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Pastoral Resources

Sunday Bulletin Inserts

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Earnest Conqueror

In a recent conversation I was asked about the meaning of a word. In my arrogance and need to appear in control I answered to the best of my ability but did not in fact look the word up. Luckily the friend I was speaking to did look it up, and as he read the words on the page each one struck my proud heart like a rock against a thick glass window slowly cracking the glass until it shattered. The word was earnest.

When I used to see the words "earnestly seek him" I somehow correlated it to an outward action, which is somewhat required but this particular verse is referring to the heart behind the action. I always thought that the word earnest meant eager but it actually means sincere. So when the bible tells us to earnestly seek God in but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in.

(NIV) Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.

Gentle from the Greek is Praus which means power under control.

Virginia Lefler wrote, "The common assumption is that when a man is meek or gentle, it is because he can not help himself, but the Lord was gentle because he had the infinite resources of God at his command."

It truly does take great inter strength to be gentle. It is a lot easier to go off on people or get out of control. It is a lot easier to not be earnest in being gentle.

As I meditate on the different components of 1Pter 3:4 I can feel like I will never be able to be gentle, to be that controlled, but as I earnestly sought to be just that this past week I was directed towards trying to conquer that which has in the past conquered me.

Romans 8:37-39 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,F41 neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This past Sunday the minister made a great point, he pointed out that there have been many people who have conquered and been accredited with greatness. Alexander the Great being one of them, but all these people conquered things that were less then them. Nations conquered weaker nations, kingdoms weaker kingdoms. Yet, to be more than a conqueror means to be able to conquer that which once conquered me! It means to conquer those things which are greater than me.

I am not a gentle person. I am passionate and that passion can be hard to harness some times. I am stubborn and that stubbornness can blind me. I am fearful and that fear can result in my relying completely on myself. From the outside it can look as though I am in complete control but inwardly all control has been lost. The louder I get, the more words I use the more frantic I am on the inside. I can let my sinful nature conquer me or I can make a choice to hate that which I desire to conquer because I will never conquer what I do not hate.

I hate the fact that I can get to a point where I simply do not care about how I sound or what comes out of me. I can be so blinded by my own desire for control that my eyes are wide shut to Gods presence. I hate that my actions which result from a place of faithlessness can hurt those around me and misrepresent who God is to others. I hate that I can become so complacent that as a result of not feeling the presence of God around me I can so cynically fall back on using my own resources even if it means making them up.

How ironic that I can be such a control freak and yet seemingly completely unable to harness and control that within me which prevents me from being gentle, from having a tempered Spirit. Even as I write this I realize that because I am making the conscious choice to attempt to be more gentle I will be tempted all the more not to be. I also know that it will take an earnest heart and a change within me of where my affections lie and what I desire. I must let go of the desire to know and want control. I must refocus my energy on desiring to cultivate inter beauty.

I can conquer that which once conquered me because of God's power and love at work inside me. Someday when I tell someone that I'm reading a book on gentleness it wont result in laughter.

Earning a Living or Earning Life Eternal?

I desire recognition for my 'hard' work. It's interesting to me, how as human beings we want our accomplishments to be recognized, we work for acknowledgment. Yet, as Christians we strive to be content and accept that we will never be able to earn the grace and gift of salvation which God has freely given us.

In my career I work to earn promotions and rewards. I even work in relationships to earn my friends trust as they work to earn mine. Still God says I cannot earn his favor, it is granted to me freely and He only desires that I trust Him. The Bible tells us there is nothing we can do to earn God's love.

I recently left a job I was with for a year. I had worked hard, my work ethic was impeccable. I left with a great deal of experience, but due to my boss' bitterness with my choice to leave, I also left with no reference. It was hard to accept that my only recognition at this point in my career was coming from God alone. I found myself fighting bitterness. My true heart was revealed.

It's very illuminating to see how little I can trust God and how ungrateful I can be. It was a very sobering wake up call that revealed where I was really getting my confidence from and what I was desiring in my heart- the things of this world.

1 John 2:15-17 15 Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. 16 Practically everything that goes on in the world--wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important--has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. 17 The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out--but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.

James 4:4 You're cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way.

My initial reaction to this situation was to ask God why He would allow such an unfair thing to happen? All I thought I wanted was to advance in my career and grow. Now I see how my motivation had shifted and drawn me away from Him.

Life is growing in our trust in God. Growing pains...gotta love them. I am glad I was able to see how easily my attention and heart was divided. I'm grateful for God's grace, which I cannot earn because I definitely do not deserve it. Yet, despite my undeservingness He blesses me with a consistent income, new job opportunities and a right perspective. He is first in my life. The increased trust thing, I'm still working on.

Psalm 119:1-12 You're blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by GOD. 2You're blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. 3That's right--you don't go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set. 4You, GOD, prescribed the right way to live; now you expect us to live it. 5Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set; 6Then I'd never have any regrets in comparing my life with your counsel. 7I thank you for speaking straight from your heart; I learn the pattern of your righteous ways. 8I'm going to do what you tell me to do; don't ever walk off and leave me. 9How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of your Word. 10I'm single-minded in pursuit of you; don't let me miss the road signs you've posted. 11I've banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won't sin myself bankrupt. 12Be blessed, GOD; train me in your ways of wise living.

Ebb abd Flow or just Flow?

Ebb and flow. Two terms used to describe the movement of the earth's oceans during the course of the average day. The process was immortalized in the lines; "First the tide rushes in, plants a kiss on the shore, then rolls out to the sea and the sea is very still once more," from the song "Ebb Tide." But have you ever seen the effects of the flow?

The flow is the high tide that seeks its way inland. At the point of furthest penetration it leaves a line of debris; seaweed, drift wood, shells, etc. It also leaves something else; tide pools. Wherever there is a depression in the sand there is a collection of water that gradually disseminates during the course of the day. The tide pools are reminders of just how high the ocean gets on land before it chases back to low tide.

The depressions that trap these mini bodies of water vary in size. Now and then these tide pools can become rather large and provide a barrier for reaching the waters edge at a beach. Other times they present little if any obstacle to reaching the water. It all depends on how much of a depression is formed by the extreme movement of the water during the day as to how much sand is removed from the beach with the ebb tide.

Each life has an ebb and flow. There are those high water points in life that are absolutely scintillating. They energize us with power through God's Spirit as we feel Him move in our lives. Then there are those ebb tides; those low points that remind us just how frail we can be as humans. We can either look at the debris of life left at the demarcation point for the high times or we can look at the tide pools and remember that God is actually that good to us. Each tide pools leaves a remnant of God's blessing as He gradually dissolves our life into His. Each time the tide pools become larger as we surrender more and more to Him.

" 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' This He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." John 7:37-39 God's intention is for us to finally realize that life is meant to flow constantly like a river rather than ebb and flow like an ocean. Pay attention to your tide pools and learn how deeply God wants your life to flow.

Effective Communication

Okay, it's time for a show of hands. How many of you are members of the "Grammar Police" and caught my colossal gaff in yesterday's column? That's fine. You can raise them. My feelings won't be hurt one bit. I made a mistake in grammar and it got through my proofread. I saw it right after I sent it out yesterday. So I figure a number of you also caught it. If you didn't, let me point it out to you. It was in the very first paragraph and the seventh sentence.

Here's how it read. "The grandchildren of one of our elders attended the VBS and was talking with her grandfather about the guy leading the song service." I've highlighted the offensive elements for you. In proper grammar you never have a plural noun coupled with a singular verb and possessive pronoun. The sentence should have read either, "...grandchildren...were talking with their grandfather…", or "...grandchild...was talking with her grandfather…" The following sentence would have also been changed appropriately.

Why make such a fuss over something as insignificant as the way a few words go together? Because words are important. They are our means of communication. Unless they are grouped and used properly they can carry a completely different meaning. The confusion that improperly grouped or grammatically incorrect words can cause may be seen in the Pennsylvania Dutch phrase, "Cut me up and throw me out the door a piece of meat." That may be the literal translation from their native tongue but it is confusing in our language.

It's all about the proper use of words and it IS important. It's not just about sounding intelligent or educated. It's about communicating thoughts accurately to one another so that the exchange of facts and ideas has a chance to take place. If it doesn't, a lot of things can fail in our society. One of the most important things that could fail would be that of evangelism. No other part of our service to God and His kingdom is so dependent upon words as evangelism. Bottom line; fail in evangelism and we pretty much fail in who and what we are.

From the time that Jesus called His disciples, the ones we know as "The Twelve," He taught them to communicate the message accurately so that people would know what they were telling them. He then passed on that mission with His last words following His death, burial and resurrection. "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19,20 We must communicate the message accurately.

Ego Boost: You Know You Want One.

I would like to think that I am a strong independent woman who isn't effected by the attention, or lack their of, from the opposite sex but this thought is not the reality. When I am not getting my security from God I often chose to get it from men. This does not mean that I seek out attention from sketchy men necessarily, sometimes this can be the attention of Godly men. The attention does not always have to be negative or even impure or ill willed. In the right mind set I can often take the compliment or the attention for what it is- encouragement. It is when I place the value of this attention over God that I get myself in trouble. I can let comments and attention legitimize or de-legitimize me. I can compare the men in my life to one another unnecessarily and become critical of them. I do feel better about myself when the calls roll in, or a complement is made. When faced with frustration or a hard situation all of a sudden a compliment can restore my security in me, it can dilute my fear and sometimes even restore my peace temporarily (and only temporarily). I can forget who it is that desires my heart more than anything and who it is that loves me unconditionally and is watching out for my every need. I quickly sell out for a small compliment that strokes my ego. In moments of insecurity or uncertainty I can turn to the affirmation of others as a source of joy and faith instead of turning to the ultimate source: God. Because lets face it, no matter how amazing a man or woman is he/she will always come up short. We are imperfect, but God is Perfect.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Job 37:5 God's voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.

Job 23:10 But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

Sometimes others around me can re-enforce this bad habit unknowingly and only add fuel to the fire. Please note that for those of us who are single and trying to remain righteous and hold to the right perspective of being content and waiting on God and trusting in Him the following comments don't meet our needs or build us up. It does not help to hear; "oh so do you like anyone?", " so are their any potentials out there?", or my favorite, "wow, your just so amazing I don't understand why your still single." If you have made these comments or asked these questions (no matter what your life status) you may want to ask yourself why you would say them and consider the following scriptures;

1 Thessalonians 4:11 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you.

Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

The people who have helped me most with this have been those who have always pointed me back to God and encouraged me with passages that show me how God sees me and feels about me and re directed me to my purpose. I am learning and seeing that it is great to have healthy friendships with the opposite sex but it is unhealthy to get security from them. When I get security from God I am not as disappointed when others don't meet my expectations (aka: don't stroke my ego as desired).

When my security comes from God I am not as focused on myself and am able to encourage those around me. I remember that I am, for the time being, already married, to Jesus Christ (as corny as it may sound, well lets face it, it's in the scriptures for a reason and its true.) My devotion needs to be to Him first or otherwise I'm an adulterous. Besides, ask anyone who is married to tell you the truth about marriage and if they are real they will quickly tell you that the things you struggle with in your character and personality will not magically be fixed just because you are in a relationship, in fact they may rear their ugly head all the more. That 'perfect' person can not fix you because they are not perfect and only God can truly meet our needs on the deepest levels. I can only be a good friend, girlfriend and/or wife if I am letting God fill me first, always. So this is what I am seeking out whole heartedly in my walk with God, in my friendships and in my career.

Mrk 12:30 (NIV) Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

El

EL, Elohim, El Shaddah, Adonai, Jehovah-The LORD, Jehovah-Jireh- The LORD provides, Jehovah-Rophe=The LORD heals, Jehovah-Nissi=The LORD our banner, Jehovah-M'Kaddesh=The LORD Who sanctifies, Jehovah-Shalom=The LORD our peace, Shepherd, Judge, Jehovah Elohim=LORD God, Jehovah-Tsidkenu=The LORD our righteousness, Jehovah-Rohi=The LORD our Shepherd, Jehovah-Shammah=The LORD is there, Jehovah-Sabaoth=The LORD of Hosts, El Elyon=Most High, Abhir=Mighty One, Branch, Kadosh=Holy One, Shaphat=judge, El Roi=God of Seeing, Kanna=Jealous, Palet=Deliverer, Yeshua=Savior, Gaol=Redeemer, Magen=Shield, Stone, Eyaluth=Strength, Tsaddiq=Righteous One, El-Olam=Everlasting God, El Berith=God of the Covenant, El-Gibhor=Mighty God, Zur=God our Rock, Sun of Righteousness, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Ancient of Days, Melekh=King, Angel of the Lord, Father, Alpha Omega, The First and the Last, I AM, Word, Almighty, Jesus, Christ, Sophia=Wisdom of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit...

This list was compiled by

The names of God are so powerful and bring a surge of assurance. Am I in turmoil? Jehovah Shalom will settle my spirit. Am I sick at heart or body? Jehovah Rophe will heal me. Do I need guidance down life's path? I must only follow the Shepherd's voice. Overwhelmed by attacks of the Enemy? El Elyon Abhir, the Most High Mighty One will fight the battle holding up the Shield to protect me, for the war has already been won. Sweating in the heat of battle? The Branch will shade and Jehovah Jireh will provide all I need. Sophi is ours for the asking says James. Lest we forget, Jehovah Sabaoth-The LORD of Hosts will certainly be sitting on the Great White Throne on that terrible day of judgement. But, never fear, ElOlam, our Everlasting God will spread His mighty wings, mounting us up and we shall reign forever with Christ our LORD.

Please forgive me for taking so long to get this out this week.

Elbow Sneezes

In Kindergarten, we teach the kids to sneeze and cough into their elbows so they won't spray the entire class with the germ of the day. It also keeps those touchy little hands a bit cleaner.

As of this writing, some have not mastered the technique. This week our class used up two boxes of tissues and five kids were out with a stomach virus - and flu season doesn't even begin for a couple of months!

Strategically placed around the classroom, the teachers also keep several little containers of anti-bacterial hand gel or lotion to kill the rogue germs that do escape the elbow. But some still manage to get through.

No matter how many defenses we build or employ, some of those germs will survive and multiply, causing misery for someone.

Sin works like that. Regardless of how much we want to do good things, sin will find a way to creep in. The closer we walk with God, the more we read His Word, pray and build relationships with others in Christ, the less sin will get through our defense system.

But when it does, we have something better than the most recent scientifically engineered drug or even chicken soup -- we have the love and forgiveness of our God.

I'm very grateful for the Lord's mercy, not only for the sins that I might breathe in, but for those I might sneeze out, which could infect others.

'But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense -- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.' -- 1 John 2:1-2

' . . . where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.' -- Romans 5:20-21

Elmo

Every Sunday morning at the Minorsville Christian Chruch I know that at least one person will be paying attention to me as I preach. Every Sunday morning this young lady's eyes follow me as I preach. Her head comes to attention at the sound of my voice. There are those odd times that she sleeps. But then she is only eleven months old.

Ellie Morgan Hastings was born last year on February 10. She was an instant hit with my wife as February 10 is my wife's birthday. For some reason, from the time she was able to focus her eyes, she has watched me intently. Her extended family is all there for her; her great grandparents, grandparents and aunt and uncle. Every time I look in the direction of her family there are those two eyes watching me so closely.

Drawing from her first and middle name her Uncle Scott dubbed her "Elmo." Every card we've received from her (her parents send out cards on her behalf; it is the sweetest thing) is an official Sesame Street Elmo card. She even wears Sesame Street Elmo clothing from time to time. But she pays such careful attention to her preacher when he preaches.

"Then the little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for if such is the kingdom of heaven.' " Matthew 19:13,14 Many parents shuttle children Ellie's age off to the nursery thinking that she has no place in the sanctuary. They're wrong.

The interest that Ellie has right now in church, the way that she watches and sits still, the fact that she is there and not "acting up" like the other children is testimony to what I have always believed. Infants only leave the worship service because adults don't want them there. The lessons that Ellie is learning now will make her a much more attentive and involved child years from now. Let the little children come to the Lord and watch what happens in the years to come.

Embrace the Mystery

We use them on an almost daily basis. They power many infrequently used items and also some that are constanly used. They are batteries. Yeah, the good ole A, AA, AAA, B, C, D and 9 volt. We have them in games, pda's, phones; you name it, batteries power it. Batteries were, for the longest time acredited to the work of Alessandro Volta. Hence the term, "volt", to describe their power.

However, less than fifty years ago a clay jar some five inches high and three inches across began to change our previously held historical view of the battery. A group of clay jars made by the Parthians around 200 B. C. were being displayed in the National Museum of Iraq. In 1960 the aforementioned five by three inch jar was re-examined and the old data re-instated for study. What they found was very remarkable.

In its original state, the jar had a narrow iron rod set directly in the center of it and sticking out of the mouth of the jar. The top of the jar was sealed with asphalt. Inside the jar was a sheet of copper that had been rolled into a tube which sat on a copper disk. The iron rod was suspended in the center of the tube. The scientists examining it suddenly realized that if you introduced an acidic liquid such as vinegar the jar became a battery which produced from 1.5 to 2 volts.

The jar's secret had finally been unearthed. No one even wanted to think that batteries could have existed in 200 B. C. The jar had remained a mystery all that time. The asphalt, the iron rod, the copper tube; none of it made sense until it was examined carefully. For millennia the very nature of God had been a mystery. Many had seen glimpses but no one had been able to truly view the Father God.

"And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory." 1 Timothy 3:16 "Jesus said to him, '...he who has seen me has seen the Father." John 14:9 The mystery is revealed. Jesus introduced us to His Father and invited us to join Him in His Father's presence. Time to embrace the mystery.

Emergency Kit

Now that we live in Georgetown, Kentucky there is one thing that I will probably never use but still have. I have an emergency kit that was sent to me as a resident of Madison County who lived in close proximity to the chemical weapons dump that the United States Army maintains just off Route 25 South of Richmond. I can remember first moving into the area and seeing this little box that I was told to keep plugged in at all times. The box was the warning system which would give us a few minutes to use the emergency kit.

In case of an emergency we were to open the kit and remove the contents. Inside we would find a large piece of thick clear plastic (the kind used to cover windows in the winter), a roll of duct tape and a pair of scissors. We were to move to a room in the house with a flat floor covering to which the tape would stick. Then, everybody would gather under the plastic and we would have to start taping the plastic to the floor to ensure that there were no air leaks. We would then remain under the plastic until all was clear.

Every so often they would test the system to make sure that it was working properly. That was the time I would remember that I was living near a chemical weapons dump and get that uneasy feeling again. But as soon as it was over and I got busy with life it was out of my mind again.

However, there were times I couldn't help but think that the residents of Madison County would sleep a whole lot better if the Army got rid of those weapons. Why were they hanging onto them especially in a time when the whole world is concerned about weapons of mass destruction? If the bunkers used to store these weapons ruptured and the wind was brisk it could be "Bye, Bye, East Coast." Then it hit me. These are regular people making these decisions.

Regular people want the quick fix, but want an "out" as well. Regular people want saved but don't want the responsibility to rest on their willingness to change. Regular people will hang onto sin but expect God to forgive it. The warnings are there. "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambition, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." &sr=1" target=" blank">Galatians 5:19-21

Jesus is not an emergency kit. The love of God is not for dire straits. Salvation is for living day to day not just when the alarm sounds. One cannot live near the dump of danger and live near the heart of God. It's time to move...toward God.