Saturday, June 30, 2007

Worship Together This Week


Free Sheet Music
Almighty God - Tim Hughes
Undo - Rush Of Fools
Beautiful One - Tim Hughes

New Song Cafe
Undo with Kevin and Wes from Rush Of Fools

Now Playing in the
Almighty God - Tim Hughes
Undo - Rush Of Fools
Beautiful One - Tim Hughes
Fame - Rush Of Fools

Featured Bible Study
Undo by Kevin Huguley from Rush Of Fools

Featured Article
Songwriting - Substance and Simplicity by Tim Hughes

Featured Worship Leader
Tim Hughes


Teaching keyboards for worship with a proven step-by-step method without having to wade through traditional piano lessons.

  • Learn to play well known worship songs and hymns in different keys
  • Use major, minor and slash chords as the basis for contemporary playing
  • Follow contemporary chord charts rather than traditional music scores
  • Play scales, arpeggios and chords and understand how to use them in modern worship songs
  • Understand and use voicings for smooth sounding chord changes
  • Develop right and left hand rhythm skills and introduce variety using broken chords, auxiliary and passing notes
    1. 2 hours of teaching on each of 4 DVDs including interviews and advice from worship leaders Stuart Townend, Brenton Brown, Vicky Beeching, Tim Neufeld (Starfield), Tommy Walker, Noel Richards, Leeland Moring and Andy Piercy (producer for Delirious? and Graham Kendrick). More...

      Either for people who learned to play classical piano as a child but now want to learn to play contemporary worship music with ease. Also ideal for people who already play worship keyboards but want to extend their techniques and move out of their comfort zone. The Intermediate Course will enable students to:

      • Approach the keyboard as a chords based instrument and lose your dependency on the music score
      • Integrate added, suspended and extended chords into your playing
      • Use inversions and alternative voicings for smoother playing
      • Develop left and right hand rhythm skills to fit the “groove” of the song
      • Improvise using melodic fills, auxiliary and passing notes
      • Use string, pads, electric piano and organ sounds
      • Develop techniques for leading worship as a keyboard player
      • Choose the right equipment for you
      • Understand the tools that help you play by ear

      2 hours of teaching on each of 3 DVDs including interviews and advice from worship leaders Stuart Townend, Brenton Brown, Vicky Beeching, Tim Neufeld (Starfield), Tommy Walker, Noel Richards, Leeland Moring and Andy Piercy (producer for Delirious? and Graham Kendrick). More...

      Learn more about difference between the Beginner and Intermediate courses and watch a preview video!

      It's pretty cool to read letters from people you can relate to. This guy we know as Paul from the scriptures is a really neat guy. He is a church planter, a missionary, and a real person with real problems. In his letter to the church in Rome, he openly shares about the struggles in his own life. “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”1 He goes on to admit, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out...More

      We just finished up a great week at the Saddleback Worship Conference and Festival in Southern California! Tim Hughes, Brenton Brown, Matt Maher, Vicky Beeching and Michael Gungor all led worship in the main sessions and we're able to teach and tell the stories behind their songs in the New Song Cafe sessions.

      We'll be hosting these New Song Cafe's at the National Worship Leader Conference in Austin, TX next month as well - we hope to see you there!

    Latest News from Sparrow Records

    Chris Tomlin, Louie Giglio Announce Fall 07 Worship Tour
    Passion Conferences and sixstepsrecords will present a limited-run, 12-city extension of the How Great Is Our God Tour this fall with award-winning worship songwriter Chris Tomlin and noted author/speaker Louie Giglio. Pre-sale front section tickets are now available exclusively via

    The original 32-city tour held in January through March of this year included numerous sellouts and great reviews and fueled a public desire for more events. The fall leg of the How Great Is Our God Tour opens October 6 in Nashville, Tennessee, and is currently scheduled to conclude November 15.

    To find out more click here.

    tobyMac Video to Premiere @Yahoo; dc Talk HITS out Now
    tobyMac’s video for “Boomin’” from his new hit album PORTABLE SOUNDS will premiere July 3 at Yahoo Music. Right now, registered users at (a free service) can also sneak preview behind-the-scenes footage from the recent Los Angeles shoot in Windows Mediaia or Real Player format.

    While PORTABLE SOUNDS, also featuring new favorites “Made to Love,” “I’m For You,” and “Lose My Soul” (with Mandisa and Kirk Franklin) remains a Top 5 hit, tobyMac is storming the charts from another angle as well with the June 26 release of dc Talk’s GREATEST HITS.

    To read more click here.

    That’s all folks!

    Thursday, June 28, 2007

    With God, There is No Such Thing as Can’t

    The other day I was in the car with a friend of mine. We were talking about God and different aspects of our faith. Not thinking I blurted out, “If Primo ever cheated on me, I think I could forgive him but I don’t think I could be with him.” She said, “Well my daddy used to tell me that when you make a blanket statement like that then it’s like you are testing God.”

    Testing God? Well this statement has stayed with me since last Saturday and I felt it important to share with you what I got out of this. We have to take each situation as God gives it to us. We accept it and deal with it while leaning on our Father for help and understanding.

    Matthew 4:7

    Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘Do not test the Lord your God.’”

    She also said, that when we say things like that it gives the devil way too much room to mess with our lives. I have really thought about this and have taken it to heart. Why should I say that I can not do something? It is like saying God cannot do something and we all know that is not true. God can do all things. As His child I have to be careful about the statements I make.

    I don’t want Satan to have any hold over me. I don’t want to give him an opportunity to hurt me. It is like giving the enemy ammunition. Satan wants to hurt us. He loves it when we give Him reasons to sin or to dismiss Gods laws. When we are angry, it is hard to forgive but if we do not forgive others then God will not forgive us. When bad things happen it is easy to question God but when we worry and don’t trust in God but in mere humans then we are falling into sin, because we are showing lack of faith in God. Remember how the Satan tempted Eve…

    Genesis 3:1

    Now the serpent was the shrewdest of all the creatures the Lord God had made. ”Really?” he asked the woman. “Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?”


    Really did God really say you shouldn’t lie? A little white lie won’t hurt.

    Porn – nahhhh, its not sinning if you don’t do anything.

    Forgiveness? Why forgive when they hurt me…It’s just too hard. They don’t deserve it.

    Sex before marriage, that’s not a sin, its not cheating if you aren’t married.

    What lies are you listening to? How does the devil twist your toughts to fit the crime. How does he justify your sin to you? Remember the devil is the Father of lies, he is slick and his number one goal is to hurt you and deceive you.

    Psalm 32:10

    Many sorrows come to the wicked,

    but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.

    Psalm 56:4

    O God, I praise your word.

    I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?

    What can mere mortals do to me?

    I cannot predict how I will behave to future events but I now think, well my Father would never give me anything I could not handle.

    1st Corinthians 10:13

    But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.

    The Bible is my comfort.

    When I read Gods letters to me, I always learn something new. And if you read carefully enough God makes many promises, promises that if you follow, will prove true time and time again.

    James 1:3

    For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.

    James 1:12

    God blesses the people who patiently endure testing. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

    1st Peter 1:6

    So be truly glad!* There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while.

    1st Peter 1:7

    These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

    There is no part of the Bible that says life will always be great. Unfortunately life can be very trying and at times lonely and sad. But we are promised paradise. A paradise in heaven with our Father. With Jesus. I cannot even explain how wonderful it will be but there is no sadness or pain, only happiness. Think of your happiest moment. . .that will be nothing compared to the joy you will feel in heaven.

    Revelation 21

    He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.”

    So when God sends trials and tribulations my way I will see them through with His help. I know that I can handle anything God brings me and in the future I’ll trust my Father. He would never lead me astray and if I obey His word, then there is no such thing, as I can’t.

    Wednesday, June 27, 2007

    Perilous Times

    Perilous Times

    Paul’s words to Timothy, written centuries ago, are as current as the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper.

    2nd Timothy 3:1-7

        1This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

        2For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

        3Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

        4Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

        5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

        6For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

        7Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    Perilous times will come in the last days... the days before Christ returns... the days we are living in.

    What Are “Perilous Times?”

    The word “perilous” in the original Greek text is the word chalepoi which means fierce, perilous, hard to live in, troublesome, dangerous: harsh, fierce, full of troubles and dangers; times that are hard to bear.

    It is not very surprising when we see such characteristics in the people of this world. What is surprising is when we see these characteristics popping up within the church. In Matthew 13:24-30, Jesus tells us that the tares (a plant that looks like wheat) will be allowed to grow along side the wheat until the time of harvest. They may outwardly resemble Christians, but without any spiritual fruit.

    Men Shall Be Selfish (philautoi)

    Do you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself (see Luke 10:27), or do you “look out for number one?”

    God’s very nature is to give (see John 3:16). If we are to walk after the image of our Heavenly Father (see Ephesians 5:1), we need to walk after His example of selfless giving, not “get all you can... can all you get... then, sit on the can.”

    Men Shall Be Covetous (philargooroi)

    They will be lovers of money more than lovers of God or their brethren. They would rather spend extravagantly than bring tithes into the house of God. They would rather be gluttons than donate food to the poor. They would rather watch television than hear the gospel.

    The world says to love things and use people. We need to love people, and use things to bring glory to our Father. The members of the early church shared all that they had. Why don’t we?

    Men Shall Be Boasters (alazones)

    This word was originally used to describe a “quack” doctor who went from town to town, trying to sell medicines that he claimed would cure illnesses. These people claim to have the answers, but they really do not. Their religion is just empty pretending.

    Are you an empty pretender? Do you parade about, trying to pass yourself off as something you are not? Does God get the glory or do you pat yourself on the back?

    Paul had much that he could have bragged about. He was a Pharisees’ Pharisee. He was an eloquent speaker. God handpicked him. Yet, Paul counted his credentials as worthless, in comparison to the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:8).

    Men Shall Be Proud

    The Greek word (huperəphanoi) means “to show oneself above.” These persons not only think too highly of themselves, they despise others. We see an example of this spirit in Luke, chapter 18:

    Luke 18:11

        The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

    Have you ever bristled upon encountering a drunkard, a homeless person, or perhaps a prostitute on a street corner? Remember it is only God’s grace that you are not out there.

    Men Shall Be Blasphemers (blasphəmoi)

    These people speak evil, slanderous, or abusive words against God and/or men. They are quick with criticism and put-downs. Some comedians on television joke about growing up in church while reviling God and all that He stands for.

    Although you may never have taken God’s name in vain, maybe your lifestyle has given God’s enemies an occasion to blaspheme. (see 2nd Samuel 12 and Romans 2:24). Any sin in the camp may affect the entire church (see Joshua 7; Joshua 22:20; and 1st Corinthians 10:6).

    Men Shall Be Disobedient to Parents

    If you have unsaved parents, keeping your room clean and your chores up to date will win them to Christ a lot faster than nagging them about church or slipping gospel tracts into their sandwiches. Do you honor your mother and father? (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16; Matthew 15:4-6 and Ephesians 6:2).

    Men Shall Be Unthankful (acharistoi)

    These ungrateful ones take and take, but never stop to say “thank you.” You should “Count your many blessings... see what God has done.” This brings glory to God and gives you strength in times of trial. David praised God for delivering him from the jaws of the lion and the bear. This, in turn, gave him the confidence and spiritual fortitude to defeat Goliath (1st Samuel 17:36).

    Men Shall Be Unholy (anosioi)

    They offend all that is holy, not satisfied with simply practicing their wickedness but desiring to drag others into their lifestyles.

    Men Shall Be Without Natural Affection

    The Greek word Astorgoi, is the opposite of “to cherish affectionately with family love.” Today, children shoot and kill without a twinge of remorse. Proverbs 12:10 describes these people perfectly... even their “tender mercies” are cruel.

    Men Shall Be Trucebreakers

    A trucebreaker (aspondoi) cannot agree to or refuses to enter a covenant. They are dishonest and not trustworthy. They reject salvation, since this is a covenant relationship between man and God (see Acts 3:25).

    Men Shall Be False Accusers

    If you speak Spanish, you will recognize the Greek word Diaboloi word as meaning, “the Devil.” Satan is a slanderer and a false accuser (see Revelation 12:10). If you accuse your brother or sister in gossip conversation, you are sitting in the devil’s seat.

    Men Shall Be Incontinent (akrateis)

    This does not refer to a weak bladder, but a lack of spiritual or moral self-control. In Galatians 5:23, self-control (”temperance” in the KJV) is a fruit of the Spirit.

    Men Shall Be Fierce (anəmeroi)

    These men are “brutal” or “savage.” Like wild beasts, they pounce upon their prey and mercilessly rip it to shreds.

    Many people will walk past someone in the sanctuary and mercilessly rip him or her to shreds with their tongue. These people are savage... fierce.

    Men Shall Be Despisers Of Those That Are Good (aphilagathoi)

    They are opposed to goodness and those who stand for right. They campaign for animal rights but seek to kill unborn children. They bring homosexuals and lesbians into schools, yet protest the idea of the Bible in school.

    Men Shall Be Traitors (prodotai)

    This is treacherous behavior. Be diligent to lift one another up in prayer. Don’t betray your family in Christ. Stand in the gap for them lest the enemy hinder them.

    Men Shall Be Heady

    Are you rash, reckless, or hasty? Do you wait on the Lord, doing things decently and in order, or do you disregard leadership and do things your way?

    Men Shall Be Highminded

    The Greek word (teutphəmenoi) literally means, “conceited.” Are you proud, or lifted up with pride? Do you become blinded with pride?

    Men Shall Be Lovers of Pleasure More Than Lovers of God

    The Greek phrase reads: “philədonoi mallon ə philotheoi,” referring to those who would rather seek their own pleasure than God’s will and purpose. Does evening service interfere with your game? Does prayer meeting interfere with your television watching?

    That is not to imply that there is no pleasure in serving God. King David said that he was glad when they said unto him, “let us go into the house of the Lord.” Are you glad about serving God, or do you see your “religious duty” as a ball and chain?

    Men Shall Have A Form of Godliness, But Deny the Power Thereof

    You may have an outline or a semblance of piety towards God, but your actions show that you have an estrangement with the power (or, Dunamis... dynamite dynamic Holy Ghost power) of God. You talk a good talk but you don’t walk the right walk. You may sing and shout. Your tearstains may be on the altar. However, are you able to walk holy before the Lord?

    Turn Away From Such Men (and Women)

    Some of the most charismatic people in our society (politicians, entertainers and false religious leaders) fall into one or more of the categories that Paul describes.

    If any of this applies to you, turn away from sin, submit yourself to God and resist the devil, then satan will flee from you (James 4:7). Submit yourself to the cleansing of God’s holy word (John 15:3).

    Protect Your Family

    In verse 6, Paul tells us that such people sneak (insinuate themselves) into the house/family/property/wealth/goods of others like an insect crawling through a crack in the wall. Be vigilant to protect your family from those who would lead them away from the path of righteousness.

    Are You A WIMP?

    These people capture or make captive weak-willed individuals. In verse 6, the KJV reads, “silly women.” However, the context of the Greek suggests that this is not strictly a reference to women, but may also refer to what we would call a “wimp.” If a man is not fulfilling his role as head of his family, he may be a “weak willed little woman” (see Ephesians 5:33 and 1st Timothy 5:8). Of course, this verse also applies to women who fail to maintain God’s standards of virtue (i.e., Proverbs 31:10-31 and Titus 2:3-5).

    Paul says that these “wimps” are loaded with the consciousness of many sins (failure to hit the mark, committing bad actions or evil deeds; possibly through an error of understanding). They are “Prisoners of War” to satan and his army of demons. These people would rather fry their brains on lust-filled soap operas than feed themselves God’s word (see 1st Corinthians 3:2). They would rather gossip on the telephone than talk about the goodness of Jesus (see 1st Peter 4:11).

    These people are setting themselves up to be “led captive” by the people of these perilous days. Do you want to be satan’s prisoner of war... or do you want to be free?

    What Impulses Motivate You?

    At the end of verse 6, Paul describes these people as being led away (literally, moved by forces and impulses affecting the mind) with many types of lusts, desire, craving, longing, and desire for that which is forbidden. Harlequin Romance Novels, “Swimsuit Editions” and R-rated movies create such impulses.

    Is Your Bible Study Fruitful?

    In verse 7, we see these “wimps” constantly increasing their knowledge, yet they are never able to come to the precise and correct knowledge of things that are ethical and divine (the truth of the gospel). They are implacable by virtue of their own ability and resources, their state of mind, and/or their customs.

    The seven most dangerous words for church leaders is, “We’ve never done it that way before.” Don’t reject God’s moving because it clashes with tradition. Don’t resist change because you are not willing to accept the truth. Don’t hear sermons Sunday after Sunday without it getting out of your head and into your heart.

    Many people have their own agenda for attending church. Some go for social or political reasons. Some go to find a husband or wife. Some go to have their good deeds outweigh their sins. The scriptures describe exactly what benefit they get out of their “religiosity” or “churchianity...”

    Hebrews 4:1-3

        1Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

        2For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard [it].

        3For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

    Be steadfast in prayer and Bible study if you wish to survive these perilous times.

    Tuesday, June 26, 2007

    Update on Mike Macintosh

    The original surgery that Mike had on his back was successful. However, ten days after the back surgery, a problem arose and a second emergency surgery was performed. This second surgery was very difficult; however the Lord is healing the body, strengthening the mind, and filling the spirit. The swelling and discomfort should be gone in three months and Mike is hoping to be preaching again within the next few weeks.

    Mike has been encouraged:

    “God has been gracious to speak deeply to my soul through this season. I have started reading once again through the Bible and taking notes. New and fresh discoveries are popping up everywhere I look. I certainly identify with the Psalmist:

    And I said, This is my infirmity:
    But I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.
    I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.
    I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.
    Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?
    Psalms 77:10-13 (KJV)

    The prayers from everyone have been so used to encourage me. God is good and God is love -- there is so much for which to be thankful.”

    Keep Pastor Mike in Prayer!

    What's In Your Mailbox?

    I almost didn’t hear the doorbell.

    I was vacuuming the carpet when I thought I heard that distinctive sound of chimes summoning me to the front door. But then I heard it again so I hurried to see who might be visiting me this mid-morning.

    There on the front porch stood our mailman. We had never met before because our mailbox was at the end of our long driveway. The mailman, anxious to finish his long route, always drove hurriedly down our long street with little time to spare.

    The mailman introduced himself, then started to cry.

    “Can you talk a minute?” he asked, pulling out his handkerchief and wiping his tired eyes.

    I didn’t invite him in because I was alone in the house, but I offered to get him some water.

    He declined.

    I walked out onto the porch and we sat facing each other on the wooden porch chairs.

    “How can I help you?” I asked, concerned because he appeared acutely distraught, almost to the breaking point.

    “I need someone to pray for me,” he replied. “I’ve noticed you receive several Christian magazines and I figured you must be a Christian. My job at the post office is so stressful I'm afraid I can’t go on much longer."

    I asked him if he were a Christian and he answered a simple, “Yes, but I don’t go to church much because I sleep all day Sundays from nervous exhaustion.”

    We talked a little longer and I asked him if he had considered another job. He said he couldn't consider this an option because he and his ailing wife would lose some vital health benefits he had built up over the years.

    I prayed with him, asking God to use this very difficult time to draw the mailman closer to Himself and to give him the strength to do his job if this was where God wanted him to be. I prayed that conditions in the local post office would improve so he wouldn't find the hours he spent there so stressful. I asked God to make it possible for this middle-age man to go to church and enjoy the fellowship and support from other Christians that he desperately needed.

    When I finished praying, I invited him to come back that night when my husband would be home and we could have more time together. He shook my hand, thanked me and returned to his truck. My heart ached for him. After a few minutes, I walked down the long driveway to our mailbox. I was struck by the harsh reality that people are scrutinizing our lives all the time. Even our mailmen know our character and our interests simply by the magazines we subscribe to.

    I prayed then that God would wrap His protective covering around my mailbox, preventing anything from entering it that would dishonor Him or that would compromise my testimony. As never before, this verse took on new meaning for me: "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven.” ( Matthew 5:16 )

    © Mariane Holbrook
    This writing may be used in its entirety, with credits in tact,
    for non-profit ministering purposes.

    Monday, June 25, 2007

    Let There Be Light

    God and God’s word are frequently spoken of as lights or lamps to enlighten and guide the believer.

    “And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all:.” (1st John 1:5)

    A person that does not know, or rather is not known by God, is said to be in darkness. It is the word of God that enlightens and restores the soul of man in God’s light.

    It is written,

    “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

    The use of the word light in this manner is a figure of speech containing an implied comparison. Since light is used in such descriptive and symbolic terms concerning God and His word we may find it beneficial to study the origin and purpose of light.

    Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines light as the form of electromagnetic radiation that acts upon the retina of the eye, optic nerve, and etc., making sight possible. This energy is transmitted in a vacuum at a velocity of 186,000 miles per second. To sum up Webster, light is a form of energy flow that travels in a vacuum at a very high rate of speed. When the energy rays make contact with the eye it activates sight.

    In likeness to light activating the physical sight, the word of God activates the spiritual sight. Darkness is a type of blindness, for one cannot see where there is no light. The same is true concerning spiritual darkness. Man in spiritual darkness cannot see, know and understand the great attributes of God; he is in a state of darkness and death.

    The Psalmist cried out,

    “O send out Thy light and Thy truth, let them lead me; let them bring me to Thy holy hill, and to Thy dwelling places.” (Psalm 43:3)

    The Apostle John writes, “In Him was life, and life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

    It is the Spirit of life in the Word of God that enlightens the souls of those in darkness and gives the light that illuminates the way unto life. The Word of God is the light of God and is in perfect harmony with God; for He is the Son of God.

    Nelson’s Bible Dictionary describes light as illumination; the opposite of darkness. From Webster’s and Nelson’s definitions and the Holy Scriptures we understand light to be radiant power; moving, active energy originating with God and is from God.

    “Then God said, 'Let there be light', and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3)

    When God spoke the command, “Let there be light,” by His word He created and released a dynamic energy flow that He called light. His "light" is the great beauty and blessing to all that exist in the universe. Light, generated by the word of God, is a beautiful flow of energy, power and authority that makes known God’s magnificent presence and manifest His radiant glory. Light, in likeness to its parent, is pure, righteous, eternal, and unchangeable and knows no boundaries. Light is in opposition to and takes authority over darkness; where light is there is no darkness. Light is a teacher, for it removes darkness and reveals that which was hidden in darkness and gives knowledge of that which was previously unknown.

    Light purifies and restores and supports life but light cannot create or impart life; this quality is reserved for The Word from whence it came. Truly light is a reflection of the word and has many qualities of the Spirit who gave it.

    “And God saw that the light was good----” (Genesis 1:4f).

    The light was in harmony with the word of God and is just as God willed and appointed it to be. This harmony is why light is used in such descriptive and symbolic terms throughout the Holy Scriptures.

    God is a Spirit, He did not need light nor darkness. Then the question arises; Why did God create light? Light itself is a manifestation of God’s glory and would also aid in displaying His marvelous works. God, being a spirit, was invisible. But all His great attributes would clearly be seen in all that He created under His pure light.

    “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood by what has been made----” (Romans 1:20f).

    His light would serve as a supporter, a guide and a teacher to all that He created. God, through light, would take a world of darkness and chaos and turn it into a Kingdom of Light. Light, and all of God’s creations would aid in His redemptive work and over power the evil that lurks in darkness. He would fill the earth with His wonderful light and radiant glory.

    Why was light created in the beginning of the first day? Light was God’s grand entrance and announced His presence. God did not give the earth light from the sun, the moon and the stars until the fourth day. For the first three full days the command of His word was the only light given for the world. He wanted it clearly understood that He is the source of light. As great as light, the sun, the moon, the stars and all things created by Him may be, man was to see the great value of The Creator and worship Him, ---not the things created.

    “Then God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth'; and it was so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. And God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. And there was evening and morning, a fourth day.” (Genesis 1:14-19)

    All that God created He gave for a specific purpose according to His perfect order and plan. The sun is not greater than its Creator, and the moon is not greater than the sun that gives the moon its light; and the stars are not greater than the sun and moon. But each has its place in God’s perfect order and each has its own radiant beauty and glory from God. In the same manner in the God Head there is perfect order; it is the Father who is the authority and He loves and honors the Son; The Son, The Word of God, is obedient to and glorifies the Father and He loves and honors the Father; and the Spirit embodies the Father and the Son and it the Father who gives His Spirit through the work of the Son and the Spirit speaks in the name of the Son and works to glorify the Son and the Father.

    Each member of God’s house embraces and upholds the other. Therefore, perfect harmony and unity in love is the order of Gods house. All things, the universe, the earth and all that is in it, including mankind, are designed after the order of His house that all may be in harmony as one and embrace and uphold the other. There is no selfishness in God’s house; that is of darkness.

    James C Sanford

    Sunday, June 24, 2007

    Six-Year-Old Suicide Bomber

    There shouldn’t be doubt in anyone’s mind that Jesus is coming back soon!

    Remember when we tould you about the 12-year-old Jihadist?

    Later, we shared a report about the terrorist Mickey Mouse clone teaching children the glories of suicide bombing missions?

    It would appear that this is more than just rhetoric.

    It was reported on CNN, The Guardian, and at Hot Air that the Taliban is using children as young as the age of six as suicide bombers.

    If that weren’t enough... there is a video on YouTube showing a 14-year-old that had an explosive vest strapped to his chest for the purpose of a suicide bombing attack.

    Fortunately, the teenager cut the vest off and aborted the mission.

    When innocent children are convinced to kill themselves and others, this is a very bad sign. This world is spiraling and we need to pray like we have never prayed before.

    Come quickly Lord!


    Ananias & Sapphira: by Rowland Croucher

    Acts 4:32-5:11

    32Now the company of believers was of one heart and soul, and not one of them claimed that anything which he possessed was [exclusively] his own, but everything they had was in common and for the use of all.

    33And with great strength and ability and power the apostles delivered their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace (loving-kindness and favor and goodwill) rested richly upon them all.

    34Nor was there a destitute or needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses proceeded to sell them, and one by one they brought (gave back) the amount received from the sales

    35And laid it at the feet of the apostles (special messengers). Then distribution was made according as anyone had need.

    36Now Joseph, a Levite and native of Cyprus who was surnamed Barnabas by the apostles, which interpreted means Son of Encouragement,

    37Sold a field which belonged to him and brought the sum of money and laid it at the feet of the apostles.

    1BUT A certain man named Ananias with his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property,

    2And with his wife's knowledge and connivance he kept back and wrongfully appropriated some of the proceeds, bringing only a part and putting it at the feet of the apostles.

    3But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart that you should lie to and attempt to deceive the Holy Spirit, and should [in violation of your promise] withdraw secretly and appropriate to your own use part of the price from the sale of the land?

    4As long as it remained unsold, was it not still your own? And [even] after it was sold, was not [the money] at your disposal and under your control? Why then, is it that you have proposed and purposed in your heart to do this thing? [How could you have the heart to do such a deed?] You have not [simply] lied to men [playing false and showing yourself utterly deceitful] but to God.

    5Upon hearing these words, Ananias fell down and died. And great dread and terror took possession of all who heard of it.

    6And the young men arose and wrapped up [the body] and carried it out and buried it.

    7Now after an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not having learned of what had happened.

    8And Peter said to her, Tell me, did you sell the land for so much? Yes, she said, for so much.

    9Then Peter said to her, How could you two have agreed and conspired together to try to deceive the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out [also].

    10And instantly she fell down at his feet and died; and the young men entering found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.

    11And the whole church and all others who heard of these things were appalled [great awe and strange terror and dread seized them].

    Ananias & Sapphira

    Preachers don’t like this story, apparently. I once spent a morning in a large seminary library hunting for sermons on Ananias and Sapphira and couldn’t find any. The two most read preachers’ magazines - Expository Times and Pulpit Digest - didn’t have a single sermon on this passage. Folks dropping dead in church (it happens occasionally) isn’t nice.

    There are some big questions here. Why did they do it? How did Peter know? Why was the punishment so severe - and so swift? Why did God deem this sin so bad? “Did they go to heaven?” one woman asked after I’d preached on this passage.

    There are no easy answers. And yet with all our questions this story is an acted parable of the Christian gospel; it’s about sin, judgment, and the possibility of grace.


    In most of our English translations the story begins with the little word “but”. Luke, the author of Acts, sets up a study m contrasts. There are Barnabas, a man filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:24), and Ananias, whose heart was filled with Satan (5:3). One was utterly truthful, the other a liar.

    Here are counter pointed faith and unbelief, selflessness and selfishness, goodness and deceitfulness, sacrifice and sacrilege, trust in God and the worship of self (”hubris,” pride), total commitment and base hypocrisy.

    The setting was “paradise regained.” They had all things in common, real community: shared resources, sensitivity to others’ needs, security - not in material things, but in the risen Christ. It’s the closest to Utopia the world has ever seen. Sinners - even murderers of the Lord Christ - were repenting and being forgiven and accepted; the sick were being healed; great grace was upon them all.

    But in the midst of all this beauty and harmony, the serpent enters the garden again. It’s a horrific story. And yet, we feel, Ananias and Sapphira were just ordinary people like us. Don’t we sometimes engage in “impression management” to manipulate others’ opinion of us? Who of us hasn’t sometimes pinched stuff from our employer for personal use? Or falsified our tax return a little bit? Or withheld the truth, or covered up with a “white lie”?

    Their motives were probably pretty ordinary - perhaps even defensible. Perhaps their generous or heroic selves were inspired by the generosity of Barnabas. Their fearful selves wondered what would happen in their old age if they gave away all their assets. Their critical selves asked questions about the “bums” on the receiving end of these handouts. Their distrustful selves may have raised questions about the apostles’ honesty; the church hadn’t appointed auditors yet. But in the end their egocentric selves won; they wanted glory without sacrifice, the kudos Barnabas had received without having to pay the price.

    Yes, they were ordinary people - very ordinary. What sins might we have committed if we were sure we’d never be found out? If you had carried out some of the evils you planned or dreamed about, you’d be in jail for life. The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was not greed, but deception, hypocrisy - and who of us hasn’t done worse?

    There is something more insidious, subtle, and dangerous here however. Ananias was engaged in an act of worship. Barnabas had laid his gift “at the apostles’ feet,” and this same expression is used of Ananias. Their offerings weren’t merely to the apostles, but to God. Their motivations, the “thoughts of their hearts,” were therefore God’s concern. Here is the worst kind of hypocrisy - the sort that got Christ so angry - hypocrisy bordering on sacrilege. It wasn’t just a matter of pretending to be devout but really being a liar and a cheat (though they were that). Sacrilege goes a lot further; it’s robbing God of what is rightfully God’s, “stealing Divine glory,” withholding what we have professed as belonging to the Lord. Ananias and Peter are not just two mortals confronting each other. Here the battle is joined between God and Satan, whose instruments they have become.

    Astonishing. Perhaps this man and his wife were in the group on which the Holy Spirit fell so dramatically at Pentecost and had also been baptized in water as they joined the church. Previous to that Ananias may even have been among the seventy apostles preaching the Kingdom, healing the sick, casting out evil spirits (Luke 10:9, 17). Let us never forget there is no sin that is impossible for any one of us to commit. There but for the grace of God we go too.


    Such was the spiritual power among those people that this sin was immediately detected and judged.

    How do we explain this sudden death? Members of traditional societies - our Australian aborigines, village people in Papua New Guinea have no problem at all with a story like this, with their experience of the power of "pointing the bone” and of witchcraft. In the (ignorant) West we have to explain it - psychosomatically. (William Barclay, for example, with his penchant for naturalistic explanations of the biblical miracles, reminds us that when Edward I blazed in anger at one of his courtiers the man dropped dead in sheer fear.)

    Interestingly, a similar thing had happened twice before. In Eden a man and a woman tried to deceive God, and the result was death. Then there was Achan “stealing” what rightfully was God’s: he and his whole family and possessions were destroyed. Adam, Achan, Ananias - at the beginning of each "fresh start” God was making with God’s people, the same thing happened. Surely these things are written for our instruction.

    Awesome, fearful. As a pastor I wonder what kind of worship service I would have led for the following three hours? Nothing in our clergy handbooks helps us here. Then, imagine the moment of horror when Sapphira wanders in: every face would have told her the story, if she’d noticed. In the awful silence, they could then hear the footfalls of the young men who’d just buried her husband.

    But why this immediate capital punishment with no opportunity for repentance? It’s not fair, you say. Negatively, the responses tumble over each other: Who said life was supposed to be fair? Who sets up valid criteria for fairness? Human categories of what’s fair are constantly changing. And who’s in charge, anyway, in the ultimate sense? And who’s to know whether, as it’s been put simplistically; God was somehow “destroying a body to save a soul”? We’ll have problems in this “bent world” if we put our faith in systems of fairness - or in our systems of anything. Our trust is in a righteous, just God, who can handle the moral judgments of the universe without too much help from us. On the other hand, we can reverently say :“God has a lot to answer for.”

    C.S. Lewis, in The Problem of Pain, says God’s attitude to sin is analogous to that of a surgeon to cancer. The destructive tissue has to be removed. God’s judgment is love at work destroying what is destroying us. Sometimes the divine surgery is radical (as in this story); sometimes it’s postponed.


    Peter makes it very clear that Ananias didn’t have to follow the course he did. He was in full control at every point (5:4). This wasn’t “primitive communism.” Private property had not been abolished; no one was being forced to sell his or her possessions. The sharing was voluntary, not a precondition of entering the church.

    And I’m sure we can say that even after Ananias and Sapphira decided to bring only part of the money, they still had an alternative course of action open to them.

    John Claypool imagines another scenario:

    If they had just said: “Here is where we would like to be - with Barnabas’ kind of trust and generosity. But we find we are not there yet .... All we can do now is give part of the proceeds. Would you help us grow toward what we would like to become?”’

    Then there would have been healing and nurture and grace mediated through others in the caring fellowship. But instead there were deceit and death.

    The way of Ananias is not only an ancient way; it is practiced in politics and business every day. Wasn’t it President Theodore Roosevelt who called those people on Capitol Hill “the Ananias club”? I wonder what might have happened if President Richard Nixon had come clean and told all he knew about Watergate a year before his resignation?

    Ananias and Sapphira had a warped view of God - apparently as a sort of cosmic “neurotic perfectionist” who could not accept them if they were imperfect. Occasionally I visit or counsel people who are perfectionists; they got the impression from someone that life has to be highly organized for them to be happy. Often they had parents who rarely praised them for anything. If only Ananias and Sapphira had realized that God is not like this. God is a grower of persons and not in the business of mass production. There’s no such thing as instant sanctification.

    But they also had a defective view of their fellow Christians. They were fearful about their inability to measure up, and obviously felt others wouldn’t accept them if they confessed to being less than Barnabas. Hypocrites also have another problem - a huge inferiority complex. They are unable to accept their own uniqueness and imperfections. Maturity is all about living with imperfection, your own, your parents’, others’. Hypocrites have to play a sort of one-upmanship game in which they come out best in every comparison.

    The essence of grace, on the other hand, is acceptance - by God of us, and of others and of us. Grace is love-before-worth. It creates worth in another rather than responding to worth in the other. So grace abounds where sin abounds. And as the church is a society of people on the receiving end of God’s grace, it’s the community par excellence where we accept others fully on the same basis as God has accepted us (Rom. 15:7): solely on the basis of grace - not law, not doctrine, not sacramental observance, but grace alone!

    If only Ananias and Sapphira had understood this! By their behavior they were denying the most fundamental truth in the Christian faith: we cannot earn significance. We can’t achieve wholeness, salvation, through our own efforts. Greatness in Christ’s kingdom is a given, a gift, that we gratefully receive in spite of our failures and our sin.

    So, Ananias, Sapphira, you didn’t have to earn what you’d inherited. Don’t strive to be a luminary; just let your light shine. You don’t have to be like Barnabas. You are intended to be your own person, to be what no other is and to do what no other can do. So you can“go to church” and be just who you are. You don’t have to play the sick “over-under” games our society forces on us. Church is the place where grace reigns and where all acting stops. You can hang up your mask with your hat at the door. That’s why Christ’s Church is“glorious,” according to the New Testament - not because it’s perfect, but because it’s being redeemed. Here’s where nobodies become somebodies, “no-people” become “God’s people” (1 Pet. 2:10).

    1. John Claypool, unpublished sermon “Growing is Acceptable,” preached March 2 1975, at Broadway Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas.

    Rev. Dr. Rowland C. Croucher BA, BD, MEd, LTh, DipRE, DMin. is a husband, father, grandfather, son (both parents in heaven), pastor, teacher, writer, used-to-be-academic, wood-chopper, walker in shopping malls with his granddaughters, and a little addicted to MsPacman. Ordained by the N.S.W. Baptist Ministry in 1968, Rowland has preached in 37 countries since the age of 13. He currently serves as Director of John Mark Ministries (, based in Melbourne Australia

    Friday, June 22, 2007

    Worship Together This Week


    Free Sheet Music
    Who Is Like You - Mac Powell
    By His Wounds - Mac Powell
    Son Of God - Starfield

    New Song Cafe
    Who Is Like You with Mac Powell, Tim Neufeld and the Glory Revealed Team

    Now Playing in the
    Who Is Like You - Glory Revealed
    Son Of God - Starfield
    By His Wounds - Glory Revealed
    Unashamed - Starfield

    Featured Bible Study
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    The Musicademy Worship Guitar tuition courses contain a whole years' worth of worship guitar teaching on DVD plus advice and guest lessons from some of the best known worship leaders in the world. Suitable for both acoustic and electric guitar.

    A highly practical step by step guitar tuition course from Musicademy's Andy Chamberlain. Three Beginners and three Intermediate DVDs. Each DVD is 2 hours long and includes daily practice backing tracks and drum grooves to turn your new found knowledge into ingrained skills. All taught with contemporary worship songs that you can use straight away to enhance your worship, and those you worship with.

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    Beginner - suitable for complete beginners through to relatively confident players. Lots of different songs, techniques, strumming patterns etc. Learn more and watch a preview video!

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    There are stories in the Bible that are so complex, yet they're so simple in message. Stories that from beginning to end reveal a certain truth over and over again. Nowhere is that more evident than in the story of Moses as found in the book of Exodus.

    In Moses's life, we see the fingerprints of God on every page. We see God delivering Moses as an infant, as a boy, as a teen, as a man, and even on his deathbed. His story is more about a faithful God than about a favored servant. As we look at this familiar text, let's read it with a magnifying glass, looking for the fingerprints of God. They will be hard to miss.

    The second book of the Bible, the book of Exodus, is really the coming-of-age story of both the nation of Israel and also God's relationship with his people. It's a backdrop for the story of God's deliverance of...more

    If the Word of God is more powerful than the pen of man, who better to help write our worship songs? Who better to reveal God's glory to us than God himself?

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    Sin Lurking for Its Prey

    Sin. Ahhh, how it takes control of us in even the smallest opportunity. I haven’t had a drink in close to a year not because of any problems with drinking, I just lost the taste for it. At my weekend visit there was lots of champagne at the Baby shower. At first I thought Nahhh, I won’t have any. But as the hours drew on I decided to have a small glass, why not I used to love champagne, I told myself. Well 1 glass turned to 2 and 2 turned to 3 (I shared the third glass with Primo) and for some reason I ended up with a very upset stomach. Something niggled at my brain, “Oh come on even Jesus drank wine.”

    Isn’t that how it is?

    We look for reasons to do the wrong thing. I didn’t get smashed but I did feel guilty afterwards. Where was the guilt coming from?

    I read this verse today in church:

    19 Or don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (1st Corinthians 6:19-20)

    I believe that drinking caused me to have jealous feelings, and covet my neighbor. You see my family never gets together for anything (my grandparents are getting on in age and it is hard for them to drive. My aunts and uncles forget about it lol, and of course my loving family in Puerto Rico, they would love nothing more than coming to visit us but money doesn’t grow on trees) and here was my friends family together again. They get together all the time. Now I do not lack in love with my family, in fact I felt so ashamed because I wasn’t truly looking at the blessed life God has given me. I have never felt more love come from my immediate family and they would bend over backwards to make me smile.

    I think that the devil looks for opportunities such as these, he looks for our weak moments to help us along in our sinful nature.

    Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. (1st Peter 5:8)

    For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:12)

    I immediately felt ashamed of my behavior and repented.

    Psalm 38:18

    But I confess my sins;

    I am deeply sorry for what I have done.

    1st John 1:9

    But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.

    It doesn’t matter if we ask others for forgiveness if we haven’t asked our Father. He is the only one who can forgive and erase our sins.

    “I—yes, I alone—am the one who blots out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again. (Isaiah 43:25)

    Let the people turn from their wicked deeds. Let them banish from their minds the very thought of doing wrong! Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:7)

    In fact, we can say that according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified by sprinkling with blood. Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins. (Hebrews 9:22)

    God has purchased our freedom with his blood* and has forgiven all our sins. (Colossians 1:14)

    Thank the Lord he knows we are not perfect. He knows we will be tempted and he also knows that as a Christian we will learn from our mistakes. Sometimes we have to learn the hard way.

    Remember, Jesus said, Matthew 5:30 And if your hand—even if it is your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

    But if we are living in the light of God’s presence, just as Christ is, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin.(1st John 1:7)

    To many drinking may not seem like a big deal but anything that causes you to do wrong in Gods eyes is a sin. Drinking the champagne, led me to sin in my mind which is just as bad as doing it in front of someone. I also thought how I may have appeared to some of the people at the baby shower. Many people didn’t know me, but some did and are we or are we not supposed to be shining examples of the Holy Spirit. Yes, I failed my Father that day and it made me sad. It made me very sad. But He has forgiven me. He always will because I died to my sins and became one with God.

    For the Lord loves justice, and he will never abandon the godly. He will keep them safe forever, but the children of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 37:28)

    From then on, Jesus began to preach, “Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near.*” (Matthew 4:17)

    Don’t be fooled GOD hates sin.

    And when we do not confess our sins to Him it separates us from him and damages our relationship with our Father.

    “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1st John 1:9)

    “Therefore this is what the Lord says, ’If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me.”

    -Jeremiah 15:19

    If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. (1st John 1:10)

    Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me again the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to sinners, and they will return to you. (Psalm 51:10-13)

    Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God (Matthew 3:8).

    Once God has forgiven us, we can then forgive ourselves:

    ”Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13,14)

    This is an example of how sin can fool you.

    It may fool you and those around you but it will not nor will it EVER fool God.

    Remember he knows your heart:

    Psalm 44:21

    God would surely have known it,

    for he knows the secrets of every heart.

    Don’t be fooled by the lies of this world. Drunkenness (losing control of your body – Gods body), Adultery (lusting after anyone with your eyes, your heart or even in actions), Murder (hating someone – the same as killing someone), lying (that means any lie used to deceive someone), using Gods name in vain (bringing his name down to a level of disgust and in turn using it as a cuss word), idolatry (loving anything more than God – money, possessions etc., making your own image of God).

    The list goes on and on my brothers and sisters. How often do we try to justify our sins?

    There is no justification for sinning against our Creator, our Father in heaven.

    How we must break his heart again and again.

    But we redeem ourselves when we admit our weakness, when we suffer for the bad decisions we have made and ask him to forgive us.

    1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
    3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    4 Blessed are those who mourn,
    For they shall be comforted.
    5 Blessed are the meek,
    For they shall inherit the earth.
    6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    For they shall be filled.
    7 Blessed are the merciful,
    For they shall obtain mercy.
    8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
    For they shall see God.
    9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
    For they shall be called sons of God.
    10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
    For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

    (Matthew 5:1-12)

    God has given me all I need.

    I have love.

    I have happiness.

    I have health.

    I have GOD.

    And in reality without God I would have nothing and with Him I have everything. I know where my treasures lay and they are with Him in Heaven. The only treasure I care about is my Father, the rest are just perks.

    19 ”Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be. (Matthew 6:19-21)

    Thursday, June 21, 2007

    First Things First

    In the games men play, such as football, basketball, hockey and etc. there is the element of time, a time allotted in which the game is to be played. Every coach of a team has a game plan for defeating his opponent. He chooses, conditions and teaches the game plan to his players and expects them to adhere to his plan in order for them to win the game. While time is an important element in the game, it is not the most important.

    1. Complete trust in the coach and his plan,

    2. Working together as a team,

    3. Staying focused on the game,

    4. Sticking to and executing the game plan,

    5. Taking advantage of every opportunity to score points,

    6. While at the same time, with wisdom, defending against the schemes of the opponent is the common goal of every player.

    7. Being aware of the clock is important. Knowing that the clock is running, good players take advantage of ever moment, not distracted by looking back at past mistakes or by looking ahead to the end, but knowing that the signs on the clock indicate that time is passing, serves to encourage every player to work even harder as the end draws near. After all, victory over the opponent is the goal of playing the game; the rewards are for a job well done. This is the plan of victory.

    In light of the current events in today’s world it is tempting for a Christian to get caught up in speculations of the outcome of these events as they relate to the coming of the Lord Jesus. The signs of the times are important to us, but we must realize these signs and their significance are not the most important.

    The Holy Scriptures teaches us that “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, ----.” {Deuteronomy 29:29f NAS}

    Thus, our searching for truth must be confined to what is to be revealed. The thing our Lord has chosen not to reveal belongs to Him and we must not be found guilty of conjecture in even speculating about those things lest we drift into error. If we become occupied with God’s “secret things,” we will be found to be one who neglects the study of the things which God would have us to know and to do. Some of the things hidden are the day of our Lord’s return, the end of the age, the end of time and the beginnings of the new heaven and earth.

    In answer to questions concerning these things our Lord Jesus said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” (Matthew 24:36 NASU)

    We are taught to know the signs of the coming of these things, but only God knows the exact time that He will bring about these events and He will reveal them to us in due season.

    In the book of Matthew, chapter 28, beginning with verse 18 we read, “Then Jesus came to them (His disciples) and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (19) Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20 NASU).”

    Here our coach, Jesus, has given us the game plan.
    (1) We must believe in our Coach and His game plan.
    (2) We must work together as a team.

    To do this we must be “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith , one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:2-6 NASU).”

    (3) And we must stay focused on our commission, that is, our game plan.
    (4) This means sticking to and carrying out the game plan, not drifting off into fruitless speculations about things that are still hidden. We are to preach the gospel, that is, the good news pertaining to salvation through faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ.
    (5) Before ascending into heaven our Lord spoke these words to His chosen, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1: 8 NASU).”

    He told them to begin where they receive the Holy Spirit, Jerusalem. And then go to the surrounding area, Judea. Normally the Jews did not associate with the Samaritans, there was enmity between them. But Jesus commanded His disciples to preach the gospel to them also, and thought out the world.

    The following may be seen as our system of scoring points; being filled with the power that the Holy Spirit brings, preaching with boldness, as the apostles did on the Day of Pentecost, leading lost souls to Jesus through the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16), baptizing them in His name and teaching them in the ways of righteousness, on every opportunity. We start where we first received the Holy Spirit, then in the surrounding community, and among those that we would not normally associate with, and then, though out the world.

    The Apostle John writes, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (1st John 5:3-5 NASU).”

    (6) Our Lord, through the Apostle Paul, gives us the perfect plan of offence and defense, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

    Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints (Ephesians 6:10-18 NASU).”

    (7) Study the prophets, study the book of Revelations, read chapter 24 of the book of Matthew, and other Scripture concerning the end of the age, know that our redemption is near, but do not neglect the preaching of the gospel. After all, leading lost souls to Christ for salvations, snatching them out of Satan’s grasp, is our goal in defeating him. The rewards that await us are for a job well done. Selah

    James C Sanford

    Disciples of the Spirit of Truth

    Have you ever wondered how a student of the Holy Bible, a preacher of the gospel, a pastor, priest or even a Bible scholar could commit adultery, be a child molester, a thief or murder?? How is it possible that a member of a Christian church could steal from the treasure? Or a deacon takes another man’s wife or molests his children??? How is it that a person can memorize the Holy Scripture form Genesis to Revelations and his heart still be filled with hate? Can we know a sure and true answer to these questions?? Yes we can, but we must not be offended by what we learn.

    Let us begin with a study of the word “disciple.” The word “disciple” is translated from the Greek words “mathetes” and “manthano” meaning “a learner” or “to learn and endeavor to adhere to” a shaping of character.

    Thus, the word disciple is a name given to a student who is being trained, or rather disciplined, for the purpose of developing specific attributes of character. When Jesus called men to be His followers they had to forsake all, including their former self or character, and be obedient to Him; thus they were known as His disciples {John 8:31-32 NAS}.

    Jesus said,

    “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.” {Luke 6:40 NAS}

    This rule can work both in a positive and in a negative way. If a person is a disciple of the Spirit of Truth, that of course is positive, he is being disciplined in rightness with God, or in righteousness. But if a person should happen to be caught up in a false teaching, the spirit of error {1st John 4:6 NAS}, the result is very negative, even devastating.

    For an example of the negative we turn first to the Pharisee’s, Sadducee’s and other religious sects of that era. There existed a deep division among the people pertaining to the laws of God and the traditions of their forefathers. Each sect or denomination (as they are known today) had their own schools, teachings and doctrines. Each had their own scribes {lawyers} who interpreted the laws of God and set forth the doctrines and traditions for the people to abide by {Matthew. 23:1-7}. A disciple of the teachers of the Pharisee’s {Matthew. 22:16} who became fully trained or disciplined in the doctrines and traditions of the Pharisee’s was molded into the attributes of character of a Pharisee; he was a vessel in the image of the Pharisee’s.

    Jesus said to them,

    ”Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” {Matthew. 23:15 NAS}

    The same was true of the other sects as well. Each sect was known by their attributes of character and their own traditions. The way they dressed, the manner in which they spoke, the rituals they performed, the way they prayed and the things they believed identified each group. It could have been said of them that they all studied the same law and worshiped the same God; and in the end all would be in the kingdom of God. This proved not to be so!!

    Jesus spoke to them plainly saying,

    ”You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell?” {Matthew. 23:33 NAS}

    The children of Israel were called of God to be a nation of kings and priest, a keeper and teacher of His Law. They were to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth with His glory. Instead they were caught up in debates, which lead to divisions. They departed from faith working through love and lost their great opportunity.

    Jesus said to them,

    ”You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life.” {John 5:39 NAS}

    The sects of that era were so disciplined in the traditions of men that as God sent His prophets to them with words of warning and correction they were rejected and killed {Matthew. 23:29-35}. When Jesus came to them they did unto Him as they did the prophets before Him. They sat among the people by Him not to learn of Him, but as spectators, censors and spies to find in Him something on which to ground a reproach or accusation that they might kill Him also. They found fault with His miracles and viewed His words as a tale told them and not a message sent to them. They mocked, cursed, spat upon, and by the hands of the gentiles, they crucified the Living Word of God. They were so blind they did all these things thinking they were doing a service to God!! They were disciples of mere men, deceived children of the flesh.

    The following statement will cause some to cringe and gnash their teeth. Some will be offended and complain that his words are too harsh. Others will see the truth and apply the lesson of it to their own lives if needed. Nevertheless here is our statement.

    We observe a great likeness in the Pharisee’s, Sadducee’s and other sects of that era to that of many among the Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, Charismatic, the so called Church of Christ and all the other denomination of today. There exist a great division among the people of Christian religion today just as it did in the nation of Israel in the days that Jesus visited them. Today each denomination has their own interpreters of the Scriptures, their own schools and universities and their own set of doctrines and teachings that mold their disciples into their own image. Each has their own rituals, dress codes, manner of speaking and praying. These and other attributes of religious character can identify each individual and group. Many seat themselves in the congregation for men of God to preach before them but not to preach to them. They have their secret meetings to plot against the pastors that God has given them. They sit as judges and criticize and ostracize and drive out from among their mist men of God who do not conform to their standards, traditions and beliefs. They have a form of godliness and have the appearance of righteousness but are like “whitewashed tombs filled with dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” {Matthew. 23:27-28. Many have a Sunday morning religion but live their lives in such a way that they become stumbling blocks to those who might would have come to know the truth {Matthew. 23:13}. Many excuse their differences with others with the saying, “we are all seeking the same God and are all going to the same place.”

    Jesus answers,

    ”Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” {Matthew. 7:13-19 NAS}

    Judas Iscariot was called to be a disciple of Jesus but he never was His true disciple; he was never converted. He had the opportunity to be a part of the beginning of the church. He walked with Jesus for three and one half years just as did the others. He heard the words of Jesus but he never received them as words of spirit and words of life. He witnessed His power and authority and seen all His miracles but in his heart he had selfish motives. Unlike Peter and the others he never received the revelation from the Spirit of God that Jesus was the Son of God {Matthew. 16:16-17}. He aligned himself with the Pharisee’s and Sadducee’s to betray the Son of God. Thus he became an accessory to the murder of Christ. In the end he became a murderer by killing himself.

    Just as Judas Iscariot was called of Christ so are many called today to minister the gospel. But like Judas many of them have inward selfish motives and they miss their opportunity of being ministers of the truth in the kingdom of God. Instead they become false ministers, child molesters, adulterers, thieves, fornicators, murderers, liars, and much more. Like Judas before them they align themselves with the world and betray the Son of God who calls them.

    Now we turn to the positive effects of a person becoming like his teacher. A person who is being trained or disciplined by the Spirit of Truth develops the attributes of the character of God; he becomes the image of God. Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, to teach the Scripture, to guide and direct the disciples of the Living Word of God {Jesus} into the paths of righteousness. He brings gifts of faith, hope and love and empowers us to put to death the nature that lives according to the lustful flesh and imparts to us the nature of Christ, who is the image of God.

    The Scripture teaches thus,

    “And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.” {1st John 2:27 NAS}

    Jesus said,

    ”And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” {John 14:16-18 NAS}

    He continues,

    ”But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you.” {John 16:13-15 NAS}

    A student of God’s word should never make the mistake of trying to intellectually interpret and understand the Holy Scriptures or rely solely upon someone else’s understanding.

    The apostle Peter tells us to

    “--- know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a Matthewer of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” {2nd Peter 1:20-21 NAS}

    Neither is learning God’s truths an act of the human will or intellectual process; but is rather a disclosure or teaching by impartation from the Holy Spirit to those who seek, believe and obey {1st Corinthians 2:11-13}.

    The Apostle Paul writes,

    “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work {2nd Timothy 3:16-17 NAS}.”

    God’s word should never be viewed in a remote, impersonal, unattached, non-practical or non-participating manner; the Holy Spirit does not teach a person with such an attitude. Only those who hear the Spirit of God, believe and obey Him are trained in righteousness and become adequately equipped for every good work. Like clay disciplined by the hands of the potter are those who are the disciples of the Sprit of Truth.

    James C Sanford

    Why the Virgin Birth?

    “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (Matthew 1:1)

    In the book of Matthew, chapter 1, verses 1 through 16 is found the genealogy from Abraham to the birth of Jesus who is the promise “Seed” of whom God spoke to Abraham.

    “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, 'and to seeds,' in referring to many, but rather to one, 'and to your seed,' that is Christ.” (Galatians 3:16)

    In the Gospel of Luke is found the record of the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary and announcing the coming birth of Jesus. Mary is a virgin woman chosen of God to be the mother of His Son. Being a virgin speaks much about the pureness of the person and character of this woman chosen of God. First of all, it tells us that her father and mother were faithful to teach Mary God’s word. Apparently she was submissive and obedient to her father’s teaching, an act of love and faith. As we read the words spoken to her by Gabriel we will learn how the conception and the birth of the Child of God took place. We will also learn why it was necessary that He be born of virgin woman.

    ”Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David and the virgin`s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, 'Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you. But she was greatly troubled at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this might be. And the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end.' And Mary said to the angel, 'How can this be, since I am a virgin?' And the angel answered and said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.' And Mary said, 'Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done according to your word.' And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:26-38)

    Mary never questioned what her life would be like in the future, she trusted God. Now God’s word is His seed and as the angel spoke the word of God to Mary she listened intently and believed, His seed had fallen upon fertile ground. The moment she said, “Behold the bondslave of the Lord; be it done according to your word,” the power of the “Most High” through the Holy Spirit caused God’s seed to spring forth in her body, or in other words, she conceived. Mary was blessed more than all women, she was to bear the Savior of the world!! Mary is an example of God’s blessings upon those who are in His perfect order.

    In the book of Matthew we find the account of God’s revelations to Joseph preparing him for the birth of Jesus.

    ”Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a son; and you shall call His name Jesus (meaning savior), for it is He who will save His people from their sins’” (Matthew 1:18-21).

    And again God’s seed had fallen upon fertile ground,

    ”And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took her as his wife, and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:24-25)

    In the natural the re-generation of mankind is as follows. The seed of the woman is the egg within her. The man’s seed is the source of fertility for the egg or seed of the woman. Without the fertility of the seed of the man there is no offspring. Without the seed of the woman, likewise, there is no offspring for from the seed of the woman grows the flesh and blood body of the offspring. Thus the statement,

    ”---neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of man.” (1st Corinthians 11:11)

    Adam was the beginning of man. According to God’s perfect order the male was created first and then the female. Adam was created from the dust of the earth. Woman was created from man, she is not from the seed of man. Therefore man is the progenitor of the human race, by God’s choice he is the seed. In God’s perfect order they are “blessed male and female.”

    Why then the virgin Birth? When Adam sinned He became sin in the flesh; all mankind was in Adam’s loins when he sinned and every descendant is born of his seed is born of sin and into sin and is the sin nature of Adam. Jesus could not be and was not born of the seed of a man because of sin.

    “When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph,”

    Note the Scripture does not say Jesus was the son of Joseph but says: “being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph,”

    Therefore Jesus, the Living Word of God, was grafted into the holy root of humanity (Adam, before he sinned) through the “seed” of the woman. Thus through the woman He is called the “Son of Man.” He was in the “likeness of sinful flesh” but knew no sin (see Rom. 8:3). His birth was not of a natural birth, but super-natural. He was the seed of God brought forth by the power of the “Most High” through the Holy Spirit exactly as God had spoken. Thus He is also called the “Son of God.” He is the seed spoken of in Genesis 3:16: and He is the seed God promised Abraham. He is the seed of God’s righteous glory in the earth. He is the manifestation of God’s moral beauty, power and honor; He is the expression of God’s greatness and authority; He is the last Adam (1st Corinthians 15:45).

    Through the apostle John God reveals to us that,

    ”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2)

    ”And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us,---.” (John 1:14)

    Thus we have come to understand that Jesus is the Son of God and the Word of God. He is born perfect, that is to say He is born without sin. He is the pureness of God, the image and glory of God. He is God created in the image or likeness of man and He is man created in the image of God. The Spirit of Life, God, was in Him; He is the open door to God’s presence and He is man’s new Eden. In the environment of His presence man can once again be a reflection of God’s righteousness, His glory, in the earth.

    James C Sanford