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June 28-July 4, 2018
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE







2 Corinthians 3:17
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”






IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

 

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. 

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world:

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

 He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. 

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

 

 

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Signed by 56 representatives of the 13 Colonies


June 27, 2018
DISCERNING GOD'S WILL 



Romans 12:2
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  


 
God’s will is the goal of every sincere seeker of the Lord. His will is not illusive, but attainable to His children—it is good and acceptable. But discernment is a process of testing and approving—so that a Christian’s faith and character grows—and Christ’s best is clarified. Discerning God’s will is a spiritual exercise in divine due diligence. 

God’s will does not contradict God’s word. For instance, the Lord does not lead couples to live together outside of marriage. Men and women are meant to come together in marriage. It is the commitment of “becoming one” that God blesses. Indeed, the general principles for living are already outlined in the Bible—to know Him is to know His will. 

“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,”  (Ephesians 1:17) 

What about career decisions? How do you know God’s will for work? If you are single you have the freedom and risk tolerance to travel the world. If you are married, it is a joint decision for Jesus. His will resides in righteous motives. Don’t be afraid to leave and don’t feel guilty for staying—just make sure His peace precedes your decision-making. 

Christ’s best for you consists of wise stewardship, the alignment of your passions, gifts and experiences, and your investment in others. You can be certain Jesus wants to use you to draw people unto Himself—and family is your first priority for ministry. So, don’t run ahead and leave them exposed to the enemy. Patience produces right relational results. 

“being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy;”  (Colossians 1:11) 

God does not delight in keeping His children in the dark, so pray often and pray believing. It is in prayer that the Holy Spirit reveals His ways. Clarity may come in the form of a scripture verse, another person’s example or godly counsel. The flesh pressures for a decision, but the Spirit leads. You can trust the Lord to lead you in His providential path. 

His will is not forced, contrived or manipulated. It’s not a complex Rubik’s cube; instead it aligns around your God-given unique purpose on the planet. Why did He create you? What gives Him the most pleasure? Place your life, skills, gifts, experiences and calling in the best environment to glorify God. Peace accompanies the discernment of God’s will. 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”  (Romans 15:13) 

Are you waiting on the peace of God, as you prayerfully determine the will of God?

Wisdom Hunters


Previous thoughts

June 26,2018
SAYING GRACE






Colossians 3:17
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” 





For many years, I’ve enjoyed the writings of British author G. K. Chesterton.  His humor and insight often cause me to chuckle and then pause for more serious contemplation. For example, he wrote, “You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the play and the opera, and grace before the concert and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing; and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”

It’s good for us to thank the Lord before every meal, but it shouldn’t stop there.  The apostle Paul saw every activity, every endeavor as something for which we should thank God and that we should do for His glory. 

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)

Recreation, occupation, and education are all avenues through which we can honor the Lord and express our gratefulness to Him. Paul also encouraged the believers in Colossae: 

“…let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”  (Colossians 3:15)

The best place to “say grace” is anywhere and anytime we want to give thanks to the Lord and honor Him.

Our Daily Bread


June 25, 2018
THE ACTOR

Psalm 23



“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”





There was once a Shakespearean actor who was known everywhere for his one-man shows of readings and recitations from the classics.  He would always end his performance with a dramatic reading of Psalm 23.

Each night, without exception, as the actor began his recitation -- "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want"... the crowd would listen attentively.  Then, at the conclusion of the Psalm, they would rise in thunderous applause in appreciation of the actor's incredible ability to bring the verse to life.

But one night, just before the actor was to offer his customary recital of Psalm 23, a young man from the audience spoke up, "Sir, do you mind if tonight I recite Psalm 23?". The actor was quite taken back by this unusual request, but he allowed the young man to come forward and stand front and center on the stage to recite the Psalm, knowing that the ability of this unskilled youth would be no match for his own talent.

With a soft voice, the young man began to recite the words of the Psalm. When he was finished, there was no applause. There was no standing ovation as on other nights. All that could be heard was the sound of weeping. The audience had been so moved by the young man's recitation that every eye was full of tears.

Amazed by what he had heard, the actor said to the youth, "I don't understand. I have been performing Psalm 23 for years. I have a lifetime of experience and training - but I have never been able to move an audience as you have tonight. Tell me, what is your secret?"

The young man quietly replied, "Well sir, you might know the Psalm... but I know the Shepherd."

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”   (John 10:14-15)

The Daily Encourager
Submitted by Peggy Lasher Bentley


June  24, 2018
MINISTRY OF MEMORY



Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” 



Our experiences of loss and disappointment may leave us feeling angry, guilty, and confused. Whether our choices have closed some doors that will never reopen or, through no fault of our own, tragedy has invaded our lives, the result is often what Oswald Chambers called “the unfathomable sadness of ‘the might have been.’”  We may try to suppress the painful memory, but discover we can’t.

Chambers reminds us that the Lord is still active in our lives. “Never be afraid when God brings back the past,” he said. “Let memory have its way. It is a minister of God with its rebuke and chastisement and sorrow. God will turn the ‘might have been’ into a wonderful [place of growth] for the future.”

In Old Testament days, when God sent the people of Israel into exile in Babylon, He told them to serve Him in that foreign land and grow in faith until He brought them back to their home:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

God urged them not to ignore or be trapped by events of the past but instead to focus on Him and look ahead. The Lord’s forgiveness can transform the memory of our sorrow into confidence in His everlasting love.

David McCasland


June 23, 2018
PEANUTS, PECANS AND...POTATOES? 





Psalm 34:8
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
 




I'm a "foodie". Not only do I enjoy eating, but I pay a lot of attention to how things taste and what the ingredients are. Last night I prepared a hot fudge sundae for myself after dinner. As I was sprinkling on some granulated mixed nuts, I read the label. Serving size 2tbsp; calories 100 etc. When I got to the ingredients list, I was amused to discover that in addition to pecans, peanuts, filberts, Brazil nuts - which incidentally are a type of seed and not a nut - the nut topping contained potato.

Potato?

If I had to decide whether I wanted to use those mixed nuts as a topping for my ice cream based on ingredients alone, I think I would have declined. In my mind the foods potato and ice cream do not mix. In fact, they are so different in flavor that I almost gag just thinking about a hot fudge sundae with potato-nut topping. It sounds ridiculous doesn't it?

There are times when our life is sprinkled with some very unappealing ingredients. God has a way of using the things that are bitter or unsavory and making them into a more appetizing blend. All of us go through periods where life makes sense for the most part. Things go smoothly and we are able to experience a satisfying peace.

When we least expect it, the status quo can change on us. The important thing to remember is that the challenging parts of life are nothing more than a different ingredient being tossed into the mix to add flavor. At first we may not like the way it tastes, especially if it is initially overpowering. Over time, God gives us the appetite we need to be able to taste and see that the things He allows - as part of the flavor of our lives - are good. When we put our hope in Him and trust Him as our constant refuge, even life's stomach-churning recipes can be salvaged.

Lauren Beyenhof
Submitted by Peggy Lasher Bentley


June 22, 2018
GROWING IN WISDOM




Proverbs 13:20
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” 
 


With whom do you walk (figuratively or literally) through life who offers you wisdom? Do you walk with your father or father-in-law, or mother or mother-in-law? When you walk with them are you slow to speak and quick to listen? Indeed, wisdom comes to those who listen more and talk less. Wisdom is a product of the people who pour into you. 

Your wisdom walk may be over the phone with a mentor who lives in another city or a neighbor across the street who, by God’s grace, has already raised God-fearing children. Look around you and learn from those wise ones the Lord has placed in your life. Pray for a “Paul” who can be your spiritual instructor:

“That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.”  (1 Corinthians 4:17) 

No one is ever too old or too wise to need a regular wisdom walk. Perhaps you take the time to walk with your spouse after dinner or a co-worker during the lunch hour. Vacations are ideal to walk with a wise family member. Walk while the brilliant sun arises or a majestic sunset kisses the horizon. A wisdom walk allows your soul to catch up with the hectic pace of your body. Indeed, walk with the wise, and you will grow wise.
 
Talk about topics that are relevant to your season of life. Maybe it is insight into parenting a teenager, financial management, decision making, how to love and respect your spouse, books to read, or devotion to Christ. Ask your wise walkers what mistakes they made and how you can learn from them. Listen to their ideas, process them in prayer, and apply them to your life. Otherwise, unused wisdom becomes fodder for foolishness! 

Above all, have wisdom walks with almighty God. Unlike Adam and Eve, learn to live in the intimacy of the moment with your heavenly Father:

“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”  (Genesis 3:8)

Walk with Jesus, and you will become much the wiser. Keep Christ your closest companion. Who are wise people in your life with whom you can enjoy regular wisdom walks? What does it look like for you to have wisdom walks with your heavenly Father?

Wisdom Hunters


June 21, 2018
TRUE GREATNESS 
 

Matthew 18:1-5 
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,’” 


 
As a father of three, the majority of my life is lived in close proximity with young children. At times this can be exhausting and all consuming, as any parent can attest, yet it has also been one of the most beautiful and transformative experiences of my life. My children have taught me to be quick to forgive, to laugh freely and frequently, and to think the best of others.
 
As we grow, we seem to leave behind the innocence and humility of childhood and are told, implicitly and at times explicitly, to become people of significance and power, even if we must sacrifice our time, relationships, and integrity in the process. It is a life of taking rather than giving, of forcing rather than receiving, and it is so pervasive that it becomes our default posture and normative way of viewing the world and our place within it.
 
Jesus, as he often does, invites us to reassess the true nature of reality. In God’s Kingdom values are turned upside down. The powerful and successful in this world have, in their quest for greatness, lost something of what it means to be truly human.  Children, often dismissed for their weakness and dependency upon others, are instead elevated as an example of what is good, beautiful, and true.
 
Jesus extends an invitation into a life of transformation. It is the consistent call to conform our lives to his example, becoming like him in the process. The virtues of childhood – humility, honesty, simplicity, and selfless love – Jesus himself perfectly embodies. Jesus likewise dignifies and elevates children, and we should do the same. To celebrate and welcome children and their virtues into our own lives is to welcome Jesus himself. As St. Jerome said, “Whoever lives so as to imitate Christ’s humility and innocence, in him Christ is taken up.”
 
Give thanks today for the gift of children. Look to their example of humility and walk with them, becoming like them, and Jesus, in the process!
 
Where have you lost sight of the childlike faith and love that the Lord wants you to know and receive?

Tripp Prince


June 20, 2018
INVITATION




John 10:10
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” 




There is only one invitation it would kill me to refuse, yet I'm tempted to turn it down all the time. I get the invitation every morning when I wake up to actually live a life of complete engagement, a life of whimsy, a life where love does. It doesn't come in an envelope. It's ushered in by a sunrise, the sound of a bird, or the smell of coffee drifting lazily from the kitchen. It's the invitation to actually live, to fully participate in this amazing life for one more day. Nobody turns down an invitation to the White House, but I've seen plenty of people turn down an invitation to fully live.

Turning down this invitation comes in lots of flavors. It looks like numbing yourself or distracting yourself or seeing something really beautiful as normal. It can also look like refusing to forgive or not being grateful or getting wrapped around the axle with fear or envy. I think every day God sends us an invitation to live and sometimes we forget to show up or get head-faked into thinking we haven't really been invited. But you see, we have been invited -- every day, all over again.

Bob Goff


June 19, 2018
CUTTING THE LINES



John 13:17
“If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”



If you yourself do not cut the lines that tie you to the dock, God will have to use a storm to sever them and to send you out to sea. Put everything in your life afloat upon God, going out to sea on the great swelling tide of His purpose, and your eyes will be opened.

If you believe in Jesus, you are not to spend all your time in the calm waters just inside the harbor, full of joy, but always tied to the dock. You have to get out past the harbor into the great depths of God, and begin to know things for yourself—begin to have spiritual discernment.

When you know that you should do something and you do it, immediately you know more. Examine where you have become sluggish, where you began losing interest spiritually, and you will find that it goes back to a point where you did not do something you knew you should do. You did not do it because there seemed to be no immediate call to do it. But now you have no insight or discernment, and at a time of crisis you are spiritually distracted instead of spiritually self-controlled. It is a dangerous thing to refuse to continue learning and knowing more.

The counterfeit of obedience is a state of mind in which you create your own opportunities to sacrifice yourself, and your zeal and enthusiasm are mistaken for discernment. It is easier to sacrifice yourself than to fulfill your spiritual destiny, which is stated in Romans:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)

It is much better to fulfill the purpose of God in your life by discerning His will than it is to perform great acts of self-sacrifice:

“And Samuel said, ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.'”  (1 Samuel 15:22)

Beware of paying attention or going back to what you once were, when God wants you to be something that you have never been:

"If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority." (John 7:17)

Oswald Chambers

June 18, 2018
LED BY THE SPIRIT 
 




Romans 8:14 
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” 





 
At one level, every human being is a child of God, created in his image and filled with the potential of relationship with him. This is why every single person you meet is worthy of respect and dignity. They are our fellow human beings and members of a race that is beloved by God. However, though we are all created by God, not everyone lives up to the potential of a truly flourishing human life.
 
According to Paul, the true children of God are those who are led by the Spirit of God. A child begins to recognize its parent’s voice while still in the womb- a remarkable thought! Yet the voice is muffled and an infant child isn’t able to fully comprehend what the parent is saying to it. However, I believe children are able to know and receive love in true and beautiful ways, even before they know how to reciprocate this love.
 
In a similar way, as children of God we must learn what it means to hear the voice of the Lord and respond with faith and gratitude. In the beginning, we may be a bit like a child in the womb. We receive the love of God even before we know how to respond or comprehend this love. Yet it is real and true and good.
 
Just as a child doesn’t remain an infant forever, so too must we grow in our faith and learn to move from infancy into spiritual maturity. We never outgrow our identity as children of God, yet we are meant to be mature children who learn what it means to be led by the Spirit. To be led by the Spirit is to have the entirety of your life shaped by the Spirit. The things you love, the places you go, the way you spend your time, all of these are meant to be attuned to the Spirit’s leading and lived in alignment with the Lord’s will.
 

To live a Spirit shaped life requires intentional and active listening. We must learn to cultivate a habit of stillness and silence in prayer before the Lord. It is easy to rush out ahead of God, thinking we know where he wants us to go or who he wants us to be. And yet, if we can quiet our hearts and lives, we will find he is faithful to lead us, at times even in surprising and remarkable ways. 

“But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’—”  (1 Corinthians 2:9) 

Are there areas of your life where you need to get back in line and let the Lord take the lead?

Tripp Prince

June 16-17, 2017
SERVE OTHERS WITHOUT EXPECTING TO BE SERVED



Matthew 20:28
“even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 
 


Joy comes when we join Jesus in giving away our life without expecting anything in return.  Young moms do this everyday---they serve those who can't (and sometimes won't) serve them. A  mother wipes bottoms, wipes runny noses, wipes food encrusted faces---not necessarily in that  order, ha!---all out of love and devotion to their little gifts from God. Barbara Bush rocked the cradle of a President of the United States---perhaps she prayed for her son George W. prior to his  days in the White House, when as a young man he battled with alcohol:
 
Dear Lord, bring my boy back to You. I have done everything humanly possible to selflessly  love and serve him. He is Your child, Your creation, so I trust You to do whatever it takes to  awaken him out of his sinful slumber and draw Him by Your Spirit to see himself as you see  him: forgiven, loved and precious in Your sight. Thank you Father, in Jesus’ name, amen.
 
Her prayers were answered, her son was able to complete his God given assignment to become  the leader of the free world. Sometimes our best service is to pray for someone and trust the Lord  to do a work of grace in their hearts. Prayer serves the Lord's greater purposes in His timing for  His glory!
  
Servant leadership is service to others. It is not jockeying for position, nor is it politicking for  power. Instead, it is posturing for the opportunity to serve. This does not bode well for the  insecure soul in need of abundant attention. Servant leaders avoid the limelight and serve in ways  that often go unnoticed. It is the little things that make a servant leader. It may be taking out the trash at home, or making the coffee at work.
 
No task is too menial for the servant leader, but there is something bigger than behavior that distinguishes a servant leader. It is attitude—an attitude of how to make others successful. He or she knows if those around them are successful then there is a good chance they will experience success. They are wise to want what’s best for others.
 
Self-service on the other hand builds a culture of mediocrity. It is all about taking care of my little world, not giving any thought to the needs of other team members. It is every man for himself – survival of the fittest. This self-service contributes to a scarcity mentality. If I serve you then you may look better than me—you may get all the credit.  This fear of not being noticed facilitates competition instead of cooperation.
  
Servant leadership on the other hand is not caught up with getting the credit. The servant leader has put to death the need for self-recognition. The attention and credit can easily flow to others. This is the place where it belongs, as our humility cannot handle the attention. Like a lily-white body in a tanning booth, our humility burns up. Servant leadership resists this temptation to linger in the limelight. Instead, the servant leader may give away opportunities that come his or her way. Seek to serve and let status find you.
 
Jesus served quietly on most occasions and boldly as needed.  No sincere seeker was neglected. His motive was to serve for the glory of God. His ultimate service was laying down his life for the human race. Consequently, followers of Christ can become a better servant leader because Jesus seeks to serve through you. You can’t, but He can.
 

Submit to Him and watch Him use you to serve. Die to getting attention and credit while celebrating the success of others. Quietly volunteer for the next lowly task. Set up others to succeed. Give away your life and you will find it. This is the way of Christ. This is the way to serve and lead. Submit to God, serve people—and others will follow! 

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”  (Matthew 10:39) 

Who can you serve without expecting to be served by them?

Wisdom Hunters

June 14-15, 2018
EMBRACE EXCELLENCE 




Matthew 5:48
“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”   
 


We admire excellence in others. Professional athletes, attorneys, speakers, teachers, coaches, custodians, mothers, fathers, leaders, elected officials, and business men and women who excel motivate others to excel. Their commitment to thousands of hours in focused training and competition makes their flawless performance look easy. It is their obsession with perfection that leads them to excellence.
 

In Christ perfection is our position. Outside of Christ no one is perfect, but inside of Christ everyone is perfect. We are perfect because He is perfect. 

“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”  (Colossians 1:28)

 The challenge lies in our living in a sinful world with sinful people; therefore, perfection is diluted. Nonetheless, Jesus commanded His children to be perfect on the same level as their heavenly Father. So as we seek perfection in this life, we see glimpses of glory, and we do capture excellence in the process. What does excellence look like from the eyes of the eternal? Paul, a protagonist of perfection, describes our dilemma: 

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:12–14) 

People with an eternal perspective promote perfection. Therefore, embrace excellence as a core value in your life and work. Because you represent the Lord Jesus, be an excellent example of a Christian. Be it ministry or business, your vocation is a vicarious look at our Lord. Talk about Jesus from a platform of perfection, and people will stop to listen. Excellence is your entrée into promoting a loving relationship with God. 

“You are the most handsome of the sons of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever.” (Psalm 45:2) 

Do you settle for mediocrity, or do you aspire to excellence? Are others attracted to the quality of your character, competence, and family?

Wisdom Hunters

June 13, 2018
LOVE AVOIDS RUDE WORDS 



1 Corinthians 13:4-5
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;”



 
I remember the hurt and shame of being called a slang name in middle school; the Vietnam war was winding down, but two classmates found entertainment by labeling me with a certain Asian slur. Not even knowing what the three word description meant, I knew their words were not meant as a compliment. I stuffed my feelings of inferiority and anger---and later vented my sense of condemnation through the organized violence on a football field. Sarcasm strips another of dignity and paints the perpetrator as ignorant, insecure and unkind. All unhealthy outcomes!
 

Love rejects rudeness because rudeness is reserved for the insensitive and the insecure. Rudeness is impolite and disrespectful. Indeed, a rude reply stands ready on the lips of an unlovely life. Rude people use coarse words that rub their listeners the wrong way. They pride themselves in being without airs, but they are insensitive in the timing and the tone of their conversations. They hurt feelings at the drop of a hat and seem to alienate people on purpose. Love is the light that leads rudeness out of darkness. 

“and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,”  (Romans 2:19) 

A rude person is a rascal to work alongside because you never know when they are going to offend you or someone else. You lose confidence in rude people because of their volatile nature. You don’t want to be embarrassed around one of their outbursts or social indiscretions, so you shun their presence. Rude people become loners by default. Over time, no one can tolerate a barrage of irreverence and sarcasm. Even the most accepting and forgiving saints grow weary of rudeness. Rudeness has no place in a caring culture.
 

Love expunges rudeness like a healthy body does a virus. It uses tough love to escort rudeness out the door of relationship. Because you love them and those they influence, you need to be very direct and matter-of-fact in your communication with a rude person. Direct conversation is the only way they begin to “get it.” Love takes the time to be very candid and clear with rude people who run roughshod over others. However, be careful not to be rude in dealing with the rude. Do not lower your standards to theirs. Be prayed up and filled up with the Spirit before you encounter the rude with truth. 

“I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—”  (Romans 9:1) 

Without patronizing, love is able to find at least one thing they admire in someone else. Even if a person is full of himself, there lies dormant within him or her, some redeeming quality. Love is able to pull out the potential for good that lies deep within a selfish soul; the way Barnabas saw possibilities in Saul:

“But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 9:27)

Love looks beyond the hard, crusty exterior of someone’s character and understands that fear may have locked his or her love into solitary confinement. They feel lost, lonely, and afraid. Nonetheless, love is able to get past this rude roadblock and inject faith. Faith in God, faith in oneself, and faith in others frees one from rudeness.
 
The Almighty’s rude awakening transforms an impolite heart into one full of kindness and grace. When love has its way, rudeness runs away. Love the rude, and watch what God can do. Their sarcasm is a smoke screen that hides a lonely, loveless, and hurt heart. Rude people are reaching out but they don’t know how.
 

Stay committed to your rude roommate, relative, parent, child, or colleague. Love them to Jesus, and your unconditional love will melt away their iceberg-like insecurities. Pray they will see themselves as Christ sees them, and pray they will love and be loved. Love loves the rude and is not rude. Be persistent by staying engaged in unconditional love. Watch the rude walls come down as you bombard them with consistent acts of love. 

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  (Ephesians 4:32) 

To whom have you spoken rudely and need to apologize and ask for forgiveness?

Wisdom Hunters

Previous thoughts

June 12, 2018,
THE HESITANT BRIDE



Revelation 19:7
“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;”




I had an uncomfortable experience at a wedding recently. Everything was going along as planned until it came time for the minister to ask that all-important question of the bride, "Do you take John to be your lawfully wedded husband?"

Just then, for some unknown reason, there was an incredibly long and unbelievably awkward silence. No one, at the time, knew for sure if the bride had just zoned out for a moment, or if she was actually contemplating how she wanted to answer. I certainly hope it was the former, but not being a close friend, I never found out.

No groom deserves to have a hesitant bride on his wedding day.

This incident made me think of how the Church is the Bride of Christ, and how we can be reluctant in committing ourselves to Him. Just as it would crush a groom for his bride to have second thoughts about her commitment, it must be so disappointing to Jesus when we hesitate in our commitments to Him.

The good news, however, is that He doesn't turn and walk away. He waits patiently - however long and awkward our pause might be - always remaining at the altar, always waiting for us to say, "I do." 
 
Thomas Bevers
Submitted by Peggy Lasher Bentley

June 11, 2018
RECIPROCAL LOVE



John 13:14-15
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”    
 



My mother-in-law is a stroke victim. But for 55 years Jean out-served James, my father-in-law. Many, many times he has expressed to me and our children how his sweetie selflessly served him with a tone and tenor that brought great joy to her and a grateful heart to him. Bills---she paid on time. School activities for Timmy and Rita, their son and daughter, ever present as an engaged parent. A clean, and more importantly, caring home---Jean lavished with her loving smile and stunningly attractive servant spirit. Meals, always appetizing and plentiful for a college student like me to enjoy in a relaxing, supportive environment. But then the stroke struck.
 
Strokes, as you probably know, restrict life giving blood. In Jean's case her brain suffered a temporary cessation of blood flow. It only took a short term shortage of blood to the brain to cause long term limitations to her speech and physical mobility. Speech therapy helped some, but after five years she is able to reason with her mind, but unable to clearly verbalize her thoughts. Now Jean requires James to serve her in the selfless ways she served him.
 
Beautifully, my father-in-law loves his bride with a heart of gratitude and with hands of selfless service. "She has served me all these years, I am honored to serve her. My purpose in life is to be there for her when she is afraid, frustrated and unable to take care of herself.” James out serves Jean, because he cherishes her and wants to honor her. He serves with great joy and gratitude!
  
Out-serve your spouse. This is not natural to our selfish self, but out-serve your spouse, and you will start to see positive differences in both of you. Service makes them feel cared for and makes you feel fulfilled; Service makes them feel loved and makes you feel rewarded; Service makes them feel respected and makes you feel significant. Of course, unappreciated service can wear you down over time, but trust God. Allow Him to supply the strength for your service. If the Lord is not empowering your service, you will eventually burn out and possibly become resentful. Bitter service does not last, but joyful service does.
 

Serve your spouse out of gratitude to God for giving them to you. Serve them in the routines of life and when they least expect it. Serve them where they want to be served, not just where you want to serve them. It may be unloading the dishwasher, taking out the garbage, mowing the lawn, maintaining the house, or taking care of the cars. Their service may include an organized family, dinner at home, being on time, keeping a calendar, or planning a trip. If you are unsure, ask them how they like to be served.

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:” (1 Peter 4:10) 

Carry this attitude of out-serving into your occupation. Be one who serves in the work place, especially if you are a leader or manager. Quietly and clandestinely clean up the break room, even wipe out the gooey microwave with its burst of flavors matted on the inside. Service from a sincere heart values and respects others. Our Savior modeled service. He did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His very own life as the ultimate act of service. When we enlist in the service of God’s Kingdom, we become His full-time servants. Service for our Savior is a thread that runs through the life of everyone who is led by the Lord. If Jesus is your model for leadership and living life, you serve.
 
What need does your spouse have that only you can fulfill?

Wisdom Hunters

Previous thoughts

June 9-10, 2018
NECESSARY TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN 



1 Corinthians 15:17
“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”  
 


How do we become a Christian? Belief in the death of Christ and the resurrection of Christ for our sins. The cross of Jesus justified our forgiveness and the resurrection of Jesus validated our forgiveness. The God ordained miracle of bringing Jesus back to life after three days in the grave is the foundation of our faith. The risen Lord is evidence of His life fully alive in His followers. A person who claims to be a Christian but denies Christ rose from the grave is still lost in his sins. He only deceives himself. Faith in Jesus is based on His miraculous resurrection.
 

Paul gives a compelling argument to the necessity of believing in the resurrection as foundational for our faith. Preaching without the forgiveness of the cross and the power of the resurrection is a farce, fake and hellish in its outcome. Faith without the resurrection is faithless led astray by the most recent spiritual fad. If Christ is not risen from the dead we are false witnesses to what really happened and face no resurrection, no hope after we die. When we embrace the historical fact of Christ's resurrection we are forgiven, alive and envied by evil doers. 

“…It will be counted to us [by God] who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”  (Romans 4:24-25) 

Have you settled in your heart and mind the reality of the Lord Jesus' resurrection? If not ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to your soul the sweet love of Christ who is alive and ever interceding to His Father in heaven on your behalf. Don't be dismayed by modern atheists who attack your faith by belittling your beliefs. There will always be those who seek to justify their conduct and convince their conscience that Christ was not who He claimed to be. The lost love company. Pray for those who dismiss Christianity to be drawn to Jesus. You know better, you know Him.
 

Prayer time with the risen Lord is an eternal investment. He reminds you what's most important in this life and in the life to come. The more you are vulnerable with Jesus the more you will get to know Jesus and the more your trust in Him will grow. The more your trust in Him grows, the more faithfully and passionately you will follow Christ. The resurrection of Jesus is your solid rock of faith: unmovable, alive, miraculous, comforting and necessary to be a Christian.   

“and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”  (2 Corinthians 5:15) 

What area of your life can you better live out the resurrected Christ through your life?

June 8, 2018
LORD, KILL THE SPIDER



Hebrews 12:1-2
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” 



Last Sunday our pastor told an interesting story and, had it not been serious, it would have been funny. He told about a fellow in a support group who for months on end kept praying about a personal problem but never did anything about it. Week after week he would pray with seemingly great conviction, "Oh God, clean the cobwebs out of my life... clean the cobwebs out of my life!"

Finally, in utter frustration the leader of the group broke into the man's prayer and prayed rather boisterously, "Oh God, KILL THE SPIDER!" 

I can identify with this leader in that I, too, know of people who have been confessing the same sin and/or problem for years, asking God for deliverance but never doing anything about it.

If we are struggling with a besetting sin or bad habit, what can we do about it? Certainly pray and ask God for deliverance - but also pray that he will show us the root cause of our problem because, more often than not, our repetitive failures are the fruit of a deeper root. God not only wants to deliver us from habitual sins but also free us from the deeper root cause.

Dick Innes
Submitted by Peggy Lasher Bentley

Previous thoughts

June 7, 2018
WHEN YOUR FAITH IS SMALL 



Isaiah 42:3
“a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.”  
 



I don’t know about you, but there are days or even seasons when I have wrestled with trusting God. I have struggled with laying my concerns and cares at His feet, giving Him control of my life—and I have even struggled with unbelief.Perhaps you’ve felt the same. And, when you have wrestled with unbelief, perhaps you have wrestled with the thought that if you don’t have full, abundant, and perfect faith that God won’t do this or that and you won’t receive from Him.
 
If you have struggled in this way, you are not alone. All it takes is hearing one sermon that God doesn’t reward us when we doubt, or a “name-it-and-claim-it” message to begin to feel that whatever happens in your life is all up to you and the result of your faith—or lack of it.
 

Around Easter, I read a verse in Luke that made me sigh in relief about this and it reminded me that God is God and that He does miracles and performs more than our expectations even when our faith is miserably small. 

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they [Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome] went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.” (Luke 24:1) 

Did you catch that? The women went to Jesus’ tomb fully expecting to find His body. But He wasn’t there. Their expectation, their doubt, or their lack of faith didn’t stop Him from performing the miracle of His resurrection.
 

For someone who wrestles with thinking they have to believe enough for God to move, and trust Him fully and never struggle with doubt, this is a liberating message. Isn’t it awesome to know that God is God even when we fall so terribly short, and that His plans will still stand even when our faith is small?

“He said to them, 'Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.'” (Matthew 17:20) 

So, what can you do if you are wrestling with trusting God or struggling to believe Him? Just tell Him. He already knows your heart. And when you confess your unbelief to Him, He will strengthen you. He is always ready to extend grace to the humble.

What situation do you need to give to God, trust Him and not stress over?

Shana Schutte

June 6, 2018
SEARCHING FOR THE LIGHT




John 12:32
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 





Have you ever seen lights piercing the sky and wondered what they were illuminating? Searchlights are used by the military and commercial industry. The 1933 World’s Fair used them to draw crowds. In past wars, the military used them to communicate, to detect enemy aircraft, as a beacon for damaged planes, and to illuminate battlefields at night. The light hovering between the sky and Earth drew people to it and brought help and rescue.

In the section leading up to today’s scripture, Jesus predicts His death and proclaims He has come to drive out the prince of the world and reclaim it for its rightful ruler. As a banner is flown in victorious battle, Christ proclaims Himself a rallying point when He is crucified. When the “Light” hung between Heaven and Earth, He defeated the enemy and now draws all nations to Himself.

Are you under attack? The Light detects the enemy. Are you injured or lost? The Light shows the way home. Do you need to communicate with God? The Light signals to Him. Search for the Light and pray to be drawn to Him.

June 5, 2018
PRACTICING THE GOLDEN RULE






Matthew 7:12
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
 




Last night, while watching the Woman's Softball Tournament, I was reminded of one of the most touching moments in women's sports history.  It took place at a women's softball game on April 26, 2008.  Central Washington and Western Oregon faced off against each other, with the winner to receive a bid to the NCAA's Division II playoffs.

Sara Tucholsky, a Western Oregon player, came to the plate in the second inning with the score tied 0-0 and two runners on base .  Sara had never hit a home run in her lifetime.  However, things were about to change.  She connected on a pitch and hit the ball over the center field fence.  Due to her excitement, she missed first base.  So she stopped and turned to go back to the base.  But when she made the sudden stop and turn, she collapsed to the ground, having torn her ACL.

Her first base coach wanted to run out and help her, but if she touched Sara, she would have been counted out.  As Sara lay on the ground, umpires conferred and determined that the best thing to do was to allow Western Oregon to substitute a pinch runner at first base (which would have canceled the home run).

The coach prepared to make the substitution when she heard a voice:  "Excuse me, would it be OK if we carried her around and she touched each bag?'"  You see, in softball, a teammate can't touch a player while running the bases, but there's no rule that says the opponents can't touch her.  So Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace, two players on the opposing team offered to carry Sara around the bases so that her home run would not be counted as a single.  These two players gently picked up Sara, and carried her around the bases, allowing her to tap each base along the way.  After reaching home plate, these two girls handed Sara off to her own teammates.

When asked later why she did it, Mallory Holtman said, "Honestly, it's one of those things that I hope anyone would do it for me..."  In other words, she was practicing the "Golden Rule":

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

There's not much I can add to a touching story like that.  May it serve as an inspiration to find ways in your own life to look for people who could use a hand.  When we are less concerned about "winning" than we are about helping others, we can truly begin to reflect Jesus Christ in our lives.

The Daily Encourager
Submitted by Peggy Lasher Bentley

June 4, 2018
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY? 




Mark 12:30
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  


 
People who are emotionally healthy understand their flaws, and accept their imperfections as their need for God's grace and forgiveness. Because they embrace this powerful truth, they are able to extend the same grace and forgiveness they have received from God to other people.
 
Emotionally healthy individuals take captive their thoughts, understand their feelings and control their behavior. When facing life's challenges they become better not bitter. They learn to process pain, so it does not fester into ongoing relational conflict. The emotionally healthy love God, are loved by God, so they are able to love for God. They are peaceful people.
 

Jesus starts at the heart of the matter—our heart. What captures our passions and yearnings? Our heart is the seat of our feelings and affections. We are drawn to what we desire—what we value. Yes, the heart follows what it treasures above all else. In the same way an engaged couple each aggressively seeks to engage the heart of their lover, so as the bride of Christ we passionately pursue His heart. As our heart loves Jesus—He simultaneously settles and stirs our emotions. 

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”(Luke 6:45) 

If we serve in our own strength we can quickly lapse into a loveless routine void of the Spirit's inner strength and power. Our emotions become frazzled and unruly, without the riches of God's grace which abundantly fuel our faith and love. So wise are we to grow our capacity to serve by being emotionally healthy. A healthy heart is able to encourage other healthy hearts.
 

Love is the most powerful weapon in our arsenal of faith. Like the tip of an arrow love points us to God. Love commandeers all other graces to engage the Lord’s affection and His eternal concerns. When Jesus defined love as the greatest command, He gave us a glimpse into what He wants for the world and His children. A life motivated by love is only limited by its capacity to love the Lord and be loved by the Lord. Love is a muscle we exercise, so it grows in stamina and strength. Jesus starts with the heart in His sequence of how we can love God. 

“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” (Psalm 62:8) 

How can you grow your heart of love for God and people?

Wisdom Hunters

June 3, 2018
TWO-WAY STREET



Acts 28:28
“Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” 




Have you ever tried to convey important information to a distracted listener, someone who is not completely engaged? It’s a challenge: kind of like trying to get to your destination using only one-way roads. Poor listening is a major roadblock to achieving good relationships. Whether it’s with your spouse, children, boss, realtor or hair dresser, one-way communication leads directly to misunderstanding.

Can you imagine God having the same frustration at times, seeking to speak but finding only preoccupied people with plugged up ears? In the Bible, Jesus identifies His disciples as the ones that actually hear His voice. Because they listen to Him, He interacts with them and gives them purpose and the power to accomplish meaningful things.

Tell those in your piece of the world about Jesus this week – but before you get up and go, sit down and listen. Start by spending a generous amount of time reading the Bible. It is God’s personal instruction book and road map for you. Invite the Holy Spirit to guide the thoughts in your heart and mind. As you sense His presence, be still, be quiet and really listen. His voice in your ear is a two-way street to the right destination.

“So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said: ’Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen.’” (Acts 13:16)


June 2, 2018
LOVE AND THE REFINER’S FIRE





Malachi 3:3
“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver…”   




 

Some time ago, a few ladies met to study the scriptures.  While reading the third chapter of Malachi, they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse: 

“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver…” (Malachi 3:3) 

One lady decided to visit a silversmith, and report to the others on what he said about the subject.  She went accordingly, and without telling him the reason for her visit, begged the silversmith to tell her about the process of refining silver. After he had fully described it to her, she asked, "Sir, do you sit while the work of refining is going on?"
 
"Oh, yes ma'am," replied the silversmith, "I must sit and watch the furnace constantly, for, if the time necessary for refining is exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured."
 
The lady at once saw the beauty and comfort of the expression, "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."  God sees it necessary to put His children into the furnace; but His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for us.
 
Our trials do not come at random, and He will not let us be tested beyond what we can endure.
 
Before she left, the lady asked one final question, "How do you know when the process is complete?" "That's quite simple", replied the silversmith.  "When I can see my own image in the silver, the refining process is finished."
 
Author unknown

June 1, 2018
OPPORTUNITY LOST





Acts 26:28
“And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”





Years ago, Walter took his friend Arthur to see some land in open country where cattle were idly grazing. Walter explained about his dream for developing this area. He told his friend that in time the area would be surrounded by many restaurants, hotels and convention centers. He told Arthur that his plan would take all of his money and he needed others to develop the surrounding area. He wanted his friend to have the first opportunity to buy into this project.

But Arthur thought to himself, "Who in the world is going to drive twenty-five miles for this crazy project?" He said to Walter that he would think about it and decide later on. "Later on will be too late," Walter cautioned Arthur. "You'd better move on it right now."

And so Art Linkletter turned down the opportunity to buy up all the land that surrounded what was to become Disneyland. His friend Walt Disney tried to talk him into it. But Art thought he was crazy.

Life's like that. King Agrippa had the opportunity to accept Christ and become a Christian. He turned it down. Judas had one of the greatest opportunities in all history to become a follower of Jesus. Instead, he betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Unbelievable! The two thieves who were crucified with Jesus also had the opportunity to receive the gift of eternal life. One accepted. The other didn't.

Life offers all of us many opportunities. We all have the opportunity to become followers of Jesus.  That choice is ours.... Today!  We do not know what tomorrow holds.