Statement of faith

2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (NIV)

"The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make us like the Son of God. To become like Jesus, we must fill our lives with his Word.
- Warren


Monday, March 26, 2012

Quiet-Time Reflections

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Week of: March 26, 2012                                         pmcrawford1@gmail.com
Sharing by: Pam Crawford


 Hebrews 10:24-25
"Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

Psalm 122:1
“I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”

Chore or a Delight
This week I will attempt to address a question I received concerning the necessity to attend church. The mentality behind this question is that “we don’t need to be in church to connect with God.”  To that I say you’re absolutely right. However, we might want to consider what God’s Word has to say about participating in worship within a church setting. In the Book of Hebrews we have God inspired encouragement that we might not want to overlook.  Part of this has to do with the privilege we have to worship. In Psalm 122, Kind David is referring to the privilege of stepping into the presence of God. Hang on to that for a bit.

Before we begin I would like to acknowledge that I understand that for the disabled and shut-ins, it is not always possible to be in a church setting. I am so grateful that we now live in an age where the church can come to the people through TV, radio, and the internet.  I would caution you to be extremely careful in regards to what you listen to at home. Just because it’s out there doesn’t mean it’s all Biblically sound. The more you study the Bible, the better equipped you will be to recognize false teachings.

Now, I also understand that for some of you, you have had a bad church experience. It might not have been in a building per say, but rather, it might have come at the hands of another church attendee or church leader. For that, I am truly sorry. I realize that there are people out there who have a sour taste in their mouth because of an experience they endured within a particular church setting. But, to stereotype all churches and all believers together would be unfair. If you have given it your best shot to resolve the conflict, ask God to direct you to a new place where you can both give and receive encouragement in your faith journey. God will be more than willing to oblige and help you heal if your heart is right. It may take you some time to find the right fit, but it’s out there.  If you already have it, praise God!

Let's think about this for a moment. If God’s Word expresses that He desires for us to be in a church setting, wouldn’t it be wise to set aside our excuses and get there? In the Book of Genesis we learn that the first day of the week was established as sacred time set aside for worship. Too often we allow things to crowd out our worship time with God. Sometimes it’s simply a result of sheer laziness. At other times it’s a sporting event, a recreational avenue or an entertainment lure that keeps us from assembling together in church. In America today Sunday is treated like any other ordinary day. This is just my personal opinion, but I think it might be time for those of us that profess to be Christ-followers to take back and protect our day of worship and our family time.

 “Those who are truly God's people love the house of God and the worship of God. They arrange their lives around the worship of God
. Nothing ever comes up, over which they have control, to keep them from the house of God. They see to it that when the saints of God gather for worship, they are among them, unless their absence is genuinely unavoidable.” – Dan Fortner

As I was pondering God’s instructions for corporate assembly, I came across the following article by Dr. Dale A. Robbins titled “Why Should Christians Attend Church? I personally found his work very helpful as I worked to better understand why God instructs us not to forsake assembling together.  For the sake of time I will paraphrase some of what he teaches, and then I’ll provide his website if you desire to explore it further on your own.  

Why Should We Attend Church?

·                     It’s an outward expression of our Love for God and our desire to be obedient to our Creator. It’s a place where we can join our voices to give thanks and praise. At church we can bring our offerings and publically display our faith and trust in God. This is actually something that Matthew tells us God requires (Matthew 10:32-33).

·                     Church is the opportunity to be in the presence of the Lord. Even though we know that Jesus resides in the heart of every believer, the Word tells of a promise of special visitation of the Lord’s presence when two or more are gathered in the name of Jesus (Matthew 18:20).

·                     Fellowship within church often sparks encouragement and a willingness to spur one another on to victory. Contrary to what some believe, we really do need others to help us on our journey. Being in the presence of other believers is inspiring when we love and care for one another from a heart of compassion.

·                     Going to church is an act of obedience. When we put God first, He is pleased.

·                     Being in church is a means of reverencing God.


“Our attitude toward God will determine our view of worship.” - LASB 

I do pray that you have been encouraged to see the value in being a part of corporate worship. If you are not currently attending a church, or you’re in a place of exploration; please consider finding a good Bible-based church where God’s Word is taught in a manner that you can understand. If you would like a few suggestions you can e-mail me. Be blessed on your journey.

Additional Scripture: Psalm 5:7, 95:6, 

In Christ by grace,
Pam

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Quiet-Time Reflections

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Week of: March 19, 2012                                      pmcrawford.blogspot.com
Sharing by: Pam Crawford


                                        1 Corinthians 2:4-5
“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”

SPIRIT OF TRUTH
When you are called to give witness, you are called to give a truthful account of something. Today I’m going to do just that. I’m going to take the example of the Apostle Paul and be transparent from the heart. I’m going to tell you about a time in my life when I could not understand the Bible and how God turned that around for me. Maybe some of you reading today can relate to being right there. It might be that you have a Bible, but you leave it on your bookshelf or in your nightstand drawer only to open it occasionally when you’re in dire confusion or you have some sort of need. Then, you put it back because it makes absolutely no sense to you at all!  Well, that is part of my testimony. I would open the Bible and wonder, “What in the world are these stories about, and how in the heck do they apply to my life? 

The primary reason we put something down is because we don’t understand it. When we think of someone not reading the Bible, we might be tempted to point the finger at unbelievers. Be careful my friends as many church goers are not reading the Bible on their own either.  For many years I believed it was not necessary to open the Bible because that is what I had been taught as a little girl. We had workbooks in religion classes and it was my understanding from the Sister's who taught us, that only the Priest had the ability to discern correctly what God was teaching. I believed them because no one else in my life ever told me anything different. So for me, reading the Bible never became a desire of mine. I was content to leave the Bible in my nightstand and wait for the teachings on Sunday mornings.    

When Sunday came I would go to church out of obedience to my parents, and as an adult I would go out of a sense of obligation. I would listen to the Priest recite the Scriptures and we would participate in the rituals and sacraments.  And, whether I understood what it was all about or not, I was good for the next week. I truly believed that they gave me enough knowledge to keep me from committing those really big sins that kept you from heaven. Fortunately, when God began to really stir something within me as an adult, He did so via the way of Bible study and the power of His Holy Spirit. With God’s help I discovered that some of what I had been taught didn't match up to the Scriptures at all. 

For some of us, we underestimate the power and the role of the Holy Spirit because we don’t truly understand it. Because of this we can fall prey to false teachings if we're not careful. Although there are many good resources and great Christian teachers to assist us, we should never overlook the Holy Spirit’s ability to help us discern the message straight from God’s Word. As we pray and ask God to help us, we can learn to properly study in context what God instructed from the beginning of time. It is a lot of hard work and it takes a lot of time to study it properly, but I am convinced that it will be worth it in the end. 

As you study the Bible be aware that there are many misconceptions concerning the identity of the Holy Spirit. I believe it is very important that we understand what the Bible says about the identity of the Holy Spirit in order to truly grasp the power available through Him. After doing an in-depth study of the Spirit on my own, I have concluded that The Holy Spirit is God, the third Person of the Trinity. In the Bible we're told that He comforts, guides, teaches, grieves, convicts, corrects, teaches and inhabits believers. If you don't agree or you’re interested in exploring the Biblical references which led me to this conclusion, I would invite you to check out the following resource found on:  http://www.gotquestions.org/who-Holy-Spirit.html  

I don't know about you, but I love to let the Scriptures speak for themselves. So if you don't mind let’s go directly to the Word of God to better understand the role of God’s Spirit.

John 16:13-15 “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not be presenting his own ideas; he will be telling you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by revealing to you whatever he receives from me. All that the Father has is mine; this is what I mean when I say that the Spirit will reveal to you whatever he receives from me.” (NLT)

After Jesus appeared to His disciples after the resurrection He spoke these words. Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you everything written about me by Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must all come true. Then he opened their minds to understand these many Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah must suffer and die and rise again from the dead on the third day. With my authority, take this message of repentance to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me. You are witnesses of all these things. “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.” – Luke 24:44-49

I have to stop here and catch my breath a moment ~ Did you get it? Did you hear it? JESUS opened the minds of the people to understand the Scriptures. They didn’t need anyone else, He did it! This truth leaves me with such a sense of awe. God did that very thing for me through His Spirit. When I began to ask God to help me discern what He was saying to me through His Word, He was more than willing to oblige me through directing me to Bible study. From there He began to show me my personal need for a spiritual rebirth (John 3). He opened my eyes to some wrong thinking and He revealed to me some habits/actions in my life that did not align to His Word. 

It is my prayer that you have concluded that the gift of God’s Spirit (Holy Spirit) is available to anyone who desires to be in relationship with Him. I hope that you are already enjoying this valuable gift. If not, what is holding you back? Why not ask Jesus to come into your heart and allow God to reveal himself through the power of His Spirit. God is waiting and He loves you!  The way I see it, it is far too dangerous to delay. Seek out for yourself a good Bible teaching/believing church and get connected with others to help you learn. I am available too if I can ever be of any help. Be blessed.

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” – Matthew 24:36 (KJV)

Today’s prayer:
Father in Heaven, thank you for your gift of the Holy Spirit. It is my prayer that those reading today would take some time out of their busy schedules to truly discover who you are as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Give them wisdom and the ability to discern Your instructions for godly living on their own. Provide them with all they need to develop a relationship with You. May it be full of rich blessings and joy? If there is something in their life that needs to be adjusted, speak with gentleness into their hearts and lead them onto the path of Your righteousness and love.  In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.  

Additional Scripture for study:
Luke 1:15, Judges 3:10, Matthew 10:19-20, Luke 12:11-12, Mark 1:10-11

Article of interest: The Holy Spirit – An absolute essential.

About Gotquestions.org

Purpose: To point you to what the Bible says about your question.

“The Spirit’s goal is not to fill your mind with information, but to bring you to a deeper level in your relationship with the Lord. He wants you to understand the truth so you will fall in love with Jesus. Then you’ll long to spend time in the Word, thereby getting to know Him even better.”
                                                                                -  Dr. Charles Stanley  


About Gotquestions.org
Purpose: To point you to what the Bible says about your question.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Quiet-Time Reflections

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Week of: March 12, 2012                                    pmcrawford1@gmail.com
Sharing by: Pam Crawford


Luke 23:34
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.  

HILLTOP TRAGEDY
If you’re familiar with the shootings that occurred at Chardon High School in Chardon, Ohio on Monday February 27, 2012, you might still be reeling in disbelief. It was just an ordinary Monday morning for many of us who live here. We got up and we went about our business as usual. We never imagined that shortly after 7:30 a.m. our “usual” would be rocked by tragedy. Five students were shot at the hands of another student, three fatally, and two are still recovering both physically and mentally. This senseless act will forever change the landscape of these families and our community which is now referred to as the Hilltoppers with “One Heartbeat.”

I have never been more proud to be a part of this city. It is breathtaking to watch so many people allowing God’s love to pour out of them in order to help others. Everyone is hurting and these senseless shootings are hard to process. However, I have no doubt that if we continue to be the light within this darkness, healing will take place, and God’s will for His people will prevail. If you haven’t seen the pictures follow this link.

As many of us work through the grief and disbelief of how five students could be shot in cold blood, one particular response to the tragedy has stuck out in my mind. The following is a short excerpt from an interview with Demetrius Hewlin's mother. Demetrius was better known as “D” by his friends. He lost his life that day from a gunshot wound to the back of his head. May we all find a sense of peace from “D’s” mom Phyllis Ferguson?

Excerpt:
"I don't know what [his] final moments were like, but I can't worry about it," Demetrius' mother Phyllis Ferguson told ABC News in an exclusive interview. "You have to accept things done and move on."

When asked what she would say to the suspected shooter, Ferguson said, "I would tell him I forgive him because, a lot of times, they don't know what they're doing. That's all I'd say."

"I taught Demetrius not to live in the past, to live in today and forgiveness is divine. You have to forgive everything. God's grace is new each and every day," she said. "Until you've walked in another person's shoes, you don't know what made him come to this point."

"God knew what he was doing. It's not for my understanding, but mine to accept and remember him as he was," Ferguson said.


Friends, Phyllis words have really caused me to personally meditate on the example of her faith. If this was my child, would I have her attitude? Would I understand that my child was returning to his rightful owner? Would I be able to forgive the one who took his life? Could I see the shooter as just a boy who made a really bad choice? Would I get that I have an opportunity to be light to others within my own personal pain? I have no idea if Phyllis Ferguson realizes this or not, but that is exactly what she did through speaking these words deep within her own pain. May God grant her a continued peace that surpasses all understanding. May she get to experience joy in her fond memories of her boy.

I truly believe that Phyllis has it right. In another interview she expressed that “she only has enough room in her heart for Demetrius.” She was trying to help people understand that if she lets garbage in such as bitterness, anger, hatred or unforgiveness towards the person that took her son's life; it would crowd out that special place reserved for her son’s memory. I pray a hedge of protection over her heart and mind. I pray that nothing will ever be allowed to penetrate what she has reserved for her son.

To those of us who are now onlookers to the after affects of this tragedy, may we adopt Phyllis’s’ attitude. May we allow the God of compassion to fill our hearts with love and concern for those who are still recovering from their injuries? Let’s keep Joy and Nick in our daily prayers. Let’s continue to reach out to their families. Let’s also continue to pray for all the students and the staff who have been directly affected by someone else’s wrong choice. This is going to take them a very long time to process. 


As Christians we also have a responsibility to allow the God of compassion to help us love the boy shooter T.J.  Yes, I said love him.  It is OK that we judge his act of murder, it was wrong!  But as God’s Word teaches us, and as Phyllis has so lovely stated, we should be careful not to judge the boy. We have no idea the darkness inside of him that led him to make the wrong choice. We would be wise to trust the justice system and to leave our personal opinions to ourselves. Let us not forget that the tongue has the power to destroy. We can show love to T.J. by praying for him.  In love let's ask God to save his soul from eternal damnation. My thoughts may be contrary to how you're feeling today, however let's not overlook what God would want from His children. 

We also have an opportunity to intercede for T.J.'s family. Let us not forget that this troubled boy was loved by them, just as we love the children in our own lives. I can’t imagine if that had been one of my children pulling that trigger. We raise our children the best way we know how. We attempt to give them proper guidance, but we cannot be responsible for their choices.  I personally know one set of grandparents and they are crushed beyond words. They were doing their best to give their loved one a chance at a better life. They are not responsible for his choices!  It is my prayer that T.J.’s family, especially his siblings and those who love him are treated with respect. I pray they are given an exceedingly abundant measure of love, support and encouragement. And, I desire to allow it to begin with me. I pray we will all look a bit different to the world from up here on the hill of Chardon, Ohio from this day forward. I pray they see Jesus.

We can do this! We can continue to allow LOVE to overflow from this place. Let us not allow anyone, or anything to extinguish our light.

“Forgiveness is one of the most compassionate things that we can do. It is greatly misunderstood and because of this it is rarely given in the truest sense of the word.” -  Charles Henry

For additional help to work through forgiveness issues I have shared an article that has been helpful to me. It is full of great wisdom and I pray it blesses you.  

In Christ by grace,
Pam

“And forgive us our sins – just as we forgive those who have sinned against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation.”  - Luke 11:4








Monday, March 5, 2012

Quiet-Time Reflections

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Week of: March 5, 2012                                   pmcrawford1@gmail.com                   
Guest Writer: Connie Kovach
Just a thought…
                                By Connie Kovach
                                3/1/12


There was a fog that fell on Chardon Ohio last night.  Though the untimely warm temperatures helped to create the visible fog that swept through the city, there was a fog unable to be seen but could be felt for miles.  My heart is breaking for the community of Chardon, especially the students of Chardon High School.  Most of us will never know the effects that those kids will encounter for the rest of their lives.  There entire existence changed in a second.

Recapping the last few days in my mind is tough.  I live about a half hour away but as one reporter so perfectly stated "Tonight we all live in Chardon".  This statement could not ring more true.  The loss of three young men has affected each and every human being that has heard of these senseless shootings.  In some, it may have triggered memories of past traumas in their life.  If that's the case, they most likely went through every second of the day their life was changed forever.  For others, it may have triggered fear.  When things like this happen we all worry.  We wonder if we will see it again, and this time closer to us, if not us.  Either way, something changed for everyone.

The most common thing stated amongst the people interviewed was the fact that they cannot believe it happened in their town, which is a scary thought.  We as humans have been deceived to think that it can't happen to us, whatever "it" is.  We live in a world riddled with sin.  The Bible says in the garden of Eden, sin was born through a snake and a couple (Gen 3).  Since that day, the world was a different place.  Instead of living life in communion with God and walking with Him through the garden each day, we are subject to the god of this world, Satan.  God's word says that Satan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).  Anything that comes from him is evil because that's what and who he is.  Satan was working on Monday, February 27th and he continues to work today.  He will be the one that is telling you to be afraid to go back to school, or to fear our children in school.  He is the one who is telling you to hate the lost boy who caused these horrific tragedies.  He is the one who has told you not to worry, nothing bad can happen in a small town.  He is nothing but a liar.

So as we all sit in what seems to be a hopeless despair and ask what's next?  The answer is easy, God!  For years I have heard people mock God.  They say things like Jesus is a crutch that will get you through a tough time.  The funny thing is, they are kind of right, let me explain.  Over the past year God has been showing me who He really is.  Let me tell you that I, in no way have Him figured out, but He is so much more than I have allowed Him to be in my own life.  Today when I sat to write, I got quiet before the Lord and asked Him to give me the words.  As I prayed, it was as if He was asking me who I think He is.  I began to list out loud who I believe He is, even in the midst of tragedy.  Some of the names that I listed were God, Creator, the I Am, Holy, Mighty, Strong, Salvation, Redeemer, Prince of Peace, Healer, Comforter, and that's just a few.  His word speaks of so many more names for our God. 

For those of you who do not know this God as I do, I pray you will call out to him in the quiet of your room.  When we are faced with a tragedy such as this we have two choices.  We can carry on with life as before and stuff our emotions deep down or perhaps become really angry with God for not stopping what happened, or we can look up admitting that we do need a Savior.  Right now we are all limping, if you are not, you are not breathing.  So yes, we all need a crutch.  Jesus is that crutch who helps us to walk as we limp.  You see Jesus, the Son of God was born to live as us, to teach us, and to die for us.  He did so because without his blood being shed, there would be no forgiveness and no entry into heaven (Heb 9:22).  So our Comforter is offering the crutch to help us learn to walk again, to help us rest our wound.  He is here for you right now if you call out to Him with the knowledge that without Jesus you cannot be forgiven (John 3).

Admitting that we need Him in our lives is the easy part, from there, if your request was purely from your heart to God's, life as you know it will never be the same.  If you are willing to walk with this crutch, you will need to listen to the Great Physician (Matt 9, Luke 4).  You will need to open the bible and begin to read because according to John 1:1 God is the word.  It would be wise to seek someone of faith who can mentor you. It is also vital to find a bible based church that will teach you as you grow (1Cor 12:12-31).

So as we continue to journey through this time of sorrow, I pray for the families that will lay their children to rest this week.  I pray for the kids that must face their fears and walk through those doors again.  I pray for the community that must learn to live again.  I pray for the boy who sits and awaits his fate here on earth, that God may breathe truth into him before he reaches his final judgement after death.  I pray for his family that I imagine are carrying his actions on their shoulders.  I pray for all who have been viewing this tragedy unfold over the last four days, for healing and obedience if God is asking you to reach out to someone either physically or financially.  This God I speak of can heal you if you let Him.  He will help you to walk better than before but only if you put your trust in Him.              

conniekovach.blogspot.com