Strange Things

Acts 17:16-20, “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.”

Can any of you think back to the first time you heard the gospel and what you thought?

Our generation was the last generation that most of us on a Sunday attended service with any regularity. The Gen X kids seem to have very little knowledge of Gods word which seems to be fulfillment of Amos 8:11, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:”

Have any of you ever seen when Jay Leno would go on the streets and ask questions of people and some of the bazaar answers he would get?

This was a series of questions asked of group of 12 college bible students with the first question of “What was the occupation of Matthew before he followed Jesus?” ½ gave the wrong answer as some said he was a fisherman. Another question was, “What is the shortest book in the NT?” many answered Jude but it is 3John, another question was, “What was the Apostle Paul’s occupation?” one said he was a killer of Christians, and still another was is they could name just 7 of the 12 original disciples? With only one being able to name 7.

When many of us in here were growing up we didn’t have any issues with such as Moses crossing the Red Sea, David in the giant Goliath, The Virgin birth or  The Resurrection.

To many of those out in the world today they would tell you that these are “Strange Things”

I didn’t have any issues with any of these things but If I was to be honest there were many times when I first heard of something that was in the word of God, that I to said those are “Strange Things”.

I never heard of the rapture until I read a book by Hal Lindsey called “The Late Great Planet Earth” to me it was a “Strange Thing”. With that I fist heard of “The Mark of the Beast”, that there would be a “New Heaven and a New Earth” someday. “Strange Things” indeed.

Rom 10:14-15, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”       

I had read the bible several times but still found and heard “Strange Things”, I remember the first time I had overheard someone talking about “Speaking in tongues”. Well, I was just like those in Acts 2:12-13, “And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.” 

Many speakers of that time claimed tongues was only for the first believers and I even heard one say it was of the devil not God. There is some bad teaching out in our world today and we have to be not fearful in calling it out. We need to be faithful in what we tell others to be true the infallible word of God and be careful to not put our fallible opinions in. We also as hearers need to verify what we are being told with the word of God.

Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

When I heard tongues explained to me in the context of the book of Acts and Acts 2:38

The Jewish people had everything they needed to become Born Again but had one issue. Romans 9:30-33, “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” The law was a stumbling block to truth for faith was a “Strange Thing” to the learned Jew of the day.

Romans 10:16-17, “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” We have an obligation to tell others of the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ but don’t be shocked by the response of what you are saying is a “Strange Things”. You may need to explain things slower than how you had received the salvation message because you had some faith in the word of God already.          

As Paul continued ministering to them with “Strange Things” look what happens Act 17:29-34, “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.” Never be fearful to use your testimony as a step to share the gospel, it may sound as “Strange Things” but it may what strikes a cord in the heart of the hearer!

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This Life isn’t Always Wonderful but a Wonderful life it IS!

I won’t take it for granted that everyone has seen, “It’s A Wonderful life” but it is a classic that even after watching it many times I find myself tearing up at certain sections of the movie. Who hasn’t wiped a tear off his or her cheek when Clarence gets his wings! It’s a story of how your life is so important to others no matter how you sometimes feel you had failed and you have no idea what effect you had on others’ lives.

We can at times feel that his life is too difficult, too tragic, or too sorrowful to continue on.

Ephesians 5:15-16, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

I recently listened to Matthew Wests new song, “Wonderful Life” which gave me the title for this message.

Ron from Houston, Texas, Spent three years fightin’ ALS

If you knew all that he’s been through, You’d hardly say he’s blessed

But smilin’ through a phone call, He said “Let me tell you, friend

This life ain’t always wonderful, But what a wonderful life it’s been”

It’ll send you flyin’ high, It’ll bring you to your knees

It’s the heartbreak and the happiness, And everything between

It’s the laugh until it hurts, It’s the hurt until you cry

Can’t have one without the other, It’s how you know that you’re alive

In this broken and beautiful, Gone mad and magical, Awfully wonderful life

It’s a mountain and a valley, It’s a cradle and a grave

It’s a blessing and a battle, And it’s on any given day

It’s messy and imperfect, It’s a thief and it’s a gift

Yeah, this life ain’t always wonderful, But what a wonderful life it is!

Ron went home to Jesus, Got the call the other day

I sat and cried and thought about, The words I heard him say

I know there is a Heaven, Waitin’ for us after this

This life ain’t always wonderful, But this life ain’t all there is

No, this life ain’t always wonderful, But this life ain’t all there is!

My life like so many here has had some fantastic highs and some lows that if it wasn’t for Jesus in my life and the promise, He has for all of us I wouldn’t be standing here today.

Listen I don’t have all the answers but I put my life and faith in the only one who has the answers though He has that absolute right to not to let me know the answer to biggest questions we have in this world.

I do have an understanding of some things such as why are His people being martyred on a daily basis, John 15:18-19, “Jesus said that they hated, If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”

John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

I can also understand the outlook we as those that have Jesus in our lives have will be different for those who don’t have or believe in Christ, Ephesians 2:10-12, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:”

I even know why death and suffering in is our world, Genesis 2:15-17, “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” 

That doesn’t mean that I may accept those hardships with a smile on my face or without getting mad at those events that break my heart…but they will never break my spirit!

THIS LIFE INSN’T ALWAYS WONDERFUL, BUT A WONDERFUL LIFE IT’S BEEN!

In the movie “Jumanji, the Next Level”, Danny DeVito starts out as a bitter, sarcastic, old man and makes the statement to Spencer that “it doesn’t get any better” and “Getting Old Sucks?” but we get to see how the realization of how his bitterness had destroyed his relationship with Milo for so many years. He tells Spencer then that “Getting old is a gift, I forget that sometimes, but it is”

THIS LIFE INSN’T ALWAYS WONDERFUL, BUT A WONDERFUL LIFE IT’S BEEN!

Psalms 23 so completely explains the provision God has given to us when life isn’t so wonderful.

Psalms 23:1 “A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” 

THIS LIFE INSN’T ALWAYS WONDERFUL, BUT A WONDERFUL LIFE IT’S BEEN!

My view of God has changed completely over the years and not because of the good times. It’s the struggles, it’s the hurts, it’s the pain that has made me into the man of God I am today!

I have learned of Gods tremendous value He has place on each of us…

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.:

Isa 41:10, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

THIS LIFE INSN’T ALWAYS WONDERFUL, BUT A WONDERFUL LIFE IT’S BEEN!

Are You Equipped?

Ephesians 4:11-16, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

I’m going on 40 years of being saved and in those years have heard literally thousands of sermons, but if you asked me how many of them, I could quote or recall a significant amount of the message, if I were honest, I would say relatively very little.

This is not to say that a vast majority of them weren’t good or that they didn’t have impact on my life but if we were honest most sermons especially by evangelist are motivational messages.

Many times, I have been in a service that blew my mind and got me very excited to go out and change the world for Christ and the next day I got up as usual, got dressed, ate breakfast, made my lunch, went to work, put my 8 hours, then came home, and nothing happened.

So, this thought came to me, why? Then this question came, what is the purpose of the church, especially it’s leadership?

The reason for us to gather together is found in Acts 2:42, “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Hebrews 10:23-25, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” 

So, the question is, are you being equipped?  1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”

Are you able to defend the faith…marriage between a man and a woman?

Hebrews 6:1-3, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,  Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.  And this will we do, if God permit.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says in the Amplfied, “Every scripture is God-breathed given by His inspiration- and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, and for training in righteousness [that is, holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose and action] So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

In the thousands of messages, I’ve heard in my lifetime I can narrow it down to this problem, most messages tell you that you need to receive Jesus Christ in their heart, that you need to read the word of God to learn who He is and you need to pray to have that communication with our Savior. The problem is many times we don’t tell them the how.

Jesus often with His disciples had to tell them the how, teach us how to pray they asked, when will the time of the end be? Jesus had to explain what the four soils meant and many of the other parables Jesus told those gathered.

Paul told us in Roman 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” But what about the why to this question, 13-16, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 

In the modern-day church, the emphasis has been put on more worship and short sermons not so much on teaching but ironically a recent survey among Evangelicals shows people want the opposite, fewer than 10% want shorter sermons while nearly 30% want more in-depth teaching, the younger adults are even more interested as only 7% wanted shorter sermons.

Just as the bible charges parents to train up a child in the way he should go, we in the church have the responsibility to train (equip) those who God has entrusted us with.

Having the proper equipment is important, when you start sometimes you can have the basics, like screw drivers and hammers, but for me it’s important to obtain better tools to do the job God had called us to do better, battery drivers, table saws, ratchet sets are all tools I’ve added to do a better job but you also have specialty tools, ie, laying concrete, putting in windows, hanging cabinets, etc. we in this church have many different talents as well…

A good example we can find in Eph 6:13-17, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: is what we should do

Ephesians 6:10-12, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Is the why we should put on the armor of God everyday

Ephesians 6:18, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” Is the how we put on that armor.

Ephesians 4:11-12, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting (equipping) of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”

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Choosing to be Thankful

There was a movie many years ago that had the title, “It’s a mad, mad World” which pretty much describes the time we are living in.

Has anyone watched the news or listened to what’s happening lately?

For the past 2 years we have witnessed a complete change on how we go about our lives, we’ve had businesses close some forever, our kids were required to do school virtually which now many are admitting had caused great harm to their learning as well as mental state (something some had said from the beginning). We have been required to wear mask on our faces until very recently and or been required to get a vaccine that may take years for us to find out the effects it may have on our health.

The latest numbers have over 6 million people worldwide of dying with covid, I say with covid as many died of other reasons but for political reasons if they tested positive it seemed more expedient to list them as a covid death sadly.

Then as soon as we seem to be coming out of that pandemic, we get hit with gas prices going through the roof, 2/20/22 gas was $3.12 a gallon, today the average is $4. We have been seeing the inflation rates go up throughout 2021 and are now seeing 7.9% inflation and if you’ve been shopping lately, it seems much higher than that. Then if you dare to follow politics, well it will make you pull your hair out, and can cause you to lose friends if you express your views.

Free speech is more like you may have to pay a price for your speech with not just being kicked off social media platforms for many times speaking truth (I guess truth is subjective these days).

Oh, yeah, we also have a war that we have no clue from our leaders on how to handle and who knows when and if China will decide to push things further and invade Taiwan.

So, who is with me on trying to find a tall building to jump off of?

With all this it is easy for one to become frustrated, angry, sad, and even depressed with all that is going on, isn’t it?

So, I was pondering on all this lately and as I was sitting, thinking on what I should share with you today…in Chick-fil-a, eating some chicken strips. I started to think about being thankful in spite of all that is happening around us and boom I knew what I would be talking about today, 1Thess 5:16-18, “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

I realized that every day in our life not just during the thanksgiving season we have a choice to make. Just think that the things you had today were as result of you being thankful for them yesterday, would you have anything?

The bible is filled with the thought that we need to be thankful, the word is used some 72 times in the OT and 71 times in the NT.

Just look at the book of psalms, Ps 69:30, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.”, 75:1, “To the chief Musician, Altaschith, A Psalm or Song of Asaph. Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.” 107:1, “O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” And 100:4, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” are just a small example to give our Lord, thanks!

Being unthankful is a sign of a world that has turned their back on God and His word, Romans 1:21, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

Its even a sign of the last days, 2Timothy 3:1-7, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Being thankful has some positive health results as well as several studies have shown. The university of Harvard, California, Miami and Pennsylvania have all come to the conclusion that those that have a thankful attitude, sleep better, have better friendships, have more energy, and even suffer less illness, and pain.

It also seems that ones that have endured more suffering and trials in their lives tend to be more thankful, I’m not just talking about possessions… but thankful for their friends, family, and of course the relationship they have with Jesus Christ. Eph 5:20, ”Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;”

Did any of you watch any of the summer Olympics last year?

Did any of you watch the Olympics after the Olympics, (para-olympics), seeing how thankful those who had obvious physical disabilities for just being able to compete was heartwarming.

Shakespeare once said, “I cried when I had no shoes, but I stopped crying when I saw a man with no legs”Col 3:17, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

So, make this day and everyday a time to be thankful for we are truly a blessed people!

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Don’t Be a Bystander

By Pastor Jeff,

Have you ever been a situation in which you know you should of stepped in to help someone in a dire situation? This is called “The Bystander Affect” which is defined as the following according to Britannica, “The inhibiting influence of the presence of others on a person’s willingness to help someone in need. Research has shown that, even in an emergency, a bystander is less likely to extend help when he or she is in the real or imagined presence of others than when he or she is alone. Moreover, the number of others is important, such that more bystanders leads to less assistance, although the impact of each additional bystander has a diminishing impact on helping.”

Probably the most common reason is more likely fear that keeps us from stepping in or stepping out.

We can witness this in several events in the word of God from the building of Noah’s Ark in which countless bystanders heard Noah’s warning of a coming flood but only Noah’s family and the the animals God brought entered this Ark. Elijah on Mt Carmel, 1Kings 18:21, “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” We see Elijah was not alone when he challenged Ahab and all the false prophets but no one would say a word until after the victory, 1Kings 18:39, “And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.”

Jesus many times in His ministry spoke in front of many thousands of people yet when He needed someone to speak up for Him in front of His accusers, all He has were bystanders. At the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior there was no doubt a very large group of bystanders in the crowd as we recall this was the, “Passover” so you had many thousands of Israelites in Jerusalem.

I think one of the greatest examples of the “Bystander Affect” is found in 1Samuel 17:1-4, “Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belongeth to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim. And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines. And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them. And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.” I don’t know how many men were with Saul but it was way more the a couple, lets read on, 1Samuel 17:8-11, “And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. 
And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.”
All bystanders, no one would stand up to this Philistine until the anointed King David showed up. Now many stories of David and Goliath picture David as just a boy but that really doesn’t seem to be the case, young yes, but probably in his early 20’s, and full grown as the reason that he didn’t wear Saul’s armor was not because it didn’t fit but because he didn’t feel worthy to wear it. David was not going to be a bystander and defeated the giant Goliath for the God and the nation of Israel.

As believers in Jesus Christ I believe it’s time for us to stop being bystanders and get into the Frey, it could be making your voice be heard in the political arena, which many think Christians shouldn’t get involved with. I of course disagree as we are seeing in our country what happens when we don’t make our voice known. The most important area to stop being a bystander of course is letting others know of what Jesus Christ has done for them. Not everyone will listen and accept the call but that doesn’t excuse us to avoid telling them, the world is becoming increasingly anti God as you can easily see everyday, but remember, it’s not God’s will for any to perish, but all come to repentance. We are given the great commission and have been given the power to share it, Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Stop being a bystander friends, Jesus is coming, and coming ver soon!

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When Words are Not Enough!

when-you-cant-look-on-the-bright-side-i-will-18543864

By Pastor Jeff,

Deuteronomy 31:6,“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” This promise is repeated in Hebrew 13:5-6, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

As our family is dealing with the loss of two loved ones in a period of less than 15 months we have heard the statement repeated several times by people, “I don’t have words” or “I can’t even know what your are dealing with”. This is true as the old Indian saying goes, “walk a mile in his moccasins.” which is plain to understand that you can never feel or understand what another person is going through unless you have experienced the same thing. Even then can be difficult to comprehend as we all react to things somewhat differently based on our faith, relationship, and age.

This saying, “When you can’t look at the bright side, I will sit with you in the dark” comes from the movie in Alice in Wonderland, I had purchased a T-shirt with the phrase and had wore it to a interview from a local newspaper not thinking that a couple months later it would express my thoughts of today. It has been difficult and may never happen for at least me to go back and continue my life as it was before. It’s hard to be in a  group and discuss the things that once mattered to me. I even told people close to me that I need to be just left alone, that I had no interest in talking about it, but I know through it all that Jesus was there not telling me it will be alright but sitting with me holding my hand, handing me tissue to wipe the tears from my eyes (figuratively).

Listen, Jesus no matter how you feel, what you are experiencing, what you are thinking, in the greatest hours of despair, Jesus is there! Don’t always expect Him to speak words in your ears, to shake you, to even hug you, but know He is there, trust that!

It’s been very difficult in seeing any good of the tragic loss of my son and daughter and when I shared my daughters legacy in our church the scripture that God gave me is found in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” To be honest I don’t feel good about what happened, I do Love God with everything in me and I do believe I am called for His purpose. But the good I can’t fathom, it hurts way to much at this point in time to think that, but I do believe it. Maybe all that will come of it is that I will get to share my story how no matter what has come my way, I can stand, even if my knees may be weak and wobbly, I will still stand, and if you ever find yourself not able to look at the bright-side I will sit with you even in the dark!

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A Time to Weep!

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By Pastor Jeff,

It’s been a while since I have done a blog mainly because I was in a very sorrowful state for the past two months as we were preparing the passing of my wonderful daughter. It is still very hard to believe that she is not with us in this present world but I know without a doubt I will see her soon.

John 11:35, “Jesus wept” the shortest verse in the King James Bible and probably one of the more popular scriptures used in sermons today. I find it amazing how men try to make it out to be something more than it says. We all are aware of the circumstance of this event in which Jesus’ good friend Lazarus has passed away. Jesus when he arrives He is met by Lazarus sisters Martha and Mary who are obviously grieving over the loss of their brother and why Jesus did not come immediately and heal him before he died.

John 11:33-34, “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.” Many have tried to read something into this as Jesus was weeping because of their unbelief or lack of faith that He could not of only healed Lazarus but could of raised him from the dead. Once again I don’t think anything should be added to this scripture to further dramatize the emotion Jesus shared with those there.

Jesus wept, something every person on this earth has done one time or another, we cannot place Jesus on some pedestal that excludes that He was both God and man. Jesus felt emotion, Jesus is not above feeling our hurts, Jesus is not a God that is not acquainted with our grief. The Bible tells us differently, Isaiah 53:3-4, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”

The last few months have been extremely tough on my family and me. I can count on one hand the days I have not grieved and shed tears over the loss of my daughter. It has been said the average person generates 1.4 ml. of tears a day, I have surpassed that by 20-100 fold. I lay in bed many a night crying before I fall off to sleep, I have had dreams in which I have been weeping and wake up weeping. I weep for my granddaughters who will grow up without there mother, I weep for her husband who will go on with life without his helpmate, and I do weep for myself over the thoughts of going on with events, celebrations, holidays without her, and I miss her so.

Jesus wept, and that gives me hope of a God who knows and shares my grief. I know one day joy will return in my life but today like Jesus did, I weep!

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Too Much Jesus?

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By Pastor Jeff,

So, can you have too much Jesus? Of course the answer is NO! I will state that I wake up thinking about Jesus, I go throughout my day thinking about Jesus, and I go to bed thinking of Jesus. Would I want more of Jesus in my life? Absolutely! The Apostle Paul said it this way in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” 

So, with saying that, have you ever encountered someone who seemed so overbearing in his speech about what he or she knows about Christ that after a while you either cut his conversation off or avoided this person? I have, and I’m not debating someones relationship or dedication to serve and share the gospel. But when I look at the disciples and Apostles they were also able to have a conversation that befriended others rather ostracizing them. Most of the disciples were fisherman and I think that they were very at ease talking about fishing, giving advice, and maybe even joining others out on the boat here and there. Paul by Luke’s account in the Bible was a tentmaker Acts 18:1-3, After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.” He also could discuss the law and had knowledge of how government was run.

I love Jesus Christ and love telling others of His greatness and love for them, but I also can carry a conversation on other things, such as sports, politics, recent news, and other things that may help me to build a relationship with someone which will allow me to share the “Good News” with them. If I just brow beat them with what God says it may and I’ve seen it happen close the door to any future conversations with them. Apostle Paul gave us this insight in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.”

Jesus is my Lord and my Savior and I will shout His name to the nations but I will be open to conversations that show that I care about what others care about and when the opportunity comes will switch the conversation about Jesus Christ. Too much Jesus is I believe impossible but like Paul I will to whatever I can to win others to the gospel!

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Jesus Loves Me!

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By Pastor Jeff,

Romans 5:6-9, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” 

What a powerful declaration of Jesus’ love for me! I make this a personal statement because the one thing I’ve learned in my 34+ years of being a Born Again Christian is that He really is a personal God. I know God so loved the world and it’s 7.6 billion people currently living on this planet, but when it comes to salvation and having a relationship with the creator of all things, it’s mono to mono! Nobody can make the day to day to decision to live for Christ for me and I can’t make that decision for anyone else even those I whole dear.

Jesus died for ME! Jesus loves ME! Jesus cares for ME! If I was the only sinner on this earth, I believe sincerely that God would took on the form of man, would of suffered, died, and been resurrected so that I could have eternal life! What an awesome God we have the privilege to serve.

I was recently was picking black raspberries in our back yard and had this revelation that of all the places I could of moved to. The one one place Jesus picked for us had wild raspberries on and around it. You may say big deal and probably most would never think a second thought about it. For me it is a big deal, for when I was growing up I had the great opportunity of spending many summers at my Grandparents house up North. I had an uncle a little more than a year older than me whom I spent these summers trying to keep from being bored; which didn’t seem to be an issue if my memory is correct. One of the things we did every summer was go out and pick wild raspberries as time to spend in the outdoors and they sure tasted good in our cereal (when my grandmother didn’t steal them on us and make jam). Of course for me picking them today brings back those wonderful memories as well as the fun of making jam and giving it mostly away to the ones we love. That, to me showed how much Jesus loves me and would care enough for those memories to put me right smack in the middle of several gallons of raspberries!

I love Jesus Christ very much, but His love for me preceded my love for Him from the beginning of time, 1 John 4:19, “We love him, because he first loved us.”

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Revival Isn’t About Numbers!

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By Pastor Jeff,

When you hear the word “Revival” what is the first thing you think of? Huge numbers of people repenting, getting baptized in Jesus Christ name and receiving the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, right? Well if that’s the answer you came up with you would be wrong.

A good definition of revive is found in Merriam-Webster as1. to make (someone or something) strong, healthy, or active again 2. to become strong, healthy, or active again 3. to bring (something) back into use or popularity

Psalms 85:6, Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” Isaiah 57:15,For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

Revival is not about numbers but is about getting our hearts right with God Almighty, James 4:9 says, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”  If we as a church draw closer in our relationship with Jesus Christ with no real growth in numbers, I will say, hey everybody, our little church in Janesville WI is having “Revival!”

Look, we really can’t save anyone, its only the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses a soul of sin, it’s our job to spread the gospel, but Jesus Saves! I do believe without a doubt that if the church does have true Holy Ghost revival in its midst. It will see growth in numbers, it’s just a natural occurrence, but let’s not put the cart before the horse. We see many groups that are seeing increase in numbers but have no real growth in Christ. Jesus had a name for these, Matthew 23:27-28, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” 

Let’s strive to revive the inside, then the outside will show true “Revival!”

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