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December 31, 2014, 10:52 AM

God has you exactly where He wants you

 

If you know that God has got you where you are for a reason, then you can rejoice. We have probably never learned to live the Christian life until we're able to rejoice in the midst of real problems. If you're in a hard spot right now, that may be exactly where God wants you to be.  Oswald Chambers says,  "If you can stay in the midst of the turmoil unperplexed and calm because you see Jesus, that is God's purpose in your life." God never leaves us at the status quo. In fact, it's like this:

If we're lost He wants us saved,

If we're saved He wants us committed,

If we're committed He wants us sanctified,

If we're sanctified He wants us called,

If we're called He wants us commissioned,

If we're commissioned He wants us sent,

If we are sent He wants us serving,

If we're serving He wants us suffering,

If we're suffering He calls us to higher suffering, to a deeper more profound walk with Him. He presses us to new frontiers.

So if you're in a tough place, don't bemoan your circumstances.

Rejoice that God may very well have you just exactly where he wants you.

 

 

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August 26, 2014, 1:23 PM

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Court is now in session!

 

1 John 5:6-12, “This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. 10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. 11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

 

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Court is now in session! In 1 John 5:6-12, John summons witnesses to testify to the truth that Jesus is the Son of God.

“I call the water of the Jordan River to the witness stand.” 

“Water of Jordan, do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” “I do,” replies the water.

John begins: “You were there that day Jesus was baptized; please tell us what you saw.” “Yes,” answered the water. “I was there. Jesus walked down until he was about waist deep in my waters where John the Baptist was standing. John immersed him and raised him up.

I saw something very unusual occur after that. At first, there was Jesus standing in me, but I also saw the heavens were opened and there was a visual sign of a dove that descended on him. I heard a voice speak from heaven and it said: ‘This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.’”

“Thank you, water. I have no further questions. You may step down from the witness stand,”

John continues, “I call the blood of Jesus to the witness stand.” “Blood of Jesus, do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” “I do,” responds the blood.

“You were there that day Jesus was crucified. Tell us what you observed.”

“Yes, I can testify that at his trial before Pilate, Jesus was scourged. The punishment left his back a bloody mess. The crown of thorns caused me to stream down his face. When he was placed on the cross and the nails were driven into his hands and in his feet, I flowed from his body. As the blood of Jesus, I bear testimony that Jesus is the Son of the living God.”

John replies, “Thank you, blood of Jesus, you may step down from the witness box.”

“I call a third witness to the stand: the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” John queried. “Yes, I am the Spirit of truth,” replies the Holy Spirit.

“Holy Spirit, were you present during the earthly life of Jesus?” “Yes. I was present at his birth; I was present at his baptism; I was present during his earthly life; and I was present at his crucifixion, his resurrection, and his ascension. I was present with him in heaven in eternity past before the incarnation and I will be present with him for all eternity.”

“Holy Spirit, is it your testimony that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God?” John asks. “I bear witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God,” replies the Holy Spirit.

“Thank you Holy Spirit; you may step down,” says John.

“I would like to call a fourth witness to the stand,” says John. “I call God the Father to testify.”

“Heavenly Father, do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” “I do,” says the Father.

“Heavenly Father, do you recognize this man Jesus? Is he indeed your Son whom you sent to this earth?”

“Yes,” replies the Father. “He is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

John continues, “Do you testify that he and he alone is your Son and the only way of salvation?”

“Yes. From the very beginning, Jesus is the only-begotten Son; one with me throughout eternity as the third person of the Trinity. I foretold his coming into the world in the incarnation through my prophets. I sent John the Baptist as his forerunner. I sent an angel to Mary to announce to her that she was my choice to be the human mother of Jesus.

As a man, Jesus entered his ministry and was baptized. The heavens opened and I spoke and said ‘this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.’ The night before his crucifixion, he called out to me, ‘Father if it can be your will let this cup pass.’ But it was not my will. And I turned over my only Son to evil men to crucify. But I did it for a purpose and he did it willingly. This purpose was to make an atonement for your sins.”

“My Son Jesus was crucified, buried, but three days later, I raised him from the dead. Forty days later he ascended to heaven where today he sits at my right hand. One day I will determine the time has come, and my Son will come again to this earth.”

“I give eternal life as a gift, and this eternal life is in my Son, Jesus. So say I, God, the Father.”

After a pause that seemed to last an eternity, John spoke with reverent softness: “Thank you Father, you may step down from the witness box.”

John declares, “I call the twins ‘Whoever’ to the stand.”

John intones. “Do you both swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” “We do.”

John turns to the first whoever and asks, “Whoever, have you come to Jesus Christ and found him to be the Savior of your sins?” “I have,” responds “Whoever.” “Do you then testify concerning the truth of what I myself have said about Jesus in my writings?” asks John. “I do indeed,” says Whoever. “Jesus is the Son of God who has given me the gift of eternal life.”

“Thank you, Whoever,” John says.

Turning to the other Whoever, John asks, “Have you come to Jesus Christ and found him to be the Savior of your sins?”

“I have not,” responds Whoever. “John looks at him and in a stern voice says, “Do you refuse to believe the testimony that God the Father himself has borne in this very courtroom?”

“I do indeed,” says Whoever without blinking an eye. “I believe God is a liar about what he has said concerning Jesus. He has perjured himself under oath.”

Stunned silence fills the courtroom. Mouths are agape. Finally John speaks: “Thank you, Whoever. You may both step down from the witness box.”

John turns to the jury and now begins his closing argument: “The testimony of the witnesses is clear and irrefutable. God has given us eternal life and this life is in his Son, Jesus. He who has the Son possesses this eternal life. He who does not have the Son of God does not have eternal life.”

“I rest my case.”

Written by Dr. David Allen, preaching professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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July 25, 2014, 2:00 PM

Covenant Eyes

 

Church Family,

Did you know that 81% of teenagers have seen online pornographic material in their homes. Don’t let your kids be among them.

That why, I hope you will take a look at Covenant Eyes web site.  What is it?  It is Internet Accountability that tracks websites you visit on your computers, smart phones, and tablets, and sends them in an easy-to-read report to someone you trust. This makes it easy to talk about the temptations you face online. 

Give yourself peace of mind and protect the whole family for just $13.99/month.

To find out more about Covenant eyes and to protect you and your family go to: www.covenanteyes.com .

 

All for Jesus,

Bro. James

 

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July 9, 2014, 2:55 PM

High School Grads Who Donít Leave the Church

 

Written by Dr. Richard Ross professor of Student Ministries at SouthWestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.

 

The bad news is that some young adults leave the church after high school. The good news is that not as many are leaving as we once thought. And, we increasingly know what makes the difference.

Once, we thought that kids who generally attended church for 18 years developed an okay faith. Then, we thought, they would go off to the terrible secular university (or military, or workplace) and there they would lose their faith. But the research does not support that scenario. The older teenagers who possess a genuine faith carry that faith on into adulthood. The older teenagers who never really possessed a genuine faith tend to leave the church after high school. But they are not “leaving the faith” because they cannot leave what they never had.

They are not “leaving the faith” because they cannot leave what they never had.

A Focus on the Family study casts light on trends among young adults that may contradict doomsday predictions for the Christian faith. The study, titled “Millennial Faith Participation and Retention,” tracked the religious trends of Millennials (usually those born between 1980 and 2000). The study utilizes data from the Pew research sources and the National Science Foundation’s annual General Social Survey.

Of the young adults who now are unaffiliated with any church, only 11 percent said they had a strong faith as a child and lived in a home where a vibrant faith was practiced and taught. In other words, the great majority of Millennials leaving the church (89 percent) never had a strong faith to start with.

The great majority of Millennials leaving the church (89 percent) never had a strong faith to start with.

Homes modeling lukewarm faith do not create enduring faith in children. Homes modeling vibrant faith do. “This is not a crisis of faith, per se, but of parenting,” the Focus on the Family study noted.

“Parents who provide a home where faith is vibrantly practiced—even imperfectly—are remarkably likely to create young adults who remain serious Christians, even as they sometimes go through bumpy spots in the road,” the study said. “[N]ot surprisingly, homes modeling lukewarm faith do not create enduring faith in children.”

Christian Smith, architect of the National Study of Youth and Religion, reports in his book Souls in Transition that “Religious outcomes in emerging adulthood are not random happenstances about which all bets are off after age 18. Instead, they often flow quite predictably from formative religious influences that shape persons’ lives in early years. … The religious commitments, practices and investments made during childhood and the teenage years, by parents and others in families and religious communities, matter—they make a difference.”

Parents can be divided into three groups:

Parents who are lost

Those parents do not know God through faith in Christ.

Most of those who grow up with lost parents spend all their lives lost (including their eternity). The few who do come to faith in Christ are true miracles.

Parents who are converts

Those parents know God through faith in Christ, but their faith is shallow and their daily preoccupation is themselves. Self reigns.

Most of those who grow up with convert parents leave the church and adopt a lifestyle similar to lost young adults. While middle-aged convert parents may find reasons to stay in church, young adult converts seldom do.

Parents who are disciples

Those parents know God through faith in Christ, and they are so transformed that their daily preoccupation is adoring King Jesus, following Him, and living for His glory.

Most of those who grow up with disciple parents spend all their lives as disciples. The few who do not are tragic exceptions.

The Focus on the Family study also noted a relationship between religious disengagement and the trend to postpone marriage and parenthood.

“Settling down in family usually means settling down to church,” the study said. “Growing strong marriages and thriving families is an important church growth strategy that cannot be ignored.”

Church sociologist Robert Wuthnow of Princeton would agree, noting that “today’s young adults are divided religiously on lines that correspond closely to their marital status. Young adults who are married go to church and often go to theologically conservative churches. Young adults who are not married are less likely to attend religious services.” (After the Baby Boomers)

Among the study’s key conclusions for ministry:

Churches clearly teaching the Bible (conservative evangelical churches) are growing while those that do not (mainline denominations) declined. Young adults want “uncompromising truth” that “calls them to something beyond themselves.”

Homes with serious faith tend to produce children who carry faith into adulthood. Christians should create homes where children “witness a vibrant faith that’s lived out honestly and intentionally.” Strong families produce lasting faith.

Millennials want serious, substantive faith—not entertainment and theatrics. “Truth trumps trappings,” the study said.

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May 17, 2014, 3:06 PM

Donít Waste Your Parenthood: Preparing Children to be Adults

Written by: Dr Richard Ross, Professor of Student Ministries at Southwestern Theological Seminary

The majority of those 18 to 25:

  • Do not have a clear vocational focus nor the drive to move forward vocationally.
  • Do not feel motivated to achieve independence in their finances or life situation.
  • Do not feel ready to accept the lifetime commitments that marriage entails.
  • Do not feel ready to parent.
  • Do not like to delay gratification for a greater good.
  • Do not like to work hard for long hours at uninteresting tasks to achieve a goal.

Small changes in the home and church will not be adequate to create a generation of high school graduates who are far more mature, far more ready to take on adult roles, and far more ready to join King Jesus in bringing His kingdom on earth. Before considering new ways to accelerate growth, parents need to consider, “Am I ready to declare my independence from what is average in order to launch a generation that is mature and looks a lot like Jesus?”

God designed humankind before the foundation of the world. That included designing every facet of people who would move through the ages of 12 to 18. Observing such people in the biblical period and in early centuries reveals that God chose to build amazing potential in that age group.

Those same spiritual, mental, emotional, and social potentials exist within teenagers today. If parents respond to those teenagers in new ways, future young adults again can fulfill the possibilities they carry within them.

In just a few years, imagine launching 18-year-olds:

  • Who live for the glory of God.
  • Who invite the Spirit to empower them to enjoy and order life under the supreme lordship of High King Jesus.
  • Who have a deep understanding of the Gospel.
  • Who know the depth of the Father’s love toward them and display a lifetime of gratitude for the grace that has been extended to them.
  • Who invite Christ to live His powerful life through them.
  • Who join Him in making disciples among all peoples.
  • Who have an identity and a purpose on earth anchored in who they are in Christ.
  • Who love others more than they love themselves.
  • Who exhibit biblical servanthood and a willingness to sacrifice for others.
  • Who have a strong work ethic.
  • Who are willing to delay gratification.
  • Who are willing to do the mundane tasks for hours to accomplish a goal.
  • Who appreciate all the sacrifices parents have made but now are ready to get on with their lives.
  • Who have goals and know how to move toward those goals.
  • Who move toward lifetime marriages if God should so lead.
  • Who understand pregnancy, childbirth, and the care of babies.
  • Who are prepared to parent if God should allow.
  • Who know, understand, and can state their faith.
  • Who experience the spiritual disciplines in mature ways.
  • Who can defend their faith.
  • Who can share their faith.
  • Who have a uniquely biblical worldview.
  • Who feed themselves spiritually and take initiative for their own spiritual growth through the Spirit.
  • Who know how to lead and how to follow at church.
  • Who enjoy relationships and kingdom service with all the generations at church.
  • Who know how to find the will of God.
  • Who join Christ in changing the world.
  • Who go out to reach the last unreached people groups on the earth.
  • Who live and, if called on, die for the glory of God.
  • Who know how to care for their home, transportation, possessions, and health.
  • Who know how to make wise decisions about finances.
  • Who know how to form and sustain adult friendships.
  • Who know how to succeed in college or in whatever life preparation God ordains.

Parents prayerfully must consider major changes. Parents can choose to live and lead in ways that will make them very different from both the secular culture and, at times, even the prevailing church culture.

At minimum, I believe families need 30 minutes of focused conversations, three nights a week. One session can focus on building a lifetime faith and two can focus on the knowledge and skills people need to live and function as adults. Parents can and will find time to do what they come to believe is important. Tim Elmore, president of Growing Leaders, says it this way: “Mature, healthy people live by a set of values and principles. They don’t merely react to whatever the culture is doing around them. They act based on who they genuinely are.”

Here are three practical changes families can make:

  1. The Nielson Company confirms that adults watch an average of just over three hours of TV a night. Some parents do web surfing or social media some or all of that time. Moving from three hours to two hours of media would open up a new hour to connect with children.
  2. Many families have chaotic schedules because teenagers have too many extra-curricular activities. Trophies and ribbons are exciting, but they do not always prepare kids for real life as an adult. Parents can take the lead in finding a healthy balance of activities.
  3. Some parents still believe that giving kids economic advantages trumps spending time with them. Not a shred of research supports that thesis. Parents who leave work on time might discover new time to lift the eyes of a teenager to Jesus.

When a leader suggests taking 30 minutes to teach a teenager about taxes or caring for babies, parents can respond with:

  • Old Thinking: “We don’t have five extra minutes in an evening, so a half hour is ridiculous.”

or

  • New Thinking: “Now that we moved my son from three leagues to only one league, I think we can find the 30 minutes to get him ready to be an adult.”

Parents are on planet Earth to live in a grace-drenched love relationship with Christ and to glorify Him as they complete their mission on earth. They fulfill a major part of that purpose by rearing children who also love God and fulfill their unique purpose. Wise parents will make significant changes in schedules and lifestyles in order to see offspring who look a lot like Jesus and who fully are prepared for adult life.

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