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, September 24, 2012

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: September 24, 2012              
Sharing by:  Pam Crawford

Genesis 1:27: "So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them.”

One might ask, “what has happened since God looked over all that He created and said it was good? (Genesis 1:31) Could it be that we have inherited some generational baggage that we would be wise to unpack and discard?

Over the years I have recognized that my family has not always been healthy, physically, mentally, or spiritually. Some of us looked pretty good on the outside, but within our walls a very different picture was unraveling. You see there was a toxin that had infiltrated our lives and I am not sure I even recognized the potential hazard until the damage was in my own home. Thankfully, if we're connected to the proper power source we have quality tools to work at reversing the damage. It begins with prayer and a willingness to make the necessary changes that God reveals.

In my church right now we are in a series titled A Cord of Three Strands and we're looking at God, Family and Church. This past week we talked about the patterns we pass along and how we can reverse the damage. Our Pastor began his sermon in Genesis 3:1-4:1 where he showed us the origination of the pattern of sin. We then looked at Scripture which showed that the first parents Adam and Eve began the pattern of sin and from them we see that the "mold" of sin spread (Genesis 4:2-15). As I thought about this in the context of my own family, my own home, it all made sense. We often inherit habits, opinions, and examples that we inevitably pass along. Today with God’s help I am able to recognize many unhealthy habits that I have passed along.  Some were passed on through generational sin, some of willful sin, and others were out of sheer ignorance. Whatever the means they were destructive in nature.  

Because I cannot turn back the hands of time, I will simply pray for God to heal the damage I have caused in His timing, His way. Because of God's grace (undeserved favor) on my life; I know that part of that healing will come through a new example within me. Although I was convicted by much of the teaching on Sunday morning, I recognize it as a good thing. Being convicted is a sign that you have ears to hear and eyes to see error. I love when conviction turns into a quest to change that of which is discovered. I desire for my children and their children to be blessed through my redemption.  

My discovery began about 10 years ago when I began to see a type of "mold" that had infiltrated my heart. Over time it became necessary to explore how to correct it if healing and restoration was to take place. I'm still in the reconstruction process but thankfully, until we take our last breath there is hope. The Word of God has been the cleansing agent for this gal. I could stand in condemnation over my sin, but I know that condemnation is from the enemy. Instead, I will choose to correct that of which God reveals through His Word and the gentle nudges by people who truly love and care about seeing me become a new being in Christ.  

One of the forms of “mold" in my own life was a toxin called "unresolved anger." I am not sure if you know this or not, but anger is sin. It’s not a short-coming, it’s a sinful response. It causes all kinds of destructive behavior and eventually results in damage within relationships. When you allow anger to go unchecked it can get out of control and sometimes you don't even recognize all the crevices it hides in. Unfortunately I didn't recognize it as sin for a very long time and subsequently I let the toxins infiltrate our home through me. Thankfully if you know anything about mold you know that although it is very difficult to be removed; it can be removed through perseverance and a willingness to hang in there to see a clean end result. It’s a lot of work but the effort brings about healthy results.

Although I don't know what your "mold" looks like within your own family unit, I image that there are some spores in the air. Relational conflicts are hazardous and the best plan of action is a proactive one. May I end with an article by Jimmy Evans of Marriage Today that brought the message together for me? I hope you will be blessed by its content. Let's not forget that "mold" often returns if the climate supports it. In my case I have had to develop a form of maintenance against the mold of sinful anger. Through studying God's Word and through seeking wise counsel, I now have a better understanding of sinful anger and righteous anger. I avoid my sin nature when I first take everything to God in prayer. How I respond determines whether I'm following God's way or the way of man. I don't always get this right, but I am working at it daily. Be blessed. 

Deal With Conflict On A Daily Basis
by Jimmy Evans

A healthy marriage doesn't mean the absence of conflicts. Every family will disagree or experience tension. What makes a family successful is how they deal with those problems when they arise.

Have you ever noticed that dysfunctional families tend to experience problem after problem? They have more conflict because they don't deal with their problems—or they deal with them in the wrong way. Because of this, the problems remain. They grow. They constantly impact the family's relationship.

When people say they're "out of love," they aren't. It's just that the positive emotions they once felt have been clouded over by unresolved tension.

On the flip side, a successful family recognizes problems when they arise and then deals with them immediately. The loving atmosphere in these homes isn't a mask to gloss over disagreements. Instead, it reflects the genuine spirit that develops when people handle their problems in a healthy way.
Ephesians 4:26–27 says, "'Be angry, and do not sin.' Do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil."

All of us will be angry many times in our lives, and that's okay because nothing is essentially wrong with anger. Even Jesus got angry! Close relationships with other people almost guarantee some sort of conflict.

The real issue is what happens when we do get angry. How will we handle it? In the scripture above, Paul writes that we should be honest about our anger but not let it lead to sin. In other words, we express our anger and bring it into the open without letting it accumulate. Going to bed angry—allowing it to fester and grow without resolution—can be incredibly destructive to a marriage or family. When you let issues accumulate, you give the devil an open door into your life. This taints your emotions. This creates a hardened, accusative spirit toward the source of your anger.

In my years of counseling, I've dealt with many couples who have told me they have fallen "out of love." Many of these cases involve suppressed, unresolved emotions that have either deadened the husband or wife internally or hardened them against a spouse. The result? Giving up on the relationship. The truth is that even when people say they're "out of love," they aren't. It's just that the positive emotions they once felt have been clouded over by unresolved tension. Once these conflicts are resolved within a marriage or family, love and affection return.
However, unresolved problems can create such a profound sense of emotional distress and deadness that divorce is a frequent by-product. That's why we must be vigilant to deal with problems on a daily basis in our marriage and families.

Part of this isn't just a relational issue, but a spiritual one. In addition to being honest with our spouse about anger, we must also expose our emotions to the Lord every day. Nothing can be hidden from Him! He will provide peace and a divine perspective if we will receive it."

In Christ by grace,

Monday, September 17, 2012

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: Sept. 17, 2012                           
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

2 Chronicles 7:14 -“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.”

When I decided to engage in the social network Facebook, I imagined it to be a great resource for encouraging others in life and in faith. Because I am a people person, I saw it as a great opportunity to better connect or in some cases reconnect with those I had lost touch with over the years. I love seeing the family photos and special event postings. I also love that I can share special moments via this avenue too. It is also a place where I can do some work for God. Overall being a part of the Facebook community has been a pleasurable experience; but I have to tell you, I was not prepared for the war zone that it can also be.

Personally, I get on the site for the primary purpose of encouraging others and to be encouraged by others. I realize that not everyone shares my views and that’s ok. But what is not ok is the mentality that we have the right to say anything we want without regard to whether or not someone else might be hurt by our words. The rants, the arguments, the fowl language and personal attacks are a real disappointment.

Friends, this is an election year full of many different views and opinions here in America and they’re all over the social network sites. I thought it might be a good opportunity to give some forewarning. Although we all have the right to post our own beliefs, we don’t have the right to be hateful toward one another. I will also throw a caution to the believers who post the “I Support _____” statements. Many of these statements clearly violate what is written in the Word of God; so I encourage you to be careful as it is written that we will answer for that of which we believe.  

I think it would be wise to consider the value of protecting our relationships too. We might determine ahead of time to respect one another’s viewpoint; whether it be the choice for President of the United States or a local community levy. Agreeing to disagree may inevitably ward off the enemy’s plan to “kill, steal, and destroy” (John 10:10) that of which was intended for good. If you have something to say, debate it directly to the other person privately. On FB you can do this through private messaging. You don’t have to post it on the wall so that everyone and their brother can view it. Let’s not help Satan in his efforts to destroy and separate people especially children of the Most High. If you’re tempted to lash out, consider that silence might be the better option.

Matthew 5:9 - “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

As a Christian American I am more concerned with the moral fabric of this nation over the economic crisis at hand. I am not fearful of what I absolutely have no control over. I must work to make wise decisions and I am called to do well with what I have been given. Beyond that I must trust in the One who sees the bigger picture. What I can control is my obedience to what I have discovered in the Word of God while I wait for God to bring about His plan and purpose for this world and His people.

It is my opinion that we are currently reaping the consequences of a self-entitlement mentality that so many of us have adopted. Our country operates very differently than that of our forefathers and mothers. We have discarded much of what this country was founded upon and if we continue on this path we should not expect to get out of this mess anytime soon. We cannot live in direct rebellion and expect blessings. You only need to look at the history of the people of Israel to see how disobedience worked out for them.

People of faith, we have a responsibility to do a better job at defending the family unit, taking care of those in need, and protecting the unborn. We are also responsible for managing our finances correctly and planning for our future through prayer, wisdom and proper discernment. We cannot continue to spend and ignore the commands of God and expect it to go well. In this country we have been given much and to squander and disrespect the blessings, would be a foolish choice. When we’re tempted to place blame we may need to look within. How well are we aligning with God?

On November 6, 2012 we have a responsibility and a privilege in this country that many others only dream of. We have the opportunity to vote for leaders who share in our moral concern for this nation. I know it’s easy to fall for the words and promises of a charismatic spokesman, but do not be deceived, check out the facts! Get as much information on the people running for office or the issues at hand and check it against that of which you value. Pray and ask God to help you discern wisely. An election involves research; you have to know what is before you in order to make a decision that your conscience can rest in.

John 8:47a“Anyone whose Father is God listens gladly to the words of God.”
It is my prayer that God will not remove His hand of mercy and compassion on America.Will you join me in this prayer? Let’s pray that God will give us more time to repent of our personal and corporate sins and that He would help us turn from our wicked ways to receive the blessing over the curse that He so clearly warns of in His Word.

It is time to wake up America, wake up friends! Don’t stay home this year, please get to the polls.Your voice does matter and it is time to choose wisely. We must have a leader who will respect God and one that will seek guidance from Him. We need a leader who values the family as God designed it. We need a leader that will work to protect the people and our Constitution. We need a leader who understands the value of courage. You only need to look at history to see what happens when ungodly people lead. Choose wisely as the future of our children and Christianity is at stake. Be blessed.

In Christ by grace,

Want to go deeper?  Read Matthew 10:28-32

Check out this article.
Go Against The World’s Opinion

“We will never succeed as over comers without carrying in our spirits the war cry of God. We must stop resisting the call to prayer; we must embrace the reality of spiritual warfare; and we must fight with the weapons of warfare that God has given us, both for our own progress and also on behalf of those we love.”- Frangipane

Monday, September 10, 2012

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: 9/9/12                         
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
(Galatians 1:10, NIV)

BRAND NEW YOU                                                                                                                           
There are so many of us who live life worried about what everyone else thinks of us. We often work so hard at impressing others that we tend to miss something very important. I certainly have been guilty of this over the years. As human beings we were all created uniquely with our own set of gifts and talents. No two people are the same. I find it ironic that God chose the “fingerprint” to establish this fact. No one on this earth has your fingerprint, it is exclusive to you. With this unique physical trait you alone have the ability to be identified as your own person. You do not have to fit into anyone else’s mold.
The plan and purpose for each life is different. I can’t be you and you cannot be me. But, we can learn to become the person that God created us to be. I have personally learned the hard way that I have spent way too many years trying to gain acceptance and approval of people over God. This is foolish activity! No matter how hard one tries, there will always be somebody who rejects or criticizes you for not fitting into their mold.
It is also really important that we are careful with the practice of self-criticism. I became really good at pointing out my own flaws to myself and dwelling on past mistakes. It’s kind of funny now when I think back on this; because now I see that God used it to encourage me to begin a proper self assessment in order to see His purpose for my life. Until you settle the issue of your identity, you run the risk of conforming to something you were never intended to be.
Too often we measure our worth by the wrong viewpoint. When we come to the end of life we are not going to be called before people to give an account of our lives. No, the Bible tells us that we will stand before Almighty God. We will stand there as individuals and we’ll undoubtedly face some pretty tough questions. I don’t know how that resonates with you, but if you claim Christ as your Lord and Savior it should take your breath away and cause you to refocus.
It’s not about your imperfections or the mistakes you have made. It’s not about what other people think of you, or even what you think about yourself. It’s not about what you have accomplished or what you have failed at. In the end it’s going to be about what we’ve done with what God has given each of us. I expect we may also hear the question “Did you become who I created you to be?” Did you stay true to the things that I put inside your heart?”
There is an example in the Bible (1 Samuel 15:24) of a man who forfeited his destiny because he was a people pleaser. Saul was a man created to have a good future. The problem was that he became very insecure. He was afraid of disappointing others. In his own words he said, “I disobeyed the Lord’s instructions because I was afraid of the people, so I did what they asked.”
I have no doubt that listening to people over God will leave us empty and trembling on the last day. It’s just not worth it! Today I pray that we can begin to see ourselves as imperfect human beings all traveling on a road with two options – Heaven or hell. Praise God that there is a road map available to anyone who desires to be on the road to Heaven!  If you haven’t picked up your copy, there is no better time than the present. To be without it is like taking the chance that you might get to your final destination and realize there was a better way. God is clear in His instructions. One road leads to eternal life and the other road leads to eternal death. The choice is ours.     
 2 Corinthians 5:17                                                                                                                  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here.” (NIV)
Ephesians 4:24                                                                                                                                  “and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (NASB)
For me it’s no longer about my imperfections or mistakes or pleasing others. In fact, it’s not about me at all. It’s about staying on the right path as I work to develop a personal relationship with my Creator. It’s about being in His Word and learning from Him daily. It’s about making changes when He shows me it is necessary. It’s about learning to discern the guidance of the Holy Spirit and being willing to go through the sanctification process. It’s about putting God first and valuing His opinion over that of man. And, it is about sharing forward the Good News with others.  In order to embrace and achieve my God-given purpose which I now understand is to become more like Christ in a lost and chaotic world, I have to face God’s mirror on a regular basis. This is not always comfortable, but on the last day we’re promised that it will be well worth the effort. Be blessed.
“Helping someone come to a saving knowledge of Christ is the greatest achievement possible.” – Dr. Charles Stanley

Revelation 21:27 “Nothing evil will be allowed to enter – no one who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty – but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

“Eternal life is available to you only because of what Jesus, the Lamb, has done. Trust him today to secure your citizenship in his new creation.” – LASB
Dig Deeper:  Identity: Know Who You Are by Rick Warren