When Words are Not Enough!

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By Pastor Jeff,

Deuteronomy 31:6,“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” This promise is repeated in Hebrew 13:5-6, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

As our family is dealing with the loss of two loved ones in a period of less than 15 months we have heard the statement repeated several times by people, “I don’t have words” or “I can’t even know what your are dealing with”. This is true as the old Indian saying goes, “walk a mile in his moccasins.” which is plain to understand that you can never feel or understand what another person is going through unless you have experienced the same thing. Even then can be difficult to comprehend as we all react to things somewhat differently based on our faith, relationship, and age.

This saying, “When you can’t look at the bright side, I will sit with you in the dark” comes from the movie in Alice in Wonderland, I had purchased a T-shirt with the phrase and had wore it to a interview from a local newspaper not thinking that a couple months later it would express my thoughts of today. It has been difficult and may never happen for at least me to go back and continue my life as it was before. It’s hard to be in a  group and discuss the things that once mattered to me. I even told people close to me that I need to be just left alone, that I had no interest in talking about it, but I know through it all that Jesus was there not telling me it will be alright but sitting with me holding my hand, handing me tissue to wipe the tears from my eyes (figuratively).

Listen, Jesus no matter how you feel, what you are experiencing, what you are thinking, in the greatest hours of despair, Jesus is there! Don’t always expect Him to speak words in your ears, to shake you, to even hug you, but know He is there, trust that!

It’s been very difficult in seeing any good of the tragic loss of my son and daughter and when I shared my daughters legacy in our church the scripture that God gave me is found in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” To be honest I don’t feel good about what happened, I do Love God with everything in me and I do believe I am called for His purpose. But the good I can’t fathom, it hurts way to much at this point in time to think that, but I do believe it. Maybe all that will come of it is that I will get to share my story how no matter what has come my way, I can stand, even if my knees may be weak and wobbly, I will still stand, and if you ever find yourself not able to look at the bright-side I will sit with you even in the dark!

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A Time to Weep!

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By Pastor Jeff,

It’s been a while since I have done a blog mainly because I was in a very sorrowful state for the past two months as we were preparing the passing of my wonderful daughter. It is still very hard to believe that she is not with us in this present world but I know without a doubt I will see her soon.

John 11:35, “Jesus wept” the shortest verse in the King James Bible and probably one of the more popular scriptures used in sermons today. I find it amazing how men try to make it out to be something more than it says. We all are aware of the circumstance of this event in which Jesus’ good friend Lazarus has passed away. Jesus when he arrives He is met by Lazarus sisters Martha and Mary who are obviously grieving over the loss of their brother and why Jesus did not come immediately and heal him before he died.

John 11:33-34, “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.” Many have tried to read something into this as Jesus was weeping because of their unbelief or lack of faith that He could not of only healed Lazarus but could of raised him from the dead. Once again I don’t think anything should be added to this scripture to further dramatize the emotion Jesus shared with those there.

Jesus wept, something every person on this earth has done one time or another, we cannot place Jesus on some pedestal that excludes that He was both God and man. Jesus felt emotion, Jesus is not above feeling our hurts, Jesus is not a God that is not acquainted with our grief. The Bible tells us differently, Isaiah 53:3-4, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”

The last few months have been extremely tough on my family and me. I can count on one hand the days I have not grieved and shed tears over the loss of my daughter. It has been said the average person generates 1.4 ml. of tears a day, I have surpassed that by 20-100 fold. I lay in bed many a night crying before I fall off to sleep, I have had dreams in which I have been weeping and wake up weeping. I weep for my granddaughters who will grow up without there mother, I weep for her husband who will go on with life without his helpmate, and I do weep for myself over the thoughts of going on with events, celebrations, holidays without her, and I miss her so.

Jesus wept, and that gives me hope of a God who knows and shares my grief. I know one day joy will return in my life but today like Jesus did, I weep!

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The Great Commission

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By Pastor Jeff,

When you are told that you have to do something, what is your usual reaction?

If you’re like me, it’s usual a little like, what? You can’t tell me what to do! Have you ever dealt with a toddler in trying to prevent them doing something? Even if you are protecting them from harm, they will give you a stern look and do what you demanded them not too!

Matthew 28:19,“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:”I’ve heard from some that this is a commandment that every Christian should make themselves do. Well with our nature of rebellion I think many of us refuse to follow and snub the thought as well. I mean, we would love to see others coming to the Lord but if you saying I have to give of my own precious time, I’m not doing it!

I want to change this to something we have to do to something we get to do. After all, if you had an encounter with Jesus Christ how could you be quiet. Let’s look at Mark 1:40-45, “And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.” And Matthew 9:27-30,“And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country.”

In both instances after receiving their miracle they were told to not spread the news, but really? How can you not share what God has done for you, if you received a miracle, wouldn’t you tell everyone that you met, I surely would! Jesus Christ has done so much in my life in just dying for my sins that I also can’t be quiet, not because I have to share Jesus with others, it is that I get too. It’s all about Him for without Jesus sacrifice I would still be destined for a horrible eternal life without Him.

So, what is the best way to share the gospel? with humility and maybe even a tear in your eye. Matthew West in his song, “Nobody” says this, “Cause I’m just a nobody, trying to tell everybody, all about Somebody, Who saved my soul” Pride will get in the way of your testimony so don’t let it!

This Christmas season is a great time to share the love of Jesus to our world for like that first Christmas when the angels appeared to the shepherds in the fields, Luke 2:15-17, “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.”

It’s not about having to tell others of Jesus Christ but it’s the privilege of telling others!

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Heartburn!

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By Pastor Jeff,

One day as two followers of Jesus were traveling to Emmaus Jesus joined up with them, Luke 24:17-24, “And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.”

It may seem humorous that the very person that these two were talking about is right with them Luke 24:27-32, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” 

Heartburn is not something that we find pleasant and we usually have to learn to change our diet or take antacids to avoid it. This heartburn is different however and many of us have heard a message or read a passage that affected our hearts. We may not of been able to put a finger on what was being spoken but it caused us to wonder at its meaning. When many of us heard the gospel message for the first time we could of had our hearts pricked but not understanding it’s source we rejected it.

There is a rule in marketing that says that the hearer of the product you are desiring to purchase or take action on need to receive that message seven times, it is called “The Rule of 7”. When it comes to the salvation message of Jesus Christ we too many times needed to hear or see that message several times and by different people or ways. Each time we may feel that pull at our hearts, but are not sure how to answer it because of past religious teaching, don’t want to pay the cost yet, or pride!

Thank God that one day like these two gentleman our eyes were opened, we understood the message, and accepted it. I want you to notice that the story didn’t end there, Luke 24:33-35 “And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.” Once our eyes are opened to truth we then have a responsibility to share it, Matthew 28:19-20, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen”

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Christian’s and Suicide

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By Pastor Jeff,

Will a Christian that commits suicide go to heaven? That is a question that is in much dispute and I must say that I will not come to a definitive answer in this blog, but I will share some thoughts and let you come to your own conclusion. The reason I can’t make that definitive answer is that I’m not God and I do not claim to have answers to every question that man seeks answers to. However like the Apostles Paul did occasionally I will deliver my opinion on the matter.

In our bible we can recall six suicides mentioned,  Abimelech (Judges 9:54), Saul (1 Samuel 31:4), Saul’s armor-bearer (1 Samuel 31:4–6), Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23), Zimri (1 Kings 16:18), and Judas (Matthew 27:5). If we want to add Samson to this equation we find seven! Everyone is tragic in its own right and everyone, even Judas was done under extreme moments of depression, fear, and despair.

I have the last few years and more heavily this past year have studied Mental Health and especially how it is handled by the Church. I found that my past thoughts on the subject were severely lacking and judgmental. I can easily blame those that have in the past blamed any mental health issue on a lack of faith, seeking attention, or worse declaring those affected as being demon possessed. But this belief is just a cop out that I had to come to terms with as a christian first, a brother in the Lord, and then a pastor.

I have found out that his area is very complicated not only in the world but also in the church, I need to admit that I don’t have all the answers, nor do I know all of the questions but I’m searching with an honest heart. In looking at the word of God with this new perspective I have found that though our God is awesome, He chooses many times people that are very flawed to do His work. The prophet Elijah is one that jumps out at me, in 1 Kings 18 we find Elijah part of a great conquest on Mt. Carmel against 450 prophets of Baal. When we look at chapter 19 we find this same prophet fleeing under the death threat from Jezebel, verse 4, “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” Sounds to me that Elijah was severely depressed to the point of wishing to die.

The problem we have as Christians that the bible declares in Exodus 20:13, “Thou shalt not kill.” Could we not say that suicide is in violation of this commandment? After all you are taking death which is appointed by God into your own hands. I in recently years have seen extreme suffering by non Christians and Christians alike not only physically but emotionally. I in no way will defend someone that takes his or hers own life but I will and cannot stand in judgment of them either. Jesus Christ is the one who has the keys, Revelations 1:17-18, “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” It is “He” that will open the books, Revelations 20:11-12, “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

In most cases of suicide, no one is there at the time of the passing of the person, only God knows what the state of mind that person was in nor the conversation they may have had with our Lord at the moment or time prior to them passing. Listen I don’t have the power to put anyone in nor take anyone out of heaven. That’s God business, I preach the gospel, do my best to love everyone, and keep studying the scriptures to have a reason of my hope. I take comfort in these words found in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Let God be God!

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Radically Saved

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By Pastor Jeff

One of the definitions for the word “Radical” is, characterized by independence of or departure from tradition; innovative or unorthodox:“the daring, avant-garde spirit of the music was too radical for the conservative audience”

Tradition is important, 2 Thessalonians 2:14-15, “Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” Mans’ tradition is not, Mark 7:9, “And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” 

Jesus Christ came to not destroy the law but fulfill it according to Matthew 7:17. He did radically change the view that the so called spiritual leaders were teaching and requiring the everyday believer in God to follow. His words were powerful, John 7:45-46, “Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.” His actions showed His ability, John 3:1-2, “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.”

The words of Jesus had authority, He spoke against the religious bondage that mankind had been chained to, He was unorthodox, He healed on the Sabbath, He spoke of things that no man could know, heavenly things, and His words angered the religious.

The same thing is happening today. We have so many people who will declare that they are Christians but have been chained to the traditions of men. In the face of trials or the possibility of suffering for Christs sake they melt into denial that would make Peter’s denial look petty. They wear t-shirts, jewelry, have bumper stickers, and even tattoo’s declaring their love of God. They however have no root and will show no real signs of repentance, holiness, or LOVE in there lives.

1 Corinthians 13:1-7, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

Radically saved Christians have one purpose and it’s not following a bunch of rules laid out by Creeds, bylaws, television evangelist, authors or government. Matthew 22:36-39, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” 

Lets be unorthodox, independent from man’s traditions, daring to swim against the current, Radically Saved!

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Great Faith!

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By Pastor Jeff,

Several times in our bible we find accounts were Jesus was approached or approached someone and declared that they had more than the average faith, they had “Great Faith”. The Roman officer in Matthew 8:5-13, the woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5:25-34, and a Gentile woman in Matthew 15:21-28. Interestingly none of these were of the Jewish faith which makes the statement of Jesus even more profound.

We can look at many others such as Noah, Ruth, Joseph, Phillip, Paul and others and see that they exhibited much faith but these three are pointed out as having “Great Faith”. The bible tells us that we all are given faith, Romans 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” 

As we look at the Gifts of the Spirit we can see one of the action gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”Verse 9 again,To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;”

As I ponder on the “Gift of Faith” and “Great Faith” my first reaction is that I have never functioned in this area. But recently as I reflected on this I now believe that I have received a faith that I would not ordinarily have. Before Jesus Christ I believe a supernatural faith. My youngest daughter was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma at three months of age that crushed me to the core. It was pretty much a death sentence though the doctors would not give us any percentage on her chances. She had surgery to remove a tennis size tumor then several months of chemo. But I want to concentrate on the night of her surgery I had come home that night and as I laid in bed I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ and a supernatural feeling assurance came on me that in spite of what we were seeing and hearing it was going to be okay!

Just recently I had a similar experience as my daughter once again has been diagnosed with a cancer called Sarcoma Synovial which is inoperable and according to the medical field fatal. Of course this crushed my family and I and despite an astounding number people praying was not going to well. I couldn’t help but plead to God for healing and many people told me she would receive that healing. At the onset I had declare “We walk by Faith not by Sight” But I will be honest, doubt was overwhelming me and found myself very sorrowful and sad. I didn’t believe my words as I declared Isaiah 53:5, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”That all changed recently as I can’t pinpoint the exact time or how, I do know it was a Wednesday that that same assurance I had way back when had prayed that prayer at home came over me and by “Great Faith” in spite of what I hear or see will be healed once again to the Glory of Jesus Christ!

This is not a faith that I can say generated in me but it comes from my love of God and His love for me!

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