God

Make the most use of your name

The name of Judas has become synonymous with "traitor."

MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR NAMEAbout twenty years ago, I received a phone call from a Mrs. Ima Peace from Magnolia, Arkansas. She watched our worship services on television. She invited me to come to her church to deliver a lecture series that she had endowed.

I told her that I had a policy to be away from Frazer for a preaching mission only once each quarter. She asked me when I could come, and I told her it would be four years. She said, “That will be fine. I just want to stay alive until you get here.” I then asked about her age, and she proudly said that she was ninety-two. That put some pressure on me.

Lynn and I went to Magnolia four years later. Mrs. Peace came to the airport in Shreveport to meet us. She had us staying in a nice bed-and-breakfast. She gave Lynn an envelope with two $100 bills and said that she wanted her to buy something in Magnolia. That had never happened before or since!

Mrs. Ima Peace still lived by herself. She insisted we eat one meal with her, which she cooked. It was delicious.

When I inquired about her name, Ima Peace, she proudly told me that she was named after one of the daughters of the 20th Governor of Texas, James Stephen “Big Jim” Hogg. She smiled and told us that the Governor had two daughters – Ima and Yura. She was glad that she was named Ima!

I didn’t know if she was kidding. Governor Hogg did have a daughter named Ima, but most people thought Yura was just a fictional character created by writers unfriendly to the Governor. Mrs. Ima Peace was proud of her name!

Each of us needs to be proud of our name. A Nova Scotia man has been told that he cannot use his vanity license plate, which bears his surname, “Grabher,” because it’s socially unacceptable.

It’s special to him because his son, Lorne Grabher, had the vanity plate made especially for his father in 1991, but now the Registry for Motor Vehicles has informed him that he can not use the plate anymore because it sounds like “Grab her.”  Grabher has challenged the ruling because he says, “My father always instilled in us that we should be very proud of our name.”

You had little to do with the name you received, but each of us has everything to do with whether or not we are proud of that name. And, more importantly, that we make other people proud of that name.

Whatever your name meant in the past, we need to make it good for the future. The very mention of a person’s name places a picture in the mind of everyone who hears it of what that name has come to mean. A good name produces good images. Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be more desired than great riches. Favor is better than silver or gold.”

There are two Biblical characters who could have made something good of their names but failed miserably. Jesus picked “Judas” to be a disciple, but his name became known as “traitor.” Paul selected “Demos” to help him, but Demos left him because “he loved the present world more.” Met anybody lately named Judas or Demos?John Ed Mathison |Leadership Ministries


There are two Biblical characters who could have made something good of their names but failed miserably. Jesus picked “Judas” to be a disciple, but his name became known as “traitor.” Paul selected “Demos” to help him, but Demos left him because “he loved the present world more.” Met anybody lately named Judas or Demos?

Don’t miss our Weekly Video Message from John Ed on “Got A Minute”.

God

The Healer

By Helen Murray

Guest Author

“…a ruler came and knelt before him (Jesus) and said, ‘My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.‘ Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.
Just then, a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.” Matthew 9:18-22 and Luke 8:40-48

healer

That was me. Oh, that day. I think my life began that day. That was the day that Jesus raised that man’s little girl from the dead – it was a day that everyone in our town talked about for months. She was dead! She had been ill for a while and she got worse and worse and then she passed away. I didn’t know them well but word spreads quickly and that morning as I lurked by the roadside waiting for him to pas by I heard that she had finally died. Nobody told me, but I overheard. Of course, nobody would come and talk to me. Not for a long time. Far too much hassle to talk with or touch someone like me. Unclean and had been for ages. If you spent time with me you had to go and be purified afterwards.I think they thought that I deserved it, though nobody came out and said that. At first people had been sympathetic but then it just went on and on and nothing changed and here was I, the woman who couldn’t be purified. Surely I’d done something to deserve this outcast label. It was my comeuppance for some crime. Some act, some words that condemned me to constant, draining illness. That’s what they thought, I’m sure. And if they associated with me too much, it might be catching.I thought it would kill me, to be honest. You can’t bleed incessantly for so long, can you, and still live? I felt so ill. Always weak, no energy. Even fetching water was a struggle and there were days when I could barely function, but I had to keep going. It was a half-life. Physically and emotionally. I longed for company and acceptance and affection just as much as I longed for health.Maybe I had done something wrong. I’d tried everything but nothing helped. Night after night I went to bed hoping that maybe the morning would not come for me, but it did.And then I heard rumours of this man, who was doing amazing things. Things that made people marvel and wonder. The stories arrived in our village way before he did and that’s why the road was busy that morning. I wanted to see him, this miracle worker.

helen bio image

The women were talking about the little girl who had died. Far away in the crowd someone was wailing and the word was that the girl’s father was too late; the healer was busy with the living. I saw his face, this grieving daddy, and it was set with determination. He had pain in his eyes but not despair. He believed in this man, Jesus. He thought that it wasn’t too late at all.I was amazed. I couldn’t take my eyes from him. He followed the slow progress of Jesus through the throng. Jesus wasn’t coming quickly enough, and the man pushed through. A few people knew who he was and stood back to let him past, while a few others pulled at him and told him not to be so stupid – it was too late for his daughter; he teacher had better things to do; but he was not having it.He fell in front of Jesus and opened his arms wide. Looking up at him, the father laid it out.‘My daughter is dead, but I know that you can still help. Touch her, and bring her back to life?’A hush fell as the crowd waited to see what the healer would say. He looked into the man’s eyes for a moment and smiled. He turned to go with the man, who rose to his feet.In that moment I knew. I knew that the little girl would be fine, I knew that her daddy would be celebrating this afternoon. I knew that the stories were true. I knew that I needed Jesus to help me too.I don’t think I really had any idea what I was going to do, at that pivotal moment in my life. I just lurched into the crowd towards the healer. Me, the one who is unclean, supposed to keep my distance for everyone’s protection – I pushed my way through the throng. I used my elbows and my shoulders and with my head down, I weaved my way towards Jesus before he disappeared.There he was. He was saying something to the man whose little girl lay dead. It’s a good job the crowd was so thick that they made slow progress, for I was so weak that I could not have kept up my pursuit for long. I reached out. I reached for him, and my fingers closed around a fold of his cloak as it fell in folds over his shoulder. I didn’t mean to pull at him, I wouldn’t have dared. I just needed to touch him. I just needed to be near. If he could raise a child from the dead then he could give my life back to me too.The moment I grasped the rough fabric of his cloak, he stopped. I let go immediately and shrank back. It wasn’t difficult to disappear as the crowd was a living thing that swelled around the healer and straight away I was consumed. He turned.Jesus turned and looked around him. His friends were close by and he asked them, ‘Who touched me?‘The big guy with the beard laughed. He gestured to the crowd.‘You’ve got to be kidding. They all touched you!’ But Jesus knew something. I don’t know if he felt something, or sensed something, or he just felt the little brush of my fingers against his clothes. I stood, frozen.‘I know someone touched me. Who touched me?’ The crowd slowed and quieted. The teacher was doing something else. People shook their heads and looked around. Nobody deliberately touched him. What did he mean?Oh no. Oh no. It was me. What on earth should I do? At that moment my head was full of noise. What would this man think when he found out who had touched him? I shouldn’t even have been there, let alone in the middle of a crowd. Let alone brazen enough to touch this man that they were calling holy.Not me, approach the holy one?My knees gave way and I fell down. The couple in front of me stepped aside and there he was, standing by me. The tears came, then. They started to fall and I couldn’t stop them. I covered my face with my hands in shame and humiliation and I sobbed. There was nothing else I could do.I told him who I was and what was happening to me. Ill for so many years, ostracised and shunned by family and friends and people at the synagogue. Pushed away, weak and lonely and unwanted. I told him that I’d seen him and known that he was my only hope. I confessed that I’d pushed my way through the crowd because I selfishly wanted to touch him. I told him that I was sorry, that I was undeserving. It all came out; the hopelessness, the shame. My nose was running and I could barely speak for sobs. I was aware of the gaze of the people around me. A few recognised me and I saw disapproval in their eyes.I finally raised my anguished face to the healer.  He was gentleness. He looked intensely into my eyes, and I knew at that moment, I knew. I’m not sure what I knew, but it all seemed to come together; it was alright. Time stopped. I held my breath. For a second it was as if he and I were the only people in the world. I saw honesty and compassion and pain in his eyes. There was recognition – he knew me; he saw me. He knew what I’d been through and he felt for me. He understood me, he forgave me, he loved me…He had healed me.I felt something, or the lack of something. My hand flew to my stomach and my eyes widened as I stared at the One who had made me whole again. Suddenly there was no ache, no dragging, no burning – no pain. I felt a surge of strength. and hope. I knew that it was over, after all this time; that life was perhaps worth living after all.‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.’I will remember those words all my life. I treasure them. I will never forget his low, clear voice. The intimacy of that moment. I can remember the kindness of his eyes as they crinkled at the corners with his smile. He gave hope to a hopeless woman.You know that peace? The peace in his blessing? It never went away. I have it still.I looked into his face and I knew who he was. I will tell my story to anyone who will listen. I will never stop praising the One who healed me.That day he healed me; he saved me.Jesus. My Saviour.

‘Heal me and I will be healed. Save me and I will be saved, for you are the One I praise.’

God

Just 50 years ago. . .

The Beatles on Ed Sullivan

I grew up in the 1960’s with JFK, the Beatles, Walter Cronkite, Selma, Apollo 11, Martin Luther King, Civil Rights struggles, Woodstock, Hank Aaron, Bob Dylan, Vietnam, 31cents-a-gallon gas, and Jim Brown.

It was still pretty much a man’s world. A woman’s place was still in the home. She didn’t have a credit card. Why, of course she wouldn’t know how to use one. (Pause to laugh.)

Housekeeping Monthly published an article back then called “The Good Wife’s Guide”. The magazine instructed women to “have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return.” Also, you should “touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair, and be fresh-looking.” And don’t forget, “catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.” And for god’s sake, don’t assume he gives a crap about anything you have to say, because his topics of conversation are more important than yours.”1

I miss my often serene childhood growing up in a small Southwest Iowa farming community.

That life is but a distant blessing in my life story.

Life will never be the same. Better, but never the same.

The ’60s were a golden age, indeed.

1Bizarre Things People Believed 50 Years Ago (grunge.com)

God

From horror to hope

One of the serendipities of being a part of ministry in the last few years has been to participate in Dr. Bill Bright’s Billion Soul Initiative to start five million churches and win one billion new believers to Christ. He gave me the opportunity to serve on his overall steering committee. This has allowed me to meet some wonderful leaders around the world.

At one of our planning meetings in Los Angeles, my son, Si, and I met Matthew Barnett. It’s amazing what this young man has done.

Matthew and his wife became senior pastors of the Angeles Temple in 2001. Matthew had a vision for a church that would be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to meet not only the spiritual but the physical and emotional needs of people.

The church bought a large hospital in Los Angeles that had been abandoned. It was being used by Hollywood to produce horror films. Matthew and his team saw a vision for changing a place depicting horror to a place that would give hope and help to people in need. Matthew’s motto is, “When times get tough – serve!” He lives that out to make a huge difference in the Los Angeles area.

The hospital has been converted into a Dream Center. This is a huge ministry that serves more than 80,000 people monthly! They provide transitional housing for people who are homeless, suffer from addictions, human trafficking, poverty, hunger, etc. They have huge trucks where they deliver meals to people throughout the county. The Dream Center is engaged in foster care, job skills training, life skills training, basic education, and a multitude of other ways to meet needs.

There are now 84 Dream Centers around the world in 29 states and 11 countries. To raise awareness and support for the Dream Center, last year Matthew ran seven marathons in seven days on seven different continents. He had a tough knee injury before the last marathon, but he finished it. That’s his spirit!

The Dream Center offers transitional housing to help people rebuild their lives. They have about 500 beds available. Si and I enjoyed just walking through the facility with Matthew. He knew the names of so many people who were there in different ministry programs. Recovery was becoming reality for people who had been abused by themselves or others. The Dream Center is focused on leading a person to a vital relationship with Jesus – a new birth. They believe and practice that a new birth in Christ creates a new person who then can grow spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically. (2 Cor. 5:17)

Mathew’s dad is Tommy Barnette. He is co-pastor, along with Matthew’s brother Luke, of a huge megachurch in Phoenix, Arizona.  They have a weekly church attendance of over 23,000 people! That church recently changed its name to Dream City Church.

I believe every church ought to be a Dream Church!! If a church never dreams, it will never have a dream come true. Joel said, “Your young men shall dream dreams, and your old men shall see visions.” (Joel 2:28) Matthew Barnett is a witness that a God-sized dream can change horror to hope!

Are you and your church dreaming God’s dream?

God

Somebody’s gotta step up

It’s time for somebody to step up and shout, “Enough is enough!” We must reverse the nasty divide we are propagating in this country–politically and socially.

I realize that millions of folks out there are upset because Trump didn’t get reelected as president for a second term. But there’s nothing any of them can do about it. He can claim he won the election by a landslide. He did not. He lost. He can claim the election was stolen. He can insight his supporters to rebel in insurrection and destroy property. He can call his second impeachment a witch hunt.

President Biden

What he can not do is change the outcome. Joe Biden is President now and will be for the next four years. Trumpers get over it. Trump get over it.

What Trump and his supporters could do is admit defeat and be willing to contribute their energy and efforts to seeking ways to help bring unity and peace back to America.

NOW THAT would help make America GREAT AGAIN.

Unfortunately neither Trump or his supporters seem interested in promoting peace or helping heal the deep political and social wounds we live with. To me, they appear committed to seeing what more they can do to rip the fabric of this wonderful country further and further apart.

Who’s going to stand up and shout “Enough is enough.”

Where is Martin Luther King when you need him?

It’s going to take someone with King’s passion and deep spiritual insight and relationship with God to ever pull it off. I don’t know of any candidates now. Does anyone out there?

In the mean time we can be seeking God’s intervention . . .

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14.

God, Heaven

I’m going to heaven, how about you?

Are you positive you’re going to heaven? I am. But are you positive you’re going to heaven?

You might ask me how do I know for sure that I’m going to heaven?

I’ll tell you. It’s simple.

It has nothing to do with my beliefs. It has nothing to do with my religion. It has nothing to do with church. It has nothing to do with my faith. It has nothing to do with the fact that I’ve been faithful to my wife for 28 years.

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God

I FOUND BETTY JEAN DAVIS!

Well, I didn’t actually find the flesh-and-blood Betty Jean Davis.

I was looking through some old pictures I’ve kept for years and ran across my second grade class photo at Central Elementary School in Shenandoah, Iowa and there she was.

Some of you may recall several posts I’ve written for this blog wishing I could find her lamenting the way I treated Betty Jean and teased her. Years later I developed a conscience. I wanted to give her my heart-felt apology for treating her so cruelly and teasing her. The girls in the class though, were worse than I was about the shameful ways they treated Betty Jean.

Here’s a link to one of those posts I wrote earnestly seeking to find her and tell her how sorry I was . . .

Betty Jean where are you?

And here’s Mrs. Sanford’s second grade class picture.

So, I may never find the flesh-and-blood Betty Jean Davis down here on earth. But I have this picture and I’ll have it always to remind me that when we both meet again in heaven we’ll be best friends forever. What a blessing to look forward to.

God

Baskin-Robbins Christianity

In 1945 two brothers-in-law opened the first Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop in Pasadena, California. They sold 31 flavors, one for each day of the month. Since then the iconic dessert giant boast 7,500 stores worldwide and have created more than 1,000 unique flavors of ice cream.

Christianity seems to have adopted the Baskin-Robbins business model. Worldwide you have more than 41,000 flavors of Christianity to choose from.  If you don’t like one church flavor, you can go across the street or down the road and find another flavor. Each flavor boasts its own beliefs, dress codes, traditions,  programs, parking rules, social strata, committees and missions commitment.

Jesus Christ abolished all 41,000 church flavors.

“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two,” Ephesians 2:14-15

Here (in the “new” man) there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Colossians 3:11.

People groups are different. People groups have differing foundations, different belief systems. Differing traditions. Differing interpretations of Scripture.  But Jesus never changes. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. So is His gospel, full of grace and truth. We don’t need 41,000 flavors of Christianity. According to the Gospel I read there’s only one true church, the body of Christ, His precious, pure spotless Bride.

God

Let every day be the days of Elijah

God

Every day, every play, every way

I had the opportunity to serve for eight years on the National Board of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. There were some great coaches, athletes, and business people on that board. I felt like a mule at the Kentucky Derby, but I did learn a lot from many of them.

One member on the board with whom I was able to spend time was Coach Grant Teaff. He had compiled a great coaching record at Baylor University. He then was selected to become the Executive Director of the College Coaches Football Association. They have 7,000 members from all football divisions. He invited me to speak at the worship at one of their annual meetings.

Coach Grant Teaff was raised in Snyder, TX. When he was 13 years old, he told everybody that he wanted to be a Southwest Conference Head Football Coach. That was his dream. He had his mind set on being the head coach at the University of Texas, but he wound up at Baylor. He said he only missed by about 90 miles!

He said the thing that turned his life around was a high school coach by the name of Speedy Moffitt. He told me that he still remembers one day in high school when Coach Moffitt called him into his office. He thought he had done something wrong.

Grant Teaff weighed only 140 pounds and didn’t have much speed. He remembered those old stones in the coach’s office. He had to sit in a squeaky chair. Moffitt said, “Grant, I’m going to tell you the big secret to football.”

Teaff said that Coach Moffitt leaned over the desk, and Grant leaned forward because he wanted to know the big secret.

Coach Moffitt said to Grant, “The only limitation you have is – effort.”

He said the word “effort: just rolled off his tongue. He said, “You must execute total effort.”

Grant asked him about speed and skill, but the coach said it was all about effort – total effort. He said, “You have to give total effort, every day, every play, every way.”

As Grant started towards the door, Coach Moffitt said, “Now, remember, I’m not just talking about football – I’m talking about the classroom and your personal life.”

Grant Teaff said, “My whole life was changed by that coach telling me about total effort – every day, every play, every way.”

Jesus called a lot of people to follow him. Read in Matthew 8:19-22 how some of them started making excuses of things they had to do. Jesus said He couldn’t use them. They were distracted and not willing to give 100% total effort to following Jesus.

That raises an interesting question. Is there anything in life where you don’t have to give 100%? One exception that I can think of was given by Derric Johnson – it’s best not to give 100% when you are giving blood!

To paraphrase Vince Lombard, “The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work. Total effort is the price we must pay for success. You can accomplish anything if you are willing to pay the price.”

Follow Jesus – total effort every day, every play, every way!

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Time

The most important use of your time is to spend your time on what is most important.

You can’t save time, borrow time, make the most of time, keep time, find the right time, mark time, lose time, take time, or spend time.

You don’t have any time tomorrow, it’s not here yet. and yesterday is history.

The only time you have to do anything is now.

So, the question each of us has to ask and answer for ourselves is:

What’s the most important thing in our life?

I will claim for myself “seek ye FIRST His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things (food, drink, clothes) will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

Do I consistently seek my God first? No. My wife and my family edge out God more than I care to admit. But my heart always longs to make God first. How about you?

If God and His Kingdom is not the one thing that is most important in your life, maybe it’s time to make Him the most important thing. Right now.

God

Watch “Surely the Presence of the Lord is in this Place – Tanica Campbell” on YouTube

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You’re nobody. . .till somebody loves you.

Dean Martin

Dean Martin was an American singer, actor, and comedian. One of the most popular and enduring American entertainers of the mid-20th century, Martin was nicknamed “The King of Cool”.

As a singer Martin was probably best known for his rendition of the song “You’re nobody till somebody loves you.”

Martin was a heavy drinker, a womanizer, a gambler and a chain smoker.

I’m sure he never imagined that one of his songs would bring believers so much comfort and peace and rest one day.

You see, as a believer you’re already loved deeply and forever. Almighty God already loves us unconditionally and with a love that will never fade or end. We have been loved since before Almighty God decided to create the heavens and the earth.

This love God has for us is indescribable. It is unfathomable. We can’t understand it. We can’t explain it. All we can ever do is receive it and share it with others. You can’t change it. You can’t refuse it. You can’t stop receiving it. You can never be turned down for it. God is love. He can do nothing else but love.

Here are just a few of the benefits that are part of God’s love for every believer

  • You are accepted just as you are, scars and warts and all.
  • You are totally forgiven for all your sins, past, present and future.
  • You can’t do or say anything that will change God’s unconditional love for you.
  • God makes you a partaker of an inheritance that is literally out of this world
  • You are made holy and blameless and righteous.
  • You are a precious child of God adopted into his family forever.
  • You have received the power of the Holy Spirit and He can do miraculous things through for you and through you.
  • You possess the mind of Christ and the peace that passes all understanding.
  • God supplies all of our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Not every child of God believes who he or she is in Christ. For instance some believers have done things they can’t believe God would ever forgive them for. Some believers can’t wrap their arms around the truth that they were created before God created the world and they will neve die.

Whether folks believe all the above stuff or not. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s all true.

It doesn’t matter what you believe about God’s love. It only matter what God says about his love for believers. For everything God says or does is true.

I didn’t include any Scripture references in this post. I’m going to challenge you to seek God’s truth about Him and you in his word. All His truth is there.

God

The move towards a more perfect union

Last October, I posted a blog to prepare all of us for the elections in November. It contained 7 action points. Considering what is happening already in 2021 in our cities, states, nation, and world, I need to replace the action point about voting with a new action point about II Chronicles 7:14, and I invite you to join me in revisiting and recommitting to them.

We have elections because our forefathers saw elections as a vital part of forming a “more perfect union,” which is the stated goal in the Preamble to our Constitution. Now, get that – form a more perfect union. We must work for that in our sphere of influence!

I remember watching a very important college rivalry football game where the outcome would determine the success of each team’s season. Each side spent a lot of money hiring the best coaches, building the best facilities, scholarships, etc. The players gave every ounce of energy for sixty minutes. Everybody had decided who they wanted to see win. They cheered passionately for their team.

In the last few seconds, one team won and the other team lost. I then watched the opposing coaches shake hands and give a gentle hug. I saw players come across the field and speak to opposing players. I watched as players from both teams knelt in the middle of the field and prayed together. If that happens in football, why couldn’t it happen in politics?

In our elections, some people win and some people lose. That’s inevitable. Each person has the right to give money, energy, and influence to see certain candidates elected. But once the election is over, I am committed to being a Christian first, an American second, and a member of some political persuasion third.

Here are the 7 action points.

  • I will pray.
  • I will proclaim and practice 2 Chronicles 7:14.
  • I will treat every person as I want to be treated.
  • I will not engage in taunting, accusing, blaming, an arrogant attitude, or a divisive spirit.
  • I will engage only in civil discourse and not listen to or perpetuate misinformation.
  • I will be a good winner or a good loser, according to Biblical standards.
  • I will see this election as a process God will use to establish His Kingdom on earth.

I have ten grandchildren who are in high school or college. What is the future for them? My parents, grandparents, and others before them gave me a beautiful country in which to live. It’s not perfect, but it has moved towards “a more perfect union.” Our actions now will help determine whether we move towards a more perfect union or a more divided union.

This blog is not about red or blue, but it’s about following the God who is colorblind about these issues. It’s not about an elephant or a donkey, but about the Lamb of God as the One to follow! God didn’t come to take sides – He came to take over! He came to establish His Kingdom on earth!

Would you commit to these 7 action points and be a part of forming a more perfect union?

I’m in. Will you join me?

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Why God chose Mary, a virgin

God could have chosen from among hundreds of girls or young women to be the mother of God’s only Son on earth. Why did he choose a young teenager from a wide spot in the road village, Nazareth. They said “Nothing good ever comes from Nazareth.”

But now we watch The Creator of the universe, Almighty God, pick this nondescript teenager to be the mother of the Savior of the world. And a virgin to boot.

Jesus’s mother had to be a virgin. It could have happened no other way. Remember with the first bite of the apple in Genesis Adam and Eve died spiritually. So every man, woman and child born from Adam and Eve’s union were born into sin.

“we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Ephesians 2:3

We all were at one time born into the world children of wrath and were deserving of death.

Jesus came into the world to give us His life. He had God’s love and eternal life to give anyone who would believe in Him and accept the free gift of eternal life Jesus was willing to give them.

“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.

So, if Jesus was born to anyone but a virgin, he wouldn’t have had God’s eternal life to give away. And we would all die without God.

God

Washing feet

Servant in the house. The one who cleaned up everyone else’s mess. In Jesus’ day Gentile slaves could be made to do footwashing in a Jewish household, but not a Jewish slave. Slaves were looked down upon in the ancient world but Peter could not stand the thought of his teacher doing the work of a slave.

Washing feet

Jesus came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

If this wasn’t bad enough, Peter was probably livid when Jesus stooped down and began washing Judas’s feet. Judas hadn’t sinned yet, but Satan had already prompted him to betray Jesus to the Roman soldiers.

AS this scene played out, Jesus took off his garments, wrapped a towel around his waist, bent down and washed Judas’s feet. He later leaned in and kissed Jesus on his cheek, and betrayed his Master. Then the soldiers grabbed him up and hauled him off to be crucified.

Though Judas ultimately showed remorse later, his motive seemed to simply be greed. He received 30 pieces of silver for agreeing to betraying Jesus. His name ultimately became a symbol for traitors and turncoats throughout history.

Judas and all the disciples missed the magnitude and meaning of Jesus’s message that night in the Garden of Gethsemane. I think a lot of modern day people do too.

Jesus was demonstrating God’s love, sacrifice and humility when he allowed Judas to betray his Master into the enemy’s hands.

In his Gospel John writes in John 15:13, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

That’s exactly what Jesus was doing in the Garden that night, showing his disciples and Judas and you and me what sacrificial love looks like.

Now the question for all of us is

Would you wash Judas’s feet? Think about all that goes into your answer.

God

My first blog post

I visited the website for the Selma (Alabama) Times Journal recently. My first writing job was as a part-time sports writer for the historic daily. For my first bylined story my editor assigned me to cover a powder-puff football game between two private school girls teams. I think a couple of school clubs were trying to raise money from ticket sales and concessions. The girls put on pads and helmets and cleats and scrapped half-heartedly on the field for 30 minutes before half-filled bleachers, mostly parents praying their little powder-puffer would not get clobbered or lose a tooth or break a nail.

My editor must have liked my story because he then gave me real writing assignments with real high school sports teams. It was college football season and my editor sent me to cover Auburn football games. You can’t imagine the thrill this fledgling reporter felt strolling into Jordan Hare Stadium for the first time before a major SEC gridiron clash with press box credentials and a field pass. The following year I got to interview and write about Pat Sullivan in 1972. It was the year he won the Heisman Trophy. A standard story after every Auburn game was the locker room interview with Auburn’s legendary head coach, Shug Jordan.

In those days of classic Bear Bryant—Shug Jordan gridiron rivalries the folks in West Central Alabama were still trying to figure out how to handle the cultural paradigm shift created by the Civil Rights movement. You could still see placards in a few Selma holdout restaurants and businesses and bathrooms announcing “Whites Only” service. Top brass at the Times Journal seemed intimidated by its advertisers and Selma’s blustery mayor, Joe Smitherman, who both had a hand in shaping some news content.   Local news was friendly and accommodating, but not always an accurate barometer of the whole truth. The news often shied away from controversy.  Smitherman once had a dispute with the L&N Railroad whose tracks intersected Selma’s main street. The railroad was sticking to its guns and Smitherman didn’t like it. So the mayor parked fire trucks across the tracks, stopping local train traffic in Selma. Smitherman told the railroad the trucks wouldn’t budge until Smitherman got his way.

Many a late Saturday night, while carving out sports stories for Sunday’s paper, Smitherman regaled me and the newsroom staff and pressroom guys hanging out in the newsroom, with tales of his political and social shenanigans. . Those were still the days of hot type (molten lead poured in casts to create photos and newsprint on steel plates). Editors had to read the news copy backwards before they cast the plates to run on the presses.

I left the STJ to finish college at Auburn. But when I graduated several years later I returned to a new Selma Times Journal as a reporter. In my absence an outside newsgroup purchased the paper and turned the newspaper and the town on its ear. The new owners spent tons of money on new pressroom equipment (they shipped the old hot type press to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, new furnishings, new benefits, new editorial policies, new management and new ideas about reporting. The new publisher was not intimidated by advertisers or Smitherman. When advertisers complained about the new no-holds-barred news coverage that sometimes reflected poorly on their business and their behavior, they threatened to pull their advertising. The newspaper’s response – “Go ahead.”

Some pulled their ads. Most who did came back because they figured out they needed the paper for its advertising revenue, regardless of its editorial policies.

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s reporting on Watergate in the Washington Post in the early 1970’s bolstered, in part, the editorial policies of the new ownership. Also, in the early 1970’s Harold Martin, the publisher of the Montgomery Advertiser wrote a series of investigative stories about clandestine and fatal drug testing on inmates at Alabama’s Kilby State Prison near Montgomery. The investigative reporting series won Martin a Pulitzer Prize and closed the prison.

Investigative journalism in that era, even on a relatively small town daily like the STJ, conformed to standards of ethics and integrity sorely missing from much of the profession today. We could never use a “source who wished to remain anonymous” or a “source close to the investigation.” In fact, we not only had to have a source, we had to name the source, always. We couldn’t write a story about a birthday party without attribution.

Facts were important. Truth was important. Editors always asked reporters questions about their stories before they went to press. On many occasions the questions and their answers were germane to the stories we wrote. We had to retrace our steps and re-interview sources to get the answers editors required. And we always had to report both sides of the stories and name sources for attribution.

In most cases, our stories were the only coverage people in the town would read. Our editors were responsible and demanded we tell the story, from both sides, completely.

I’m saddened to say, in my considered opinion, journalism and the art of story telling with facts and the truth is not what it used to be.

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We have forgotten God

Dr. James Merritt

Dr. James Merritt once quipped, “If we’ve learned anything from history it’s that we haven’t learned anything from history.”

Idols

It used to be that only some off-the-wall religions and pagans worshipped idols. But look at us now. We make idols out of almost anything that satisfies our worldly lusts. Shiny cars, football players and teams, movie stars, singers and music groups, clothes, our cell phones, (yes we do) money, shopping, crystals, astrology, success, personal image, . . .an idol is anything in our lives that we consider more important than God.

Sexual Immorality

We have completely forgotten what God said about marriage, dating back to Genesis

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24…Genesis 1 and 2 indicate that God created marriage as an institution for the purpose of man and woman to fulfill God’s purposes for man–procreation.

That means at the end of the day homosexual couples are and will always live outside God’s law and His purpose for man. Gay couples can not procreate, that will always render them shy of God’s original and eternal purpose. But God’s love is for all people and those living in sin will always have the freedom to repent and follow God’s law.

But homosexuality is only the tip of the sexuality immorality iceberg in our society. All you have to do is look) around to get a dose of every kind of immorality. Examples of immorality prevalent in our society: incest, adultery, prostitution (all pornography is merely glorified prostitution), fornication–having sex outside marriage, rape…abuse of women or children, lust after sex, cars, alcohol, drugs, riches, food, covetousness, lewdness. . .and the list goes on.

We have forgotten what God thinks about all this sexual immorality. Much of this disobedience has become commonplace and accepted as normal to many in our society today. Some turn away and claim just not to care or be moved by the behavior or beliefs of another. They claim it’s none of their business what others do.

“If it feels good” they rationalize, “do it” with no regard for who gets hurt.

Iniquity

And we’ve forgotten all about iniquity and how our heavenly Father feels when He sees it in us.

But sin is sin and ours has to be dealt with. We know from John 3:16 that Jesus died on the cross to pay the sin debt for all of us we owed: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. But when we’re saved by the blood of Jesus, the rest of our lives we have to make choices every day about how we’re going to live. We will choose to make choices that glorify God or choices that glorify us. Choices that glorify Holy God come with rewards and a heaven full of grace and blessings or those choices that live for us. Those choices lead to disappointments, costly outcomes, unnecessary suffering and regret–never fulfillment.

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Unity please.

We inaugurated a new president, Joe Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris, on January 20.

We’ve just completed the most significant benchmark in our entire democracy–the transfer of power from one presidential administration to another–pageantry we perform and celebrate every four years.

Vice President Kamila Harris
President Joe Biden

The quote that impacted me most in Mr. Biden’s inaugural address, and one I can imagine myself quoting in future blog posts, is what he said about unity. Mr. Biden said, “With unity we can do great things. Without unity, there is no peace.”

Unity please. We so desperately need unity in this country in this day and time, especially since Trump, in his last weeks in office tried to split our country apart even more.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King said, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

Paul urges us in Ephesians 4:31 to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

We can’t even begin to change our attitudes about being united with our fellow man until we undergo a transforming change of our collective hearts.

And God is the only one who can do that.

Are you prepared for Him to do that in your heart?

God

Self-help false claim

Self-help is an oxymoron.

“God helps those who help themselves.”No He doesn’t.

That’s a handy cliche some folks say when they don’t know what they’re talking about and want to sound smart

God does NOT help those who help themselves. God helps those who come to the end of self and realize they can’t help themselves.  Only God can.

Even in recovery groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Alanon, and ACOA the first step is: “admitted we were powerless over (our addiction) and our lives had become unmanageable.” Does that sound like self-help to you? To me that first step to recovery for us addicts sounds like coming to the end of self. Ergo, the end of self-help. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Whether it’s an addiction or stress or worry or adultery or runaway children or abuse no self-help book can get to the root of the problem and cure it.

Why? Because self-help books only suggest ways to change behaviors and thought patterns. We have spawned a multi-million dollar industry fueled by men and woman who have gone to school all their lives instead of working and now have an alphabet behind their names. The alphabets make them best selling authors telling people how to fix their emotional, psychological and social problems.

The self-help (self-improvement) industry rakes in billions (with a “b”) every year. Consumers spend more than $10 billion a year for motivational, “self-improvement” programs, products and services “that seek to improve us physically, mentally, financially or spiritually,” according to Marketdata Enterprices, Inc

If you Google “popular self-help books” you get more than 2 million hits. If you google “self-help” you get more than 48 million results.

No matter what our addiction, your emotional or psychological problems, we can’t fix them by reading self-help books. The only way we’re going to resolve our deep-seeded hurts and wounds in life is in and through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. God created each of us. He formed us from the dust. He knows everything about me and you. And when something inside gets broken, He is the only one who knows how to fix it.

Self-help books are full of cookie cutter solutions for all their readers problems. The problem is, these self-help authors don’t know me and you. They know symptoms, they know social problems, they know research studies and numbers and statistics.

But they don’t know me and you. God knows us inside and out. He knows us intimately and personally and He’s been walking with each of us our entire lives. He created us. He knows every move we’ve made, every word we’ve said, everything we’ve done. He knows our every fear, joy, choice, trouble, accomplishment, bad decision, thought, emotion, regret, kindness, service, praise and worship.

God’s word is the only book that will resolve our troubles and trials. God has an answer for every question we have. His book won’t give  a bunch of methods and steps to a better life. Through His word God will teach us our true identity, our purpose in life, and our way to victory. God’s word will teach us who God is and how a personal relationship with Him can transform our life.

Would you rather change your behavior for a while, or transform your life forever?

Just asking.

God

The same boat

Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you’ve gotta be aware of the still-festering racial divide in this country.

Every Black life matters. God created each one of them and God proclaims each one created by Him to be equal to every other one of His creations. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “We all may have come to this country on different ships, but we’re all in the same boat now.” 328 million of us and we’re all paddling upstream without paddles. The divide couldn’t become more rancorous.

I believe the church–the building down the street with a huge empty parking lot and big steeple and a blinking sign that proclaims “JESUS SAVES” in big black letters is asleep.

The church seems to be non-committal and unaffected by the deep-seeded social issues dividing our culture like abortion and homosexuality and racism and our disintegrating society and culture.

I don’t see the church or feel the impact of any efforts to directly or even tangentially influence these ills with the Gospel of Christ at all. For the most part, in my view they are silent. According to Dr. King, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. 862,320 abortions were performed in 2017. That matters. And where does the church land on abortion? When’s the last time you heard a rousing sermon on what the church is doing to address this travesty with the word of God or the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

And God’s word is crystal clear about what God’s word (God, not the Supreme Court)

 “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and various other references.

Dr. King said, “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor political nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.

There comes a time when silence is betrayal.

Why has the church chosen to be silent and so non-committal in such volatile times like these?

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He never invited her to church

butterfield

How Rosaria Champagne Butterfield met Jesus is an incredible story. This radical unbeliever despised Christians and didn’t believe Jesus was real, according to her story published on the Christianity Today¹ website in their February 7 issue. She calls her story My Train Wreck Conversion. “Stupid. Pointless. Menacing,” she said. “That’s what I thought of Christians and their god Jesus.”

Her story, despite being an amazing work of God in her life, is not what grabbed my attention. Ken Smith, a pastor at the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church, wrote Dr. Butterfield a letter. The lesbian radical wrote a vehement assault on Christianity in a local Syracuse, New York paper in 1997 after Promise Keepers came to town.

The story drew both fan mail and hate mail, but Ken Smith’s letter, Butterfield said, was engaging, not condemning, not judgmental. “And he didn’t invite me to church,” she said.

THAT’S what caught my attention.

He didn’t invite her to church.

In a few words, Butterfield and Smith and his wife, Floy, became friends.

“They entered my world,” she said in her story. “They met my friends. We did book exchanges. We talked openly about sexuality and politics. They did not act as if such conversations were polluting them. They did not treat me like a blank slate. When we ate together, Ken prayed in a way I had never heard before. His prayers were intimate. Vulnerable. He repented of his sin in front of me. He thanked God for all things. Ken’s God was holy and firm, yet full of mercy. And because Ken and Floy did not invite me to church, I knew it was safe to be friends.”

When I first moved to Alabama and met new people the first thing many of them asked me was, “Do you have a church home?” Regardless of my answer, they’d invite me to church.

Ken Smith, in my opinion, employed the best and most effective evangelism tool–friendship. Ken and Floy knew what Jesus meant when He taught His disciples to “Love One Another.” As a result of their friendship, Dr. Butterfield made a conscious and independent decision to go to church, where she met and accepted Jesus Christ.

She calls her story, “My Train Wreck Conversion”. I urge you to read her full story on the Christianity Today website. Or watch the video version below.

She has written a book about her life and her conversion experience, “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.”

We truly serve an Awesome God, and we never know when, how or who He will draw someone unto Himself.

¹The Christianity Today website story © 2013 by Christianity Today, My Train Wreck Conversion, was the inspiration for this blog post. Direct quotes from her story appear in quotation marks in the post.https://www.youtube.com/embed/hkJZSeUGzWw?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en&autohide=2&wmode=transparentAdvertisements

God

Who’s gonna fix this mess?

The Ununited States of America is more divided, more polarized, more racially troubled, more socially screwed up, more un–united than we ever have been, certainly in my (Baby Boomer) lifetime.

So how do we get re-united? Can we ever reconcile our differences? Can we ever agree to disagree without engendering holier-than-thou condescension? Can we ever revive the first amendment as it was intended.

What does God’s word say about unity?“

How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!” Psalm 133:1

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11

“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.” Philippians 2:1-2

Can we ever live peaceably with our neighbors again whether they’re White or Black or Indian or Muslim or Catholic or Atheist or Jewish or Buddhist or Native American or Scientologist?

Congress can’t do it. Billy Graham’s folks can’t do it. The ACLU doesn’t want to do it. Lawyers wouldn’t know how to do it? The Church can’t do it. The government can’t do it. The Pentagon can’t do it. No committee could do it. No evangelist or bunch of evangelists could do it.

So. . .who’s left to fix it? You and me.

First, If it’s ever going to happen we’ll have to do it by acknowledging that God in His sovereignty and love for us is sovereign over everything that happens and will unite us in His purpose and will in His time in His way.

Secondly, I strongly believe our only shot at uniting us with each other is individually, one-on-one, choosing to develop friendships with those who are different from us. I have a Black barber and we are developing a friendship that enables us to talk about issues we both have as well as other racial and social issues. I have a growing relationship with a doctor from India where cultural differences give us plenty of things to talk about. Our next doo neighbors are Muslim and we are cultivating an awesome relationship with them and their boys. In all three relationships we are growing nite our countrycloser and living more united together.

That’s the only way we’re ever going to reunite our country if we reach out to those who are different and from different cultures, religions, beliefs and lifestyles.

Throughout God’s word He reminds us to do two things: love one another and when at all possible live united. So our mandate from God is crystal clear.

I was consulting with two of my brothers in Christ a few months ago. I was asking them to help me determine my purpose at this stage in my walk as an authentic disciple of Christ. I’m 74 years young, disabled from a stroke in 2018, deaf in one ear and confined to a wheelchair. I was a writer for 30+ years and I’ve been a blogger at For His Glory for just shy of ten years–long story short, I can’t go on mission trips any more or sing in the choir or do much that requires physical effort, but I can write.. so I continue to write the messages God gives me to share with my readers. I’m averaging 54 views on my blog each day. I’ll continue writing on my blog as long as I’m able until God calls me home.

God

I have lost an angel

Pat Welch

Last week the Lord called Pat Welch home. She is eternally happy and smiling now. Enjoying her Sainthood and fellowship with Jesus.

Our pastor said heaven is a much happier place now that Pat is there. Jesus has already told her, “Well done my good and faithful servant. Now It’s time for you to enjoy all the fruits and blessings of your love for people and for Me while you prepared on earth for your forever home with Me here in eternity.”

To call Pat a Saint is inadequate. She was a pay grade or two above that–as in with the angels. I don’t know a single person who didn’t adore her and felt blessed to be around her. And she knew everyone. And loved them all.

In the 15 years of our friendship I don’t recall EVER seeing her without a smile on her face. She would help anyone who asked–her closest friend or a total stranger.

One Sunday she came into church with a cake she baked. I asked her who the cake was for. She said it was for a friend of hers in South Carolina who was sick. She left after church and drove to South Carolina. She dropped the cake off at her friend’s house, turned around and drove back to Atlanta the same day. True story!

One of her favorite things to do was bake. There’s no tellin’ how many folks at church she baked birthday cakes for. And you could fill a semi trailer full three times over with the cookies and cupcakes she baked.

At Christmas she made candy for me. She called it white trash. It was similar to bridge mix but crunchier. It was coated (more like smothered) in white chocolate. She didn’t just bring it in zip-lock bag. The bag she brought me held about two gallons of the mouth-watering candy. It never made it till Christmas.

She and I worked on the hospitality team together. When we first met each other on Sunday morning she would smile and kiss me on my bald head. That set my happy mood and happy face every week.

Now when you get to heaven, after Jesus hugs you and tells you, “Well done good and faithful servant, come on in. “When you turn around to go to worship Ms. Pat will be standing there with a warm welcomingly affectionate smile and a handful of worshipful bulletins and a heartfelt, “Good morning, welcome. its so nice to see you'”

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Child Abuse and Domestic Violence

Thousands of children and women won’t have anything to eat today. Or have anywhere to sleep tonight. Or they’ll be terrified and huddled in a closet so the man mom brought home won’t explode in a fit of drunken, angry abuse.

Not a pretty sight. But it plays out all the time in too many places in America every day and every night. It is a never-ending toxic plight that is eroding our society relentlessly.

Can we cure it? Probably not. The hate and anger and rage is so deeply rooted in the souls of those that abuse that change is virtually impossible

Jesus is the only one who can transform a heart. And abusers often don’t have courage enough to reach out for HIM.

But there is hopeFOR THE ABUSED

Kerri McKenna Reece can help

Find her at Kerri Coaching

Some brave, survivors of abuse themselves, have chosen to share their experience, strength and hope with others living in the aftermath of childhood abuse or in the midst of adult domestic abuses. The long term hope is for victims of abuse to learn the life skills, tools and truths that enable them to rebuild their lives. Skills that will empower them to move beyond the behaviors and people that don’t serve them well. Techniques that commission them to live truly authentic, and unafraid, embracing the life God intended them to live.

Kerri says, “I know the depths of your pain and struggles first hand. I’m a survivor of abuse myself and my journey to recovery led me to become a Certified Professional Life and Trauma Recovery Coach.

“I’ve been where you are and have recovered and survived. Together we can walk the road to your recovery. Free of abuse forever.

Arrange a complementary consultation with Kerri today. Click on the link below.

https://www.kerrimckennareece.com/lets-connect