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The Illusion

  I grew up in the 80′s.  Before David Blaine and Chris Angel there was David Copperfield.  Over the course of several prime time specials he made the Statue of Liberty disappear, walked through the Great Wall of China and escaped from Alcatraz.  Part of his appeal came from his sense of humor and showmanship on stage, but people tuned in to see the “magic.”

The magic of course was really illusion; he wasn’t really sawed in half on stage.  But you know what they say – Seeing is believing.

It is so easy to believe what we see.  Illusion, special effects and camouflage all depend it.  That very fact can also get us into trouble at times.  We had to see bacteria with a microscope before germ theory really caught on, and there’s a ever-present warning in your side mirror not to believe exactly what you see (objects are closer than they appear).  We all know there is more going on than can be seen. Wind, gravity, magnetism, microbes, radiation, DNA and so on cannot be seen, but we either perceive their effects through other senses or else detect them with scientific devices.  The earth appears flat, and the sun seems to move across the sky from east to west.  Our understanding is no longer limited to what we can see with our eyes; but the tendency to do so will always be there.

This is a great article written by Clark Bunch from The Master’s Table. What is real and what is illusion? Do you truly know the difference? It is not as apparent as you may think, in this article Clark gives us a fine tuned perspective on what is real, and what is smoke and mirrors.

To finish reading this article, please head over to http://themasterstable.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/the-illusion/ While you are there, why not check out the rest of Clark’s blog and let him know something he wrote blessed you.

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Dim Sum – Banquets

Once on an assignment to China, our team had a surprise invitation from one of our host affiliate’s staff. It was his wedding banquet and we were invited to his home which was two and a half hours’ car ride from the city. It was a working week day and we arrived at this very imposing  three storey home on a farm, not expecting to see so many people in the celebration. There were business friends of the bride and groom, relatives from afar and their large extended family comprising more than 100 people. When lunch was called, we were seated around 40 tables of 10 persons per table.  Lunch was from around noon to six in the evening for we had a 20 course lunch including roast suckling pig, a must- have at celebrations of such significance. Chinese wine was flowing with lots of “bottoms up” all round (signalling  a fresh round of glass refills with wine) and everybody was in a celebratory mood.

Have you ever over-indulged in anything and later regretted it? Do you know people that seem to do this all the time? How do you think this could affect our walk with Christ? This is a great article written by ptl2010 from ChristianBlessings.

To finish reading this article, please head over to http://ptl2010.com/2012/09/13/faith-child-banqueting/ While you are there why not check out the rest this great multi-author site. Along with many more articles by ptl2010, there are many other articles by a wide range of authors here.

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Compliments and Criticism—The Difference May Surprise You

The trouble with most of us,” someone once said, “is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”That’s really true. Go ahead, ruin me.

vivozoom 67575961 w 2 Compliments and Criticism—The Difference May Surprise You

(Photo by diego_cervo, via Vivozoom )

The truth is, we can work ruin by either extreme:

  1. Give nothing but compliments.
  2. Offer only criticism.

Words that compliment and words of criticism both strike like arrows, and they seldom miss their mark.

This is a great article on ChristianBlessings by Wayne Stiles. Would you ever think that compliments and praise could ruin a life just as negative comments and criticism can? Read the rest of this article to find out how.

To finish reading this article, please head over to http://www.waynestiles.com/compliments-and-criticism-the-difference-may-surprise-you/#more-4020

This article also appeared on http://ptl2010.com/2012/09/19/compliments-and-criticism-the-difference-may-surprise-you/

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THE GIFT. HEAR WHAT THE LORD SAID TODAY!

πίστις:

Great new post by Lyn Leahz. This should resonate with all of us.

Originally posted on lynleahz.com:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:13

“Father, I don’t feel well.  I’ve been asking You for so long just to take this sickness from me!  Why, Lord, will You not take this from me?  You could if You wanted to!”  I was frustrated, not understanding why the Lord seemed to answer almost all of my prayers, except for this one thing.

“Because I have given you the power to do it yourself.  If I do everything for you when I have given you the power through My Spirit to rise up and be strong, and defeat the enemy, then the enemy laughs mockingly as he stands before Me accusing you, saying, ‘I see once again You’ve come to the rescue for Your unfaithful daughter!  The daughter who does not love You enough to treat Your gift with respect–You’ve saved the day once again!’”

The…

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Do We Really Understand Forgiveness?

Let me ask a question. Do we understand what it means to forgive? I mean really? Do we? The word used in the Bible for forgive or forgiveness is aphiēmiAphiēmi literally means to send away, disregard, to depart, leave behind, abandon. There are many other ways it is used, but are you seeing the impact of the word? The Bible says we are to forgive one another of our wrongs, both to each other and ones that are committed to others. That lie that your best friend said about you that embarrassed you in front of everyone, Jesus says to forgive them. Disregard that incident. Leave it behind. What about that thief that stole the only money you had to pay for your bills? Forgive them, abandon the trespass, send it away. I could go on with example after example and make a list of “what you should forgive others of”, but you see the point. As followers of Christ, Jesus expects us to forgive anyone no matter what they have done. Does that make the actions that caused offense right? Absolutely not. But understand this, just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean that you are acknowledging what was done is right. That is not what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is so much more powerful than that. Forgiveness essentially says, “it is very clear that what has went down is wrong, it’s not fair, it is not right at all, but instead of remembering it and harboring bitterness or anger, you choose to forget about it. Let is pass. Abandon the trespass as if it never happened.” By understanding what forgiveness is, it makes the entire concept of forgiving someone so much more real. Even though what has happened is wrong, Jesus says you must forgive.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” ~Matthew 6:14-15

Jesus really didn’t beat around the bush in this Scripture, nor does He ever. Jesus Himself says that if do not forgive others of their trespasses or sins against us, God will not forgive us of all trespasses or sin against Him. We are so quick to receive the grace of Jesus Christ openly anytime it appeals to us, but what about when the tables are turned? Are as quick to extend that same grace to others? I know in my life, I haven’t always been. It’s easier to think that I am right, the other person is wrong, and just stay bitter at them. The problem with that is you never live in freedom that way. At least not fully. I heard this quote once and it has really spoke to me in this area. “We actually lose more than we win when we choose not to extend forgiveness to someone.” What do we lose? Freedom, relationships, peace, and as Jesus warns possibly our salvation.  By choosing not to swallow our pride and going to whoever has offended you and offering forgiveness, we lose any relationship we have with that person, there is no peace in our hearts when that individual is around or mentioned, there is no happiness. We are trapped. I’ve said it before, but I think that unforgiveness is one of the most deadly sins that can ever enter our hearts. I heard my friend once say “when you don’t forgive, its like taking poison and expecting the other person to die – the longer you hold on to it the more damage it does to your mind and body.”

“Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” ~Luke 23:34

Jesus forgave those who were literally killing them. He didn’t hold their trespasses against them. He forgave them. He prayed for them. He loved them and still wanted them to receive eternal life with them. Jesus never once wanted to hold resentment in His heart to those people who had did Him wrong. So as His disciples who in the world can we ever expect to live different than Jesus? A disciple literally lives like their master, experiences the same things, says the same things. Jesus died to sin, so we must die to sin. Jesus loved, so we must love. Jesus forgave, so we must forgive.

Mike Donehey, the lead singer of Tenth Avenue North, posted a video about forgiveness that I drew a lot of thought from and I think it really illustrates forgiveness well. I’m attaching the video below.

I want to encourage you to make the effort to seek out those areas in your life that may be marred by bitterness and unforgiveness. Jesus wished to heal those scars and desires that you live in harmony with those who offended you. Your act of forgiveness could be a key factor in someone decided to accept Jesus. If they already know Jesus, it can push them closer to you and to God as well. Don’t allow that biterness to stay harbored in your heart. As stated before, Jesus claims that you put your own salvation at risk by choosing not to forgive. Nothing of this earth is worth that. Everything on this earth will pass away, but Jesus is forever. Learn to pick and choose what you get angry over. Nothing is so important that forgiveness can’t be extended. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. I’m sure family members of murder, rape, theft, etc, are not so quick to forgive right away. It would be easier to hate, but Jesus says to love. Be blessed today, and may the Lord guide You in forgiveness.

-Joey

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The Great Commission

Matthew 28:16-20: “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them 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.”

This is every Christian’s job- to share the Gospel. That job isn’t reserved for only pastors, missionaries, and evangelists. It is the duty of every single person who claims to follow Jesus Christ. Every member of the Body of Christ should desire to lead others to Christ. The preaching of the Gospel includes every branch of ministry. We need pastors, youth pastors, children ministries, local missionaries, foreign missionaries, evangelists, prayer warriors, and even children and teens. It doesn’t matter what race, gender, or social status you are- your purpose is to worship God and share His Word.

The message of the Gospel is based on repentance and the forgiveness of sin. The Gospel challenges us to live apart from the world’s corruption. Christians should also preach expecting Jesus to return.

Jesus tells us to “make disciples of all nations.” That doesn’t mean to go out and have people just convert to Christianity. Christ wants us to actually make disciples. To do that we have to train and mentor other believers, especially new believers. The new believer is spiritually immature. That’s not a bash on them, it’s just how it is. However, the more you pursue Christ, the more you mature in the faith. If no one mentors new believers, they will likely fall from their faith in Christ. You have to teach them and lead by example. The Church should be focused on discipleship, not on numbers.

Jesus leaves us with a promise- He will be with us always (Matthew 28:20). If you are in Christ, he is with you. It doesn’t matter what race you are, what social status you are, or whether you are rich or poor, Christ cares for you and wants a deeper relationship with you.

God bless!

-Austin

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The Problem of Patience

Patience. It is probably my least favorite topic. I am a natural go-getter, and the idea that “patience is a virtue” tends to irritate my little goal-oriented heart beyond belief. But there it is, plainly put in the Bible, the fact that patience is not only a good and beneficial thing, it also happens to be an evidence of the Holy Spirit living inside of us (Galatians 5:22-23).

“By your patience, possess your souls.” -Luke 21:19

In Patience possess… This phrase came to mind this morning and I mulled on it all day. It would seem that without great patience we are in danger of losing our soul to the problems or trials that we will encounter in life. (Remember the promise: “In this world you will have trouble…“?) The world will hate our faith. Satan will do his worst to destroy our faith. And our own weak humanity is not conducive to maintaining faith. Therefore, in the face of all this, it is by patience that we hold fast to our most precious possession that it might not be lost to the tyranny of sorrow, suffering, deceit, or despair.

So, what is Patience?

Patience is not a personality trait…despite our great wish that it could be so simple to excuse it’s absence in us. It does not come naturally or easily to any us. It is a character trait. It must be developed, honed, grown, tried, tested, proven. We are, naturally, selfish creatures, desiring our own way in our own timing always. Conscious effort must be made to flourish Patience. And how is Patience grown? In trials of course! Trials breed Patience, patience keeps us safe in trials. It is a cycle of growth, with each struggle we become equipped to handle the next. With each one growing in strength of character until we are who we were made to be.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” -James 1:2-4

Patience is not passive waiting or laziness. On the contrary, it requires the utmost diligence in its upkeep. For in all the waiting we are to be completely content with where God has us in this moment, and yet we must be always hoping in His promise for what will be. To forget to look ahead with hope will lead to low-vision and discouragement. To look with too great anxiousness toward the future will cause discontent and faithlessness. And so both sides must be consistently maintained. Patience is the firm determination to be completely happy in whatever our present state.

Patience is not hardship. Yes, patience will carry us through hardship, but do not get the idea that in accepting the task of learning Patience that you are subjecting yourself to a dismal existence. No! Patience is the very force that enables us to be able to live gloriously though all around you be broken. For Patience sees through the present gloom into the future brightness. Patience doesn’t just smile bravely as hell breaks loose around you. Patience smiles with a secret that it knows, though no one else can see it. Living in Patience is like living in the week before Christmas. The present is still a mystery, yet there is that package under the tree; bright, shiny, making you smile with anticipation whenever you think of it. You cannot open the present today, but you know that it is prepared for you. And so you are happy. THAT is Patience.

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Words From Carl The Muse

 

Some Words From: Carl The Muse

It takes some drought to truly appreciate the rain and its takes some hurting to help you endure the pain but after the drought and the pain comes the sunshine and the rain.

Its never all about you, its about every one and every thing you see, it is all connected to you and me. If you cannot not see from behind your eyes the world around you will simply pass by and you can not see where you are going because seeing is believing and believing is knowing.

Love makes me do what love makes me do and I operate from that center so I am never trying to hurt you.

 

This is a poem with some great points to make. Written by Carl from Carl the Muse. I encourage you to read this poem, it flows well and is enjoyable to read while saying some good and positive things.

To finish reading this article, please head over to http://carlthemuse.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/words-from-carl-the-muse/


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None Of These Things Move Me

Acts 20:24 NKJV

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

I have to confess I am quite the Lord of the Rings fan. *Places nerd glasses on* I have read all the books, own books of the compiled notes of Tolkien (there are over 10 books or so just on notes), have seen all the movies and am anxiously awaiting The Hobbit movies. One of my favorite scenes is at the end of the third movie where Aragorn and his army decide to mount an offensive against the very gates of Mordor themselves. They place their hope in two small Hobbits to throw the One Ring into Mount Doom to finally defeat the incarnate power of evil, Lord Sauron himself.

Aragorn stands fast against all hope.

This offensive had one purpose; to distract the eye of Sauron long enough in hopes of giving Frodo and Sam (the hobbits) a chance at destroying the ring of Sauron (comon I know you know the story, everyone saw the movie!!!). They don’t even know if Sam and Frodo are alive, they are just taking a chance on hope.

The battle is against all odds and they become surrounded on all sides, just when all hope seems dim and death certain weary eyes look to the horizon to see the tower fall and the army of darkness flee. They did it, Frodo and Sam destroyed the One Ring and Middle-Earth is saved from certain destruction. Everyone had a part to do, but Aragorn fought valiantly and stood fast; not counting his life dear to himself. Despite having hope in such a small thing, in something that he couldn’t even see happening, he stood fast in the face of death so that hope could have a chance.

Thankfully our hope is much more sure than Aragorn’s; although it can feel sometimes like we are in the same circumstances.

There is only so much I can tell you guys on here. I have learned that part of being in the ministry means there are very few things you can talk to people about, you know too much of the in’s and out’s of a church or of people lives to talk about your day. When someone asks me, how was your day and what did you do? What can I really say? Especially if you know things people have told you in confidence. It takes a faithful spirit to serve God in leadership, to those of you who want to serve in the ministry start praying for self-control ahead of time.

What I can tell you is that I am battling. I am fighting for my faith and I am fighting for the faith of others. I have already thought a few times about going back home. You may have noticed not many posts recently, it is because I couldn’t find the strength to do so.

God is faithful though, I have learned I have none but Him to trust and rely on.

A few weeks ago I was walking home on Calle Larga and the sun had started to set. Once the sun goes down Calle Larga turns into a party street, where people gather to wait for the clubs to open. I started to remember how much of a joy it was for me to share the Gospel in the streets of York, England to the same type of people. Mostly college or high school kids drinking in the streets. Since the Lord had been stirring my heart it was an easy answer to Klever (the new worship leader for all the services, he will be going on staff in October) when he asked if I wanted to go street witnessing last Friday night. We passed out at least a thousand tracks and three girls accepted Christ, and many more were interested in learning more. We are praying about making it a regular thing.

Besides that we will be having an all night prayer vigilia October 5th, a mission trip to Loja November 1-3rd and a Thanksgiving Day Feast November 22nd. We are starting to get more and more active, but I am not really sure how ready the English service is for that. The English service is what I would call explosive. This can be both a good and a bad thing. It’s explosive because it has people from all over the world, with different backgrounds, different denominations, different ideas on how a church should be run, etc. Because it is primarily made up of people over 50 these are ideas they have had for a long time. The good news is we can use their ideas, their lifelong experiences with Christ to explode for Christ in a good way. The bad news is that there may be some things that they have been taught for years that are not Biblical and changing that might be difficult. What we need the most right now is structure, a solid leadership team, and the grace and miraculous power of God to make it work. I can already tell you if God doesn’t build this house, there is no way it will stand. In fact it is already starting to split at the seems, so pray for us.

Despite all these complications the Lord is adding to the church daily, although they are always surprised to see such a young shepherd serving the flock there.

Although for the past week I have felt overwhelmed by one thing after another the Lord has strengthened me. The secret is alone time with the Lord, in prayer and in His word. I have decided to stand fast with the convictions and vision the Lord has given me for the English service or die trying.

None of these things move me, I will finish the race that I started. The key will be endurance and laying aside the things that weigh me down. One step after another. Thankfully I am not running alone, the Lord goes before me and with me, and if I do finish this race that I started it will be for no other reason except the grace of God that caused me both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Get back up. Purpose in your heart to fight and do what the Lord called you to do, only then will your heart begin to heal from the pain of defeat. Place your hope in the sure confidence of Christ, your God and your Savior, the promises of His Word, and the empowerment of His Spirit, only then will you be able to say “None of these things move me”.

Stand fast. Fight the good fight. Keep the faith.

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Blessed Are They Who Mourn…

Today’s guest post is written by Lisa, in her own words she says, “The Art of Pursuit is made up of snapshots of my journey as a 20-something single Christian woman following hard after God” . You can read more of Lisa’s great articles on her blog site the Art of Pursuit.

“Blessed (enviably happy) are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

If I were to write this verse, it would read, “Blessed are the eternally happy for they shall be…well…eternally happy.” For what do the happy need?  But Jesus didn’t say that the happy were blessed. Instead, He took a moment in time to correct a grave error in our understanding. He commanded blessing on an unexpected group of people. “Blessed are they who mourn…”

I never envy people in mourning and I would laugh at the idea of anyone envying my own sorrow. I envy those who are happy, excited, reveling in their circumstance. I pity those who have lost something.

So why are the mournful to be envied?  Not for their sorrow alone. There is a sorrow that is a “worldly sorrow”. A morose spirit that sinks into depression and despair. We can tend to cling to our sorrow and never let it go. We can sorrow for sorrow’s sake until it becomes an addiction. But it is those who mourn who have the opportunity to be comforted.

“…for they will be comforted.” Not might not possibly. They will be comforted. “  Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted.” (Isaiah 49:13) The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Comfort. He is the Consolation in times of sadness, in seasons of loss, when there is no happiness to be readily obtained from our circumstance.  And He is always ready and available to comfort us. For this reason the heavens sing and the earth rejoices. The mountains break into song because the Lord is the consolation of His people.

Could it be that the comfort gained far outweighs the loss? Could it be that the consolation fills the void to overflowing – to the point that we are better off after the whole process than before?

This comfort is the mighty hand of God reaching down to dry the tears of His hurting child.  God could show us His power by withholding all painful situations from us. But He shows His LOVE when He comforts us. He reveals the sweetest side of Himself when the great Lord of Heaven and earth comes – not to pull us immediately out of a hard situation – but to gather us close to Himself and walk through the situation with us. He demonstrates His deep, affectionate kindness when He slows His pace to match our stride and supports our weak and stumbling journey through the rough places. He is the Companion in our sorrow…the kindest, most gentle companion ever known.

Blessed are they that mourn, for they know – more than anyone – the Father Love of God. They have felt a facet of His nature that no one else would know. They know what it is to be held close to their God.