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Electricity Anyone?

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ImageSome people are calling the tree snapping, building throwing, electricity stopping storm we had last Friday a stroke of bad luck. Others are blaming global warming for the heat wave that started it all. A few have speculated that maybe God is trying to send us a message that He is not pleased in some way. Personally, I simply think we were in the path of a bad storm and that is all there is to it.

            Now that things are starting to get back to normal for most of the people in our area, I have to stop on this Fourth of July and say thank you.

 Thank you!

Thank you to those of you who were just as hot and miserable as everyone else yet put the needs of others before yourself.

 

Thank you for allowing people to help where they could.

 Thank you Scott, for simply organizing a meal that meant so much to everyone who was tired of munching on warm peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

 Thank you for chainsaws, even if we had to use them in 100 degree heat.

 But most of all, thank you Lord…

            …for watching over us and keeping us safe.

            …for the reminder that we are truly helpless against your power.

            …for providing for our daily needs.

            …for providing us an opportunity to serve.

            …for the fact that power does not come from the utility company, but from your hand.

            …for a freezer full of ruined food, after all it does not feed the soul anyway, your Word does.

            …for the fact that the water kept flowing, although we remember that Living Water comes from Christ.

            …for keeping our families safe, they are precious to us.

            …for your grace, your love, and your Son. In light of what He had to suffer, what we are going through is just a tiny annoyance.

 

Thank you Lord for blessing us and allowing us to be your people.

Paul Never Graduated From First Grade

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Daniel on Graduation Day

Our family was living in south Texas when my oldest two children ‘graduated’ from first grade. That’s right, I said ‘graduated’. Don’t get me wrong, I was proud of them for doing their best in school, getting good report cards, and being recognized for doing well. But there is just something about the way we reward every child in the same way, no matter how well or poorly they do that seems to totally devalue all of the hard work and praise given to them.

Do we honestly believe children are so shallow in their understanding that when we reward them all in the same manner year after year, no matter how much work they put in or what grade they receive, that they will strive to achieve even higher goals set before them? I think most kindergarteners would be happy with an ice cream cone from Dairy Queen and a great big hug from mom and dad on the last day of school, letting them know that they are proud of them. Graduation should be reserved for something really special.

The apostle Paul made similar arguments. He often described our lives on Earth to that of an athlete or a soldier. Even as children we recognize quickly that not everyone can be an Olympian and even if we could, only a few would ever win! Paul states, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” (I Cor 9.24)

Do not be fooled by popular preachers who teach that to call yourself a Christian is all that is needed to get to heaven. Just believing in God is not enough, we must run the Christian race with endurance and self-control or else we will be disqualified (I Cor 9.27). Can a disqualified Olympian still receive the gold medal? What about a disqualified Christian, can they still receive a crown of life?

Judgment day is not the same as first grade graduation. Not everyone will be rewarded with a eternal crown no matter how they lived. Only those who love God, follow His example, obey His will, endure, keep their eyes straight ahead on Jesus, and press on toward the finish line will be rewarded. Paul says, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ” (Php 3.14). He still keeps our eyes focused, even today, on that great prize no matter how difficult things may be. I too encourage us all to run the Christian race with patience and love for God, following in the footsteps of Jesus. In the end, the reward will be far greater than we ever imagined it would be.

The Importance Of Hope

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Hope can be described in many ways. It is an anchor for our soul in turbulent times. It is a comfort when we are unsure of the direction our lives are taking. Hope is a beacon of light piercing through a fog of confusion.

It is a simple word used in the most complex situations. A cancer survivor may say that it was hope and faith that saw them through the darkest of nights. Wounded soldiers from the battlefield shroud themselves in hope, of survival, of seeing family again, of being whole.

 In the process of life, one can quite easily lose hope: in others, in God, and even in themself. Despair is often cyclical, spiraling into depression and helplessness, leading to even greater despair. The result is that one sad thing leads to another seemingly without end, until we feel that we can’t possibly break free. It can all be a bit too much for our souls to handle, but with hope we have someone to turn to for help.

 As humans, we need hope. Our life would be meaningless without it. Hope is part of the lifeblood of our spiritual survival and it is often the only thing that can pull us out of the deep trenches of pain and hurt in our lives.

 Let God be the source of hope in your life. Paul tells the Romans that our hope rests in a bright future that we cannot see with our eyes, “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?” (Rom 8.24)

 We have hope in the form of a promise, that as Christians, we will be adopted as children of God and heirs to the kingdom. We have hope because God can provide patience and comfort through His word while we are on earth (Rom 15.4). Most importantly, we have confidence and hope of eternal life with God.

            In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;” (Tit 1.2)

 God is the source of all hope for a world that desperately needs Him. Unfortunately, many people do not realize they need Him until the depths of despair are closing in. They need a beacon leading their souls to safety. Are you a beacon of hope for the Lord?

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Mt 5.16)

Crumbling Home Fronts

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America’s ambassador to Japan, Douglas MacArthur II, served as Counselor of the State Department under John Foster Dulles. Like Dulles, MacArthur was a hard worker. Once when Dulles telephoned the MacArthur home asking for Douglas, Mrs. MacArthur mistook him for an aide and snapped irately, “MacArthur is where MacArthur always is, weekdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and nights – in that office!”

Within minutes, MacArthur got a telephone order from Dulles: “Go home at once, boy. Your home front is crumbling.” (Source Unknown)

 

            In fact, many home fronts are crumbling away across our nation because spouses do not spend enough time with each other or their children. Parents often work two or three jobs while at the same time making sure the homework gets done, the children are engaged in sports, scouts, or other interests. To be honest, they don’t even spend much time in the same room together, and family meals around the supper table have become a relic of a bygone era

           

            A couple can become more like roommates than husband and wife, spending more time with everything else in life than they do with each other.

 

            Love is a decision to be made and nourished, not just a feeling to be shared once and a while (Eph 5.22-23). A husband must love his wife as much as he cares for himself and wives must give respect to their husband in the same manner.

            God instructs couples to enjoy one another (Prov 5.15-19). How can they do that if they do not willingly build their relationship through mutual love?

 

Parents are to love their children and in truth, most do. Their love however, must go beyond providing for their physical growth and driving them to their games before making sure the homework is done and finally collapsing into bed, exhausted.

Godly parents show true love to their children by bringing God into their homes and making Him the center of it (Eph 6.4, Mt 10.37, Deut 6.4-9).

As God’s people, we have to turn to Him and His way for living our lives. We will be happier when we do. It is time for families across the nation to shore up our foundations, strengthen our homes, reunite with our spouses, and provide our children with the greatest gift of all, a personal relationship with God who loves them deeper than we ever could.

Who’s Your Barnabas?

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There are a few places in this world that are both awe inspiring and humbling at the same time. One such place is the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. Row upon row of pristine white crosses line a deep green sea of earth. So many lives lost, dreams cut short, opportunities never realized. Standing there, you may realize that you are truly are in a company of heroes.

(Image via http://home.comcast.net/~ejwoodall/Christmas_In_The_Military.html)

Experiencing the reality of such a place may make one wonder, how will we be thought of by others once our time on earth is done? It is impossible to sum up a person’s entire being with jut a few words, but imagine for a moment, what is the one thing you would like to be most remembered for?

Barnabas was a man, just as we are, and he is mentioned only a few times in scripture. What is said about him however, speaks volumes.

When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. (Acts 11.23)

(Image Via www.yourdictionary.com)

Barnabas demonstrated his love for the Lord and his fellow man through one of the most powerful means known to man. Barnabas was an encourager! What a wonderful thing to be remembered for. Consider for a moment how our lives would change if we all became more like Christ by following the example of this godly man.

So…Who is your Barnabas?

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