Simple Statements Are Often Best

Keep it Simple!

Sometimes, it is best to keep things simple. For example, my husband’s anniversary card stated his thoughts and feelings in five uncomplicated words. Yet, it was quite touching. It read, “God Knew I needed you.”

The message of the cross is that simple, too. All one needs to do to receive eternal life is to look to the cross of Christ. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life,” John 3:14-15. I learned in Bible Study Fellowship that eternal life means a changed life now and spend eternity with Jesus in the next. It is just that simple as to look to the cross. However, people make things more complicated by putting in their rules and expectations.

The straightforward act of believing in Jesus does many things. Believing in Him,

  • You have eternal life, will not come into judgment but have passed from death to life. John 5:24
  • Though you were dead, yet you shall live. John 11:25
  • You may not remain in darkness. John 12:46
  • You may have life through His name. John 20:31
  • You receive forgiveness through His name. Acts 10:43
  • You are freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Acts 13:39
  • You will not be put to shame. Romans 9:33
  • Will make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:15
  • You are born of God. 1 John 5:1

Therefore, something so simple has great rewards. How amazing is that? This is what is confusing to the world because the world believes that the simple is stupid. God uses the simple to shame the wise. Won’t you make the effortless action of looking to Jesus?

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The Good Life is Found in Jesus!

Good life

The Good Life!

In church on Sunday, July 31,2016, the title of the sermon was “The Good Life.” The scripture for the message came from Ecclesiastes 2: 2; 12-14; 2:18-20. Yet, the message was not only in the sermon but also in the hymns that we sang.

Our opening hymn was “Speak, O Lord,” which we learned sometime last year. I, especially like, the first verse of this hymn. The melody is rich and beautiful. Here is the first verse.

Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of your holy word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes, for Your glory
.

In this verse, I find, in order, to experience the good life, I need God’s truth planted deep inside me.  If I allow God to use His word to shape and fashion me into the likeness of Christ, my acts of love and my deeds of faith will be for His glory. Certainly, God alone has the power to fulfill His purpose in me.

The second hymn that spoke to the message was “What Is the World to Me.” This hymn tells of the importance Jesus is to me. From verse 1, I read that Jesus alone is my treasure and my soul’s delight. Jesus is what I truly prize above all things in the second verse. Though the world seeks after wealth and is never satisfied, I am content because my Jesus is my wealth in the third. Therefore, Jesus is my all in all; what is the world to me.

The Message

Furthermore, the sermon spoke of chasing after wealth and things apart from God is vanity. It is unjust to toil and labor and then to leave it behind to those who did not toil for it. Yet, Jesus gave it all away for us. One cannot find the good life apart from Him.

Overall, The service left me wanting more of Jesus and my worship was richly blessed. Hence, I shall seek Him first.

Related Link Hope is Found in Jesus

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Church, Gotta Love it! I do!

Church

Five Things I Love About My Church

Let me tell you the five things that I love about my church, Faith Lutheran. This helps confirm my reason for staying. No church is perfect but I do love where God has called me to be.

1. The Bible Taught Faithfully.

Our motto is Know Christ, Live Christ, and Make Christ Known. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. During our worship service, we often have an Old Testament,  Epistle, and Gospel reading. The Epistle is taken from one of the letters that were written to the church either by the Apostle Paul, James, or Peter. This is done interactively with the congregation reading the words in bold. We stand for the Gospel reading out of respect. The sermon is taken from one of the either of the Bible readings.

2. We are Growing Congregation.

We hold a new member’s class once every quarter. My church has as many as 15-20 or as few as 5 members added. In our Bible class for members with special needs, known as the Rock House, we have experienced growth. We added as many as 10 members in this group and a new member is seen on occasion. This makes for a total 25+ members. I do like seeing new members added to our congregation. Furthermore, there are some really swell people to get to know. I love you all!

3. Blended Worship Music

During our worship service, you will hear both traditional hymns and praise music. We also have talented soloists and we recently added a Praise Music Vocalist. Another point that I would like to make is that our Senior Pastor on occasion teaches us a new hymn. I enjoy the blended music and I feel that it reaches out to most everyone. The hymns centered on God or on Christ and Him crucified.

4.  Opportunities to Serve are Plenty.

At Faith, you will find plenty of opportunities to serve both for the young and for those young at heart. I happen to serve with the Rock House as do a number of very special people. Not only do I serve with them but I also serve with a group of wonderful women in Lutheran Women’s Missionary League’s evening group, Joy Mission Circle. We collect mites which is the change from our pockets to help fund missions outside of our local congregation. We have a ministry for Braille and we are a Stephen Ministry congregation. Let’s not forget our youth. They, too, have opportunities to go on servant trips.

5. Last but not least, Our Newest Staff Member!

Most noteworthy is our Vicar. I am excited and pleased that Vicar Bill Crowe will be ordained and installed as our associate pastor on July 24, 2016, @ 3 pm. Every opportunity that I have had to speak to him, he has impressed me as a man after God’s own heart. He is open and friendly. He is quite knowledgeable and loves the Lord. Hence, I know that God has blessed us with him and his family as well.

In conclusion, I would like to invite you to come for a visit when you are ever in Georgetown, Texas. To God be the glory!

“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
    who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
    and begun to reign.” Revelation 11:17

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Lives Forever Changed!

Lives changed

Read All About Lives Changed!

Are you looking for a book that shares stories of lives changed? Well, I have the book just for you! Finder Keepers Losers Winners by Kay Gray is the just the one for you. I consider her a dear friend of mine and she writes of lives changed at Oak Ridge Ministry through Jesus Christ and how God brought her to this ministry.

For one thing, Kay writes from her heart. She is forever changed by the men whose lives have been changed by accepting Jesus into their hearts. She shares openly and warmly not only their stories but her story also. Kay credits God for bringing her together with Joshua Harris and the Oak Ridge Ministry.

Moreover, Kay writes as if you were sitting down to the table with her. You will appreciate her honesty about the fact that some lives have not been restored because of the choices that were made. Yet, she rejoices of the lives that have been forever changed by the grace found in Jesus.

Equally important, Kay tells you how she found the Bible which led to her meeting, Joshua. The Oak Ridge men gave her the title of Bible Lady. Some of the men, lovingly, call her Mama Kay.

Hence, this book is filled with grace, truth, and love. You will read of a very special man who started Oak Ridge Ministry and the lives of men faced with addiction. You will read of heartache and the celebration of new life found in Christ.

About the Author

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Kay Gray is a retired teacher and former boutique owner. She lives in Georgetown, Texas, and attends Crestview Baptist Church. She enjoys working with special needs kids at the church camp. Kay is an avid a supporter and encourager of the mission of Oak Ridge Disciple House. She teaches women’s Bible studies and is beginning an outreach ministry through her website mamakaygray.com.

Read it for yourself!

Therefore, I recommend this book if you want to read how Jesus can change lives. Well, read Finders Keepers Losers Winners, for yourself. Click this link to order your copy.

 

Another review: The Truth About Happiness by JE Berry.

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Abiding Faith

What does it mean to have abiding faith?

This past weekend I attended the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, Texas District Convention in Lubbock. Our keynote speaker, Cindy Steinbeck of Steinbeck Vineyards & Winery, spoke to us about abiding faith. Our theme for the convention was based on John 15:5, I am the vine, you are the branches. Cindy gave us the definition for the word abide and talked to us about the significance of the root of the grapevine.

Abiding faith comes from being rooted in Jesus. He is like the root of the grapevine which is drought and disease resistance. Jesus is holy and therefore we are holy because we are grafted into Jesus. The root nourishes the grapevine and so Jesus provides nourishment for your spirit.

Hence, God is the vine-dresser. He directs the growth of the vine thus seeing what needs to be pruned. Together both God and Jesus helps us to grow. Yet, we are to abide (continue in relationship) with Him. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing just as a branch when cut away will die. When God wants me to grow, He makes me uncomfortable.

In order for me to bear fruit (such as gentleness, kindness, patience, and self-control), I must be abiding in Him. I am to stay rooted in Jesus through His word and prayer. He alone can provide me the strength I need, the wisdom and discernment in the various positions that He has placed me.

I interjected Cindy Steinbeck’s definitions into the following passage where the word abide is found.

Abiding in Him according to John 15:1-10

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

Abiding in Jesus.

Dwell in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, neither can you, unless you continue in relationship with me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him, it is he that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in relationship with me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you dwell in me, and my words dwell in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

God is glorified.

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Stay in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will reside in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and continued in His love.

My question for you. Where or in whom are you abiding?

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Tale of Two Friends United by Christ!

Tale of two friends

A Tale of Acceptance and Grace.

God makes life most interesting when you let Him in and He opens your eyes. This is my tale of my friendship with a dear friend of mine. We have something in common but yet so different. She grew up in the Lutheran Church but has changed to a Baptist church. Whereas, I grew up going to a Baptist church and now I choose to worship at a Lutheran church. We have both been baptized in the Baptist church and have a strong love for Jesus.

This tale is about acceptance and grace. Acceptance of the differences between us and the grace to embrace what we have in common. There was a time in my life that I was not attending a Lutheran church. I was attending the Church of the Nazarene where I chose to rededicate my life to Christ through baptism. My friend did likewise when she went to the Baptist church. A few years later, I returned to the Lutheran church and had to attend membership class. I was reluctant at first for my faith in Christ had not changed but it was to my benefit because I needed to be reminded of what Lutherans believe. There is a part of me that identifies with the Baptist but I need the affirmations that I find in the confession, creeds, and communion at the Lutheran service.

My dear friend refers to her change as a conversion. Yet, a convert is a person who has been persuaded to change their religious belief or faith or other beliefs? So what does it mean to convert  from Lutheran to Baptist? Do they not believe in the God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit? For me, I have not converted from one to the other for my faith has not changed. Where I choose to worship has changed. I guess that the change lies not in our faith but in other beliefs.

On the key points of faith which are creation, the birth, life, sufferings, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I believe that the Baptist and Lutheran agree. Now on matters that are not of eternal importance, there is a lot of differences. Some of those differences are in baptism and communion and order of service. I don’t want to go into these.

Am I okay that my friend attends a Baptist service? By all means, yes! God knows her heart as He knows mine. Do we both believe in Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him? Most definitely so! Each person’s walk with Jesus is as unique as a snowflake. We both serve the same Lord. How we do so is different, that’s all and it is perfectly okay.

As Michael W. Smith writes in his song,”Friends are Forever,”

 Friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them…

A lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.

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Relationship with Christ? Truth and Meaning!

Relationship

What Does It Mean to Have a Relationship with Christ?

I have a dear friend of mine who wants to know more about what it means to have a relationship with Christ. I think that a key word here is being in rather than having one. First, let’s look at the word relationship and its definition.

One definition of relationship is a connection, association, or involvement.

How does one have or make a connection or association with Christ? I would say much like it would be with anyone else. It takes time and effort in getting to know Him. This is different for each person because God has wired each person differently. It will also take some thinking outside the box, too, because people can get caught up in “doing” and not in being in a relationship. For example, if you are inclined towards ‘getting it right,’ you might get caught up in going through the motions of a scheduled quiet time. Yet, God wants you to focus on Him. Step outside of your routine, go outside and talk to Him as you would a friend and journal your thought and prayers. With Christ there is no right way to have a relationship. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.

Another definition of relationship is an emotional or other connection between people.

How does one make an emotional connection to Christ? This comes through spending time in His word and reading His love letter to you. Here again, it is different for each person. For the individual who is drawn to ‘getting it right’ the gospel of Matthew is a good starting point. I believe that reading through the Proverbs is also helpful. Memorizing verses that speak of His great love for us is a good practice. After all, there is nothing one can do to add or take away from God’s love for us. God accepts as He created us and sent Jesus to die while we were still sinners. Therefore, we don’t have to ‘get it right.’ Jesus already did that for us. We have a right standing before God.

So to my friend, I will say, do a new thing and begin to journal your thoughts and prayers with Him. Choose a new place to spend time alone with Him and read His love letter to you. Ask Him to speak directly to your heart how much He loves you. Tell Him that you want a deeper relationship with Him and then be amazed at what He does.

Here are some key verses that speak on drawing near to God/Christ. Hebrews 7:24-26, 11:5-7; James 4:7-9

Related link. Letter to My Beloved.

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Word Pictures For Spiritual Adornment

Word pictures

 Biblical Word Pictures

There are a number of beautiful word pictures in the Bible. Today, let’s look at those address spiritual adornment. I have found a couple in Proverbs and one in Isaiah that I will explore first.

First, the beginning of Proverbs 1 it talks about wisdom, instruction and teaching. I find that heeding the instruction of my father and the teaching of my mother is described as a graceful garland for my head and adornment for my neck (Proverbs 1:8-9). Therefore, I asked the question, what is the significance here? This word picture points to the fact that our lives are to reflect whose instruction and teaching we follow. Thus, it will be as plain as a necklace or garland worn on our heads.

Second, Proverbs goes on in chapter 3 verse 21-22 to say that I should not lose sight of wisdom and discretion for they are life for my soul and again, an adornment for my neck. Hence, I would hope that my life reflects the beauty of God’s wisdom much like the beauty of wearing a set of pearls as seen above.

Third, in Isaiah 61:10, I find another word picture that is inspiring.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
    my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
    he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.*

Likewise, God has graced us with these through His Son, Jesus. God calls us beloved and chosen. He dresses us with the righteousness of Christ. He loves us with an everlasting love.

Wisdom for Adornment in the New Testament

Last but not least, there is one more that I have found in the New Testament in 1 Peter 3 verses  3-4. Here, I am to adorn myself with the hidden person of the heart with imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. This is precious in God’s sight. This is also in stark contrast to what the world would have me to adorn myself.

How do you adorn yourself, according to His Word or to the way of the world?

*The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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Letter to My Beloved from God the Father

God’s Letter to His Beloved.

I have a dear friend who struggles to find her worth in what she does. I have tried to tell her that her worth does not come from what she does but from whom she belongs to as a believer in Christ. And her value also comes from His great love for her. Therefore, God has put it on my heart comprise His love letter to my friend and anyone else who struggles as a believer to find their self worth in what they do. There are several verses that I have found that to comprise this letter.

This is how I imagine God would write His letter to her.

Love LetterMy Dearest Child,

You are my beloved and chosen. I gave My Son, Jesus, because I love you so much that I would rather die than live without you. You are mine through the blood of My Son and I rejoice over you with singing. I love you with an everlasting love therefore I have drawn you to Me.

Yet, I have loved you even while in you were still in your sins thus I sent My Son to die in your place that you may have life more abundantly and have everlasting life. It is a free gift of faith to you. You cannot earn it. Though I, being rich in mercy and great love, have done this for you. Therefore, I now call you My child. Relax, let go, and know that I am God.  Furthermore, there is nothing that you can do to add or take away from my great love for you. My love for you will never fade or die away. 

Hence, you don’t have to prove yourself and stop trying to be someone else. Be who I created you to be. Just breathe!

Come and abide in me. You are loved.

Signed, God, the Father

(Zephaniah 3:17: Jeremiah 31:3; Psalm 46:10; John 3:16; Colossians 3:12; Ephesians 2:4-5, 1 John 3:1, 4:9,16)

Check this post regarding God’s Message Back to Me.

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Creed? What is it and Why Do I Need It?

Creed

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He shall come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the dead, and the life everlasting.

This is called the Apostles’ Creed because it contains a summary of their teachings. Where I attend worship we say this most every Sunday. At other times we recite the Nicene Creed and on one Sunday out of the church year we recite the Athanasian Creed which is a much more in depth and a long one. I particularly like the Apostles’ because it is a simple statement of faith. Reciting and memorizing it protects one from false teaching. It explains the trinity being God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If you were to attend at my church you would know what we believe without having to ask. There is a certainty here in this statement of faith. The Bible supports this statement.

Why Do I need it?

Because I am a fickle person and my flesh is weak. Without it, I could so easily grow complacent in my faith and lose sight of the fact that I need God. I find reassurance too when it is recited in my church.  We all believe the same and worship in spirit and in truth.

Some may question it or call me foolish but that is their opinion. If according to the naysayers, I am wrong then I have nothing to lose but if I am right in my belief, and I know that I am, then I have everything to gain. I would rather err in believing than to die in unbelief. God has in more ways than I can count proven His love to me. This creed is my statement of faith and nothing can change my heart.

If you wish to know more click this link.

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

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