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June 29, 2016, 10:27 AM

June 29, 2016

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance.”  Psalm 33:12

     We have been so blessed!  That is the best description for our nation.  However, do we really recognize the magnitude of God's provisions for us?  God allows nations to rise and fall according to the fulfillment of His purpose for them.  Never be deceived by thinking we are a great nation because of things we have done.  We are a great nation because of God's plan and purpose.  When that purpose is completed, we will become like the other great nations throughout history.  God allowed the founding of America for “such a time as this”.  America, once a strong and flourishing Christian nation, has become a downward spiraling amalgamation of chaos, corruption and uncertainty.  Why?  It is because we have lost the very focus that made us great.  We (Christians) have exchanged the desire to build up the Kingdom for the desire to build up ourselves.
      We see a nation today where leaders spend much more time quarreling among themselves rather than looking for real solutions to problems that are becoming more and more complex.  Our people have become conditioned to the chaos and, in many ways, have developed the attitude of not even expecting any better.  If we continue down the same path that we are currently traveling, we will not see things get any better and the downward spiral will move faster and faster out of control.  The sad truth is that things have really not gotten bad enough to drive us to our knees.  We must recognize that in order for this nation to survive, there must be an all-out surrender of God's people to the Lord.  Please join with me in falling to our knees before Almighty God.  He can work and will work when His people humbly cry out to Him.  How much worse will it get before we realize the condition in which we find ourselves?
      As we approach Independence Day, let us be made more aware of our need to pray for God's guidance in our nation.  We love this nation but we also know that what we are doing and the decisions we are making do not please God.  As we cry out to God, let us keep the following passage in mind.  “Who knows, God may yet relent and with compassion turn His fierce anger so that we will not perish.  When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He relented and did not bring on them the destruction He had threatened.” (Jonah 3:9-10)
      On another note, we have been “submerged” in God's Word through VBS this week.  We would like to say a sincere thank-you for all of our children and volunteers that are making this week so awesome.  It is so wonderful to be a part of a church that is so ALIVE and growing in relationship with God and each other.
                                                                                                             We love you,
                                                                                                             Brad and Virginia

June 22, 2016, 10:17 AM

June 22, 2016

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, 'children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation'.  Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Philippians 2:14-16 
     Are we giving continual evidence that our daily walk is becoming more and more like Christ?  Day by day we should be striving to become more like Him.  It is sad that many Christians never move past the salvation experience. Of course, the salvation experience is vital but there is so much more to the Christian life.  Oftentimes, we find ourselves continuing to be slaves to the same habits and temptations and guilty of the same failures.  Yet, the Bible points us to a journey toward God which should mean growing more like Him daily.
     One of the ways that we can determine our progress is through the passage above.  Paul says to “do everything without grumbling or complaining”.  The next verse explains why that is very difficult even for Christians.   According to Paul, we live in a “warped and crooked” generation.  If anything, we live among those seemingly even more warped and crooked than in Paul's day.  Yet, even in the midst of the insanity, God has given us an attitude of peace and certainty.  We know who is ultimately in control and that God's purpose and plan will be accomplished.  The word Paul uses for grumbling (goggusmos) is very similar to the word used for Israel's grumbling in the desert with Moses.
     There is nothing any more frustrating than to be around people who are constantly complaining.  There is also nothing more detrimental to God's work than Christians arguing and complaining among themselves.  When we grumble and argue, our thoughts are turned completely upon ourselves.  Then we do not experience God's blessings because we do not see them in the midst of the clutter taking up our minds.  Are there things going on around us that we do not like?  Are there decisions being made around us that have a negative impact on us?  Of course, and we should address those.  However, it would benefit all of us greatly if we search for and implement solutions rather than only grumbling about the problems.  “Then, you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”  We are praying that you have a great week as you serve God and shine among others like stars in the sky.
                                                                                                                                                   We love you,
                                                                                                                                                   Brad and Virginia

June 15, 2016, 9:28 AM

June 15, 2016

“The son said to him, father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”  Proverbs 15:21

What are your thoughts when Father’s Day is mentioned?  People have many different emotions when talking about Father’s Day.  Some people had a great childhood experience while others may still struggle with the pain and heartache of situations that occurred at home.   The stories can literally be overwhelming.  It is really hard for some people to be able to comprehend a father figure who really loves them and desires the best for them.  As we celebrate Father’s Day together this week, let us be thankful for our fathers and willing to nurture those who struggle on this day.

Fathers should be great encouragers.  A story the other day reminded me that it is so important for dads to encourage their children.  The story was about a father who never really knew how to encourage his son.  He was very quick to point out all of his mistakes but never once congratulated him or encouraged him about any accomplishment.  This scenario is played out millions of times in our society today.  However, another situation can be just as bad if not worse.  There are some dads who think their children never do wrong.  This leaves children with a false sense of perfection.  There are no perfect people in our world today yet God has given us the way to be made perfect in His sight through His Son, Jesus.

It is a wonderful experience to have a Heavenly Father who encourages us, disciplines us when we go astray and yet forgives us so that we can serve Him better.  Regardless of our childhood, we need to introduce people to our Father who loves them, gave His only Son for them and promises eternal life for us through His Son.  There is something very important that we need to understand about God.  There is nothing you can do to make God love you less.  You may feel that way sometimes but be assured that God loves you regardless of where you are or have been.  Do you feel far away from God right now?  God desires to restore your relationship.  The question is: Will you allow Him to do that?  May you all have a blessed and prosperous week.  For every dad, we wish for you a great day as you celebrate Father’s Day!

                                                            We love you,

                                                            Brad and Virginia

June 8, 2016, 10:06 AM

June 8, 2016

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

Could you describe your life as being full of joy?  Are we joyous in our relationship with God?  Are we joyous in our relationship with others?  Are we joyous in our witnessing?  Finally, is our joy contagious?  Our joy in the Lord is so much different than happiness.  Happiness comes and goes whereas our joy in the Lord is constant.  Of course, the enemy is always looking for ways to steal our joy.  Remember, the enemy desires to take us out of the game.  He cannot take away our relationship with God or our salvation through Him so he strives to take away our joy.

          One of the problems in Christianity today is that we have, in many ways, become anything but joyous.  Paul vividly reminds us to be joyous in every circumstance.  The magnitude of our joy is in direct proportion to our closeness with our Heavenly Father.  Think about this question:  Is it a real joy for others to be around us?  Do they feel the love of God overflowing in our life?  We are to be encouragers.  It is very difficult to encourage others if we are not living the joy-filled life.  We may not be happy in every situation (something would probably be very wrong with us if we were) but we can always be filled with the joy of the Lord.  As Christians, especially in America, we have become far too cozy and involved with the world’s ways.  Therefore, we lose our focus and become entangled with striving to achieve happiness rather than being content and excited about our real joy.  For us to be joyous, we must keep our eyes focused on the only One who gives real joy.

          It is so easy to be ensnared by the world.  After all, God really wants us to be happy, right?  We find ourselves in a constant battle to be happy even if it means drowning in debt, forsaking assembling in worship together or neglecting Bible study and prayer.  Just one glimpse at Paul’s life and we will be made very aware of the constant problems he faced as he served God.  God never promised that all of life would be filled with happiness and the much sought after things of the world.  However, He does promise to give us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  He freely shares all of this with us as we walk by the Spirit not gratifying the desires of the flesh.  May your life be filled with the joy of the Lord and may you encourage others as the Holy Spirit enables you.

                                                                                                                      We love you,

                                                                                                                      Brad and Virginia

June 1, 2016, 2:08 PM

June 1, 2016

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have but do this with gentleness and respect. “ 1 Peter 3:15  

     Let's explore a few areas where Christians seem to have become very negligent.  Why are we so unlikely to share our faith?  Are we afraid?  Do we feel that we will be rejected?  Do we feel inadequate and think that someone will ask a question we really do not know how to answer?  Worse yet, have we become apathetic toward the people around us?  More than likely, if we are concerned, we spend far too much time trying to figure out how to witness the “right way”.  Granted, there are many good resources that teach Christians about sharing their love for Jesus.  However, we need to understand a few things about sharing our faith.  First, time seems to be very short.  It appears that we are in the midst of the last of the last days.  Second, we just need to focus on telling people what Jesus has done for us.  We must become diligent about sharing Jesus!
     Not only have we become negligent about sharing our faith, we have also become negligent about Bible study.  Do we really know how to study God's Word?  Too many Christians read a little in the Scripture but do not have a time devoted to real study.  One way to become more comfortable about sharing our faith is to become more familiar with the Bible.  Like anything else we care about, dedicated Bible study takes time.  Are we willing to spend the time needed for true Bible study?  Are we willing to participate in a Bible study group?  It seems that we make time for every other area of our life while leaving Bible study far down on the priority list.
     Another area in which we struggle is with the application of God's Word.  How can we apply what we have read and studied in a real, personal way?  We live in an era where certain passages in Scripture are no longer considered reasonable for today.  In fact, in many ways, it seems easier to leave it alone rather than face relentless condemnation.  The Bible is our guide for living!  The Bible is designed to encourage correct decisions while, at the same time, pointing out areas in our life that need attention.  It is only through a relationship with God that we truly experience God's Word and are able to apply it correctly.  What a time to be sharing our faith, taking the time to study the Bible and making appropriate application.  May you experience a blessed week as you diligently share Jesus and spend quality time with God each day.
                                                                                                                                          We love you,
                                                                                                                                          Brad and Virginia

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