Play to Win

January 16, 2021 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Heather Arbuckle –

My youngest daughter, Sofie, is a fast and fearless little girl who loves sports. All sports. And like most young athletes, Sofie likes to win. Recently, she and I saw a t-shirt that made us giggle. It said—I play to have fun, but I win anyway.

“That is totally me, Mom!” Sofie laughed.

I smiled at my little athlete and agreed, “You do play to win, sweet girl.”

She was still talking about the shirt as we drove home from our errands and it led us to an interesting conversation about Christ. As she was talking about how much fun it is when her team wins a game, I glanced at her in my rear view mirror and took a moment to plant seeds of truth in my daughter’s young heart.

“Sofie, isn’t it amazing that we have a Savior that also plays to win?” I asked.

“What do you mean, Mom?” she asked.

Now that I had her attention, I stated my case carefully and quickly. She is, after all, only eight years old, and her attention span is short. My window of opportunity was small and fleeting. So, I took my moment and continued, “Christ took our sins to the Cross and conquered death. Through Him, we have victory. Jesus wins!”

A big smile came over my little girl’s face as she listened to my words. “Yep! Jesus wins alright!” She said brightly.

Jesus wins! We are told, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV). Unfortunately, many of us forget that simple truth when the game of life appears lost. Still, we must remember things are not as they might seem. As Christ followers, we must not lose heart.

The Cross is our Savior’s reminder that victory lies in Jesus Christ. When all was lost, and we were bound by sin, Christ willfully took our sin to Calvary and declared victory by His sacrifice alone.

That doesn’t mean that things will always turn out the way we want. We live in a sinful world and life’s journey can be treacherous. There are things we will never understand this side of Heaven. We simply are not calling the plays! Still, as believers, we have hope and victory because our Savior plays to win.

Regardless of the fight in which you find yourself. Despite how messy your circumstances appear. No matter how defeated you may feel. All is not lost. For Christ has declared victory in your life.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (I Corinthians 15:58 NIV).

Indeed, we have victory in Jesus Christ. So, let us lift our hearts and our heads towards our Savior. The game is not over and we are not defeated. Together, with Christ, let’s play to win—and don’t forget to have fun!

Are You Holding God Back?

January 9, 2021 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Jennifer Slattery –

Christian, are you growing cobwebs? Are you spending so much time praying for clarification, you’ve barricaded yourself permanently in your prayer closet?

Be careful not to view divine opportunities through a human lens tinted by human limitations. You see, how we live life is not about our abilities or failings, our strengths or weaknesses. Instead, it is about saying yes to a mighty God who longs to shine powerfully through us.

Here are some people I believed lived with reckless abandon to God, trusting in His power and not limiting their actions based on what they believed they could accomplish.

During the age of rationalism and revivalism, John Wesley traveled over 200,000 miles on horseback to preach 42,000 sermons, wrote 200 books, organized his followers and a Methodist society and built a chapel.

Charles Spurgeon gave enough sermons and wrote enough material to fill 200 large books. And what about the works of CS Lewis, Martin Luther, Tyndale and Wycliffe?

Were these men super Christians? Did they have more of God? God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He created the universe. Honestly, He doesn’t need us and if He chose, He could raise up a stone and make it the world’s greatest orator. For some mysterious reason He has chosen to work through man–not super humans, but ordinary men and women who trust in an extraordinary God to do mighty things through us.

I believe the question is not can we accomplish A or B but will we allow God to accomplish A or B through us.

Stop and think back to some of our heroes of faith. A murder named Moses, standing on the edge of a raging sea. A young boy named David fighting the giant Goliath. The people of Israel marching around the fortified wall of Jericho.

The Red Sea never would have parted had Moses remained in Midian. Goliath never would have been conquered had David remained in the fields, and Jericho never would have collapsed if the Israelites remained in their camp. God called them to take the city. Could they do it? Absolutely, but not in their own strength. But could God do it through them? Piece of cake.

What would our world look like if people started taking God at His word and surrendered their lives completely to Him?

“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6b).

Just Do It

January 8, 2021 by  
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By Lori Freeland –

Remember when the Nike catch phrase—Just Do It–first came out?

Yes, that dates me, but the words have stuck. I think I still have the t-shirt buried in a box of high school memories somewhere.

A lot of life just needs to happen without forethought. Hence the motto—Just Do It. Here are a few things we can do without much pondering.

Send your friends an email telling them how grateful you are to have them in your life. Even if they didn’t come to your ten times removed second cousin’s piano recital.

Reach out to your daughter, love on her, tell her how beautiful she is. Even if she hasn’t combed her hair in a week and a giant ketchup stain mars her shirt—the brand new one you bought that wasn’t on sale.

Corner you son, even if he is now a foot taller than you, and love on him. And even if you can’t see it yet, tell him he’s going to be a great man.

Buy your sister a book on her wish list and mail it with a card that says, “I’m sorry I stole your boyfriend in the seventh grade.” Trust me, she still remembers.

Call your brother, say, “I love you,” then hang up. Because men don’t like to talk on the phone.

Mail your mother a card with a flower on it. Thank her for cooking your meals and making your bed and doing your laundry.

Text your father. Thank him for showing up for all those band and choir concerts. And your three-hour long high school graduation.

Thank your parents—even if they weren’t perfect. They tried. Parenting is hard. The hardest project I’ve ever undertaken—second to marriage.

Which brings me to—

Be grateful for your spouse. God is using your husband or wife to make you a better person. Don’t forget, iron sharpens iron, even if it hurts sometimes.

Hug your husband before he leaves for work. Even if he left his underwear at the foot of the bed and forgot to brush his teeth.

Kiss your wife just because you can—not because you want something else.

Encourage random people today. Even if they’re mean to you in the Starbucks line. It’s easy to be nice when others are nice—not so much when someone irritates the snot out of you. That takes real control.

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness (Hebrews 3:13 NIV).

Standing the Watch

January 4, 2021 by  
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By Alan Mowbray –

Have you been asking God for something lately? I know I have. Do you feel the answers are slow or non-existent? Me too—that is, until the other day when I read Habakkuk 2:1.

“I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint.” (NLT)

The moment I read that scripture, something clicked. As a former Navy submariner, I’ve stood a few watches. Six hours or more at a time—some watches on deck, some below decks.

Each watch station has its own characteristics, but what’s unique about all watches is that initially, you as the person taking the watch are unprepared. Yes, you’ve put on your uniform, donned your weapons, strapped on your protective gear—but that doesn’t leave you ready. So you go to your watch station and do the turnover routine with the off-going watch—unprepared.

Once you have assumed the watch, the real preparation happens.

When standing topside security watch on a submarine in port, there’s a lot going on. Initially, when you take the watch, all that activity has an equal priority to your ears, eyes, and mind. For the first ten or fifteen minutes, your mind performs the last portion of preparation for that watch—creating dynamic filters.

After standing there for a while, just listening, observing silently, your brain starts to block things out. That steam vent fifty feet away that pops off every 4 minutes fades into the background. The roar of the diesel engine powering the crane at the end of the pier becomes a quiet rumble. Even the soft, gentle slap of waves against the curve of the sub’s hull, the ebb and flow of its tidal forces tugging the ship against the creaking mooring lines, and its seemingly random pushing around of loose pilings against each other under the pier all disappear.

A different silence emerges.

Finally, you are prepared to hear and see and to stand your watch effectively. Even your body can sense differences around you. Now you’re really “on watch.”

New sounds touch your ears—conversations audible at couple hundred feet away, footsteps of someone walking on the deck of the ship opposite you, distant laughter, and unseen doors opening and closing. Your brain filters out what doesn’t change, while enhancing what does.

Until I read that verse in Habakkuk, I had forgotten what waiting on the Lord is really about. This is the position I should have put myself in when waiting for an answer from God. At my watch station. Alert. Mouth shut. Ears open to hear that still small voice speaking to my spirit.

(I Kings 19:11-13) He created us to hear His voice in spite of the clutter.

I won’t forget again.

Signs of the End Times? – Birds of Prey

December 30, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Dianne E. Butts –

A booklet titled 101 Last Days Prophecies published by Eternal Productions lists “birds of prey” in Israel as one of the Last Days prophecies. You can see an online version of the booklet on the “101 Prophecies” page on Eternal-Productions’ web site.

Number 58 of their 101 says, “It is a little known fact that Israel is the bird migration capital of the world.” Do you find that interesting?

According to the booklet, “During the spring and fall migrations, billions of birds fly over Israel. Many of these migratory birds are raptors—carrion (dead flesh) eating birds of prey. In fact, 34 species of raptors migrate over Israel.”

If you search the internet on birds of prey in Israel, there’s a lot of interesting information. I even found some bird-watching tours that visitors can take.

This fact itself is not a prophecy of the End Times, but the booklet links the fact to Scripture verses that talk about many birds gorging themselves on the flesh of God’s enemies—people who fight against God in the final battle of the End Times.

Here are three such verses:

Ezekiel 39:4: “On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals.”

Ezekiel 39:17: “Son of man, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: ‘Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood.”

Revelation 19:17-21:

17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.”

19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse [who is, in verse 16, the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”] and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.”

In that last sentence, “the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse” refers back to verse 15, which describes the rider on the horse, who is Jesus Christ, and says, “Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.”

If you don’t know what that sharp sword is, here are two hints:

Revelation 19:13: “…his name is the Word of God.”

Ephesians 6:17: “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Jesus is the Word of God personified. Everything God ever said or promised with His words has come to fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Do you believe an entire army of all God’s enemies combined can be defeated with one Word?

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