What’s New?

July 12, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Kathi Woodall –

My daughters awoke Christmas morning and ran down the stairs to the living room. Wrapped in shiny paper with ribbons and bows, a new box awaited them that hadn’t been there the night before. Instead of lots of little presents, my husband and I bought one large gift for all four girls. They tore open the paper and found a new flat-screen television for their upstairs viewing pleasure. Their current television had been new once upon a time. Twenty-five years later though, that TV had grown unusable for modern day games and media equipment.

On New Year’s Eve night, friends and family gathered in our kitchen, their eyes fixed on the large clock hanging high on the wall. We waited anxiously as seconds ticked by. The hand reached the ten and we all began counting aloud; 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…Happy New Year! Oddly enough, many of the same family and friends had stood in the same spot the year before, watching the same clock, and yelling the same phrase as we rang in 2011. Now 2011 was gone, 2012 had come, and if the Lord tarries, we will cheer in 2013 in twelve more months.

That’s the way life is; things wear out, times change, and new things are always coming. The new and exciting of today will be the garbage of tomorrow.

However, this isn’t the case for one part of our life. A relationship with our Savior Jesus is full of many new things that will never wear out and never need to be replaced. They are just as sufficient fifty years from now, or a thousand years into eternity, as they are the moment they are first received.

We are given new life when we enter into a relationship with Jesus. Because Jesus rose from the dead, “we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4 NIV). Not only does our new birth give us hope of our own resurrection, but it also gives the promise of an imperishable inheritance awaiting us in heaven (1 Peter 1:3-4).

We are made into a new creation. Our old sinful nature and poor moral character are thrown away and we are created anew in Him. Becoming a new creation is more important than adherence to the law (2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 6:15). Our new self is “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” and is “being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10 NIV, respectively).

We live our lives under a new command. The 613 commands of the Old Testament have been simplified down into loving God and others with your whole being (John 13:34, Matthew 22:36-40).

We await a resurrected life in a new heaven and new earth. This future “home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13) is described; “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4 NIV).

All of this is made possible by a new covenant. We are no longer regulated by the sacrifices and requirements of the Old Testament. Jesus mediated a new covenant through His death that we might be eternally forgiven for our sins (Hebrews 8-10).

What better time than a new year to accept His eternal forgiveness for sins and walk in the newness of life with Him?

Just Start

July 6, 2020 by  
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By Alan Mowbray –

I’m pro-life.

I post stuff about it on Facebook. I tweet about it. If I come across someone who is commenting on the merits of “pro-choice,” I stick my nose in it and argue.

The other day, I experienced something that made me think. I read an article exposing hospitals that forced nurses to assist in abortions against their moral will under the threat of termination.

Incensed, I posted the link to my social networks.

The reaction was immediate and positive. People voiced their opinions against the practice and I was happy to see that people I had friended were on the same page as I on this issue.
In amongst the discourse, a pro-life activist whom I had friended jumped in. Although I expected agreement and encouragement, what we all received was a holier than thou attitude with statements like, “This is old news—I knew this stuff already” and “You’re clueless so quit posting things that you know nothing about, so quit condemning people.” I was floored. Although we were both pro-life, I understood those comments to mean that unless I have walked a mile in her shoes, I had no business even talking about the subject. I was confused for a few days on what I had even done wrong.

I told you that story not to put down the activist, but rather to say this: Just because you have been up to your eyebrows into a worthy cause or a certain subject, be gentle around those who are only ankle or knee deep. People have to start somewhere.

Imagine a church whose doors were open only to those with a doctorate in Biblical Theology or a small group where the members scoffed at the new people for asking questions about old topics—saying, “Oh puleeze! We’ve been over that time and time again!”

Or think about that new Christian who, for the first time, celebrated Christmas with a new understanding? What if, while they were realizing the immensity of that day they became visibly and emotionally shaken, and you came up and told them, “Hello? Of course we’re celebrating the birth of Christ. What did you think you were celebrating at this time every year, ya big baby?”

We are imperfect. Yet somehow, we easily forget that. Each of us, including myself, has done this to some degree. I’ve judged people almost as a reflex—opening my mouth and inserting my foot before thinking. I’ve belittled people because they weren’t at the level I was. I’ve even yelled at some for not knowing what I thought they should know—even though I was or should have been their teacher.

We live in a period of major growth in the knowledge of God, His Son, and Holy Spirit. Each of us is the student at one level and a teacher at another. Hearts are open to new things and new understanding. We must keep ourselves in check if we are to connect together as the body of Christ. I implore you to put this filter in your life!

Father God, help me to be gentle with your children. Forgive me for hindering their growth instead of helping. Holy Spirit, help me to see them with God’s eyes not mine.

I’m grateful that this experience opened my eyes to my own failures. Again.

But I know this. Just because I don’t know everything there is to know about abortion and the pro-life movement, it doesn’t mean I can’t be vocal about it. Hey, ya gotta start somewhere. Just start.

The Ransom

July 1, 2020 by  
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By Heather Arbuckle –

My husband and I love to snuggle up and watch movies. It’s one of our hobbies together. Our friends tease us that we have seen every movie that has ever been made. Despite our best efforts, I am sure we have missed a few. One movie I have been thinking about a lot the past couple of weeks is the movie “Ransom.”

Imagine your child has been kidnapped. That is the gist of this 1996 thriller starring Mel Gibson. I know. It’s a nightmare none of us wants to consider. But hang with me for just a bit. Picture it now. You precious son or daughter, lost to you, can be purchased back…for a ransom. That’s what God did for you, His child, through Christ.

Scripture teaches us “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Furthermore, “there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people” (1Timothy 2:5-7). Because of sin, all mankind has been captured by an enemy who seeks our destruction. After all, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Because of the fall of man, we are all born into sin. We are told “for this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant” (Hebrews 9:14-16). You have been ransomed.

When I consider the fact that my Heavenly Father sent me a ransom in Christ, before I even took a breath, I am filled with wonder. Truly, His great love is too big for me to fully comprehend. But when I filter these events through a parental lens, I see more clearly. For if one of my precious children were taken from me, there is nothing I wouldn’t do to bring them home. My kids are precious to me and worth any ransom. That is who you are to God.

God, The Father, saw his children captive to sin and sent a ransom in Jesus Christ. I could not free myself. Not with good deeds. Not with charity. Not with social justice. Neither can you. Only Christ can free us from the captivity of sin. Through Christ alone, the ransom was paid in full. My ransom. Your ransom. He is the ransom for us all.

Signs of the End Times? Israel in the Promised Land

June 24, 2020 by  
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By Dianne E. Butts –

In December, we talked about the prophecies given and then fulfilled in the birth of Jesus. Today, many people are wondering about other prophecies and whether or not we are seeing them fulfilled right before our very eyes today. Could the things we see going on in our world today be fulfillment of “End Times” prophecies? This year, let’s take a look at some of the “end time” or “last days” prophecies given in the Bible and explore how they might be coming true right now.

From my experience, it’s hard to tell which is the majority: those who believe we are living in the last days or those who believe we are not. Often when the topic of end-times prophecy comes up, someone says they believe the Lord is coming back, but it might not be for hundreds or a thousand more years.

I don’t think so. I think it’s going to be soon. Very soon. In fact, I think it’s going to be soon enough that the generation alive right now will see it. Since you’re reading this—that means you!

Why do I believe it will be that soon? Mostly because of one Sign.

Let me ask you—if you had to choose one prophecy you think is the most revealing that we are nearing the End Times, what would it be? Jesus said many things would happen in Matthew 24 and elsewhere. One thing Jesus said was that this world would be worse than ever before: “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again” (Matthew 24:21). So are we there yet?

To tell the signs of the times, or where we are on God’s prophetic clock, we need a Sign that is specific.

So my choice for the most revealing Sign is that Israel is back in the Promised Land.

How long has it been since Israel was in the Promised Land and governing itself? This note is in the NIV Study Bible (1984), page 1319 (on the map): “Continued political rivalries in Judea brought the intervention of the Roman general Pompey in 63 B.C. This event signaled the end of Jewish political independence, except for periods of brief autonomy during the ill-fated revolts of the first and second Christian centuries.”

Israel has not been its own nation in the land God gave the Israelites since 63 B.C.! Until—do you know when? The answer has occurred within the lifetimes of many living among us today—the World War II generation.

God showed the prophet Ezekiel the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37. God asked the prophet, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

The prophet wisely answered, “O Sovereign, LORD, you alone know” (Ezekiel 37:3). Then God showed the dead bones being put back together and flesh being put back on them and them coming to life once again: “So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army. Then he said to me: ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel’” (Ezekiel 37:10-11).

So again, do you know when Israel once again became a nation? Hint: It was very soon after the end of World War II, after Hitler tried but failed to annihilate God’s chosen people, the Jews.

Israel once again became a nation: May 14, 1948.

Now that’s specific!

This is one Sign that is absolutely unique to our time. No one can argue saying this Sign has not been fulfilled.

What do you think? Are we in, or nearing, the End Times?

Blurring the Ancient Boundaries

June 21, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By DiAne Gates –

Mother often recited, “I don’t build fences to keep you in. I build fences to keep bad stuff out.” But it sure felt like I was being detained.

Until I grew up and had my own children.

God sets boundaries for His kids too. Not to hold us captive, but to keep us safe. He’s the great protector, not the cosmic killjoy.

In the late ‘70’s, my kids were third and sixth graders in a public school that became the battleground to guerrilla warfare waged against children in the classroom.

Comments slipped from their mouths, and at first we responded, “They’re just kids.”

One afternoon our third grader retorted, “My teacher says I don’t have to mind you. You’re old. I can do what I feel like doing.”

What teacher in their right mind would tell that to a child? We instructed our daughter, “Your teacher wouldn’t say that. You need to be quiet and listen.”

But other parents voiced the same concerns when their kiddos came home with the same rhetoric. The teacher really taught these lies and the kids acted on her instruction.

We discovered the guidance counselor held classes with every kid, in all grades, each week. The School Board and school allowed this counselor to use a book not approved by the State Text Book Committee. A book not even on the list of books from which they could choose.

We tracked the publication to another school, borrowed it, and called a meeting for the parents of our elementary school. A reporter from a local newspaper, met with us and we previewed the book, DoSo The Dolphin, taught at the elementary school. The middle school taught Total Affective Behavior.

DoSo the Dolphin taught you could do anything you wanted if you had a good reason for doing it. One example in the book was this. “Little Johnny told a lie. But Little Johnny had a very good reason for telling this lie. What would you do if you were Little Johnny?” This lesson encouraged children not to go to their parents for answers, but to come to their “Magic Circle,” group, where they would find understanding. This book was used in grades 1 through 5.

Middle school kids were exposed to survival games—taught to make life and death decisions based on a person’s worth to society. This teaching became known as Situation Ethics. The situation you’re in determines the ethics you use.

The question remains: Is God’s Word truth? Is there absolute truth? Satan asked Eve in the garden, “Did God really say that?” And the blurring continues since that day in the garden.

Fast forward to 2012. We are dealing with high school shootings, drugs, gangs in schools, teen pregnancies, abortions, alarming STD rates, and an overcrowded prison system. We have raised a generation of adults who were taught in schools, “If it feels good, do it.” How can we expect them to have a moral or spiritual compass?

This brainwashed generation is raising children of their own with few, if any, boundaries. Where do we go from here? Are parents and grandparents failing our children and grandchildren in this society? Are we teaching them the Word of God?

God constructed the fence of His Statutes and Ordinances for His children, but His rebellious kids catapult over those walls of protection and find themselves in places they thought would bring freedom and joy, but instead bring destruction.

Were you a student in the classroom during this deceptive teaching or do you know people who were? How did it affect you? Please join the conversation.

Arise, cry aloud in the night at the beginning of the night watches; Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord; Lift up your hands to Him for the life of your little ones. . .” (Lamentations 2:19 NAS).

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