderation. There are thus many forms of lust, like the many forms of sin … Lust does not approach the soul in the form of a warlike enemy, but in the form of a friend or a pleasant servant. It suggests some sort of pleasure or illusory good. But this is only a trick by which the malicious angler strives to lead astray and catch the poor soul. Remember this when you are tempted by lust.
~St. Philaret of Moscow

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance. Psalm 42:5

 

Don’t Look at the Times

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“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” — Ecclesiastes 3:1

Time, where does it go? There would appear to be a weariness that can cause a fatalistic view point. I can get to a point where I just retreat to the notion of “what difference does it make?” There seems to be callous that can build up when there are so many people dying at a young age, especially due to their own poor choices, the world around us seems to be falling apart. I have a history of addiction and have had victory, and I give all the glory to God. I’m also in the addiction recovery ministry so I get to see the victories and defeats. I can be a reference point to those that want to know, “how come some make it and some don’t?”

This is where I struggle between the sovereignty of God and man’s choice. The difference between God’s perfect will and His permissible will. I can relate to Solomon in chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes where he seems to be frustrated with what he sees.

This is where I need to stop looking and go back to trusting. I have to stop looking horizontally and start looking vertically. I may never understand the things that happen, I will never get used to seeing little children and parents burying their loved ones prematurely. There is a saying, “don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.” Hebrews 11 starts off saying, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. If I take heed to Proverbs 3:5,6 then my job is to be reminded of truth, Jude tells us “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

I find that when I become confused I can take comfort in the One who understands, when life seems to wear me down I can run to the One who is strong enough to hold me up. I take comfort in the fact that God is in control, that my position is to be found seeking guidance from the scriptures that make some sense out of it all. I don’t have to have all the answers, but only to remain seeking. That said, tomorrow I will lace up my boots and continue to stay unhardened by the casualties of life. To be able to hear the echoes of God’s servant Job and believe what he says, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth”!

Will you join me? Thanks for listening…

Written by Rob Russomano: Rob Russomano is married to Terri, and serves with her as full time staff members. He is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and is also available as a speaker of the grace of God with a message of Hope for church events. You can contact him at rrussomano@americaskeswick.org.

The Daily Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 11-13| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “To learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings.” – George Mueller

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance. Psalm 42:5

Under God: A Kingdom Calling

 

iStock-848612696 (1).jpg“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” — Matthew 5:16 (NASB)

I LIKE COFFEE!! So much so that I drink about 40 ounces of the stuff before I get into work. By the time most of my co-workers have figured out why they came to work in the first place, I’m flat out gone…sometimes to the bathroom…but I’m gone. I also enjoy a special brew called “Valhalla Java” on the weekends. One 4-ounce cup of this stuff is all you need to get your weekend going…without so many trips to the bathroom. But I need to digress before I find an application for the Colony of Mercy in my mailbox one day for my coffee issue.

In his book “Kingdom Agenda” Tony Evans asks, “Have you ever suffered from “same-ole disease?” He goes into a long list of the “same-ole” actions that we go through in a day when we have this spiritual sickness. He then asks, “Have you ever felt like you need a little caffeine in your Christian cup?” Now I’m not gonna say that a cup of Valhalla Java will get you outta your rut immediately (if not sooner) but we do, at times, wonder the same things that Dr. Evans wonders. “Where’s the adventure in this? Where are the thrill and satisfaction that are supposed to come with serving the Creator of the universe?” If you are at this point then everything else in your life is just one same-ole thing after another.

When I take a look at the very beginnings of The Sermon on the Mount, I see ten characteristics that Jesus would expect us to have and if we do exhibit any one or two of those characteristics then it’s safe to say that we can identify ourselves with being a child of His, but then it gets better (after He tells us to rejoice and be glad because prophets were persecuted before us). Jesus tells us that as His children we become salt and light. But He says it in a way that has an underlining intention of confrontation. How is anyone gonna know if your salty if they don’t get a taste of your witness? Or how is anyone gonna know if you are the light of the world if you keep the lamp shade on in their presence?

Ya see, just like Jesus give us two commandments to live by there are two purposes to go along with them. You may the Christian that loves the LORD your God, with all your heart, soul, and might. You may be the Christian that loves his neighbor as himself BUT if you keep that corralled up in the same-ole neighborhood, the salt loses its flavor only to be thrown to the floor and your shining light loses its intensity as it goes under a lamp shade. Then you’ll be finding yourself waking up in the same-ole bed, with the same-ole wife, going into to the same-ole bathroom to look at the same-ole face in the mirror, wander into the same-ole kitchen to eat the same-ole breakfast, drink the same-ole coffee before you get in the same-ole car and head off to the same-ole job….you get the gist, right? Ain’t nothing wrong with a little mundane once in a while but one same -ole mundane after another just won’t cut it.

Now if you’re asking how to get that jolt you need to get you living according to your purpose, the best advice I could give is to go where God is working and make your way into His presence. Back in January, I went outside of my comfort zone of the same-ole things that were my same-ole go-to’s and I found myself in His presence on a beach, in below 32-degree temperatures, with the wind beating in my face and the sun blinding my eyes. That may not be what you’ll have in mind but I’ll tell you this, you ain’t gonna find the purpose you lost, sitting around waiting for it to find you. Jesus said go out so we gotta go out.

I would also recommend spending some time in God’s Word. Waiting to your Pastor to preach a message on Sunday may not help you out if you need a cup of Valhalla Java on a Tuesday afternoon. Yeah, that can seem to be a “same-ole” but if you spend time in those books that aren’t always referred to you might find that God has been waiting for you to get to there so He could speak to your heart and be the REAL cup of Valhalla Java that you’re looking for. Amen?

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

The Daily Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 8-10| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Too many Christians are living their lives without a sense of purpose. They’re settling for an existence totally defined by the limits of their houses and jobs and cars and churches. But when we as followers of Christ settle for that kind of life, we miss God’s reason for redeeming us and positioning us here on earth.” — Tony Evans

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance. Psalm 42:5

 

 

 

Uncool Shoes

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“Holiness differs nothing from happiness but in name.  Holiness is happiness in the bud, and happiness is holiness at the full. Happiness is nothing but the quintessence of holiness.”  ~ Brooks

One of the greatest ‘disagreements’ I had with my mom was over shoes. She wanted me to wear corrective shoes to school, which were ‘not cool’… and I wanted to wear my Converse All-stars. So every morning I would leave for school in her ‘corrective shoes’ but arrive too school in my ‘All-stars’. It seemed like a good compromise to me at the time… funny though how that choice began to affect so many other areas of my life… maintaining the facade was not always easy… always having to remember to change back before meeting my mom seems to not be a hard thing to do, until you have to live it out everyday among all the other stuff I had to deal with in life.  There were times when I thought I was happy because I seemed to fit in with the crowd… but I could never say I was at peace with the whole thing. You see, a distance started to form between me and my mom… time spent with her around the dinner table, watching TV, or riding in the car became ‘uncomfortable.’  She never said anything even though I am sure she noticed that my ‘corrective shoes’ always appeared like new…. after awhile, my mom and I didn’t talk much, and I become more aware that the reason for this had to do with the shoes….

The truth I learned back then, and continue to grasp hold of today, is that happiness cannot be anchored in external things… like what shoes are considered cool or even the relationship we desire to be in. No, happiness is directly connected to living in accordance with the design, and not because we have to, but because we want to. The Psalmist writes, “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. ‘But they delight in the law of the Lord’, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do” (Psalms 1:1-3). I like this translation because it immediately went after the idea of joy, that quality that wells up from within us because we are in-sync with God. God has established a design with laws that are absolutely perfect, and it is when we live by these laws that were put in play to cause us to prosper and enjoy being in His presence, that we know true happiness.

I made a choice back in Jr High to wear the shoes my mom wanted me to and not change them on the way to school. Yes, it was uncomfortable, or should I say ‘not cool’, but more importantly, the distance that had formed between me and mom disappeared and I was happy!

Jesus said, ‘If you loved me, you would obey my Word’; and then He went and showed us how it was done. Paul describes His obedience this way, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8).

The Psalms, Proverbs, and even the Sermon on the Mount tell us over and over again that true happiness is found in ‘delighting in the Word of God.’ It is for this reason Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes into the presence of Absolute Perfection any other way but through me.. The living Word of God.’

I learned this in wearing a pair of ‘not so cool’ shoes. I pray you realize it as well and turn from whatever is forming a void between you and our Heavenly Father… who stands looking for you to come home. Do this, meditating on His Word day and night, and you will be ‘like the tree firmly planted by streams of water, which bears its fruit in its season.’ (Psalm 1:2-3)

Praying you choose Christ today

Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, and grandfather with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is a member of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.

The Daily Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 5-7| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Think About This: “On judgment day, you and I are going to stand before God and answer for the gap that exists between where we are and where we could have been had we lived by God’s plan.” – John Hagee

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance. Psalm 42:5