New Life Blog

 

Losing a Friend

As I sit here in front of my keyboard, I have all of these emotions and thoughts swirling around in my mind, and it is hard trying to put them down in some type of cohesive order.

I just left the home of someone I have known for over twenty years as a pastor, a sister-in-Christ, and dear loving friend. My wife and I have spent many wonderful times together making lasting memories with her and her husband. When I got to their home today, Hospice had preceded my arrival, and it brought the reality of her untimely death to my consciousness.

She has been battling cancer for many years and has been a staunch trooper through it all. It seems as though the cancer is winning out, and her days upon this earth are limited. As I sat beside her bed praying, I remembered all the good times we had shared together, and I knew that Jesus was there with us. I stumbled to pray in a coherent manner as I literally poured out my heart to Him on her behalf through my own tears.

I left her home as she was tiring and needed rest. I texted my wife about her condition because I knew that I would be unable to speak the words.

So the purpose of this blog today is just to say this from my broken heart: Live life…it is so precious. Hug those you love. Never leave anything unsaid to a friend, a brother- or sister-in-Christ, or a family member.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that when my friend passes from this life to the next, she will meet Jesus face-to-face, and He will welcome her with open arms and unconditional love.

My prayer is that these thoughts may cause someone to ponder their life’s journey and know for sure like she does where they will spend eternity. I know that if you did, it would bring a twinkle to her eye.

That’s Just One Man’s Opinion



You Could Have Heard a Pin Drop

At a time when our president and other politicians tend to apologize for our country's prior actions, here's a refresher on how some of our former patriots handled negative comments about our country.
 
JFK'S Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was in France in the early 60's when DeGaulle decided to pull out of NATO. DeGaulle said he wanted all US military out of France as soon as possible. Rusk responded, "Does that include those who are buried here?" DeGaulle did not respond.
 
You could have heard a pin drop.
 
 
When in England, at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of 'empire building' by George Bush. Powell answered by saying, "Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return."
 
You could have heard a pin drop.
 
 
A number of international engineers – including French and American citizens – were taking part in a conference in France. During a break, one of the French engineers came back into the room saying, "Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an aircraft carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims. What does he intend to do, bomb them?"A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly: "Our carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical power to shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000 people three meals a day, they can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck. We have eleven such ships; how many does France have?"
 
You could have heard a pin drop.
 
 
A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included admirals from the U.S., English, Canadian, Australian and French Navies. At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of officers that included personnel from most of those countries. Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks, but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English. He then asked, "Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?" Without hesitating, the American admiral replied, "Maybe it's because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans arranged it so you wouldn't have to speak German."
 
You could have heard a pin drop.
 

AND THIS STORY FITS RIGHT IN WITH THE ABOVE...

Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on. "You have been to France before, monsieur?" the customs officer asked sarcastically. Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously. "Then you should know enough to have your passport ready."
 
The American said, "The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it."
 
"Impossible. Americans always have to show their passports on arrival in France!"
 
The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained, ''Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn't find a single Frenchman to show a passport to."
 
You could have heard a pin drop.

 



A Father’s Love

Proverbs 22:6 / Luke 15:11-31

In Proverbs it says that parents and especially fathers are to start children off “on the way they should go” (NIV). That expression literally means according to the child’s way and not so much the parents way!

It is natural for us as parents to attempt to bring all of our children up the same way and not show any favoritism, yet this verse implies that we should attempt to discern the individuality and special strengths and gifts that God has given each child. We should try to train them up knowing that their own personality will sometimes determine how that it is to be done and the way they might go.   

Each child - no matter how many you have - will always have different personality traits. As parents we need to discern what those traits are in order to teach and mold each child accordingly. A very difficult task, to say the least, since they do not come with an instruction booklet!

We find this true in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. The youngest son in the story wasted his inheritance and the other; the oldest son, considered to be the more responsible, stayed home and worked hard for his father.

In the story, we find this principle to be true as both sons are loved by their father, but they have differing personalities and they approach life differently. Each has his own qualities and short-comings. Neither son is perfect, but both are loved dearly by their father!

How would you have felt if you had been the older brother? Would you have handled the situation differently? It was difficult, if not impossible, for the older brother to understand the compassion of the father just because the son had returned…we might relate this to a deathbed conversion…Have you ever asked the question… “how does that atone for a lifetime of sin”?

This was the elder brother’s problem. He could not comprehend why the prodigal son, even though repentant, should be instantly ransomed and restored to the family. He knew nothing of Calvary’s mercy and grace!

That’s Just One Man’s Opinion



Discipleship & Challenges

This is an article that I received from our Florida Church of God Ministries state pastor Pastor Ken Love titled "What Does the Boll Weevil Monument Have to do With Church?" I thought it was so informative while we are considering the church today and its role in discipleship. 
 
“In 1919 Enterprise, Alabama erected a monument to a farming pest! WHY? Why would you celebrate a pest that destroyed the crops and put the farmers in
jeopardy? The answer: that crisis forced the farming community to change their strategy and it actually opened their future!  
 
Could it be that when our church goes through a crisis, a decline, a budget challenge that it could be the opening of our future? Is it possible that in the most challenging moments of our church we are stepping into the future? It is challenging, to be sure, to celebrate the challenge that appears to be blocking, even destroying our future. However, every challenge can lead to a brighter future, as the farmers in Enterprise, Alabama discovered. What is your challenge? How might the Lord be using it to forge a new future for your church?” 
 
We must always be aware of the changes taking place within our communities’ culture and be ready to change along with it. This does not mean that we change the story (the Gospel) it just means we might need to have a different approach to the way we perceive our community and how we apply the Gospel to it!

That’s Just One Man’s Opinion


Discipleship: Every Christian’s Role

We have been called by the Master to build relationships so that we will have an opportunity to share our story…how we found Christ and what He has done for us. Most people within the church are intimidated by the idea of discipleship because of fear, ignorance, or just afraid of spending the time with someone outside of their comfort zone. The term discipleship has been viewed by most within the church as a responsibility of the staff and especially the pastor.

We have all been called to put our faith into practice and we must be deliberate in our thinking and actions for this to happen. But we must be modeling Christ in all that we do so that those in our work place and neighborhoods see Christ in us the hope of glory.

However, it is very important that we make disciples in His image and not ours!

That’s Just One Man’s Opinion


Are Disciples Made or Born?

Based on Matthew 28:18-20

I guess the question each of us as followers of Christ must ask ourselves is, what is discipleship and what is Jesus telling us to do in this passage? Is this a command or a suggestion? I have come to discover in studying his word that he did give a few suggestions but he also gave numerous commands. I believe this to be one of them!

We know this passage as the “Great Commission.” But this is one of the great failures of today’s church! This was Christ’ call to the church and yet, it is one of his directives we seldom accomplish. This is basically the whole purpose for the church’s existence; teaching and leading congregations into a deeper understanding of God’s calling on their lives. “Him we preach and proclaim, warning and admonishing everyone in all wisdom (comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God), that we may present every person mature (full-grown, fully initiated, complete, and perfect) in Christ (the Anointed One). For this I labor (unto weariness), striving with all the superhuman energy which He so mightily enkindles and works within me” (Colossians 1:28-29) AMP.

I see this as God’s way of telling us that we are not just to evangelize and then allow people to discover their own belief system but that we are to lead, help, guide, and teach others about Jesus. This requires obedience on our part! If we study this verse we find that Jesus doesn’t ask us to seek converts, he simply tells us to disciple them. It seems to me that discipleship is all about teaching Christians how to pray, worship, and learn doctrine, so they can live their lives in balance with Biblical principles. Yes, we are to evangelize but it cannot end there. It is the role of the Holy Spirit to bring people into a relationship with God. This is a divine intervention into our world by God’s grace, but then we are to take responsibility in nurturing the new Christian. If we continue to fail in this regard we will see a further decline in our churches. We will discover that the back doors of our churches are as wide open as the front. Why? Without guidance and discipline they find themselves frustrated, not knowing where to look for answers. If discipleship is mostly absent from our churches, then most Christians will not understand how to live out their faith in today’s environment and culture. They will not be able to handle the struggles and problems they will face on a day to day basis.

That’s Just One Man’s Opinion


Miracles: The Demoniacs of Gadara

Matthew 8:28-34 / Luke 8:26-39 / Mark 5:1-20

Have you ever asked this question, “What if”…. the Bible answers some of those speculative questions. For example, we know what would happen if a man should come back from the dead and try to tell people what Heaven or Hell is like. The Lord stated that it wouldn’t matter… people still would not believe and we have read or even seen where this has actually happened (Luke 16:31). We also know what would happen if God should openly judge the world rather than dealing in grace and compassion. People would blaspheme him, not repent and turn to him (Rev. 16:9, 21.)

The Bible also answers the question, “How would the world respond if Jesus appeared in front of us today?” We have that answer in the story of the healing of demonic men; the reaction of the people that we find here would be the same in the twenty first century.

Here’s what did happen and would happen when or if Jesus should appear in person today! Our attention is first drawn to the evil spirits, and their reaction to Jesus. If Jesus were to appear visibly today, people would not flock to him. Most would politely wish him to go away as they did in this story. The thing that triggered this reaction of the people of that community was the heard of swine. The pigs revealed the true character of the society’s heart. Christ allowed the demons to enter the pigs, and they plunged into the Sea of Galilee and drowned. The action aroused the people against Jesus because it hurt their pocketbooks…isn’t that the case for many people even today? Touch their pocketbooks and you get their attention!

The owners of the pigs were probably Jewish who had no business being involved in raising swine for a living because it was against their laws. This was no small business since there were 2000 pigs is this one heard. I find it interesting that the owners do not protest this…possibly they didn’t want it advertised what type of business they were running.   Maybe this is why Jesus sent the demons into the pigs in the first place. When all of this happened, those who were watching over the heard ran into the town and told the owners and the rest of the people so that they would not be blamed for the destruction of the  heard. The fact that the healing of the two men wasn’t even mentioned tells us where the town’s priorities were! It seems as though their only concern was their jobs! The response of the owner’s is a typical one…they weren’t openly hostile towards Jesus but they were probably fuming within!

They actually feared Jesus for exposing their sinful business practices and therefore, pleaded for him to leave! This is what would probably happen today if Jesus visibly appeared to the world…His holiness would reveal all men’s sin and they would not want to repent but would want Him to leave them alone! The Lord did leave! He doesn’t force Himself upon people who have unwilling hearts! He knocks at the door and we must open it from within! They were more concerned about their financial loss then they were of the loss of Jesus’ presence in their town as well as the healing of the two men…how sad!


That’s Just One Man’s Opinion


Miracles: The Healing of the Centurion’s Servant

Luke 7:1-10

Church services used to include a testimony time. Now the new generation would tell you that’s old fashioned and needs to be done away with so today they call it sharing. But when a person is asked to give his or her testimony it usually means a planned rehearsal of their conversion experience. But a testimony is more than how a person was saved it is also a declaration of what a person is; it defines their character. It is a statement of the individual’s reputation.

 

Therefore, a testimony is something that is not only heard but seen. Actually, the spoken testimony that people hear, and the unspoken testimony that people see, ought to match up perfectly! Testimonies also can serve to convict another of their lifestyle or lack of convictions. As they listen and see the testimony of another they may observe that they are not measuring up to the same standard that is being reflected and they need to reevaluate their own life.

What type of testimony are you reflecting at home, at work, and during your time at church and elsewhere? Does you verbal testimony and your unspoken character agree with one another? If not... maybe you need a little re­adjustment by the Holy Spirit. We find this type of testimony in the life of the centurion (a Gentile) in this miracle! The testimony of this centurion’s life and of his lips corresponded exactly. What about yours?

Maybe we need the Great Physician to give us all a check­up; especially when it comes to our testimony to the on looking world.
That’s Just One Man’s Opinion


Miracles: The Miraculous Catch of Fish

 Our Lord was a master in the use of simple object lessons. On two important occasions he used fishing to teach some vital truths to the disciples, one here at the beginning of his ministry and the other after the resurrection (which I spoke about last Sunday).

Successful service requires obedience to the spoken word! For you and I today that means obedience to the Holy Scriptures. We obey the Word…or at least we should because we believe it is spoken by God. It is at his word and on the basis of it that we launch out on the water in our boats and let down our nets…and leave the results up to him.

Far too often we try to compromise the simple principle of obedience:

  1. We may choose to be guided by what family and friends tell us instead of what God tells us. I am sure that there were skilled fishermen on the shore that day watching Peter to see if he was willing to obey the man Jesus. Public opinion and peer pressure often gets the best of us.
 
  1. We must do what he tells us even if it seems contrary to what we have been previously been taught or prior knowledge of the situation.
 
  1. Even circumstances may not be a safe guide and in most cases it is not! The Lord asked Peter to do what the previous night had shown was not going to work. But they needed to learn that obedience to Jesus’ spoken word was more important.
 
  1. We must not be tempted to disbelieve because we are afraid that it might ruin our reputations or Jesus’. Peter could have been fearful to launch out in faith because he was afraid that the matter would not come to pass and the world would laugh at him and Jesus. To be successful in the service of the Lord, we must always be obedient in spite of what the world or friends might think or say!

Two things happened when Peter was obedient:

  1. He had success. He was so successful that they couldn’t bring the fish in because the nets were so full and began to tear.
 
  1. The miracles then involved others…the nets were so full Peter had to call on others to help. When the Lord’s work is done according to his words, his promises will follow (they caught more fish than could have been imagined).

That’s Just One Man’s Opinion



Miracles: The Miracle at the Wedding Feast

John 2:1-11

This miracle by Jesus was a spectacular act of creation! It was not simply a matter of speeding up a process that had been going on. It was accomplished in a moment, without grapes, sun, or time; it was spoken into existence.

Of course it was a miracle that contained the appearance of age. The actual age of the wine was only a matter of seconds! This was not wine that had been seasoned for years.

I want us to consider what a miracle is …and how it supersedes time and space. When considering the creation of the world is it not the same? Could have God created the heavens and the earth in the same way even though it looks as though it was created over millions of years; but in actuality was spoken into existence by a miraculous God in a matter of days!

The wine seemed to have come from the best grapes that had grown and matured over a period of time, pressed down and squeezed out for the people’s enjoyment.

The quality of the wine was attested to by the master of ceremonies. The words spoken in verse 10 is a testimony to the taste, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guest have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

Miracles are enjoyed every day by believers because of their faith in a miracle-creating God!

That’s Just One Man’s Opinion.