Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Scandal of Division



There is a joke which says: "Where you have one member of the Church of Christ - you have a church; where you have two members - you have a church-split; with each accusing the other of not teaching the Bible." Another: "Old uncle John is the most spiritual man I know. He is against everything."

Perhaps you know of the preacher/elder/deacon who left to form a new church just down the street. "But I wanted to do God's will. I was in the right. That church wasn't obeying God. This city needs a church that does it right!"

Paul warned against "choosing up sides" and commanded all stand together. A new birth makes us brothers and sisters in the Lord's Family. Note Colossians 3:10-11; 1 Corinthians 12:13.

Some years ago a Church had a successful ministry. The job market was very good and people moved into the small city from all over the USA. They brought along a variety of viewpoints and traditions. They accepted each other. Jesus was their Lord; and the preacher had a peacemaking spirit. Membership grew from 50 to around 150 on Sunday mornings. They had a radio program, a good VBS, held a Campaign, got "Amazing Grace" put on the TV, and were generally very active in promoting the Lord's Cause. Elders and deacons were appointed for the very first time.

But some felt it was time for the preacher to move on, and that someone more "evangelistically oriented" be called to fill the pulpit. The new man didn't make any waves in the community, and his spirit was not as peacemaking or cooperative.

"We've got to be more conservative," some said. "If we do like they did back home, why, the building will be running over!"

Not everyone felt that way. Those who did feel that way "split off" to form a new Church. They hired a preacher and began to build a new building. This effectively tied up their finances. They had obligated themselves for serious monthly payments. Rather than "evangelizing," they concentrated on paying for the new building.

"You're still not conservative enough," others said. "You believe in doing this and that to try to evangelize people, and you support that TV program, all of which we know is wrong!" So these "split off" to form a third Church in this small city.

A preacher two generations ago said in frustration: "If Jesus had told His people to split up into as many small groups as possible, we could hardly have done a worse job." He meant, of course, can't we agree on anything!? He had raised the alarm on some issues which he believed were crucial. But he drove wedges in the Body, which fragmented into more and more "issues." Rather than "standing together," as he had hoped, even more began standing in smaller groups and drawing circles around themselves.

Some today have raised the alarm and intend to oppose what they see as a "New Movement." Old issues are being resurrected and held up as models of behavior. One wrote in "The Current Digression" [1986]. "This editor feels there is something new and fresh afoot in this brotherhood.. New Journals are cropping up with the sole purpose being to combat liberalism... Some of the old preachers see the certain unraveling of all they have labored for, and they are beginning to speak out as only they can... Our children and grandchildren will look back on us as heroes of the faith, and in some secret recess of their souls wish they had been here to help us." [This sounds like what was being said in the 50's when the "Non-institutional Movement" was organizing.]

The "brotherhood" is becoming more and more fragmented as people choose up sides in an attempt to be "pure." But going back to the 50's is not the same as returning to the church of the New Testament. And it seems unwise to "burn the house down to get rid of the mice."

Dr. Mac Lynn’s new directory: "Churches of Christ in the United States" makes interesting reading. A number of "parties" are identified. But more ominous is the observation that the average age in the "Churches of Christ" may be over 40. This is slightly older than the US population. Because of the age factor it becomes more difficult to speak to young people; to speak to the surge of immigrants; or to be "all things to all men" as was the apostle Paul [This is not to say that "old people" must lack vision or fail to give glory to Christ. This writer is 85.]  It certainly must be our intention to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ's Doing and Dying and Rising Again. (Gal. 1:8; 3:1-7; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Romans 10:3-13.) The Bible reveals Jesus to us. We believe in Him and love Him. "He is our everything..."

There is, however, a context. "There is no such thing as a religious occurrence that is not also a historical, social, economic, political, and cultural occurrence. Every religious movement, then, is produced and shaped by a convergence of all these and other forces." [Robt. M. Anderson] The Gospel is UNCHANGING. Note, however, that Paul adjusted the "context" to Jewish, Gentile, weak, etc. [1 Cor. 9:19-23).

There is a real danger that the "brotherhood" will "Amish-ize" in the attempt to preserve The Past As We Remember It. The Depressions years were years of amazing growth. But much of the spontaneous element has become ritualized and what had been a flowing spiritual movement has crystallized into a number of splinter groups. There are remnants of an older, rural-agrarian culture whose dominance began to wane more than a century ago. Stereotyped preaching, praying, a simple often folksy manner, are characteristic. So too, sometimes mournful hymns. It is in the realm of "music" that the crosscurrents within the "folk culture" and its interaction with the larger culture are most clearly discerned. We sing the "old hymns" [and I love them]. This new song from Malaysia, however, better reflects the Book of Acts and the living faith of the First Century.

"There is a sound coming out of Zion

That's stirring up the church for war,

And in her midst there's celebration,

Such singing we've never heard before."

"The JOY of the Lord is your STRENGTH!" [Nehemiah 8:10]. We must restore the SPIRIT of the Book of Acts as we see this being expressed in Acts 4:23-31. The devil wishes to steal away our JOY and BOLDNESS and LOVE FOR CHRIST. We must do, as Ephesus was told to do: " You must love Me as much as you used to! If you don't, I will come and take away your candlestick." [note Rev. 2:4-5].

Monday, December 22, 2014

Back To Basics

                                                             BACK TO BASICS!

                                                               Rhoderick D. Ice

        We do not expect God to speak to us directly.  But if He did, He might say something like this.  "Listen to MY voice.  Allow ME to direct your course in every area.  I will protect you from falling.  There are racial problems among MY people that are hindering My work to bring healing to your land.  MY love goes beyond cultural barriers.  MY love goes beyond the fear of meeting people of different races.  Go to the sick, the needy, the friendless.  And do so in the power of The Holy Spirit.  I am with you always!"  [Hebrews 13:5-6; Jude 24-25; Acts 11:17-18]

            The Church's foundation is unshakable and firm against the assaults of the raging sea. Waves lash at the Church but do not shatter it. Although the elements of this world constantly batter and crash against her, she offers the safest harbor of salvation for all in distress. —Ambrose (339–397)

            Heretics often provided a great service to the church. For example, Marcion rejected the Old Testament and the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John, thus forcing the church to define the New Testament canon. Arius, in denying the deity of Christ, made the church articulate the doctrine that became most crucial to Christianity.   Contributed by Tony Lane
        It is impossible for the devil to destroy Christ's One Body [Matt. 16:18].  But we, like the Israelites of old, need to be called back to Him from time to time.  Look to Him and go straight to the goal!  We have spent our time trying to build "The Church."  We should be lifting up Christ Jesus so that everyone will see Him, and proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. [compare Phil. 1:15-20]  HE will build the church!

        Let us get back to the basics of faith.  If we are to be the People God intended us to be, we must build our understanding of Jesus on the Eternal Verities of basic truth.  We see the experience of God's People in the New Testament portion of the Bible - triumphs and defeats, rights & wrongs, corrections, the good and the bad - as they struggled to give form to their faith. God has spoken through His Son [Hebrews 1:1-2].  JESUS is the final revelation of God to us!  We believe in God as we see Him in Jesus The Christ!


        1. FALL IN LOVE WITH JESUS AGAIN.  Paul said faith, hope, and love are the three most important virtues; but love has the highest priority of all.  If we are not in love with Jesus, we have no hope at all.  The Church at Ephesus had white-hot zeal, but had somehow misplaced the love they once had for Jesus [Rev. 2:4-5].  They were in danger of losing their "candlestick."


        2. A SOVEREIGN GOD.  God's power is awesome and His word is true!  The devil wants us to picture God as "a helpless old man, hopelessly confused by a world out of control."  Certainly God is in control.  God does know what is going on in this world.  God loves His creation.  God wants to save everyone who will claim His salvation [Isaiah 66:1-2; Acts 17:24-28; Rev. 22:17].


        3. AN UNLIMITED CHRIST.  HE has all authority and power.  By His life, death, burial, and resurrection He has been given the Name that is above all Names.  Note His description in Rev. 1:17-18; 5:5; Col. 1:15-23.  The universal declaration of the First Century Church was: JESUS IS LORD!


        4. THE INDWELLING HOLY SPIRIT.  HE - The Spirit - is Seal & Guarantee & Partner-in- Prayer - and Fountain of Living Water [John 7:37-39].  The Door of Pentecost could not open, nor the evangelization of the world take place - until HE came with power, as Jesus promised in Acts 1:3-8.  Jesus said: "And I will pray the Father and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever" [John 14:16].  The glory of the Church is that The Holy Spirit is continually present, molding and forming Christians into the Image of Christ [2 Cor. 3:17-18; 4:13-15; Eph. 3:16-21].


        5. SALVATION BY FAITH.  Paul said the righteousness which is through faith in Christ is the righteousness which is from God by faith [Phil. 3:9-11].  Christ has already won the victory and overcome the world!  Note Romans 8:1-4.  Our righteousness is based upon the finished work of Christ Jesus.  Certainly our obedience is necessary, but it cannot add anything to the perfect work of Jesus.  We tell potential converts just what Peter and the others told people in the Book of Acts.


        6. AN INDESTRUCTIBLE CHURCH/KINGDOM.  Not even the "powers of hell" nor the "powers of death and Hades" have any ability to destroy the church.  There never will be a time when the church winks out of existence [the One Body].  The living Church will be caught up to meet Him in the air at the end of time [1 Thess. 4:17-18].  The cycle of the church will repeat again and again until Jesus Comes [Rev. 11:11-13].


        7. HEARTFELT RELIGION.  Living Faith inspires commitment, dedication and involvement.  The Church at Laodicea was in trouble because they were lukewarm.  We are to give our lives and our love to HIM [Romans 12:1-2].


        8. WATER-AND-SPIRIT BAPTISM.  As Jesus was Himself baptized, water & Spirit were joined together.  Note the questions Paul asked the converts at Ephesus [Acts 19:2-3].  What we term "Christian baptism" involves both water and The Holy Spirit [John 3:5; Titus 3:5; 1 Cor. 12:13].


        9. RECOVERY OF THE MIND OF CHRIST.  There is a pattern of life and action idealized in the New Testament Scriptures, especially in the Four Gospels.  Jesus did the Will of the Father as He was "tempted in every way we are."  We want to "do it like He did" and reproduce in our lives what we see in His life!


        10. UNITY RATHER THAN CONFORMITY.  Note that our Unity helps promote the Cause of Christ [John 17:21[.  Conversely, our disunity impacts the Cause of Christ in an unfavorable way.  We are brothers and sisters in the same Family.  We want to preserve the unity which The Spirit gives by means of the peace that binds us together [note Eph. 4:3].  We do not produce unity but we recognize the fact that we are ONE in Christ.


        11. THE RESURRECTION GOSPEL.  Listen to those first Christians!  Jesus is alive forevermore!!!  Paul said the Gospel stands or falls on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead [1 Cor. 15:3,4,12-14,17-20].  Those first Christians filled the world with the POWER of His Resurrection [Acts 4:2,9-12].


        12. IT IS THE "LAST HOUR."  Not the "End Time," of course, since no one can know when Jesus is coming again.  But John is teaching us to live each hour as though it were the last hour.  Many anti-Christs had appeared already in John's time [1 John 2:18].  We find in this Last Hour Situation a sense of urgency - and also calmness and security, WE ARE GOING HOME!!!  "And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  And great grace was upon them all" [Acts 4:33].

The Fullness of the Time


    God’s Great Plan – JESUS!  Good and evil are in our world.  Jesus entered the world to save it.  Jesus brings God’s unfailing love and faithfulness (grace and truth).

    “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:17 (NKJV)

    Christ is coming!  The prophets witnessed to this hope.”

    The fact of the expectation of Our Lord among the Jews at the time of His coming is accepted by all students of their history.  It is the fact that, at His Coming, Something had filled the Jewish people with the conviction that the Redeemer, the Messiah, was to come, that He would come about this time, that such and such would be His circumstances, His characteristics, the marks by which He might be known.  This expectation was not merely of an event, or of a person in general, but was detailed in its knowledge of what was to be.  This expectation, and the figure of Him that was to be, was marked clearly. He was to be born of a Virgin. He was to be born at Bethlehem; and yet by an apparent contradiction He was both to come out of Egypt, and was to be called a Nazarene. He was to be of the line of David.

    God’s Right Time!

    “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”  Gal 4:4-5 (NKJV)

    “By observing, that God sent forth his Son born of a woman, the apostle insinuates, that Christ is the seed of the woman, promised at the fall to come and bruise the serpent's head.” McKnight

    “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 2 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us." 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.” Matt 1:21-25 (NKJV)

    “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”  Romans 1:1-4 (NKJV)

    The Apostle John wrote that God Himself became flesh in Christ (John 1:1). Jesus' humanity and divinity were complete, not partial. The two ideas—Jesus as 100-percent divine and 100-percent human—form the bedrock of a Christian understanding of Christ.  The idea that the Word became human (literally became flesh) stunned both Greeks and Jews.  The Lord's glory in the Tabernacle (Exod 40:34-38) was now present in Jesus Christ

    I believe in the God I see revealed in Jesus of Nazareth.”  Wright 

    “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Cor 4:6 (NKJV)

    “The image of the true and living God, once revealed in all its glory, is to be reflected into all the world, as was always God’s intention. The mission of the Church can be summed up in the phrase “reflected glory.” When we see, as Paul says, the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, we see this not for our own benefit, but so that the glory may shine in us and through us to bring light to the world that still waits in darkness and the shadow of death.”  Wright

        “The nativity is about Almighty God sending His one and only (begotten) Son down to this earth. This is His gift to us, not for Christmas, but for eternity. He doesn’t want us to admire it, anymore than we would merely admire a gift given from a loved one. He doesn’t want us to merely acknowledge His gift. He wants everyone; He wants you, to receive His gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, by inviting Him into your life.”  DJ

    For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16 (NKJV)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Elders - choosing potential

I write as one who has preached among the Churches of Christ (non-instrument) for 65 years.  Rhoderick D. Ice

The Local Church Is A Work In Progress  

    The church must be forever "restoring and being restored."  The church of the New Testament set an example we try to follow.

    What does the Bible say about this?  The Bible is our Instruction Manual about what God wants us to do.  We ask: "What did God say?"  But we must read with care.  We may "read into" the Bible things not there and miss the point.  Compare 2 Cor. 3:14,17. "But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.... Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

    “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Tim 1:7 (NKJV)

    "For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you-- "  Titus 1:5 (NKJV)

    To Set In order. Some things required time to complete. To appoint church elders. These were spiritual leaders in the local congregation, and there were always more than one. Compare 1 Tim. 3:1-7.  Note that the church at Ephesus had church elders in less than three years time (Acts 20:17). In every city. Each congregation had its own church elders and church deacons.  (R.D.Ice  BSNT)


    Church Elders are:

1. "Clerks watching the store while the Boss is away."

        Someone has to keep things running smoothly.

        Compare the Parable of Pounds.  "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.  So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, 'Do business till I come.'"  Luke 19:13 (NKJV)


2. "Older brothers watching out for the younger children."         

        They need protection and guidance.  "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you."  Hebrews 13:17 (NKJV)

3. "Not dictators but facilitators."  1 Peter 5:2-4.  "nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;" (NKJV)

4. "Coaches urging and directing the team on to victory."

        Compare Hebrews 12:1 where Paul uses the Olympic Games as a teaching example.   "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,"   (NKJV)


The Top Ten Questions for Potential Elders    (adapted from an article in the Christian Standard.)

        A Church Leader must be one who LOVES THE LORD!  If he does not - nothing else would matter.

        There has been a Tradition that said no one is "perfect enough" to be a Church Leader.  But what happens then is that someone unqualified takes the control, often as a "church boss" in the worst sense.  What a person is NOW is most important.  Compare 1 Cor. 6:11.  The church in the New Testament appointed elders and deacons in a short time.  Being "full of the Holy Spirit" and of "common sense wisdom" and being respected in the local community is all vitally important.  Read Acts 6:1-6. 

        "Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood."  Acts 20:26-28 (NKJV)


"Now it's up to you overseers.

Be on your toes—both for yourselves

and your congregation of sheep.

The Holy Spirit has put you in charge

of these people—God's people they are—

to guard and protect them.

God Himself thought they were worth dying for.

Not bossily telling others what to do,

but tenderly showing them the way.

When God, who is the best Shepherd of all,

comes out in the open with His rule

He'll see that you've done it right

and commend you lavishly.


        The Jewish Synagogue as model.

        The synagogue was developed while Israel was held captive in Babylon.  Since they no longer  had access to the Temple, some form was needed for Bible study and worship.  This same form provided the pattern for the church as they spread across the first century world.  Church leaders (also called elders, bishops, pastors) were to take the lead in spiritual matters as a board of directors.  Church helpers (also called deacons, servants) were needed to administer to the physical needs of the congregation.  In the Christian Family, the whole person (body, soul, spirit) was encouraged to grow and to develop into a Christ-like maturity.  Paul speaks of church organization and body-life in Ephesians, 1 Timothy and Titus.


Eph. 4:11-16

And He filled earth with His gifts.

He handed out gifts of apostle,

prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher

to train Christians in skilled servant work,

working within Christ's body, the church,

until we're all moving

rhythmically and easily with each other

efficient and graceful

in response to God's Son,

fully mature adults, fully developed

within and without,

fully alive like Christ.


No prolonged infancies among us, please.

We'll not tolerate babes in the woods,

small children who are

an easy mark for impostors.

God wants us to grow up,

to know the whole truth and

tell it in love—like Christ in everything.

We take our lead from Christ,

who is the source of everything we do.

He keeps us in step with each other.

His very breath and blood

flow through us, nourishing us

so that we will grow up healthy

in God, robust in love.


1 Tim. 3:1-7

If anyone wants to provide leadership, good! 

But there are preconditions:

A leader must be well-thought-of,

committed to his wife,

cool and collected,

accessible, and hospitable.

He must know what he's talking about,

not be overfond of wine,

not pushy but gentle,

not thin-skinned and touchy,

not money-hungry.

He must handle his own affairs well,

attentive to his own children

and having their respect.

For if someone is unable to

handle his own affairs,

how can he take care of God's church? 

He must not be a new believer,

lest the position go to his head

and the Devil trip him up.

Outsiders must think well of him,

or else the Devil will figure out a way

to lure him into his trap.


1. Is this man committed to his wife and family?  One who dearly loves his wife and family will be able to dearly love God's People.  If he is mean and abusive to his wife and family - WATCH OUT!


2. Has this man shown wisdom in decision-making?   Does he have "common sense wisdom"?  Does he have a sense of psychology and how things work.


3. Has this man shown the ability to keep his temper in check?  Everyone has a 'temper' but we learn to control it.  Some are more controlled than others.  The man who will make a good elder will have a tough skin, a tender heart, a short memory, and a long fuse.


4. Is this man willing to be inconvenienced for others?  Will he go the "second mile"?


5. Is this man capable of teaching Scripture to others?  You are not simply looking for a man who knows how to say something, but rather a man who has something to say - something from God.


6. Has this man established wise personal habits?  If his life is disorganized confusion - WATCH OUT!

7. Does this man have a strong sense of stewardship?  The "one talent man" had no sense of stewardship.  He was fearful but not adventurist in a good sense.


8. Does this man have a track record of discipling leadership?  You're looking for a man who's got a track record of leading people closer to Jesus.


9. Has this man been a Christian long enough to maintain humility?  Paul says he must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited.  The chief occupational hazard of spiritual leadership is pride, and too much visibility too soon in a man's Christian pilgrimage can inflate his ego.


10. Is this man respected in the community? The first quality listed is "above reproach," literally meaning "not able to be held."  In other words, if charges were leveled against this man, he wouldn't even be held for questioning because his reputation is so solid.  He's Teflon, not Velcro.  His integrity is such that accusations just won't stick.   But this only comes with time.  However some reach it sooner because they are gifted.


A Final Word of Challenge

         “The local church is the hope of the world, and its future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders.” If it’s true that everything rises and falls with leadership, then as your congregation selects its elders, you’ll want to take a close look again at this picture of a spiritual leader in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. The work of the church is too critical, the stakes are too high, the consequences are too eternal for a congregation to choose its leaders hastily (1 Timothy 5:22). Choose poorly, and the church will miss opportunities to build the kingdom.


But if leaders are chosen wisely, the church will flourish. And when the church flourishes, the gospel is preached, the lost are found, souls are saved, sin is confronted, children are taught, marriages are mended, addictions are broken, the hungry are fed, the grieving are comforted, the lonely are embraced, the wounded are healed, the community is transformed, and the nations are reached with the good news of Christ.


When the leaders are at their best, the church will be at its best, and when the church is at its best, it is breathtaking to behold. Look out world!


A final reminder. Remember: this picture Paul provides in 1 Timothy 3 is a sketch, not a snapshot. As you search for leaders, you’re looking for a great resemblance, but you may not find an exact likeness.


Keep in mind that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Look for excellence in character, but apply these standards with grace. You can (and should) find men who have learned to sin less, but you will never find men who are SINLESS. (1 John 1:6-10; 2:1-3)


At the end of the day, the good news is this: everything rises and falls with One Leader – JESUS - and while we may fail, He never does.



Thursday, November 20, 2014


THANKSGIVING  Psalm 100:1-5: 107:1-3

    We love Him because He first loved us!

    1 John 4:10 "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He first loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."

  “And be ye thankful.”

    1. Thank You, Jesus, for coming to earth to seek and to save me, even before I knew You.

    Jeremiah 31:3 "The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: 'Yes. I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."

    2. Thank You, Jesus, for Your loving willingness to suffer and die for me and to grant me total forgivenes of my sins.

    Rev. 1:5 "And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness. the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood."

    3. Thank You, Jesus, for Your patience and grace when I fail, and that You always receive me and never condemn me.

    John 6:37 "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out."

    4. Thank You, Jesus, for Your gracious and tender ways, with Your abundant lovingkindness toward me.

    Isaiah 54:10 "For the mountains shall depart And the hills be removed, But My kindness shall not depart from you, Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed, Says the Lord, who has mercy on you."

    5. Thank You, Jesus, for Your love and Your wish to complete all that You plan for me.

    Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

    6. Thank You, Jesus, for your promise and faithfulness to keep and sustain me through pain and struggle.

    Isaiah 43:1-2 "But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you: And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.  For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior."

    7. Thank You, Jesus, for You understanding my weaknesses and bringing strength to my life.

    Isaiah 41:10 "Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed. for I am your God.   I will strengthen you, Yes, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand"

    Hebrews 4:15-16 "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the Throne of grace. that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

    8. Thank You, Jesus, for you are with me every day, always near and never forsaking me.

    Hebrews 13:5-6 Let your conduct be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have.  For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we may boldly say. The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"'

    9. Thank You, Jesus, for You are preparing being a place for me to be with You forever.

    John 14:1-3 "Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."

    10. Thank You, Jesus, for your assurance that until that Day, Your conquering love and power is mine, so that nothing of earth or hell can ever separate us.

    Romans 8:37-39 "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril. or sword? As it is written: 'For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.' Yet in all these things wc are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
                “Rejoice evermore!”

Prayers of Thanksgiving

Prayers of Thanksgiving

    “And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it.  For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.  And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.”  Rev 5:9-10 (NLT)

    Yes, darkness is in our world today.  But God is shining His Light into our world. The Kingdom of God is growing every day thanks to those who show their faith without making any "noise", praying and living out their faith, in the family, at work, in the communities – the church is in the world. 

    1. Thankful for past blessings. 

    “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

Col 1:13-14 (NKJV)

    “One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?” Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.”  Luke 17:20-21 (NLT)

    The Kingdom of God was already being revealed through Jesus' words and actions.  Pentecost came with God’s Power.

    “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  John 1:16-17 (NKJV)

    2. Jesus is Coming Again!

    “For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day. But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”  Luke 17:24-25 (NKJV)

    "The day is coming when He will make noise, He will flash like lightning, lighting up the sky from one side to the other. So shall the Son of man be on His Day, the Day that He will make noise. And when one thinks of the perseverance of many Christians, who struggle to raise their family - men, women - who care for children, care for grandparents and arrive at the end of the month with only half a dollar, but who pray. There is the Kingdom of God, hidden, in the holiness of daily life, every day holiness. Because the Kingdom of God is not far from us, it is near! This is one of its features: God is close to us everyday.”

    3. Mustard-seed Christianity.

    “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches." Matt 13:31-32 (NKJV)

    The Kingdom of God is humble, like the seed planted in the ground.  Humble, but it becomes great by the power of The Holy Spirit. We let it grow in us, without boasting about it.  Let The Spirit come, change our soul and carry us forward in silence, in peace, in tranquility, in closeness to God, to others, in worship of God, without display.

    4. We are growing and being transformed.

    “The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you.  Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.”  2 Cor 3:2-3 (NLT)

    “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  2 Cor 3:17-18 (NKJV)

    Transforms us. Christians are new in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), and are transformed by their direct access to God. The Spirit is involved in this (2 Cor. 4:6); and none of this transformation was available through the old covenant.  

    “Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in. Luke 16:16 (NLT)

The Jericho Method

The Jericho Method

    Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.” Psalms 127:1-2 (NKJV)

    “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  1 Cor 3:10-11 (NKJV)

    "Some books [or situations] cannot be taken by direct assault; they must be taken like Jericho." — Ortega
    “The city of Jericho fell to the Israelites after they marched all around the city many times over 7 days. Some things take time and patience.”

    “On the seventh day the Israelites got up at dawn and marched around the town as they had done before. But this time they went around the town seven times. The seventh time around, as the priests sounded the long blast on their horns, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the town! Jericho and everything in it must be completely destroyed as an offering to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies.”  Joshua 6:17-18 (NLT)

    “The men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, mother, brothers, and all the other relatives who were with her. They moved her whole family to a safe place near the camp of Israel.”  Joshua 6:23

    “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.”  Heb 11:30-31

    1. How Jesus dealt with things.

    “One of the amusing parts of the Gospels is how Jesus responds to the questions of his opponents with another question. His enemies tried to put him in a box. He refused to cooperate. 
Recently, I had the same experience when a friend presented me with this very simple offer of choices: how can you believe in a good, all-powerful God in a world of suffering? Either a good, all-powerful God and no suffering. Or suffering without a good, all-powerful God.
    My response was to politely disagree with the framing of the issue. The mystery of evil in the world is not solvable by a simple binary, multiple-choice trap that is both simplistic and, frankly, crude.  The mystery of evil in the world is an issue that we can only approach through the Jericho Method. In other words, it is an issue that we must patiently circle around, hoping upon each circular pass to acquire some greater bit of insight and sensitivity that can shed some light on this mystery.
    Ultimately, the Christian response is this: the virtually naked Man hanging on the wooden instrument of torture used by the Romans on the lowest of the low in their social scale testifies that Christians--especially those who display crucifixes--do not at all skirt the issue of the suffering of the innocent. The Christian response to such suffering is to point out that God became Man in the form of a slave and voluntarily exposed Himself to unimaginable torture. So, to the mystery of evil, we must add the mystery of God becoming a victim. To that mystery, we must add other dimensions--the dimension of free will, which leads to bad choices; the dimension of the growth, maturity, and wisdom that suffering teaches; the dimension of the promise that God will ultimately set all things right.” [Pencil]

    2. Job charged not God foolishly.

    “Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord."  In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.”  Job 1:20-22

    Disasters strike the righteous as well as the unrighteous, generally.  But in Job's case he was the main objective.  God was not trying to destroy Job.  He was testing and perfecting him. 

    Peter wrote about God’s testing.  So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NLT)

    As Christians we can only reach our eternal home by passing through many afflictions and sorrows.  Christ IS Coming Again!  The dead WILL be Raised to Life!