Monday, September 26, 2016

SHALLOW LIVING


Today, parents have to be more intentional about their goals than did first-century parents, because parents must now contend with teachers who may negate the parental influence on every hand -- teachers like television and the Internet.  Perhaps other generations could have dared to say, "My children know how I feel without my spelling it out to them," but such a laissez-fare attitude will no longer work.  The competition for the human soul is much too fierce for that.  When one thinks of the number of subtle and corrupting siren voices that solicit a child or a teenager, one is astonished that so many children turn out as well as they do.  The quiet wooing of the Holy Spirit and what theologians call prevenient grace -- the faithfulness of God that seeks us before we turn heavenward -- are more active in our world than we can ever estimate, else the cause of righteousness would be quite overwhelmed by the never-ceasing insistence of the secular, the easy, the immediately profitable or enjoyable.

Nevertheless, the main burden of influence rests upon us, the parents and surrogate parents.  That is, we parents, teachers, employers, neighbors, and godly friends are the ones who determine whether a new generation will be found in the temple or in the provinces of shallow, thoughtless, and destructive living.  And because shallow or thoughtless living doesn't seem as perilous as "destructive" living, we may need to remind ourselves that life's perils often come in comfortable clothing.

-- J. Ellsworth Kalas in New Testament Stories from the Back Side


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Friday, September 23, 2016

OUR ASSIGNMENT


God has been stirring His people. His people today have heard Him give this charge: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)

Such an assignment seems impossible to achieve, and so it is with [human beings]. But with God it is possible -- and so the task and calling remain before us, confronting us all. Each person and church must respond.

When Jesus gave the disciples His assignment to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, He added this promise: “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) God’s call is not a program, but a Person to be followed, a Person who has given His personal command to be obeyed.

-- Henry Blackaby in What the Spirit Is Saying to the Churches


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Thursday, September 22, 2016

LIVING AND DYING


"While we live, we live to please the Lord. And when we die, we go to be with the Lord. So in life and in death, we belong to the Lord." (Hebrews 14:8 NLT)

The more I look at death's ugly face, and the more I confront my own mortality, the more I will know how to help others who are in pain because of death.  And the more I will know how to live…

Jesus offers us hope, peace, comfort and grace as we face our own death.  We can also offer these gifts as we walk through death with others.  God has told us that yes, we need to grieve, but not like those who are without hope.  In Scripture He has given us models of those who have lost their children, and of elderly people who have died with dignity because of God in their lives. And finally He has shown that, when Christ is the center of our lives, it really doesn't make a lot of difference whether we live or die. It does make a difference that we glorify God in either.

-- Phyllis J. Le Peau in Caring for People in Grief


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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

OVERCOMING THE FEAR OF DEATH


"Jesus became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could Jesus deliver those who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying." (Hebrews 2:14b-15 NLT)

C. S. Lewis wrote that he was surprised how much grief felt like fear. We live constantly with the fear of death. When death does occur… the feelings of grief come to the surface and magnify the fear that has been there all along. But the Bible teaches us that we can be freed from the bondage of this fear.

-- Phyllis J. Le Peau in Caring for People in Grief


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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY


A small-group ministry can be the primary means by which your congregation expresses its life and mission. No matter what activities are prominent in the group (sharing, study, prayer, celebration, mission and so forth), it is the quality of Christian "life together" -- Christian community -- that brings Life for ourselves and draws people outside to ask: "What is going on here? This life is attractive and I'd like to experience it too!" It is at this point that the verbalization of the gospel makes sense -- as an explanation for the quality of life among us as Christians, the "koinonia", Christian community.

-- Thomas G. Kirkpatrick in Small Groups in the Church: A Handbook for Creating Community (Alban Institute)


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