Change

I am so thankful for the believers here. As we move forward the prayers of people asking God to lead our future. The change to 9:30 has been great. Fellowship and community are to great benefits.

We’ve decided not to go ahead with the move to the theater. Several reasons come into play: manpower to set-up and tear down, the inability of the facility and the great things that are happening where we are currently at.

I am so thankful for those who came to me with their thoughts and legitimate concerns. Checking into them proved very useful. The Body of Christ seeking God and operating in the “mind of Christ together.”

I pray that more and more the “Church” will operate together and flow in the unity of the Spirit. Following Christ as He builds His Church.

Father may we be faithful to seek You and enjoy You and and bear fruit as we grow in relationship with You!

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Courage to move forward

September 2014. This month holds two major events for us as a body of believers at CLC. First our outreach event the: Freeport Family Festival. Second a move to the local theater for our Sunday Service.

Even now thinking about these I feel my inside get nervous. Maintaining the status quo is so much more comfortable. Taking a risk, to move forward and not knowing all the answers to the question that we have, and not being sure of what questions will arise that will need to be answered is disturbing.

I read a devotional in the paper today from a local Pastor. It was talking about the “eyes of faith” that Joshua and Caleb had. He says: “It is only when our resources are not capable of handling the situation we are in that we realize we need someone bigger, stronger, and far wiser than we are. That’s when we need to push the God button….repeatedly.”

This is where I am. Needing to believe God and His faithfulness to lead us to new places, new people, and seeing new leadership. Believing God is able to raise up servant-hearted people to minster with Him in all kinds of situations.

Today, I am finding peace in understanding that when things are bigger than my abilities, wisdom and skill, that just maybe Jesus is building His church, and I get the privilege of seeing Him work, instead of me working. “Unless the Lord builds the house the laborers, labor in vain.”

As the pastor said it is time to “pray hard for a faith like Joshua and Caleb.

Spring Weather: Encouraged to Encouraged

Finally, our warmer spring weather has arrived.  I notice in myself especially and others around me that on days with beautiful weather I am outwardly more happy.  That is I show my happiness more.  I am encouraged.  Walking around in this “state of being” I find myself smiling and encouraging others easily and more frequently.

This is the way we should live.  I know at times at home I could be more encouraging.  Receiving encouragement feels great.  So we should try to make people feel great!  Question, how good are your encouraging skills?  With your family?  With your friends?  With your co-workers?  With strangers?  All of us probably have a strong category here where we find encouraging someone easy.  But each of us probably have a category we find it harder to encourage in.

Hone your skills,  let the sunshine of a nice day glow off of you and onto someone else.

Greater is He: A boy and his song

1 John 4:4 says: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

As Christians we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.    The spirit of this world or as Paul states it, the “god of this age, has blinded the minds of unbelievers.”   This is referring to our adversary Satan.  His ways and the demons that followed his ways hate everything that God loves.  There is no agreement between the light and the darkness.    The Bible tells us that Jesus is the light of the world and that the darkness cannot understand it or overcome it ( John 1:5)

What we carry is unnerving to the enemy.  They fear the Lord Jesus Christ and don’t care to be around Him.  Just read the Scriptures where Jesus encounters them.

I read a story yesterday of 9 year old boy who was kidnapped in Atlanta out of his front yard.   The man who took him was swearing and told the kid he “didn’t want to hear a word from me” the boy states.  The man than proceeded to threaten him, if he told anybody.

This is quite an intimidating circumstance for a little boy.  So what does he do?   He started singing a gospel song called:  “Every Praise” by Hezekiah Walker.  And he didn’t stop singing this one song for 3 HOURS!  You know what?  After 3 hours the man threw the kid out of the car onto the street and drove away!

Why?  I will tell you.  First the little boy didn’t depend on his own strength, but the Lord’s.  As the boy worshiped, the Spirit in him flowed out of him and drove the spirit in that man crazy.  The darkness does not like the light and the same spirit that influenced that man to TAKE and KEEP the boy had to get the boy and the Holy Spirit in the boy away from him.

I saw this happen to in front of my face back in the late 90’s.  On a mission trip Chicago we went to the Robert Taylor housing project.  I was taking 3 teens through the building inviting people down to the lawn out front.  As we got to the bottom of the building and almost out the door two men stopped us.  The biggest one probably 6’5 and easily 300 pounds, crossed his arms and  blocked our way out of the door.  His friend tall and thin stood next to him.

We were stuck in a small entry way about 8′ by 8′.  I knew we could be in a dangerous situation and I didn’t want to make it worse and risk the students being hurt.  I thought about my options.   2 men vs. me.  Nope I couldn’t make them move or fight them out of the way, beside someone could get hurt.   I couldn’t threaten out the way, and I couldn’t be a “nice guy” and ask them to move, because they were doing this on purpose.  I was stuck.

At this point nobody had said a word and an awkward minute or two went by when all of  the sudden something happened.  A freshman girl who was literally about 5′ tall and weighed less than a 100 pounds, stepped forward to the top of this man’s stomach/bottom of his chest, stuck out her finger at him, shook her head (you should have seen her long brown hair swing from side to side) and said:  “in the name of Jesus move!”

I thought uh-oh what is going to happen now?  The man looked down at her and without saying a word stepped out of the doorway and let us out the door.  I let the students go first and then I left expecting to get hit in the back or something and yet no one touched us.

The Spirit in her was greater than the spirit in that man.  That will probably be the closet thing I will ever see to David-vs-Goliath.  That day I learned a lesson.  What a 190 pound man couldn’t do in the flesh a 100 pound 14 year old girl did in the Spirit.  Truly, greater is He that is in us, than he that is in this world.  Remember and believe this.  To God be all the glory.

Take risk; touch the world with His love, life and power.

Doug

Death and Resurrection

This is the wonderful time of year where we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.   It is this fact alone that stands out to prove the Christian faith, that validates Jesus claims to be God and to be the exclusive way to the Father.

If Christ did not raise then we are hopeless in our faith and fools even more.  But He did rise.  God entered space, time and history in the person of Jesus Christ and left a historical trail of evidence for His life, death and resurrection.

Why did He die?  Why did He give up His life?  Because all of humanity was under the the curse of sin and death.  Every person was sentence to eternal punishment. We were condemned (John 3:18,36) For what? Falling short of God’s glory and living in sin.  A holy God by nature judgment against sin was necessary.  

In fact the truth is that is was the Holiness of God that motivated His love to provide a sacrifice in our behalf.  He was and is and will judge sin.   God desired a way to deliver people from this reality.

In the Old Covenant He provided a lifestyle of laws to live by to attain righteousness and He provided animal sacrifices that would temporarily cover the sins of people.  But a better Covenant was designed by Him that would do away with the problem of sin.  He sacrificed His Son Jesus.  Jesus lived a life that completely pleased God and was still punished for our sins (Isaiah 53.)  He took our punishment so we could have peace.   

This peace is only accessed by our faith in Christ.  (Romans 5:1-3, Rom. 4:4-8)  Jesus will stand as the judge of the world one day (Acts 17:31)  But as a person puts their belief/faith in Jesus Christ they have forgiveness of their sins, peace with God and eternal life 

Read John 3:15–21  and be blessed, ask God to show you Himself as you look for Him.  Look in His Word the Bible, seek Him and you will find Him.  He has revealed Himself  as a loving God who is dying to save this world.

3 Baptisms

In our Wed. night study we ended up talking about Spirit baptism.  I was again encouraged by going through the Scriptures in the Book of Acts and seeing how important Jesus and the Apostle made Spirit Baptism.  Jesus tells the Apostles to wait in Jerusalem until they hav been baptized into the Holy Spirit.  In Acts ch. 8 we see a powerful revival:  miracles, salvation’s and water baptisms.  But that was not sufficient for the Early Church Leaders.   Acts 8:15-16 says that even though these people were now saved (meaning the Spirit lives in them) and water baptized, the Holy Spirit had not yet COME UPON THEM.

A question:  “how did they know these Christians did not have the Holy Spirit come upon them yet?      Another question, “how did they know when the Holy Spirit DID come upon them?

In Acts 9 Saul is saved, and baptized in the Spirit and also baptized in water.  We again see a distinction of these.    Why?  Peter tells us in his sermon in Acts 2:33-39.  Specifically v 38-39  Repent and be baptized for forgiveness of sins, (this is salvation) then He goes on to say you will receive (greek future tense) the  PROMISE (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4, 2:39) of the Father which is Baptism into the Holy Spirit or being clothed with power or having the Holy Spirit come upon you.  This promise is for every believer Acts 2:39 says.  Now Peter says this in the context of hearing people speaking in other languages or (tongues) and then he preaches to thousands of people and tells them in v.33 of what they are hearing and seeing.  He then tells them how to receive the same thing they are hearing and seeing.

To summarize as I close the Bible shows us 3 distinct baptisms:  1. the Holy Spirit baptizes a believer into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13.  Here the Holy Spirit is doing the baptizing into the ELEMENT of the Body of Christ.  This is what happens at salvation.

2.  A believer baptizes a believer into the ELEMENT of water.  This is  sign of our surrender to Jesus as our Lord.

3.  Jesus (Luke 3:16) baptizes a believer into the ELEMENT of the Holy Spirit.  This is Spirit baptism and has to do with us being in the Holy Spirit not the Holy Spirit being in us.    The Holy Spirit is in every believer, the important thing that the early church wanted to see happen was that every believer was baptized in the Holy Spirit.  (See. Acts 1:4-5,8, Acts 2:33-39, Acts 8:15-17, Act 9:17-19, Acts 10:44-47, Acts 19:1-6.

Baptism into Christ, baptism into water and  baptism into the Holy Spirit.  Today’s church must reclaim this standard.  This is what propelled the Church forward in a culture that was full of sin and all kinds of spirituality, just like ours today.  We must return to the pattern the Lord has given us.

Missing Plane/Missing Lives

As we all follow the news story about the missing Malaysian airplane, I took note of my own hopes and wishes about the outcome and the destiny of those on board and their families.  When this first came out in the news we all assumed the plane dashed into the ocean somehow and somewhere.  Now this is still a possibility, but at that point in the beginning I was starting to grasp the hopelessness that the families must have been feeling.  Answers were not available to deep questions that people had.

Following this assumption was the idea that the plane was hi-jacked and taken to someplace else.  This I notice brought a hope in me.  A hope that maybe everybody on board the plane was still alive and would eventually make it back home to their families.  I imagined the hope that may have begun to shine in those people who had already conceded to the idea that their loved ones were lost forever.

So, from hopelessness to a possible hope or fragment of hope.  Now a report comes in that off the Australian coast there is possible wreckage.  The questions swirls in my head, “was the plane  hi-jacked” and were they unable to make it to a safe landing spot, did the plane run out of fuel? And once again I find my mindset losing hope that there will be any survivors.

With the worldwide attention and effort we see that human life is full of dignity and value.  We care about the ones who may be lost to us forever.  We care about the families that may never see their loved ones again.  Why do we value life so much??  Is life truly important and where does each person get their worth and value from?  Why suffering and human tragedy?   Why are we spending so much time and so many resources to find these people?    The answer simply is because THEY ARE IMPORTANT.

This is vastly different than the animal world, to often humans are labeled as animals, but we never were and never will be.  We are created in the image of God.  Just as it is in the nature of our Creator to “save” those who are lost, to spend time and resources to save those who need help, so it is in us.  For we are made in His image and likeness and bear His heart toward mankind and all creation.  This is why we hope, hurt and find the determination to press forward in difficult circumstances.   We know intrinsically the value of every human life.

Why I am trying this

Well here I am starting a blog.  I guess I am a pretty good “starter” but sometimes not so good at following through.  The reason for this blog is to share my thoughts on life and faith and to give access to those who may be interested in what I have to think.    My goal is a post a week.  I will be discussing passages from the Bible, theology, news events I deem interesting, and personal spots of my life.   I hope that you find it relevant to your life and at least somewhat interesting.  Hang in here with me as I learn the ropes in the blogging world.