God’s Grace

grace

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. 2 Timothy 1:9

Grace. It has become one of the words we sing about. We use the phrase as a part of our “Christianese.” But has it become just a word that we casually and haphazardly use without grasping its immensity or the depths of its richness in our lives? Welcome to this new week of Freedom Fighters. I am thankful today that you are part of our family. God’s family. A family blessed by and with the grace of God.

I recently read this powerful devotional that hones in on some of the richness of this word grace:

Salvation: You are saved by grace. The forgiveness of your sins, your justification before God, your redemption from the slavery of sin, your deliverance from evil, and your future home in heaven are yours today because of grace.

Sufficiency: Grace enables you to do all God calls you to do today. Success is not based today upon what you can accomplish, but upon what He will do through you. Grace is not about your strength, but about His mighty power working in you, even in the time of your greatest weakness.

Edification: Grace builds you up, lifts you up, and keeps you standing. Grace is heard in the sound of God’s voice speaking over and over into your ear, “I am for you today. I am with you today. I am the source of everything good, everything lovely, everything holy, and everything mighty.”

Hope: Grace assures you of a glorious future and an overwhelming inheritance that is yours in Jesus Christ. Grace leads you on, cheers you on, and moves you on into all that is in God’s heart for you.

Victory: Grace brings to you all that is yours in Christ. You are victorious today because Jesus is the triumphant One. You are more than a conqueror because He has conquered all. You are above all things because all things are under His feet. You reign in life because He reigns—King of kings and Lord of lords.

Abundance: Where sin once abounded, grace abounds even more. Where darkness ruled, grace overruled. Where death held you in cruel bondage, grace brought you into a glorious new freedom. Grace is never poured out to you like raindrops, but like a cascading waterfall.

Purity: Grace is the doorway into the beauty of God’s holiness. Grace is never a license to sin, a freedom to sin, or a cloak for sin. Grace brings us into a life that is greater than what sin could ever offer us. Grace extends the hand that lifts us out of the miry clay, throws the rope that pulls us from the deepest pit, and lights the flame that brings us out of the darkest cave.

Gifting: Gifts that come to you from God are grace gifts. His grace gifts to you will be different than the grace gifts He gives to others. Grace does not play favorites. The gifts that have been given to you from God are the perfect gifts that are needed for you to fulfill His will and His calling in your life. From Today is Your Best Day – Roy Lessin

This ought to leave us speechless! It should cause your heart to soar. It should bring tears to your eyes, and maybe make you fall to your knees in praise and adoration. God’s amazing grace! I trust that this reminder encouraged you today. Don’t take for granted the amazing grace of God.

Rejoice! Pray! Give thanks!

Written by Dr. Bill Welte, 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: Gen 24-27 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: God enables you to do all that God calls you to do today. – Roy Lessin

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing to You, And my soul, which You have redeemed. Psalm 71:23

Are You In the Midst of a Struggle

Opposition

Good morning and welcome to this new week of Freedom Fighter blogs. We are so thankful that you partner with us and trust each day you are encouraged in your walk with God.

I have talked to so many people recently who have shared that they are in the midst of some intense struggles. We are in the midst of some challenges at America’s Keswick.

This week I was reading a blog from Sermon Central and a pastor shared this powerful prayer that they have been reading together as a church. It was one of those things too good to not pass on.

So if you are finding yourself in the heat of the battle, I would encourage you to pray this prayer. It’s a little long, but I believe it is worth your time this morning.

BELIEVER’S WARFARE PRAYER

(To be read aloud)

Heavenly Father, I bow in worship and praise before You. I cover myself with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ as my protection. I surrender myself completely and unreservedly in every area of my life to You. I take a stand against all the workings of Satan that would hinder me in my prayer life. I address myself only to the True and Living God and refuse any involvement of Satan in my prayer.

(I command Satan, in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to leave my presence with all of his demons. I bring the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ between Satan and myself.)

Heavenly Father, I worship You and give You praise. I recognize that You are worthy to receive all glory and honor and praise. I renew my allegiance to You and pray that the Blessed Holy Spirit would enable me in this time of prayer. I am thankful, Heavenly Father, that You have loved me from past eternity and that You sent the Lord Jesus Christ into the world to die as my substitute. I am thankful that the Lord Jesus Christ came as my representative and that through Him You have completely forgiven me. You have adopted me into Your family; You have assumed all responsibility for me; You have given me eternal life; You have given me the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ so I am now justified. I am thankful that in Him You have made me complete, and that You have offered Yourself to me to be my daily help and strength.

Heavenly Father, open my eyes that I might see how great You are and how complete Your provision is for this day. I am thankful that the victory the Lord Jesus Christ won for me on the Cross and in His Resurrection has been given to me and that I am seated with the Lord Jesus Christ in the heavenlies. I take my place with Him in the heavenlies and recognize by faith that all wicked spirits and Satan himself are under my feet. I declare, therefore, that Satan and his wicked spirits are subject to me in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am thankful for the Armor You have provided. I put on the Girdle of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Sandals of Peace, and the Helmet of Salvation. I lift up the Shield of Faith against all the fiery darts of the enemy; and take in my hand the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. I choose to use Your Word against all the forces of evil in my life. I put on this Armor and live and pray in complete dependence upon You, Blessed Holy Spirit.

I am grateful, Heavenly Father, that the Lord Jesus Christ spoiled all principalities and powers and made a show of them openly and triumphed over them in Himself. I claim all that victory for my life today. I reject all the insinuations, and accusations, and the temptations of Satan. I affirm that the Word of God is true and I choose to live today in the light of God’s Word. I choose, Heavenly Father, to live in obedience to You and in fellowship with Yourself. Open my eyes and show me the areas of my life that do not please You. Work in me to cleanse me from all ground that would give Satan a foothold against me. I do in every way stand into all that it means to be Your adopted child and I welcome all the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

By faith and in dependence upon You I put off the old man and stand into all the victory of the Crucifixion where the Lord Jesus Christ provided cleansing from the old nature. I put on the new man and stand into all the victory of the Resurrection and the provision He has made for me to live above sin.

Therefore, today I put off the old nature with its selfishness and I put on the new nature with its love. I put off the old nature with its fear and I put on the new nature with its courage. I put off the old nature with its weakness and I put on the new nature with its strength. I put off the old nature with all its deceitful lusts and I put on the new nature with its righteousness, purity, and honesty.

In every way I stand into the victory of the ascension and glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ, whereby all the principalities and powers were made subject to Him. I claim my place in Christ as victorious with Him over all the enemies of my soul. Blessed Holy Spirit, I pray that You would fill me. Come into my life, break down every idol and cast out every foe.

I am thankful, Heavenly Father, for the expression of Your will for my daily life as You have shown me in Your Word. I therefore, claim all the will of God for today. I am thankful that You have blessed me with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. I am thankful that You have begotten me unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. I am thankful that You have made a provision so that today I can live filled with the Spirit of God with love and joy and peace, with longsuffering, gentleness and goodness, with meekness, faithfulness, and self-control in my life. I recognize that this is Your will for me and I therefore reject and resist all the endeavors of Satan and his wicked spirits to rob me of the will of God. I refuse in this day to believe my feelings and I hold up the shield of faith against all the accusations and distortion and insinuations that Satan would put into my mind. I claim the fullness of the will of God for my life today.

In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ I completely surrender myself to You, Heavenly Father, as a living sacrifice. I choose not to be conformed to this world. I choose to be transformed by the renewing of my mind, and I pray that You would show me Your will and enable me to walk in all the fullness of Your will today.

I am thankful, Heavenly Father, that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, to the casting down of imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and to bring every thought into obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, in my own life today I tear down the strongholds of Satan and smash the plans of Satan that have been formed against me. I tear down the strongholds of Satan against my mind, and I surrender my mind to You, Blessed Holy Spirit. I affirm, Heavenly Father, that You have not given me the spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind. I break and smash the strongholds of Satan formed against my emotions today and I give my emotions to You. I smash the strongholds of Satan formed against my will today, I give my will to You, and choose to make the right decisions of faith. I smash the strongholds of Satan formed against my body today, I give my body to You recognizing that I am Your temple. I rejoice in Your mercy and goodness.

Heavenly Father, I pray that now and through this day You would strengthen and enlighten me, show me the way Satan is hindering and tempting and lying and distorting the truth in my life. Enable me to be the kind of person that would please You. Enable me to be aggressive in prayer and faith.

Enable me to be aggressive mentally, to think about and practice Your Word, and to give You Your rightful place in my life.

Again, I cover myself with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and pray that You, Blessed Holy Spirit, would bring all the work of the Crucifixion, all the work of the Resurrection, all the work of the Glorification, and all the work of Pentecost into my life today. I surrender myself to You. I refuse to be discouraged. You are the God of all hope. You have proven Your power by resurrecting Jesus Christ from the dead, and I claim in every way this victory over all Satanic forces in my life. I pray in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ with thanksgiving. Amen.

© Victor Matthews, Emeritus Professor of Theology at Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary.

I will be praying for you, too.

Written by Dr. Bill Welte, 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: Genesis 8-11 | You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: Do not work so hard for Christ that you have no strength to pray, for prayer requires strength. ~J. Hudson Taylor

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him. Psalm 28:7

Praying as You Read The Scriptures

Stressed businessman

In just a few days we will be entering the month of December. A number of you committed to read through the book of Psalms and Proverbs with us this year and I trust it has been a blessing to you.
I am always looking for ways to keep my quiet times fresh and exciting. I have seen a number of great resources that I will share with you as we prepare for 2017, but resources that you can start right now.
I recently read a blog by Kristen Wheterell and she suggests 22 ways to pray as we read through the Bible based on principles from Psalm 119. I am using them in my quiet time and commend them to you:

  • Pray for wholehearted seeking: Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways (vv. 2-3)!
  • Pray for protection from sin: I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you (v. 11).
  • Pray for opened eyes: Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law (v. 18).
  • Pray for spiritual strength:  My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word (v. 28)!
  • Pray for delight and longing: Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!…Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life (vv. 36, 40)!
  • Pray to fight lies: Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promise; then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in your word (vv. 41-42).
  • Pray to live with trust in God’s promises: This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life (v. 50).
  • Pray for quick obedience: I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments (v. 60).
  • Pray for good judgment and knowledge: Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments (v. 66).
  • Pray for God’s comfort: Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant (v. 76).
  • Pray for endurance against the enemy: All your commandments are sure; they persecute me with falsehood; help me (v. 86)!
  • Pray to depend on God’s enduring Word: Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens….I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts (vv. 89-94).
  • Pray for continual meditation: Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day (v. 97).
  • Pray for God’s light to guide you: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (v. 105).
  • Pray for fear of the Lord: My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments (v. 120).
  • Pray for trust in the Lord’s justice: I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies! It is time for the Lord to act, for your law has been broken (vv. 125-6).
  • Pray for victory over sin: Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me (v. 133).
  • Pray for joy in trouble: Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight (v. 143).
  • Pray for God to hear you: Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O Lord, according to your justice give me life (v. 149).
  • Pray for mercy: Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your rules (v. 156).
  • Pray to abhor falsehood: I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law (v. 163).
  • Pray for a soul of praise: Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me (v. 175).

Pretty cool, huh? I trust they will be helpful to you. I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email at bwelte@americaskeswick.org Trust you had a great Thanksgiving.

Resource: Kristen Whetherell blog

Written by Dr. Bill Welte, 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 28; Proverbs 28

Daily Quote: The louder Satan roars, the more proof you shall have of Christ’s love. ~C.H. Spurgeon

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

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. ~Philippians 4:6-7

Victory Over Temptation – Part #1

It happened again. It’s my second wake-up call in two months. Another ministry friend had to resign from his position because of poor choices. It is painful. It is heart-breaking. It could be you or me.

Yesterday I was the morning Bible teacher at the Colony of Mercy Chapel service and I was preaching as much to myself as to the men in the program as well as our guests.

Each week we do a theme for the men and ironically, and no coincidence, the theme of the week is Victory Over Temptation. It didn’t hit me until yesterday that the theme is not victory over SIN. But isn’t that the ultimate goal?

Victory over temptation is heading off sin at the pass. The implication is that you and I can take the necessary steps, plan a strategy to prevent and keep us from sin.

Charles Swindol shared these three principles that I believe we need to burn into the hard-drive of our hearts and minds:

1. Sin will ALWAYS TAKE you FURTHER than you want to GO.

2. Sin will ALWAYS COST you MORE than you are willing to PAY.

3. Sin will always KEEP you LONGER than you want to STAY.

If we are really honest, there is NO ONE who couldn’t give testimony that those three principles are not true. We are all at different places on the continuum, but if we don’t make a change or do as the Bible says, “Repent = turn and face a different direction” – we are heading for the cliff called destruction.

The Bible is filled with illustrations of men and women whose stories support the above principles. Knowing how NOT GO THERE is understanding temptation and knowing in advance HOW to overcome temptation and destroy the impact of our sin.

So for the next couple of weeks, I want to share with you what I shared with the men in my message: Preparing for Temptation – What IS Your Battle Plan?

Are you ready to dive in? We’ve all been there. So let’s explore it together. I have five points but there are probably more.

1. Identify your area of weakness. I am sure you already know it. But my guess is that part of the strategy by naming it helps you to put a face to it.

Your area of weakness will fall in one of the three categories that John wrote about. Check out 1 John 2:16-17 “For all that is in the world – the LUST OF THE FLESH, the LUST OF THE EYES, and the PRIDE OF LIFE – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

This isn’t new – it’s been the enemies plan since the Garden of Eden. Satan came at Adam and Eve with these three things.

The lust of the flesh can be summed up in the three words: I WANT IT and usually in reference to our passions. The lust of the eyes is summed up in the words: I SEE IT and often refers to possessions. The pride of life: I WANT TO BE and trips up men with their need for success and status.

Reminder: Satan went after Jesus with those same three issues when Jesus face him during the temptation. So let’s not think that WE are exempt. If he went after the Son of God, he must certainly wants YOU and ME.

The good news is that Jesus got it right. Hebrews 4:15 says “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in ALL points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

What is the area where you already know you are weak? That is most likely the area where you will have the greatest level of temptation.

See you next week!

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 143; Proverbs 24

Daily Quote: Quote: Most people who fly from temptation usually leave a forwarding address.

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. ~Philippians 3:7

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I Think It’s Time to Call It Quits

Depression in young age

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keeping yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. Jude 20-21

What I am about to share reflects the struggle that I am facing increasingly as the President of America’s Keswick. What I am about to share my shock you and I trust that you will prayerfully hear my heart.

I really am at the point where I think our Board should call it quits and get out of the addiction recovery ministry. We are fighting a losing battle.

We have a record number of men who are graduating that are overdosing on heroin. Dying after one injection. Men who have graduated from the program who are relapsing in 48 hours and many of them are calling to come back to the program.

But there is an even greater concern. We have been encouraging our grads for years to connect with Bible believing churches so that they can grow in their walk with the Lord and continue to walk in victory.

Sounds like a great plan, doesn’t it? But in many cases, I owe the men a huge apology for setting them up for failure.

I just heard a report of a Christian addiction recovery ministry that raised $100,000 to help men and women come out of addiction. The money was raised by selling alcohol which was sold by young female bartenders that were asked to volunteer their services. So apparently we need to encourage men who are alcoholics to get the victory, but apparently one of the best fundraising tactics is to get people to sell the addictive –home/life destroying product and find people who want to help see addicts free to “contribute” by buying the product.

Yesterday I read an article about a new group of churches being raised up that are setting up shop in bars. The new evangelism initiative is called “Jesus and Beer.” The plan is to invited seekers to attend a “service” in a bar, serve the best beer, and have dialog about Jesus.

So I guess if we are going to be able to most effectively serve our grads in transitioning back to the “real” world, we need to educate them that it still isn’t ok for them to go to a bar and drink on their own and with their old friends. It is ok to go to the bar and drink as long as you are joining other Christians who have learned to drink responsibly and at the same time are able committed to studying the Bible and sharing Christ.

I have yet to see a post of Facebook posted by my Christian friends that shows them in the bar gathering for church or a Bible study. I have rarely been in the company of “Christian” drinkers where someone hasn’t left the party inebriated and out of control.

But even more disturbing is that the with this new norm we’ve swung the pendulum the other way in that you can’t hold a different position. It doesn’t matter if you have a history of alcohol in your background, it doesn’t matter is you choose to not drink, it doesn’t matter if you are concerned about offending a weaker brother or sister, you either join on or you are ridiculed.

I have left several functions where people have been in my face because I wouldn’t drink a beer. After all, if I am not at America’s Keswick, who is going to know? Really? So what happened to the passages in the New Testament about the weaker brother/sister or not doing something because it might hinder ones testimony? Or suppose your insistence on someone drinking leads them on a downward spiral or even worse, they do leave the party under the influence and face getting a DUI all in the name of “I’m free in Christ to do this so you need to do it too?”

This is a hot button topic and I am sure that I am going to get some humdinger responses. I welcome your comments. But I believe that we have opened the door to some pretty serious issues that are already coming back to bite us.

The same Pastors that refuse to preach both sides of this issue because they can’t nail total abstinence from the Scriptures, and I agree, are the ones that are ticked off at us when a believer in their church has lost everything because of the effects of alcohol, and “What do you mean there is waiting list?” We have a problem, guys.

I will write more about this in the next few weeks, but in the meantime, the next time I am at Applebees, I plan to take a picture of me and the guys enjoying our unsweetened iced teas and diet sodas.

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 129; Proverbs 10

Daily Quote: Liberty is turned to license by self. – Walter Chantry

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. ~2 Corinthians 4:16

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ASK A PRO

Businessman watching formulas

As men go, we are always looking for the newest thing to improve our lives, new phone, new car, bigger house, new golf clubs to improve our game. GOLF CLUB? YUP. Years ago when I first started playing golf I thought that I could learn the game all on my own. After many rounds of playing with 30 year old hand me down clubs, I decided to upgrade to a new set of Ping irons and Taylormade woods. That would surely improve my game. Heeding the advice from a friend who played well that I should take a lesson from the golf pro at his club. Reluctantly I did. Telling the pro that when ever I used my driver that I always sliced the ball. Letting him know that I had just order new clubs to fix the problem he took my 30 year old driver and without even getting set took a swing at a ball and hit it 225 yards down the driving range, handed the club back to me and said, “IT’S NOT THE CLUB” I took several more lessons from that “PRO” on how to swing a club properly!

Psalm 119 says, : 9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your WORD. 10 I seek with all my heart, do not let me stray from your commands.

In our lives we all need some sort of lesson from a professional. I try to get a lesson every day of my life, from my Bible. Every word, every verse, every chapter, every book gives a lesson from the greatest professional that we could ever learn from. God’s word gives us the best instruction on how to live a fulfilled and happy life. What was your latest lesson on??

Written by Robert Breault: Robert is a full time staff member in our Food Service department.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 125; Proverbs 6

Daily Quote: “The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.” ~Proverbs 15:29

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.~2 Corinthians 4:15

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ME ME ME or MINE MINE MINE

I Love Me - sign
“And [Jesus] was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Have you ever stopped to think about how much time we spend thinking about ourselves? Welcome to a new week of Freedom Fighters. I am glad that you are joining me on this journey of walking in victory.

Remember the scene in Finding Nemo when the seagulls converge and start screaming, “Mine, Mine, Mine?”

The concept of dying to self is not one that we hear much about in sermons today. We live in a culture that is bent on meeting our every need. We find ourselves getting in a snit if things don’t go our way. We are living in a day when all that matters is my needs, my desires, my rights. Just listen to the news and watch the commercials.

But Jesus said that if we are going to truly be Christ-followers, we need to learn how to die to self daily, and take up His cross.

This summer I picked up a little card from Pastor Harold Vaughn’s book table. It is called “Dying to Self.”

Listen to this …

When you are forgotten, or neglected, or purposely set at naught, and you don’t sting and hurt with the insult or the oversight, but your heart is happy being counted to suffer for Christ, THAT IS DYING TO SELF.

When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient, loving silence, THAT IS DYING TO SELF.

When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any lack of punctuality or any annoyance, when you can stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility … and endure it as Jesus endured it … THAT IS DYING TO SELF.

When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, or to record your own good works, or itch after commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown, THAT IS DYING TO SELF.

When you can see your brother or sister prosper and have his needs met, and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstance, THAT IS DYING TO SELF.

When you receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself, and humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart, THAT IS DYING TO SELF.

Are you “ALIVE IN CHRIST” and “DEAD TO SELF?” Or “ALIVE IN SELF” and “DEAD TO CHRIST?”

You need to understand that what I share with you is so often what I am preaching to myself. I really needed that today. What area of your life has God pin-pointed today where you need to DIE TO SELF?

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 122; Proverbs 3

Daily Quote: God will never come to his right unless we are totally reduced to nothing, so that it may be clearly seen that all that is laudable in us comes from elsewhere. John Calvin

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.~2 Corinthians 4:15

CLICK HERE to sign-up to receive this devotional via email each morning!

119 Years

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And the Lord, He it is that doth go before thee; He will be with thee, He will not fail thee; fear not, neither be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8

Yesterday was a very important day in the life of the ministry of America’s Keswick. 119 years ago tomorrow William Raws, his family and a small group of staff gathered on these grounds, and after a short Bible study, pooled their resources and discovered they had $1.87 and that was the beginning of the America’s Keswick story.

119 years later, the vision of William Raws is still very much alive and well. His passion for investing in the lives of men and now women was a baton that was passed to his son, Addison, the his grandson, Pastor Bill, then to Roger Williams, John Bryant and then to me.

Last week we gathered at Shady Maple, America’s Keswick and Dock Woods Community to celebrate God’s faithfulness to this ministry.

From its very inception the plan was that God would get all the glory, the Word of God would be preached to the men (and now women) and that pray would be a driving force of all we do.

While the buildings don’t look the same as they were in 1897, the program has been through many changes, the core message has never changed. The message we share today is the same one that William Raws taught when God allowed him to see the birth of his vision.

119 years later and 20,000+ men and now women who have graduated from the program, we are even more committed to share with men and women that life-transforming truth that Jesus Christ is the ONLY answer to addiction, and that through Christ, a man, woman, teen or child can live a life of victory.

Thirteen men who have graduated from the program now serve on our full-time staff which is 20% of our staff. And who knows – somewhere down the road I can see a graduate of Barbara’s Place serving full-time on our staff.

The need for the ministry of addiction recovery is greater now than it was in 1897. Heroin is talking our country by a storm. By the end of this calendar year we may see more deaths to heroin overdoses than what we experienced during some of our wars.

Addiction is tearing apart families. Addiction seems to pass down from a parent to his kids and grandkids. Addiction is not only impacting kids in non-Christian homes – it is happening to Christian kids.

The sad thing is that the enemy is going after our kids and grandkids. The average age right now is 8 years old!!! That is frightening to a man who has grand kids are close to that age group.

With your prayers and your financial support, we will continue to do what God has called us to do. Thank you for being a part of the Freedom Fighter blog family. As God brings this ministry to your minds, please pray for us. May God bless you. Happy 119 year anniversary to America’s Keswick.

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 118; Proverbs 26

Daily Quote: Not only does honest confession of sin lead to fresh experience of His forgiveness, but it also helps you let go of the chains and walk in greater freedom in the future. From Living the Battle Plan

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. ~2 Corinthians 4:8-11

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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

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