Wednesday, December 22, 2010

WHO STARTED CHRISTMAS ANYHOW?


"In the beginning was the Word [Jesus the Christ], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."1

I read the following story about a woman who was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at row after row of toys, and everything else imaginable, and after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many shelves, she finally made it to the elevator with her two kids.

She was feeling what so many of us feel during the Christmas holiday season. Overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming, getting the perfect gift for every person on one's shopping list, and making sure no one on the card list and those who sent a card is forgotten.

When the elevator doors opened there was already a crowd in the car. Exasperated, she pushed her way into the car and dragged her two kids in with her and all the bags of stuff. When the doors closed she couldn't take it anymore and stated, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up and shot."

From the back of the car everyone heard a quiet calm voice respond, "Don't worry, we already crucified him." For the rest of the trip down the elevator was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

Don't forget this year to keep the One who started Christmas in your every thought, deed, purchase, and word. If we all did it, just think of how different this whole world would be.2

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, how can I ever thank you enough for the greatest Christmas gift ever given, your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Help me—not only during the Christmas season, but all year long—to so live that my life will reflect an attitude of gratitude in everything I am and do. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. John 1:1-3, 14 (NIV).
2. Submitted by Les Nixon, www.outbackpatrol.com.au.

<:))))><

Acts International

NOTE: If you would like to accept God's forgiveness for all your sins and His invitation for a full pardon Click HERE.

Or if you would like to re-commit your life to Jesus Christ, please click HERE to note this.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

WHY WE SHOULD ALL BE FOOLS FOR CHRIST!

I believe that all Christians should be fools for Christ. That's right. It says so in the Bible. And the way I look at it, if the Good Book says it, then it has to be true.

"Where does it say that?" you may ask. In the first letter to the Corinthians that Paul wrote. Verses 18 through 27 uses the word "foolish" several times. To be more specific, in verse 21 it says that, "...it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." Then in verse 25 it becomes even more specific when it says, "For the foolishness of God is wiser than men..." Finally, in verse 27 it says, "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise..."

Alright, so I don't have a Doctorate of Divinity hanging on my office wall. But, "we are fools for Christ's sake," Paul says as he writes to the Corinthians. How would you interpret what Paul says? As far as I can tell, Paul is saying that God is foolish to choose for his workers the kind of lamebrains, misfits, nit-pickers, odd ducks, stuffed shirts, pompadoured overdressed egomaniacs and closet sensualists that he has.

It also seems to me that God is foolish to send us out to speak hope to a world that plods along with the conviction that things can only get worse. He is also foolish to have us speak of loving our enemies when we have a hard enough time loving our friends and even our own kin. It seems that he is also foolish to have us talking about life to a world that seems to be so in love with violence and death. Just turn on the TV at any given time. And what about the largest majority of video games being produced? You would think that violence and death was meant to be entertaining! And finally, doesn't it seem rather foolish that God is foolish to send us out in this journey called "life" without any road maps?

Such is the foolishness of God. But then Paul says that "the foolishness of God is wiser than man." To show you how true Paul's statement was, let me take just one year, the year I was born, and show you how foolish man was that year.

Even prior to 1942, Hitler, and those following his doctrine of hatred, had methodically and relentlessly established a climate of hatred against the Jews. The years of this systematic dehumanizing process paved the way for what was known as Kristallnacht -- "Night of Broken Glass" -- the confiscation of property and the suppression of individual liberty, leading eventually to the extermination camps.

In 1942, with the entire world looking on, the Ordinance Regarding Identification of Jewish Apartments (marking them with the Star of David) began on April 17. That same day Jews were also banned from using public transportation. Now, here's where man's foolishness actually turns stupid. A month later, on May 15, Jews were banned from keeping pets. No dogs, no cats, not even a goldfish. It gets even more foolish/stupid. Before the month is up, Jews were banned from using non-Jewish hairdressers.

Before the year was over, on June 19, laws allowing for the confiscation of electric appliances, typewriters and bicycles owned by Jews were enacted, as well as laws forbidding them to purchase books (October 9). Not only were those in Hitler's camp foolish, but they were downright ignorant. Just look at any of these laws mentioned and tell me how any of the things confiscated or denied access to could have possibly been used to overthrow the Nazi party.
On July 1 of 1943, all Jews were denied protection by the courts. But by then, as far as the Jews were concerned, laws were no longer an issue.

Now remember, Paul did say that, "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise." I have not as yet been able to figure out why God allowed Hitler and his goons to do what they did back then, so perhaps I'm with so many others who are among the "confounded wise."

On the lighter side of foolishness, which is the side I prefer, let me say that this "confounded wise" man likes to ponder such foolish things as:

* We can learn a lot from crayons: some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they all exist in the same box. (Yes, we all have our differences.)
* You may have heard this before, but when I look in the mirror, I am so thankful that wrinkles don't hurt.

Allen Stark

Special to ASSIST News Service

LAUGH IT UP


"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."1

"Laughter may not be the best medicine, but it is surprisingly effective. While the idea has been around for a while, more studies are confirming the anecdotal evidence. In a study published in Diabetes Care, researchers reported that people with type II diabetes had a smaller rise in blood glucose when they watched a comedy program versus a boring lecture on television. A team at the University of Maryland found that people who laughed often and were able to see the humor in situations were less likely to develop heart disease.

"Researchers say people who laugh tend to be healthier people. In study after study, hostility and anger are associated with disease, and humor with health. This is especially true when you're laughing it up with friends. Research on support groups has shown that the effects of laughter are magnified when it takes place in a social setting."2

Amazing isn't it? It's taken modern science to discover, or at least, to confirm, what God's Word taught 3,000 years ago—that laughter/cheerfulness is a good medicine.

Interesting, too, until the time of Christopher Columbus almost everyone believed the world was flat, and yet Isaiah, one of the Old Testament prophets wrote over 2,000 years ago: "He [God] sits enthroned above the circle of the earth."3

And over 3,000 years ago God gave the ancient Israelites strict laws by which to live, many of which had to do with good health and hygiene. God promised that if they obeyed these laws, they would be protected from diseases that afflicted the Egyptians.4

If we also live according to the principles found in God's Word, the Bible, we too can have a much happier, healthier life. Naturally, we need to know what God's Word teaches if we are to live by it.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me a deep love for and a great appreciation of your Word and, like David, write it on my heart, so that it will help me to live in harmony with your will, knowing that my life will be all the richer for it. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen.

1. Proverbs 17:22 (NIV).
2. Paul Perry, "Seven Resolutions to Keep This Year, Part 6," AH About Health, Winter 2004. Page 9. Published by McMurry publishers and South Coast Medical Center, Laguna Beach, CA. © by www.mcmurry.com.
3. Isaiah 40:22 (NIV).
4. See Exodus 15:26.

<:))))><

Acts International

Friday, November 12, 2010

THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH

There are more people on this planet outside the Church than inside it. Millions have been baptised, millions have not. Millions participate in the celebration of the Lord's Supper, but millions do not.

The Church as the body of Christ, as Christ living in the world, has a larger task than to support, nurture, and guide its own members. It is also called to be a witness for the love of God made visible in Jesus. Before his death Jesus prayed for his followers, "As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world" (John 17:18). Part of the essence of being the Church is being a living witness for Christ in the world.

Henri Nouwen Society

<:))))><

Friday, November 5, 2010

FOCUSING ON THE POOR

Like every human organization the Church is constantly in danger of corruption. As soon as power and wealth come to the Church, manipulation, exploitation, misuse of influence, and outright corruption are not far away.

How do we prevent corruption in the Church? The answer is clear: by focusing on the poor. The poor make the Church faithful to its vocation. When the Church is no longer a church for the poor, it loses its spiritual identity. It gets caught up in disagreements, jealousy, power games, and pettiness. Paul says, "God has composed the body so that greater dignity is given to the parts which were without it, and so that there may not be disagreements inside the body but each part may be equally concerned for all the others"(1 Corinthians 12:24-25). This is the true vision. The poor are given to the Church so that the Church as the body of Christ can be and remain a place of mutual concern, love, and peace.


Henri Nouwen Society

WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO BE A CHRISTIAN?


Most people don't want to be a Christian and shouldn't unless they are willing to take a radical stand, which requires a strong unshakable faith, generous spirit and a mission-oriented mind driven by agape love. Hopefully, by using the above title I have got both the Christian and non-Christian to read my opening paragraph.

In saying what I have, I am not referring to the type of religion that today perpetuates the brand of religious broadcasting that attempts to get into your pocketbooks and wallets, or the often too boring irrelevant church services that many times promote judgmentalism based on ingrained doctrines and churchisms.

Some of the things which initially kept me from wanting to associate with a church, are those within the church walls that are judgmental, arrogant, narrow-minded, bigoted, hypocritical, and brainwashed. And for quite some time I didn't want to deal with the political baggage most churches seem to deal with.

Now, I hope I haven't discouraged anyone who is seriously considering joining a church. It is not my purpose, in saying what I have, to persuade you in any one direction, other than to say I would only like to share with you some insights I have as the result of my journey so far. I have benefited from the mistakes of others and the dead ends they and I have found ourselves in. And if I can, in any way, help you to keep from making similar mistakes that is what I would like to do by way of this short epistle.

Reading the thoughts of others helped me to reduce my ignorance and put aside prejudice. In college I was able to ingest a wide variety of ideas from novels, essays and various forms of literary work. This resulted in me being able to put aside years of ignorance and prejudice instilled in me by church, school, and heavily indoctrinated minds. I was taught to not trust or associate with those from other religious beliefs for fear of losing my grasp on what I was taught to be "the light."

However, I was learning a new equation that included the elements of caring, giving, serving, and sacrificing. This new equation was not concerned with worship services, or any other forms of religiosity. What I saw was a race that was spiritually sick and in need of healing. A race that was suffering from ignorance. A race divided and violent, needing to learn kinder ways when dealing with community. And a race being oppressed by corrupt powers, systems, and governments.

So now I need to ask the question, "Based on how the majority of Christians today are conducting themselves, and their interpretations of Christianity, would Jesus want to be a Christian?" The more I understand what Jesus was attempting to accomplish here on earth, the more I'm led to believe that what we claim is Christianity today has very little to do with his life and teachings. So would Jesus want to be a Christian if he was physically here today? I don't think so.

Then, because man has always proven by his actions just how ignorantly wrong and stupid he is, Jesus came with his profound and compact sermon: "Love God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. And love your neighbor asyourself."

Why am I a Christian? Because I believe that Jesus has the only solution for saving the world from itself. History has shown us that mankind has been an unforgiving, ignorant-in-the-ways-of-God people for most of this earth's history and no one can rescue us from ourselves except Jesus. We are a selfish, greedy, lustful, fearful, prejudiced, apathetic, and ignorant species. And when I refer to Jesus as Savior, I mean that he is the only one that can save us from all of that.

Jesus is working hard to restore us, to lead us out of our ignorance, and to heal our hearts from all the evil the world tries to cram into them. And because the only one I still have any real confidence in is Jesus, I want to be part of what he is doing-not only his sharing of who he is but the commitment to physical labor that goes along with it. Jesus himself told us to not be hearers only but to be doers. That means you must get out of your pews and chairs in order to be his followers.

How do I look at myself in relation to the world-at-large? I want to share the kinds of blessings with the world that God gives me. God gets me beyond myself, not allowing me to develop any prejudices, exclusionary thinking, and keeps me from having even the slightest desire to participate in religious warring. Today's 100's of Protestant variations are the result of protesting frenzy, which by the way still goes on.

The protest frenzy created a market for religion. This now competitive religious market has created a mentality where each group advertises its own unique features, seeking customers of their products and services, something akin to a "God Mart." If you tune in you will hear them proclaiming their version of Christianity to be the purest, or the deepest, the one with the most light or all of the light, the most diverse, or perhaps the simplest to understand or most relaxing.

Unfortunately the side effects of this Protestant marketing of unique features include exaggerations and distortions, not to mention arrogance by putting the others down. Arrogance, if you've never noticed, does nothing to enhance one's spiritual life.

So, is there hope that all of this protesting against each other will someday stop? One of the best examples that it can comes from an ex-Communist who became a Christian pastor in Croatia. His emphasis is on restoration and tries to encourage us to move away from protesting each other and toward pro-testifying in love. Pastor Samir says that some of his friends had developed a "remnant" mentality and began to feel as if they were elite in some respect. He says that the faithful "remnant" are the ones who are "after God's own heart." They turn their hearts outward toward their brothers and sisters, and they do it in loyalty and faithfulness to God and their neighbor.

Could Samir's definition of the "faithful remnant" help us to stop our religious warring and move toward pro-testifying? What might Christianity be like if we did? With God's help we can answer that question, not by what we say but by how we live-and especially how we love our neighbor as ourself.

I used to be somewhat embarrassed that I write at times on theological topics with very little formal training in theology (1 ˝ years in seminary). However, I'm not as embarrassed anymore by my lack of "theological credentials," because I know that God has given me his credentials to guide me in my writing. My training has been mostly in literature and language arts, which has made me more sensitive to the drama and conflicts going on in the world. So even though my formal training was mainly in syntax and semantics, it gave me the training necessary to carefully choose the text and context within which to write what God has given me to share.

Allen StarkSpecial to ASSIST News Service

ATLANTIC, IOWA (ANS)

Sunday, October 31, 2010


WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO BE A CHRISTIAN?

Most people don't want to be a Christian and shouldn't unless they are willing to take a radical stand, which requires a strong unshakable faith, generous spirit and a mission-oriented mind driven by agape love. Hopefully, by using the above title I have got both the Christian and non-Christian to read my opening paragraph.

In saying what I have, I am not referring to the type of religion that today perpetuates the brand of religious broadcasting that attempts to get into your pocketbooks and wallets, or the often too boring irrelevant church services that many times promote judgmentalism based on ingrained doctrines and churchisms.

Some of the things which initially kept me from wanting to associate with a church, are those within the church walls that are judgmental, arrogant, narrow-minded, bigoted, hypocritical, and brainwashed. And for quite some time I didn't want to deal with the political baggage most churches seem to deal with.

Now, I hope I haven't discouraged anyone who is seriously considering joining a church. It is not my purpose, in saying what I have, to persuade you in any one direction, other than to say I would only like to share with you some insights I have as the result of my journey so far. I have benefited from the mistakes of others and the dead ends they and I have found ourselves in. And if I can, in any way, help you to keep from making similar mistakes that is what I would like to do by way of this short epistle.

Reading the thoughts of others helped me to reduce my ignorance and put aside prejudice. In college I was able to ingest a wide variety of ideas from novels, essays and various forms of literary work. This resulted in me being able to put aside years of ignorance and prejudice instilled in me by church, school, and heavily indoctrinated minds. I was taught to not trust or associate with those from other religious beliefs for fear of losing my grasp on what I was taught to be "the light."

However, I was learning a new equation that included the elements of caring, giving, serving, and sacrificing. This new equation was not concerned with worship services, or any other forms of religiosity. What I saw was a race that was spiritually sick and in need of healing. A race that was suffering from ignorance. A race divided and violent, needing to learn kinder ways when dealing with community. And a race being oppressed by corrupt powers, systems, and governments.

So now I need to ask the question, "Based on how the majority of Christians today are conducting themselves, and their interpretations of Christianity, would Jesus want to be a Christian?" The more I understand what Jesus was attempting to accomplish here on earth, the more I'm led to believe that what we claim is Christianity today has very little to do with his life and teachings. So would Jesus want to be a Christian if he was physically here today? I don't think so.

Then, because man has always proven by his actions just how ignorantly wrong and stupid he is, Jesus came with his profound and compact sermon: "Love God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. And love your neighbor asyourself."

Why am I a Christian? Because I believe that Jesus has the only solution for saving the world from itself. History has shown us that mankind has been an unforgiving, ignorant-in-the-ways-of-God people for most of this earth's history and no one can rescue us from ourselves except Jesus. We are a selfish, greedy, lustful, fearful, prejudiced, apathetic, and ignorant species. And when I refer to Jesus as Savior, I mean that he is the only one that can save us from all of that.

Jesus is working hard to restore us, to lead us out of our ignorance, and to heal our hearts from all the evil the world tries to cram into them. And because the only one I still have any real confidence in is Jesus, I want to be part of what he is doing-not only his sharing of who he is but the commitment to physical labor that goes along with it. Jesus himself told us to not be hearers only but to be doers. That means you must get out of your pews and chairs in order to be his followers.

How do I look at myself in relation to the world-at-large? I want to share the kinds of blessings with the world that God gives me. God gets me beyond myself, not allowing me to develop any prejudices, exclusionary thinking, and keeps me from having even the slightest desire to participate in religious warring. Today's 100's of Protestant variations are the result of protesting frenzy, which by the way still goes on.

The protest frenzy created a market for religion. This now competitive religious market has created a mentality where each group advertises its own unique features, seeking customers of their products and services, something akin to a "God Mart." If you tune in you will hear them proclaiming their version of Christianity to be the purest, or the deepest, the one with the most light or all of the light, the most diverse, or perhaps the simplest to understand or most relaxing.

Unfortunately the side effects of this Protestant marketing of unique features include exaggerations and distortions, not to mention arrogance by putting the others down. Arrogance, if you've never noticed, does nothing to enhance one's spiritual life.

So, is there hope that all of this protesting against each other will someday stop? One of the best examples that it can comes from an ex-Communist who became a Christian pastor in Croatia. His emphasis is on restoration and tries to encourage us to move away from protesting each other and toward pro-testifying in love. Pastor Samir says that some of his friends had developed a "remnant" mentality and began to feel as if they were elite in some respect. He says that the faithful "remnant" are the ones who are "after God's own heart." They turn their hearts outward toward their brothers and sisters, and they do it in loyalty and faithfulness to God and their neighbor.

Could Samir's definition of the "faithful remnant" help us to stop our religious warring and move toward pro-testifying? What might Christianity be like if we did? With God's help we can answer that question, not by what we say but by how we live-and especially how we love our neighbor as ourself.

I used to be somewhat embarrassed that I write at times on theological topics with very little formal training in theology (1 ˝ years in seminary). However, I'm not as embarrassed anymore by my lack of "theological credentials," because I know that God has given me his credentials to guide me in my writing. My training has been mostly in literature and language arts, which has made me more sensitive to the drama and conflicts going on in the world. So even though my formal training was mainly in syntax and semantics, it gave me the training necessary to carefully choose the text and context within which to write what God has given me to share.

Allen StarkSpecial to ASSIST News Service

ATLANTIC, IOWA (ANS)

Sunday, October 31, 2010


GOING TO THE MARGINS OF THE CHURCH


Those who are marginal in the world are central in the Church, and that is how it is supposed to be! Thus we are called as members of the Church to keep going to the margins of our society. The homeless, the starving, parentless children, people with AIDS, our emotionally disturbed brothers and sisters - they require our first attention.



We can trust that when we reach out with all our energy to the margins of our society we will discover that petty disagreements, fruitless debates, and paralysing rivalries will recede and gradually vanish. The Church will always be renewed when our attention shifts from ourselves to those who need our care. The blessing of Jesus always comes to us through the poor. The most remarkable experience of those who work with the poor is that, in the end, the poor give more than they receive. They give food to us.

Henri Nouwen Society

THREE THINGS


When I was crossing the Irish Channel one dark, starless night, I stood on the deck by the captain and asked him, “How do you know Holyhead Harbor on so dark a night as this?” He said, “You see those three lights? Those three must line up behind each other as one, and when we see them so united we know the exact position of the harbor’s mouth.”
When we want to know God’s will there are three things which always concur: the inward impulse, the Word of God, and the trend of circumstances!
God in the heart, impelling you forward;
God in His book corroborating whatever He says in the heart;
and God in circumstances, which are always indicative of His will.
Never start until these three things agree.

F. B. Meyer

EXCITING RESCUE


We all remember how the the 33 miners in Chile were entombed over 2,000 feet in the "bowels" of the earth for 69 days—17 of which were in total darkness—millions worldwide anxiously waited to see if they would be rescued. Can you imagine the terror that these men (and their loved ones) must have experienced—not knowing if they would live or die ... and how they all felt after they were rescued? Prayers around the world were offered on their behalf.


When the miners finally were in contact with the surface, Luis Urzúa, the miner who helped hold the miners together, said to the Chilean president: "Mr. President, we need you to be strong and to rescue us as soon as possible. Don't abandon us."

President Piñera said "the whole world can learn from the rescue operation. The Chilean government was committed to finding the men alive and rescuing them 'from the very first day.' He thanked the US government, the Canadian government, the Australian government, and many other governments around the world [for their help]."

"The rescue cost between $10m and $20m," Piñera said. Obviously, no cost was spared in this rescue operation!

What an exciting outpouring of love, concern, and commitment by thousands of people worldwide praying, giving, and so many working tirelessly around the clock until every miner was brought to safety and his life saved.

Thank God that they were not abandoned!

I couldn't help but compare the total commitment to the saving of these 33 miners to the lack of commitment by so many churches and Christians about the millions of people who are trapped in a far deeper canyon of sin—and doomed to a lost eternity in Hell without any hope of rescue unless there is a much greater outpouring of loving commitment, sacrifice and tireless work by churches and Christians who care enough to bring them to Jesus—their only hope of being rescued and saved—for all eternity!

Tragically, not all by any means, but so many of our churches spend $-millions on building fancy buildings that are used only for a few hours a week—a practice that no secular business could justify—and spend most of their income on programs that minister to themselves while, in comparison, such a small percentage is spent on home and overseas missions, and even less on local evangelism.

In one church where I used to be a member, our annual budget was just under a million dollars while our budget for evangelism was a paltry $1800. In another church where I was teaching on outreach, I was told that they didn't even have a budget for evangelism. In the past nine years, in my own church, I can't remember when I saw the last adult being baptized as a result of his/her coming to Christ.

In my early days of ministry I was the pastor of a small church in Michigan and had a conviction that it was part of our calling to share the gospel with every family in our area of responsibility. Come winter, summer, spring, fall, rain, snow, or freezing cold we never missed one weekly outreach visitation night. I believe the same principle applies to every local evangelical church today. With modern means of communication this task has never been simpler. If we, the Church, don't reach our communities for Christ, who will?


Will we leave it to the Muslims?

<:))))><

ACTS INTERNATIONAL

Thursday, October 28, 2010

THE PUMPKIN

Being a Christian is just like a pumpkin.

First, God picks you from the pumpkin patch and brings you in from the field. The Bible says He selects us out of the world. We are in the world, but no longer of the world.

He then washes all the "dirt" off the outside that we received from being around all the other pumpkins. All the outside influences of our former life must be cleaned up. Old things are passed away and all things are become new.

Then, He carefully removes all the "yucky stuff" called "sin" out from the inside. Sin will not have such internal power.

He then changes us from the inside out by the Power of His Word. That's why it is important to go the church and learn about God's Word.

He carefully removes all those seeds of doubt, hate, greed, and fear. He replaces them with the seeds of faith, hope and love. After Jesus is invited inside, you begin to experience the changing power of God's love in your life.

Then He carves a new smiling face. Our countenance is changed by the power of His presence in our life. We then become so grateful. It can even show on our face.

When we light the candle inside the pumpkin, it reflects the light from inside out. So too, when Jesus, who is called the Son of Light, lives inside of us, He shines through our life for all to see. We can let His light reflect through us to reveal His presence. "Let your light so shine before men that they may be able to see your good works and glorify your Father, who is in heaven."


--author unknown

AllWorship Prayer

<:))))><

THE SHEEP WITH A BROKEN LEG


"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."1

Robert Munger writes about an American traveling in Syria who became acquainted with a shepherd. Each morning he noticed the shepherd taking food to a sheep that had a broken leg. As he looked at the animal, he asked the shepherd, "How did the sheep break its leg? Did it meet with an accident, fall into a hole, or did some animal break its leg?"

"No," said the shepherd, "I broke this sheep's leg myself."

"You broke it yourself?" queried the surprised traveler.

"Yes, you see, this is a wayward sheep; it would not stay with the flock, but would lead the sheep astray. Then it would not let me near it so I had to break the sheep's leg so that it would allow me, day by day to feed it. In doing this it will get to know me as its shepherd, trust me as its guide, and keep with the flock."2

Sometimes, just sometimes, when we insist of going our own stubborn way and leading others astray, the Shepherd of the fold, may have to "break our leg" too for our own good and that of others.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me the good sense to not only know what is the right thing to do but the courage to do it, so that I won't need to experience painful discipline. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Hebrews 12:11 (NIV).
2. Robert Boyd Munger in Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations by Paul Lee Tan.

<:))))><

NOTE: If you would like to accept God's forgiveness for all your sins and His invitation for a full pardon Click HERE.

Or if you would like to re-commit your life to Jesus Christ, please click HERE to note this.

Acts International

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

FORGIVING THE CHURCH

When we have been wounded by the Church, our temptation is to reject it. But when we reject the Church it becomes very hard for us to keep in touch with the living Christ. When we say, "I love Jesus, but I hate the Church," we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the Church seldom asks us for forgiveness, at least not officially. But the Church as an often fallible human organization needs our forgiveness, while the Church as the living Christ among us continues to offer us forgiveness.

It is important to think about the Church not as "over there" but as a community of struggling, weak people of whom we are part and in whom we meet our Lord and Redeemer.



<:))))><



Henri Nouwen Society

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

IS HATE EVER ACCEPTABLE ?

A of Daily Encounter by Dick Innes

"Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion."1

So what are the six-plus-one things that God hates?
1. eyes that are arrogant,
2. a tongue that lies,
3. hands that murder the innocent,
4. a heart that hatches evil plots,
5. feet that race down a wicked track,
6. a mouth that lies under oath,
7. a troublemaker in the family.2

The fact is that God hates all evil because it is diametrically opposed to his nature which is perfect holiness. Another reason God hates evil is because it is destructive to those whom God loves: us!
Furthermore, we too are to hate evil; that is, the actions of evil people. As God's Word instructs his people, "Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts."3 In other words we are to love the things God loves and hate the things God hates--naturally, for the right, not selfish motives. What is more, if God didn't hate evil, he wouldn't be God and he wouldn't be good. And if you and I don't hate evil, we can be sure that we don't love righteousness.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to become more and more God-like in my daily living and hate all evil, and never be guilty of committing the seven things that you loathe and all other evil practices. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Proverbs 6:16 (The Message).
2. Proverbs 6:17-19 (The Message).
3. Amos 5:15 (NIV)

HEART OF GRATITUDE

A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said: "I am blind, please help." There were only a few coins in the hat.

A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words. He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the new words. Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy. That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, "Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?"

The man said, "I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way." I wrote: "Today is a beautiful day but I cannot see it." Both signs told people that the boy was blind. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind. The second sign told people that they were so lucky that they were not blind. Should we be surprised that the second sign was more effective?

Moral of the Story: Be thankful for what you have. Be creative. Be innovative. Think differently and positively. When life gives you 100 reasons to cry, show life that you have 1000 reasons to smile Face your past without regret. Handle your present with confidence. Prepare for the future without fear. Keep the faith and drop the fear. The most beautiful thing is to see a person smiling. And even more beautiful is knowing that you are the reason behind it.

-- Author Unknown

WeekEnd Encounter

FIRST FOR THE JEWS


Paul said:" I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."Rom1:16

Paul said:" but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." Rom2:10

Paul said:" I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:"The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob."Rom11:25-26

Jesus said:" But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of earth."Acts1:8

Let us pray for the Jews. The Church must pray for the Jews because all these while we have neglected to pray for the needs of the Jews. We did not consider the desires of God - First for the Jew!

Monday, October 25, 2010

PRAYING DEFINITE PRAYERS

“‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Jesus asked him” (Mk. 10:51). The blind man had been crying out aloud, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (v. 48). The cry had reached the ear of the Lord; He knew what he wanted, and was ready to grant it him. But before He does it, He asks him: “What do you want me to do for you?” He wants to hear from his own lips, not only the general petition for mercy, but the distinct expression of what his desire was. Until he speaks it out, he is not healed.

There is now still many a supplicant to whom the Lord puts the same question, and who cannot, until it has been answered, get the aid he asks. Our prayers must not be a vague appeal to His mercy, an indefinite cry for blessing, but the distinct expression of definite need. Not that His loving heart does not understand our cry, or is not ready to hear. But He desires it for our own sakes.

Such definite prayer teaches us to know our own needs better. It demands time, and thought, and self-scrutiny to find out what really is our greatest need. It searches us and puts us to the test as to whether our desires are honest and real, such as we are ready to persevere in. It leads us to judge whether our desires are according to God’s Word, and whether we really believe that we shall receive the things we ask. It helps us to wait for the special answer, and to mark it when it comes.

Is Our Prayer Vague?

And yet how much of our prayer is vague and pointless. Some cry for mercy, but take not the trouble to know what mercy must do for them. Others ask, perhaps, to be delivered from sin, but do not begin by bringing any sin by name from which the deliverance may be claimed. Still others pray for God’s blessing on those around them, for the outpouring of God’s Spirit on their land or the world, and yet have no special field where they wait and expect to see the answer.

To all the Lord says: And what is it now you really want and expect Me to do? Every Christian has but limited powers, and as he must have his own special field of labor in which he works, so with his prayers too. Each believer has his own circle, his family, his friends, his neighbors. If he were to take one or more of these by name, he would find that this really brings him into the training-school of faith, and leads to personal and pointed dealing with his God.

As long as in prayer we just pour out our hearts in a multitude of petitions, without taking time to see whether every petition is sent with the purpose and expectation of getting an answer, not many will reach the mark. But if, as in silence of soul we bow before the Lord, we were to ask such questions as these—What is now really my desire? Do I desire it in faith, expecting to receive? Am I now ready to place and leave it in the Father’s bosom?—then we should learn so to pray that God would see and we would know what we really expect.

It is for this, among other reasons, that the Lord warns us against the vain repetitions of the Gentiles, who think to be heard for their much praying (see Mt. 6:7). We often hear prayers of great earnestness and fervor, in which a multitude of petitions are poured forth, but to which the Savior would undoubtedly answer: What do you want Me to do for you?

Family and Business “Letters”

If I am in a strange land, in the interests of the business which my father owns, I will certainly write two different sorts of letters. There will be family letters giving expression to all the intercourse to which affection prompts; and there will be business letters, containing orders for what I need. And there may be letters in which both are found.

The answers I receive will correspond to the letters. To each sentence of the letters containing the family news I do not expect a special answer. But for each order I send I am confident of an answer whether the desired article has been forwarded.

In our dealings with God the business element must not be lacking. Along with our expression of need and sin, of love and faith and consecration, there must be the pointed statement of what we ask and expect to receive. It is in the answer to these that the Father loves to give us the token of His approval and acceptance.

Andrew Murray

NavPress

NEEDED : DAMAGES OR REPAIRS?

"He [Jesus, the Christ] was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed."1

David Seamands tells the story about an old farmer who was in an automobile wreck. Along came an amateur lawyer who inspected the bashed fenders and battered doors and said to the farmer, "Man, you ought to collect some damages for this." The puzzled farmer wisely replied, "Damages? I've collected enough damages already. What I need are some repairs!"2

And isn't that what we all need—repairs; that is, healing of our sin-sick soul?

The question constantly being asked is: "If God is a God of love, why does he allow such damages or suffering in the world?" "Why does he allow children to starve?" "Why does he allow terrorism to continue?" "Why does God allow all the problems in the world to continue? When will Jesus return to take all God's children to Heaven and end all this misery here on earth at least for his children?"

I don't know when Jesus will return but with the ever increasing conflict between militant Muslims (Islam) and the Jews, Christians and Westerners (the infidels), the stage could be being set for the final world conflict that will signify the imminent return (or immediately follow the return) of Jesus to earth to take his children home to glory—where God will wipe away all tears and where all sadness, suffering, and sickness will be no more.

In the meantime, however, we happen to live in a broken, sin-sick world where we suffer not because God left us but because we, the human race, left God and consequently reap the results that sin produces. As a result, we desperately need the healing of our soul provided through the punishment, crucifixion, and death of Jesus Christ who died in our place on the cross in order to pay the penalty for our sins so that we could receive God's free pardon and the gift of eternal life.

While we still live in this sin-sick world, we will continue to see all the pain and suffering that a sin-sick world produces. However, once we accept God's gift of salvation, he will heal our sin-sick soul and give us peace in the midst of this suffering world knowing that our sins are forgiven, that our soul has been healed, and that we are on our way to Heaven.

The critical question is not why does God allow suffering, but rather, why don't we turn back to God and receive his full and free pardon? If you haven't accepted God's pardon, be sure to see No. 3 below and read "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian—without having to be religious."

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to find healing for my sin-sick soul and for my damaged emotions so I will experience the abundant life you have planned for all your children. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Isaiah 53:5 (NKJV).
2. David Seamands in his taped message, Damaged Emotions, a copy of which can be purchased at www.actscom.com/store.
3. www.actsweb.org/christian.

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Acts International

TEACH YOU HOW TO TEACH ?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

PEACE


We are blessed to have two types of peace: the peace of God and peace with God.

When Christ shed His blood at Calvary, He paid the price for our peace and reconciliation with God. But in addition to no longer being separated from our Creator, when we walk with Christ in faith, we can experience the peace of God-no matter what is swirling around us.

It's an incredible privilege, knowing that God never forsakes us and being in His presence continuously. We cannot see Him, but we can still know with certainty that He is near as we enjoy His fellowship through prayer and Bible meditation.

God's peace is available to all who will receive Him and allow Him to be an intimate part of their lives. He wants to teach us how to walk in perfect peace. He longs to spend time with us and to be all we need in every situation. He can handle all of our cares and pressures.

Have you drawn near to God? Have you leaned on Him with all your needs and concerns? Are you ready to enjoy His peace?

Lord, thank You for the peace of knowing You. Give me grace to walk more closely with You today and enjoy Your peace more deeply. Amen.


--author unknown

AllWorship <:))))><

Friday, October 22, 2010

THE CHURCH, GOD'S PEOPLE

As Jesus was one human person among many, the Church is one organization among many. And just as there may have been people with more attractive appearances than Jesus, there may be many organizations that are a lot better run than the Church. But Jesus is the Christ appearing among us to reveal God's love, and the Church is his people called together to make his presence visible in today's world.

Would we have recognized Jesus as the Christ if we had met him many years ago? Are we able to recognize him today in his body, the Church? We are asked to make a leap of faith. If we dare to do it our eyes will be opened and we will see the glory of God.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

CALL OUT OF SLAVERY


The Church is the people of God. The Latin word for "church," ecclesia, comes from the Greek ek, which means "out," and kaleo, which means "to call." The Church is the people of God called out of slavery to freedom, sin to salvation, despair to hope, darkness to light, an existence centered on death to an existence focused on life.

When we think of Church we have to think of a body of people, travelling together. We have to envision women, men, and children of all ages, races, and societies supporting one another on their long and often tiresome journeys to their final home.

NO HIDING PLACE


"Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?" declares the LORD. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?"1

Tim Timmons and Stephen Arteburn in their book, Hooked on Life, tell about a middle-aged woman who made her way into an apartment building to the twelfth floor. As she arrived at her intended destination, she rang the doorbell impatiently. The door opened mysteriously, and she was welcomed by the smell of incense and smoke. She entered and was greeted by a slightly dressed young girl who announced her presence with the sounding of a huge gong. With this the young girl said, "Do you wish to see the all-knowing, all-powerful, the wonderful one, Maharishi Narru?"

"Yeah," the woman said. "Tell Sheldon his mother is here!"

We laugh at such folly in others, while at the same time, most of us to some degree hide behind some kind of phony facade. It may not be as absurd as what we have just read about, but when it comes to trying to hide from God, that's impossible. God knows all. He sees all. He knows who I am . . . where I am . . . why I am here . . . where I am going . . . what I am doing . . . and what I am not doing. No matter how I try, I cannot hide from God! No way. Period!

As David wrote in the Psalms, "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."2

The best thing is to tell God who you are, where you are, what you want, what you don't want, what you are afraid of, what you don't want to give up, etc., etc. Only when we get honest with ourselves and real with God, can he (or anyone else) help us.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please open my eyes so I can see any way in which I may be deceiving myself, or running from your perfect plan and will for my life. Help me to be honest with myself and honest with you—knowing that the best thing in the world for me is the purpose you have for my life. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Jeremiah 23:24 (NIV).
2. Psalm 139:7-10 (NIV).

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Acts International

THE PILLARS OF THE CHURCH

The two main sacraments, baptism and the Eucharist, are the spiritual pillars of the Church. They are not simply instruments by which the Church exercises its ministry. They are not just means by which we become and remain members of the Church but belong to the essence of the Church. Without these sacraments there is no Church.
The Church is the body of Christ fashioned by baptism and the Eucharist. When people are baptised in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and when they gather around the table of Christ and receive his Body and Blood, they become the people of God, called the Church.

Henri Nouwen Society

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NOT WHAT WE SAY


"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."1

You've no doubt heard about the three birds that are sitting on a telephone wire. Two of them decide to fly south. How many are left? One? No. It's three. This is because deciding to fly south isn't the same as doing it.

It's a bit like the difference between a want and a wish. I may want to lose some extra pounds and decide to do it, but don't do anything about it. This makes my desire and decision to lose weight nothing more than a wish.

In life it's not what I say, wish, or decide that counts. It's what I do. Action always needs to follow one's decision. Otherwise it is meaningless.

Have you been wanting to make amends with a friend whom you hurt or who has hurt you, or with whom you had a difference? Have you been meaning to visit a shut-in elderly person, make a phone call, send a card, or write a letter to a friend in need, buy flowers for your wife or special friend? Then don't delay. Do it today.

As Michael Josephson said, "Good intentions are simply not enough. Our character is defined and our lives are determined not by what we want, say or think, but by what we do.

And as God's Word says, "Do not merely listen to the word [God's Word, the Bible], and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to be a doer of your word and not just a listener. Help me to be a proactive person and make good things happen and not be an uninvolved bystander. And help me to always practice what I preach. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. James 1:22 (NIV).

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NOTE: If you would like to accept God's forgiveness for all your sins and His invitation for a full pardon Click HERE.

Or if you would like to re-commit your life to Jesus Christ, please click HERE to note this.

Acts International - Daily Encouragement

BECOMING THE MYSTICAL BODY OF CHRIST


As we gather around the Eucharistic table and make the death and resurrection of Jesus our own by sharing in the "bread of life" and the "cup of salvation," we become together the living body of Christ.

The Eucharist is the sacrament by which we become one body. Becoming one body is not becoming a team or a group or even a fellowship. Becoming one body is becoming the body of Christ. It is becoming the living Lord, visibly present in the world. It is - as often has been said - becoming the mystical Body of Christ. But mystical and real are the same in the realm of the Spirit.

Henri Nouwen Society - Daily Meditation

Monday, October 11, 2010

AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE


"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."1

"A national news program conducted a study of fifty people who have lived over 100 years and still lead active, happy lives. . . . The researchers specifically looked for similarities in diet, exercise, lifestyle and habits that could contribute to their longevity and quality of life. What they found was amazing.

"Through an extensive interviewing process, the news team found that some of the participants in this study had what would be considered good diets. An equal number of people were not as healthy in their food choices. Exercise and other areas of lifestyle were also not found to be a common thread throughout the group.

"However, two things were overwhelmingly consistent among over 90 percent of those studied. What were these consistent traits? Nine out of ten said that throughout their entire lives they awoke every morning with an attitude of gratitude for one more day of life and that they saw each day as a precious gift. Secondly, nine out of ten stated that they felt life was too short to hold grudges or spend time complaining, and they forgave people quickly and refused to dwell on negative thoughts."2

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, when I am faced with a challenge, a setback, a disappointment, a loss, pain, or a difficult circumstance over which I seem to have no control, please help me to genuinely say thank you for the opportunity to grow and for the lessons to be learned, and help me to 'hear' what wisdom and guidance you always give to a grateful heart. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV).
2. Larry DiAngi, "Going Beyond Common Miles," The Magic Is in the Extra Mile, 11-12. Cited on KneEmail, Mike Benson, Editor, http://www.oakhillcoc.org.

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NOTE: If you would like to accept God's forgiveness for all your sins and His invitation for a full pardon Click HERE.

Or if you would like to re-commit your life to Jesus Christ, please click HERE to note this.

Acts International - Daily Inspiration

Saturday, October 9, 2010

CHRIST BODY, Our Body


When we gather for the Eucharist we gather in the Name of Jesus, who is calling us together to remember his death and resurrection in the breaking of the bread. There he is truly among us. "Where two or three meet in my name," he says, "I am there among them" (Matthew 18:20).
The presence of Jesus among us and in the gifts of bread and wine are the same presence. As we recognise Jesus in the breaking of the bread, we recognise him also in our brothers and sisters. As we give one another the bread, saying: "This is the Body of Christ," we give ourselves to each other saying: "We are the Body of Christ." It is one and the same giving, it is one and the same body, it is one and the same Christ. -

Henri Nouwen Society

CHRIST BODY, Our Body

When we gather for the Eucharist we gather in the Name of Jesus, who is calling us together to remember his death and resurrection in the breaking of the bread. There he is truly among us. "Where two or three meet in my name," he says, "I am there among them" (Matthew 18:20).
The presence of Jesus among us and in the gifts of bread and wine are the same presence. As we recognise Jesus in the breaking of the bread, we recognise him also in our brothers and sisters. As we give one another the bread, saying: "This is the Body of Christ," we give ourselves to each other saying: "We are the Body of Christ." It is one and the same giving, it is one and the same body, it is one and the same Christ. -

Henri Nouwen Society

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

TO THE END OF THE EARTH


"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."1

Ravi Zacharias shared how "during the Cold War, a Christian from the U.S. was visiting Romania. It was a gray, cold day, and all the faces around him reflected that gray, cold atmosphere. But in the midst of the gloom, the Christian man heard someone whistling a tune. It was an old hymn, 'The Great Physician now is here, the sympathizing Jesus.'

"The Christian man spotted the whistler and began walking alongside him. Because Christians were persecuted by the government, he took care not to publicly identify his allegiance. He simply began whistling the same tune. The Romanian man stopped, a big smile spreading over his face. He pointed to heaven. So did the American man. He pointed to his heart. The American did too. Then he reached out and grabbed the American in a big bear hug. Neither man could speak the other's language, but they knew instantly that they were brothers in the faith.

"How did these two men from opposite ends of the world, from different cultures and different languages, come to worship a Jewish carpenter? Because someone told the story of Jesus to someone else, who told it to someone else, who told it to someone else, until it reached Jerusalem, and Judea, and Samaria and all the ends of the earth."2

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please use me today in some way to communicate your love, and in so doing, be a powerful witness to your saving grace in my life. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

Note: To help reach out to others with the saving gospel message of Jesus Christ, please join with us as a People Power for Jesus Partner at: www.actsweb.org/people_power.

1. Acts 1:8 (NIV).
2. Ravi Zacharias, Deliver Us From Evil (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), pp. 103-104.

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Acts International - Daily Encounter

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

COMPANION OF THE SOULS


When the two disciples recognised Jesus as he broke the bread for them in their house in Emmaus, he "vanished from their sight" (Luke 24:31). The recognition and the disappearance of Jesus are one and the same event. Why? Because the disciples recognised that their Lord Jesus, the Christ, now lives in them ... that they have become Christ-bearers. Therefore, Jesus no longer sits across the table from them as the stranger, the guest, the friend with whom they can speak and from whom they can receive good counsel. He has become one with them. He has given them his own Spirit of Love. Their companion on the journey has become the companion of their souls. They are alive, yet it is no longer them, but Christ living in them (see Galatians 2:20).

Henri Nouwen's Society - Daily Meditation

Monday, October 4, 2010

Parable of the Candles


There was a blackout one night. When the lights went out, I fumbled to the closet where we keep the candles for nights like this ... I lit four of them.

I was turning to leave with the large candle in my hand when I heard a voice, "Now, hold it right there."

"Who said that?"

"I did." The voice was near my hand.

"Who are you? What are you?"

"I'm a candle."

I lifted up the candle to take a closer look. There was a tiny face in the wax.

"Don't take me out of here!"

"What?"

"I said, Don't take me out of this room."

"What do you mean? I have to take you out. You're a candle. Your job is to give light. It's dark out there."

"But you can't take me out. I'm not ready," the candle explained with pleading eyes. "I need more preparation."

I couldn't believe my ears. "More preparation?"

"Yeah, I've decided I need to research this job of light-giving so I won't go out and make a bunch of mistakes. You'd be surprised how distorted the glow of an untrained candle can be ...."

"All right then," I said. "You're not the only candle on the shelf. I'll blow you out and take the others!"

But right then I heard other voices, "We aren't going either!" I turned to the other candles, "You are candles and your job is to light dark places!"

"Well, that may be what you think," said the first one, "You may think we have to go, but I'm busy ... I'm meditating on the importance of light. It's really enlightening."

"And you other two," I asked, "are you going to stay too?"

A short, fat, purple candle with plump cheeks spoke up. "I'm waiting to get my life together, I'm not stable enough."

The last candle had a female voice, very pleasant to the ear. "I'd like to help," she explained, "but lighting the darkness is not my gift ... I'm a singer. I sing to other candles to encourage them to burn more brightly."

She began a rendition of "This Little Light of Mine." The other three joined in, filling the closet with singing.... I took a step back and considered the absurdity of it all. Four perfectly healthy candles singing to each other about light but refusing to come out of the closet.

Here is a question for you, when was the last time you shared the gospel to someone? This world is full of darkness, with many people stumbling around trying to find their way. You can be a light for them, and believe me, there's a light waiting for you. It can all happen with something as sharing the faith, to just a smile across the room, to a quick hello to a forgotten friend.

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16)

Max Lucado

Drip . . . Drip . . . Drip


"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter."1

Less than a decade ago an openly gay Episcopalian priest was appointed as a bishop in the Episcopal Church—many church members were appalled while others rejoiced. Also, until the court stepped in and put a temporary halt to it, the Mayor of San Francisco became a law unto himself and married numerous gay couples. Many were appalled while others rejoiced.

About this situation Steven Higginbotham wrote: "The door has been cracked opened with regard to the definition of marriage in allowing homosexuals to marry, so now a polygamist in Utah, who has five wives, is appealing bigamy convictions brought against him on the basis of this court ruling. This man's lawyer is arguing that the decriminalization of homosexual sex is no different than polygamy."2

So what will come next? Will fornication and adultery also be approved because people can't help to whom they are attracted? Or what about pedophiles? Will their seduction of children be accepted because they can't help whom they are attracted to? Will they claim that they were born this way and this therefore justifies their behavior?

That could never happen here we say. Don't bank on it. Our parents would have sworn that gay marriage would never have been accepted here either. According to Wikipedia Encyclopedia, "Nationwide, five states [in the U.S.] have legalized same-sex marriage as a result of a court ruling, while three others have done so through a vote in their respective state legislatures."3

No society crashes overnight. It's like the proverbial drip . . . drip . . . drip of water that eventually wears away the stone, or like the "umpteenth" blow of the hammer that breaks the rock in two. Little by little it's the relentless drip . . . drip . . . drip by those who oppose all that is godly to justify what they want that ends up having people (including some church people) call good what God calls evil.

What we fail to realize is that we cannot break God's laws. We can oppose them. We can vote against them. We can disregard them, but we cannot break them. What we break is ourselves against them. As God's Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil." It has been said that the only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help those of us who claim to be Christian, which includes me, know what your Word teaches and stand firm upon it and not be lured into the trap of so called 'political correctness' and thereby conform to the standards of the world about us. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

NOTE: To support the Institution of Marriage; the Preservation of Religious Liberty; and the Sanctity of Life for future generations, please read and sign the Manhattan Declaration at: http://www.manhattandeclaration.org/home.aspx

1. Isaiah 5:20 (NIV).
2. Steve Higginbotham, "Yesterday's Fringe, Today's Center," South Green Street Church of Christ Weekly Newsletter, Vol. 23, No. 2, Jan. 12, 2004. Cited in KneEmail #594: at http://www.oakhillcoc.org.
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_States as of February 2, 2010.

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Acts International - Daily Encounter

Friday, October 1, 2010

THE SHEPHERD'S VOICE


"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."1

A party of tourists was on its way to Palestine and their guide was describing some of the customs of the East.

He was explaining how in England, for example, a shepherd follows the sheep, but in the East the shepherd leads the way and the sheep follow him for they know his voice.

When the tourist group reached Palestine one of the first sights they saw was a flock of sheep not being led by the shepherd but being driven along by the man. The guide, being perplexed, stopped to talk to the shepherd.

"How is it that you are driving these sheep?" he asked. "I have always been told that the Eastern shepherd leads his sheep."

"You are quite right, sir," replied the man. "The shepherd does lead his sheep. But you see I'm not the shepherd. I'm the butcher."2

With so many religious voices today vying for the hearts and minds of adherents, we need to be certain that we know Jesus, the true Shepherd, recognize his voice and follow him. Remember that there are many false prophets that are nothing but "butchers" in sheep's clothing.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me to know for certain that I am committed to Jesus, the true Shepherd. Help me never to stray from him, always know his voice, and follow him. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. John 10:27 (KJV).
2. Church of God Evangel.

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Acts International - Daily Encounter

Thursday, September 30, 2010

EUCHARIST, The Sacrament of Communion


Baptism opens the door to the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the sacrament through which Jesus enters into an intimate, permanent communion with us. It is the sacrament of the table. It is the sacrament of food and drink. It is the sacrament of daily nurture. While baptism is a once-in-a-lifetime event, the Eucharist can be a monthly, weekly, or even daily occurrence. Jesus gave us the Eucharist as a constant memory of his life and death. Not a memory that simply makes us think of him but a memory that makes us members of his body. That is why Jesus on the evening before he died took bread saying, "This is my Body," and took the cup saying, "This is my Blood." By eating the Body and drinking the Blood of Christ, we become one with him.

Henri Nouwen Society - Daily Meditation

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

LOST AND FOUND

"When the Son of Man [Jesus Christ] comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King [Jesus] will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father [God]; take your inheritance, the kingdom [of Heaven] prepared for you since the creation of the world.'"1

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'"2

Years ago, soon after my first son was born, my mother came to help with the new baby. On one occasion I left her to "baby-sit" with him in a beautiful downtown park in Adelaide, South Australia (where we were living at the time), while I did some shopping.

When I returned, mother and baby were missing. I panicked! My heart pounded. Minutes seemed like hours. I asked strangers passing by if they had seen an older woman with a baby. I searched for a policeman. I prayed furiously.

Imagine the relief when I found them. Actually, the problem was mine. I went back to the wrong part of the park!

I've read about others, too, who lost a child and how they panicked, and never rested until their child was found. I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like for parents whose child is lost—and never found. It would be unthinkable—a never-ending nightmare.

Would to God that we Christians were just as concerned about people who don't know the Savior and are lost without hope for all eternity.

As Jesus said in today's Bible passage, he is coming again and will be taking his true followers to be with him forever in Heaven. What a wonderful hope for his true followers. But think of the tragedy of those who are still lost and don't know that their Heavenly Father is looking for them.

Here in ACTS International we are totally committed to telling people all around the world about Jesus' message of salvation—people who without Christ will be lost for all eternity. Will you please help us to do this? You can do so at http://actscom.com and by becoming a People Power for Jesus Partner. For more information go to: www.actsweb.org/people_power/about_people_power.php

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me to be as concerned about people who are spiritually lost as I would be if my own child were lost. I'm available and ask that you use me to be 'as Christ' to every life I touch today, and please use me to help bring the lost to you. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Jesus in Matthew 25:31-34(NIV).
2. Matthew 25:41 (NIV).

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Acts International - Daily Encouragement

a choice

We all have things in our lives that we can't change.

They run a broad spectrum between minor annoyances, like a family member's persistent, obnoxious behavior, and real tragedies, like the loss of someone close to us.

But even in situations that are beyond our control, we can choose how we respond.

The wisdom of St. Francis' "Serenity Prayer" reminds us that we can't change some situations and we can't change other people, but we can change ourselves.

We can modify our own response to that family member. We can adopt a positive attitude in sticky circumstances. In other words, we can choose joy.

And even during those moments when we can't change our emotions, when grief overwhelms us, we can still choose God. When we do, we are accepting His promise to bring joy into our lives.

Lord, I want to choose joy today. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and give me wisdom to respond rightly to everything in my life.

Amen.

AllWorship.com