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

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: May 28, 2012                        
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

Zephaniah 2:1-3
Gather together and pray, you shameless nation. Gather while there is still time, before judgment begins and your opportunity is blown away like chaff. Act now, before the fierce fury of the LORD falls and the terrible day of the LORD’S anger begins. Beg the LORD to save you – all you who are humble, all you who uphold justice. Walk humbly and do what is right. Perhaps even yet the LORD will protect you from his anger on that day of destruction. – NLT

As we celebrate Memorial Day this week the focus is rightfully on the many men and women who have served or are serving our country. When we think of our armed services and the many others who put their life on the line day in and day out, may we lift them and their families in prayer often?  It came to my mind that we should also pray and celebrate the bravery of the many men and women who have served or are serving on God’s battlefield everyday. It’s not always the most comfortable or safest place to be despite the fact that we have the freedom to be there.

Many of the Old Testament prophets were on the front lines. They announced news that destruction was eminent and they attempted on many occasions to help people avert God’s judgment. Their message was rather simple – choose obedience to God, turn from sin, and humble yourself.  

So often New Testament believers will read or listen to the Old Testament teachings with a sense that that was the climate of that era. Some have argued that it is not really relevant for today. This is dangerous thinking my friends!  Although we have been blessed with a "New Covenant," we would be foolish to dismiss the warnings and directives of our Sovereign LORD whose teachings remain the same for yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Back in Micah’s day people believed that God’s message of judgment was too harsh. I hate to break it to you but people of our day still believe that God’s message is too harsh and they chose to disregard it willfully. As many work to bring clarity of the Gospel to the people, opposition and persecution is rampant. As Micah was teaching about God’s judgment the people responded “Don’t’ say such things,” the people say, “Don’t prophesy like that. Such disasters will never come our way!” (Micah 2:6)  It is my personal opinion that in America, many are going about life as if disasters will never touch them. Even though we have experienced brief glimpses of destruction, I think we have no idea the magnitude of what can happen if we continue in direct disobedience to what God expects from mankind.

Let us not forget for a moment that God will have the last word when it comes to the final judgment. He was working to get Israel back on the right path and God is doing the very same thing for us today. He has many avenues for people to hear His Word and the work continues for both the Jew and Gentile people of our day. If all we want is God’s comforting messages we’re going to miss something spectacular. May our free-will not blind us into complacency

Being open to the entire content of the Bible is critical to spiritual maturity. The message may not always be easy to absorb, but its accuracy (2 Timothy 3:16) is not to be missed. Romans 14:11 says “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee will bow to me and every tongue shall confess to God.” 

In the Gospels and all throughout the Old Testament; you hear the voice of God and those appointed by Him to share the Good News speaking truth for the purpose of warning others. Because we do not know the day or the hour (Matt. 24:36), we might consider the urgency of today. One day the battle will end and we will be called to judgment. Those who have positioned themselves behind God need not fear. But for those who choose to align to the opposition, the warning is crystal clear “And whosoever was not found in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). 

Life’s Application Commentary:
"Some people think of God as an indulgent heavenly grandfather, nice to have around but not a real force in shaping modern life. They don’t believe in his power or his coming judgment. But God is holy, and therefore he will actively judge and justly punish everyone who is content to live in sin, indifferent to him, or unconcerned about justice. When people are indifferent to God, they tend to think that he is indifferent to them and their sin. They will be surprised to find that the “terrible day of the LORD is near.”

There is still time for God’s people to put on their uniforms and get in the battle. There is still time for the Word to be shared and the truth to be spoken. It is only the redemptive work of Christ on our behalf that will outlast the prophecy of destruction. Today is the day to gather and pray for our nation. Today is the day to pray for God’s created people; those who believe that He is “the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), and for those who are in rebellion to Him. 

I came across the following Scripture in my study of The Book of Zephaniah which brought this all home for me. Zephaniah 2:6 says “And I will destroy those who used to worship me but now no longer do. They no longer ask for the LORD’S guidance or seek my blessings.” As I read this my heart jumped out of my chest.  So many of us, myself included, are so distracted by the lure of this world and our own personal issues that God, His Word, and our passion for the salvation of others is secondary. When I listen closely to the words “I will destroy,” I can only repent for the many years I didn’t get the privilege I have to intercede for others. 

Let’s not be like the people of Zephaniah and Micah’s day. May we have courage and a new sense of boldness to reach out to others without fear of rejection? So often we restrain ourselves and we keep silent in fear that we will offend someone by calling them to task. Think about this for just a moment, what would be worse?  Would it be saying nothing at all knowing full well the outcome is destruction, or stepping out in love by being willing to give a gentle nudge when the Holy Spirit prompts? I don’t know your answer but I do know the one that makes sense to me. Let's not miss this!

In Christ by grace,

“Those who wait for perfect weather will never plant seeds."
(Ecclesiastes 11:4 NIV)

"This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: May 21, 2012                             
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

Isaiah 61:1
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the LORD has appointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”

The world lost an amazing brother in Christ when Charles “Chuck” Colson was called home to be with the Lord this year. It was right around the time when the world seemed to be reeling over the loss of entertainer Whitney Houston, so there may be a chance that you missed this in the secular mainstream news. The media’s focus on Whitney’s drug overdose and her unexpected death certainly overshadowed the passing of a true example, a poster child of sorts for godly restoration and grace.

Mr. Colson’s life reflected how God can take one’s failures and turn them around for good, when we’re willing to allow Him into our lives through genuine repentance. When I read Romans 8:28 “All things work together for good, for those who love God and are called according to His purpose,” I often think of this man’s life.  Just like many of us he allowed himself to fall prey to the lure of self-fulfillment. His ambitions got the best of him and he ended up experiencing some serious consequences. However, at age 80, Chuck left this world a changed man. 

For those of you unfamiliar with this man’s biography, Chuck Colson was a politician serving during President Richard Nixon’s administration. I think he was in his mid 40’s when his life changed drastically. He was a key player in the Watergate Scandal of that era and deeply involved in something that would change the course of his life. His nickname was “Hatchet Man.” Chuck Colson was arrested, convicted and imprisoned for his role in the government scandal. After his release from prison something powerful took place in his heart and it is definitely something that we can learn from. 

Although I never met the man he certainly touched my heart. I enjoyed his writings and I especially liked listening to his radio program “Breakpoint” which is part of his Prison Fellowship ministry. This man helped me understand that part of our purpose is to give back from that of which we have received. He saw devastation first hand behind the prison walls. When he walked out a free man he had a new heart for people who found themselves on the wrong side of their consequences. We don’t have to be in a physical prison to understand our ability to be the hands and feet of Jesus to people in despair. Chuck Colson spent the remaining 35 years of his life after his release from prison sharing the Good News with others. He wanted others to have the gift that he had been given. He went from being a self-centered ambitious man to a God-centered servant who loved on people who had made mistakes. Chuck never returned to his former life. 

It might not be a physical prison that you reside in, but many of us have been held in bondage to something. Whatever it might be; if you have been released from it, you have been given a powerful testimony. Don’t keep it to yourself! Your testimony reflects what God can do when a person is willing to allow him in. 

Just like Chuck Colson we can make a difference in the lives of others too. It doesn't have to be an elaborate effort and you don’t have to make yourselves crazy trying to figure out where God wants you to serve Him. The truth is you may never have a worldwide ministry, or a really big platform to work from, but I can tell you that if you are interested in freeing captives, God will bring you the prisoners. I love this because when God brings them, they are ready to explore freedom. We don’t need to exhaust ourselves; we simply need to prepare ourselves in the Word to help people defeat the enemy in such a way that they are no longer interested in returning to their former life. That’s the kind of work worth being involved in. 

If you are blessed to help others grasp Jesus’ message of salvation then you know this is a responsibility that we cannot take lightly. It is important that we arm ourselves with truth that aligns properly to the teachings found in the Word of God. The following Scriptures are just an example of how one might help someone else understand that everyone makes mistakes and when they are willing to change, the gift of salvation awaits them. Let’s unlock some cells!

Read Roman’s 3:10, 23, 5:8, and 10:9.
BREAKING FREE is a wonderful thing.
“Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
– 2 Peter 3:18 (NIV)

“The Word of God is living and active. It is sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’ sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.”
- Hebrews 4:12-13 (NIV)

Quotes from Chuck Colson's funeral. 

“Chuck never forgot that he was saved by a Savior who was crucified as a prisoner.”  
 -Timothy George

 “My dad became, as Scripture says, a new creation, and he loved his family differently.
What will we do in the shadow of such an extraordinary role model? There is work to be done. … Seek the truth; defend the weak, live courageous lives.” – Emily Colson

RIP Chuck Colson, you shall be missed.

In Christ by grace,

Acts 3:6
"Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you." 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: May 14, 2012                    
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

Matthew 18:1-4
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like the child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Last week I shared a writing titled True Identity. I hope you had an opportunity to read it. I told you that I would be sharing a poem that I wrote during my own personal season of exfoliating. This was actually written as a response to some lies that Satan was trying to feed me during a brief season of bewilderment.

I will never forget being in front of the TV watching a particular talent show. I was reflecting on the amazing talent the people had. Without thinking, and with a definite spirit of self-pity and self-condemnation, I blurted out the following words to my husband. I muttered, “Oh my God, I have NO talent!” 

For just a moment, imagine the atmosphere. For a brief moment there was silence and then my sympathetic husband responded, “Oh my, is God going to deal with that statement!”  His face reflected a sense of “Whoa, are you going to get it!” Then in his empathetic manner he challenged me with this question. It went something like; “when are you really going to embrace the personal aspect of talent?”  Now please refrain from judging me in my cocky response. I can assure you that since then I have learned a valuable lesson about comparing myself to others; but not before I uttered back, “When I have some!”

It shouldn't surprise you that I didn’t get much rest that night. In fact, God had me up at several different intervals throughout that night. There were internal conversations that alluded to the fact that I know better. I remember thinking “how many times am I going to continue to go around this insecurity mountain?” God gently reminded me that I was created for so much more. The following morning as I was drying my hair in my bathroom the light bulb went on.

It is my prayer that in some small way this Poem I wrote might bless anyone out there who may struggle with identifying the "real you". Comparing ourselves to others is really a waste of valuable energy. Let's agree to stop it and be blessed.

                                                 By Pam Crawford

I have never played an instrument; I can not hold a note.
My fashion sense is questionable, and my craftiness a joke.
I am not an artist, the canvas I can’t blend.
When I’ve tried to be an athlete, the bench became my friend.

Cooking doesn't excite me, and baking it’s a chore.
If I didn’t know any better, I might label myself a bore.

Our gifts they all are different, no two people are the same.
When God reveals our purpose, we begin to see the plain.
We might not be that glamorous, we might not stand out bold.
But when this life is over, there is something to be told.

We all have a story, a definite role.
Did we love, did we serve, and did we give it our all?
Our imperfections are many, we deserve not a thing.
But when we become obedient, we’re connected to the King.

Seeing ourselves as God does is the key to everything.
It helps us gain perspective on that of which we cannot see.
In the eyes of our Creator we’re a treasure yes indeed.
We’re beautiful; we matter, despite whether we agree.

When this life is over our earthly talents will fade.
It will not be about what we did, it will be about what we gave.
Did we know how to love, did we serve when we could.
Did we step into the role that we knew we should?

With each new day there are opportunities galore.
The challenge for us is to step through the right door.
It might not be through music, it might not be through art,
But when we’re willing, we can touch others from the heart.

You are beautiful.
You matter.
You have value.
You were created for a purpose.
God loves you and you are His princess.

Will you let this in?   

In Christ by grace,

More Beautiful You by Johnny Diaz

You’re a Masterpiece in the Making by Chip Ingram

Monday, May 7, 2012

Quiet-Time Reflections

Romans 8:28
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)

Romans 8:37 
“No, in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”  (NIV)

I once read that over 42 percent of women believe that they are not worth anything.This lie has most-likely plagued the hearts of these women from the time they were little girls. I can definitely relate to being a part of that statistic. As a very young girl I often wrestled with feelings of worthlessness as a result of believing things that I had heard from others. Unfortunately, I allowed their words and their actions to affect how I saw myself well into adulthood.  I imagine I am not alone in this and I pray you will be blessed by this writing.

God has had me in a transitional period for about ten years now. A transition is the place we go through when we are coming out of something and heading into something else. I imagine you can relate to going through some transitions of your own. I realize today that God has brought me out of many things in order to bring me in to His plan and purpose for my life. This is very exciting to me!

Please don't take this as a statement of arrogance, but I am no longer what I believed I was. No, I am so much more! The Word of God tells us that we have been created by Father God.  If you check out Psalm 139 you will find references to God’s creation. There are words referenced there that tell us we are His “masterpiece” and that we are “wonderfully made.”  Is this how you see yourself? May I ask you to take just a moment to be honest; it truly is the beginning to something beautiful.

Having the courage and humility to look into God’s mirror will hopefully bring about a reflection of 100% light. This is important in order to get to a place where we can see our uniqueness, our gifts and the God-given talents birthed within us. It will also show us our blemishes and the weaknesses we have struggled with so that God can begin to heal them. 

There came a time in my life when I had to learn to redefine the word “beauty” in order to transition from the words and opinions of others. I have to be absolutely honest here; I still battle my outer shell. I often still wish that I had more height, that I would conquer my weight battles, that my face would have less wear and tear, and that someone might pick me first on their team. However, when I put this all into proper perspective, I realize that my outer shell does not reflect the “real me.” In fact, it’s not about how I look physically, or what I can or can not do. It's about becoming what God created me to be and that dear friends is not found in a silly mirror. 

In the end it’s going to be about the heart. There will never be enough airbrushing to help us cover up our imperfections, but there was enough blood at Calvary to bring about beauty to that of which Satan intends to destroy.  I think this piece from Dr. Richard Fratianne in an article titled ‘From Cinders to Butterflies” might help bring this lesson home for us. He writes “Look for the real you; come face to face with all that you are. We are told we are created “in His Image and Likeness.” I believe it is the other way around. We have been created to Image (reflect) His Likeness. Let me repeat that statement….We have been created to Image His Likeness!  If you are troubled by past indiscretions (sins) and feel unworthy, remember that the one among us who has sinned the most knows the power of God’s forgiveness the best. Look intently!...You will see God reflected back, always…calling us to be more complete in our dignity, our self-esteem and happiness. I have come to believe that it is His Presence, alive in every one of us, which is the source and the secret of our spiritual journeys. His Spirit, alive in us, is the most powerful force in all creation.”

It really is not about our outward beauty; it’s about what we’re willing to allow God to do inside of us that will reflect Him to others. I have a lot of exfoliating to do and I do this best when I am in the Word of God and on my knees in prayer.

The Refiner’s fire has been necessary to see myself in a new light. Inside the fire I have had to be willing to shed things such as insecurity, self-condemnation, self-hatred, pride, jealousy, bitterness, anger, resentment, unforgiveness and the desire to be in control of everything. I have to tell you that today I am finally realizing that God’s heat is the "healing agent" of becoming a stronger, better me. Next week I’ll share a poem that God helped me write during a time of being in the refiner’s fire. I hope you’ll watch for it next week and I suggest spending some time in prayer this week simply asking God to help you see yourself from His view. There I can promise that you will find a treasure.

You are beautiful.
You matter.
You have value.
You were created for a purpose.
God loves you and you are His princess.

Will you let this in?   

In Christ by grace,

The Real Me by Natalie Grant

You’re a Masterpiece in the Making by Chip Ingram