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Learning to Count

2 + 2 = ??

You know the answer to that math puzzle, don’t you?  And yet you hesitate because you fear there is some bloggish mystery about the equation that will result in a case of the chagrins if you blurt a wrong answer.  You’re still holding back, aren’t you?  Even though you are alone, in front of your computer or tablet and there is NO ONE watching.  You are afraid; you are very afraid.  Hey!  It’ll be OK…give it a whirl…

So, 2 + 2 = ?? 

2 + 2 = 4 (Tada!) 

You knew the answer all along because you mastered basic math skills back when you were a wee lass or lad.  Simple operations, like addition, came right after the primary math skill:  counting. 

Crawling, walking, talking, household pet aggravation, accurate aim in toileting (at least for boys), reading, writing, arithmetic…these are some of the skills people aspire to acquire as they grow up.  These are also some of the skills that we hope our progeny develop as they grow up.  And the last one, in particular, is a skill Christians need to master as we grow up. 

We want kids to learn to count; God wants His kids to learn to count too.  Why is that?  Because Christianity is not all “get”; there is a great deal of “give.”  Now, let me quickly add (Ha!  Get it?  Add?) that this is not a “give” to earn or buy but a “give” that is a response to the lavish love of God. 

How do we know this is true?  Why, the Bible.  Jesus, in cautioning a burgeoning yet perhaps uninformed enthusiasm in Luke 14: 25-33, tries to make sure that His followers “get it”–that is, that they “get” that counting is a key element in Christ following. 

In that Luke passage, Jesus cautions the crowds to beware that family connections might become casualties if those in the crowd choose Him.  He cautions the crowds that their very lives might be forfeit if they choose to follow Him.  Count, He says!  For the sake of it all, count! 

Jesus points to construction contractors who count to make sure they have the resources in place to finish their projects.  In similar fashion, Jesus says, governmental leaders, intent on warfare, do their “battle damage estimates” before firing the first shot. 

This counting is not, I believe, a call to hesitation–a discipleship “speed bump” if you will–it is rather a call to “eyes wide open” discipleship.  Knowing that following Jesus has some associated risk makes for more determined disciples.  This is not a “Wow, that’s going to cost way too much so I’m going to back off,” message.  This is a “Wow, this is important enough to mean something,” message. 

A hundred years ago Eleanor Porter wrote a book about how a cheerful girl changed the outlook of an entire town with her indefatigable optimism.  In 1960, Walt Disney (ever the marketer of good feelings) made the novel into a film starring a teenaged Haley Mills.  The book and movie: Pollyanna.  By sheer force of cheer, Pollyanna rescues a town, a church, and her family from a distasteful tendency toward the dour.  The film paved the way for a label that came to mean a disingenuous cheerfulness:  Pollyannaism. 

That label, unfortunately, describes many in the believing community.  It is talked about as a matter of faith:  “just believe” and, to be sure, there is the highly commended, scriptural faith essential.  And…if we have to lean…we should undoubtedly lean in the faith direction. 

But there is also this call to count…and I think it’s a call often ignored in the Christian community.  Again, not the counting to avoid, but the counting to proceed with determination down the path Jesus has marked for us. 

Friends may indeed abandon; family may wince and walk away; treasure may be given over; reputations may be tattered; lives may be surrendered.  All of them happily ceded as a result of this very basic math skill: counting. 

I believe Jesus wants His followers to have eyes wide open.  If our eyes are not wide open, they cannot see the cost of the following.  But neither can they see the joy of the following.  This is a joy in the same “joy family” as Jesus’ “joy set before Him” in Hebrews 12:2.  This joy came as a result of enduring the excruciating challenge of the cross and finding joy on the other side of a hard obedience.  Our joy can come in a similar way; it can come on the other side of “eyes wide open” discipleship as we count the cost of following Him. 

This joy is not mere relief that the endurance test has passed; it is the incomprehensible delight at the things that God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9).  Eyes wide open indeed. 

© All rights reserved.  Scripture quotations from the NIV.


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How a 20 year old piece of paper saved my life

I was always a ‘good’ boy!

Loved my mum and dad and always stuck by the rules – never really got into trouble (well maybe just a little) and nearly always did what I was told.

When my parents said to do something I would snap to and do it – from music practise to washing up  –  I was your boy.

School was always a drag but then I guess I didn’t have that on my own. All of my efforts were put into pleasing my parents and basking in the security that they offered.

I was very fortunate in having a Mum and Dad who loved Jesus and believed strongly in His leadership. As a family we were hauled off to church each week and I knew all the Bible stories and heaps of verses.

Mum prayed with us often and encouraged us to give our lives to Jesus and I guess at an early stage in my life I did just that. Not that it meant any sort of change in my life and in some ways I took Jesus and His amazing work totally for granted.

So here I was growing up on a type of merry-go-round of church, school and youth group and all the while never really thinking that Jesus’ message really meant me.

I was the ‘good’ boy, never really changing, life travelling along OK, meeting kids my own age and generally enjoying life as it was. Getting a job and meeting the girl of dreams just added to my idyllic lifestyle. Just another day in Paradise you could say.

I guess it may have been the Vietnam War and Australia’s decision to conscript 20 year old males into the army that I first had a real change in my life – During my 19th year I had heaps of time to think about what life would be like in the army or even warfare in Vietnam.

It was during this time I had my first real confrontation with God (if I could put it that way). I was concerned about being drafted into the army and I suppose during that time I tried praying – really praying for possibly the very first time in my life. Did it make a change in my life? I doubt it. But I was quietly pleased when the conscription ballot finally fell and I had missed out.

Did I think of God after that – unfortunately No. It wasn’t until we had a couple of children and we were attending an old historic church, cold, drafty and full of ‘old’ people that God worked an amazing miracle in my life.

I was on a roster of welcoming people to church and this particular rota fell on a night service. Grumbling about driving into town on a cold winters night, I felt a fraction better leaving the family at home all warm and cosy. I remember thinking that no-one will be in church on such a cold, wet and windy night – I should stay at home.

And cold, wet and windy it was – the church was pretty much vacant – You could hear the wind whistling through the big old doors as I walked up the steps to do my duty.

As I walked in the wind picked up and blew a piece of old yellowing paper onto the floor at my feet. I picked it up and not thinking anything about it got onto welcoming the very few church members.

As I stood there and the service started – I glanced down at the paper – it was an old Christian tract written 20 years before. As I turned it over in my hand these words leaped out at me – “I will never leave you or forsake you”.

That’s all….That amazing verse in Hebrews had the most awesome effect on me. GOD MEANS ME!!! ME – HE MEANS ME! HE REALLY REALLY MEANS ME.

I couldn’t believe it – The God I had ‘talked’ to for years was actually talking back to me – He was never going to leave me.

Right there and then I asked Him into life – As I stood in that old windy porch clutching onto an old yellow piece of torn paper. GOD MEANS ME!

My life has changed so much since then  – God has seen me though some horrible and nasty times – times when I doubt I would have made it except for his great love and patience.

I still sin, I always will until I finally get to glory and I have a new mind and body – but Jesus died to renew by relationship with Him not to condemn me for the past and future sins.

Have you been convicted of your need to have Jesus take control of your life?

We all have our different stories of how we feel about Jesus or what we have done with Him. We all need to make a decision one way or another – either accept Jesus as Lord or reject Him … but hey He will never turn you away.

All you need to do is to pray a prayer just like this:-

Dear God,
 
I know I have sinned against you and I have fallen short of your standards.
Thank you for not leaving me in this state and I believe that You sent Jesus to 
die as a payment for my sins.
Please forgive me for all of the sins I have done.
I want to live for you and not for myself – please come and take 100% control of my life. Amen.
 

If you prayed that prayer, please contact us or another Christian person so that we can pray and encourage you in your Christian walk.


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Dealing with Severe Emotional Pain: The Roadmap to Healing

God's Healing Hand On You

Copyright© πίστις 2014

If you have ever been through a serious trial in your life or experienced a deeply painful loss then you can understand how difficult it can be to heal from these experiences.

Depending on what happened and how long it lasted…these things can be very destructive and damaging to you and your walk with Christ. Some examples would be: a serious illness, the loss of a loved one especially a spouse, parent, or child, a divorce or the end of a serious relationship/friendship, a job/career loss, or loss of your home to name a few.

Do these questions sound familiar to you?

Why?
Why me?
What did I do to deserve this?
Where are You in all of this God?

While we all want to know why (well I did!) something happened, why is not always the best question, in fact it is for sure not the best one. Instead of wasting time asking why, instead ask, “how can I fix this?” and “what do You want me to learn from this Lord?”

Everyone needs time to experience grief and to work through it, attempting to sweep it under the rug will not help anything and in fact will make it harder to deal with. Rest assured you will at some point be faced with the need to deal with your pain/loss…better to do so now.

There are two ways you can choose to deal with your pain.

The hard way, and the much harder way, both sound appealing right?

The first way…the hard way is God’s way. This is the preferred method of course. As the title implies, it is not easy. You need to ask God some hard questions and then listen carefully to the answers and be willing to act on them.

 

  1. What am I supposed to learn from this?
  2. What changes do You desire me to make in my life?
  3. What actions am I supposed to take?
  4. (Later on) How can I help someone else through this?

 

The second way…the much harder way is the choice of many unfortunately. This involves running away from God and refusing to submit to Him. It is common to fall into “why me” and depression accompanied by anger and bitterness often directed at God. This can stretch into months if not years…I hope and pray you will not take this way. If you have, then I pray you will submit yourself to God and stop running from Him and trying to avoid what you know you will have to deal with sooner or later anyway. If you choose not to deal with your emotional pain it will catch up to you it is only a matter of when. Serious emotional pain not dealt with can and often does destroy your life.

If you are dealing with someone who has been grievously wounded, you will need patience and lots of it. Try to remember that this person is dealing with severe emotional pain. I cannot for certain tell you what do to other than to pray. Pray for this person, and let him/her know that he/she is loved and cared for.

If you hear “you don’t understand”, well remember that in a way you don’t because you are not that person. Keep in mind as well that someone who is suffering through deep emotional upheaval is likely not thinking clearly and may not be capable of seeing anything but their own pain. Resist the temptation to fire back in anger, you might well get angry because you feel frustrated at being helpless. This will only make things worse. Try to be there for this person and again keep them in prayer.

Whether it is you or you are trying to help someone you care about, go to God with it. Ask Him for His help…God wants you to do this! Try to cultivate a positive attitude as much as possible. Negativity will drag you down in a quick hurry and escaping this mind-set can be a daunting challenge.

Keep yourself busy…too much idle time and isolation is counter-productive. If your hands and mind are busy doing something, the problem does not resound nearly so loud in your mind. Use prayer and worship to help yourself, not only are you told to do so by the Bible, but these two things are effective at fighting negative emotions.

Thankfulness…cultivate an attitude of thankfulness! Many people stumble here…while praying start by thanking God first. You ate today didn’t you? You ARE breathing right? You have a home? The point is there is always something to be thankful for. Just because God is God…does not mean He does not like to be thanked!

Be creative! Of course you may have days when creativity is next to impossible but what about other days? When you are being creative in some way it stimulates good things in your brain…use that!

Help someone else, if you are engaged in helping someone else your pain does not seem so bad. Please don’t use the excuse that you are not fit to help anyone…baloney. Send someone a card, write them an email, do something for someone that needs doing, be encouraging to someone, take the time to pray for some people on a regular basis…make it your mission to do so. Not only are you obeying God’s word, you are blessing yourself in the process!

Prayer…I know I mentioned this before but I cannot emphasize this enough! Pray often and do so out loud. Your spoken words to God have power and it helps keep you on track (and awake) while praying. Prayer is not only about asking God for things, if such is the case for you, well let’s add some things to that.

 

  1. Be thankful…being thankful is a great way to start a prayer.
  2. Be sure to pray in God’s will, not yours. This does not mean to only pray for things that you are sure are in line with God’s will, but also to state to God that above all…Thy will be done, not mine.
  3. Do more than ask for things even for others. As you listen to praise music for instance…just tell the Lord you love Him!
  4. When asking the Lord for things, actions etc. more of your time should be spent praying on behalf of others verses praying for yourself.
  5. Instead of asking God to change someone else, ask Him to change you to meet the need whatever it is.
  6. Praying with your spouse, your friends, etc. is good, but be sure to spend time alone praying. Even Jesus Christ Himself did this.
  7. Be honest in your feelings with God, don’t play cat and mouse with the Lord…He already knows your every thought good or bad so stop trying to hide them from Him.
  8. If you are confused or just not sure about something you are praying about…tell Him! God is never put off at honest questions, it shows you care and desire to remain in His will for you.
  9. Pray daily…a day should not EVER go by that you do not pray.
  10. Just pray!! There have been books galore written on the subject and I’m not saying they are bad or wrong. I am saying you just  need to pray. God looks at your heart not just your words so do not worry that you need to get the words just right. God is not impressed by rote prayer, pray from your heart.

 

If you are the one hurting, if possible find someone you trust and talk to them. It is not that another person can heal your pain…no one can do that for you. Only you and God can accomplish that. You can however find comfort in that person to help you through this trying time in your life. Isolation will only serve to make things worse for you.

If you are the one approached for help in any way…please take it very serious. Above all, pray for the person that came to you, second listen. Listening is often more appreciated than advice and a good listener can do much just by listening! Do not force anything, you will cause more harm than good. If there needs to be some force applied to the situation, let God handle that. If things are serious enough to warrant intervention…get Godly professional help and do not attempt that on your own.

Remember, you are there to help that person any way you can…you cannot fix it so please do not try. Let God do the fixing and support them however you can.

Last…love, love, love, love them!


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ONE TRUE AND LIVING GOD

By Neil Anderson

 banner_secondary_who i am in christ

December 30
 
Exodus 20:2, 3 
I am the LORD your God. . . . You shall have no other gods before Me
 
The doctrinal affirmations today and tomorrow will help you renew your mind and take your stand on the truth. I recommend that you read these Scriptural affirmations aloud at least once a week in the coming year.
 
I recognize that there is only one true and living God (Exodus 20:2, 3), who exists as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that He is worthy of all honor, praise and worship as the Creator, Sustainer, Beginning and End of all things (Revelation 4:11; 5:9, 10; Isaiah 43:1, 7, 21).
 
I recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1, 14). I believe that He came to destroy the works of Satan (1 John 3:8), that He disarmed the rulers and authorities, having triumphed over them (Colossians 2:15).
 
I believe that God has proven His love for me, because when I was still a sinner, Christ died for me (Romans 5:8). I believe that He delivered me from the domain of darkness and transferred me to His kingdom, and in Him I have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13, 14).
 
I believe that I am now a child of God (1 John 3:1-3). I believe that I was saved by the grace of God through faith, that it was a gift and not the result of any works on my part (Ephesians 2:8).
 
I choose to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Ephesians 6:10). I put no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3), for the weapons of my warfare are not of the flesh (2 Corinthians 10:4). I put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17), and I resolve to stand firm in my faith and resist the evil one.
 
Prayer: Lord, inscribe on my heart the truth of who You are and what You have done to secure my eternal salvation.


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OUR RESPONSIBILITIES

By Neil Anderson

December 28
banner_secondary_who i am in christ
Philippians 2:3 
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.
Once when I was pastoring I got a distress call: “Pastor, you better get over here or we’re liable to kill each other.” When I arrived at the house I persuaded them to sit down across the table from each other to talk through their problem. They whaled away at each other for several minutes, slamming each other with accusations and insults.
Finally I interrupted. “Time out! Each of you get your Bible.” I asked the husband to read Romans 14:4: “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” “That verse is talking about judging another person’s character,” I said. “Before God, each of you is responsible for your own character.” They nodded their agreement.
Then I asked the wife to read Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.” “That verse is talking about needs,” I continued. “Before God, each of you is responsible for meeting each other’s needs.” Again the couple agreed with my statement.
“Do you realize what you have been doing the last two hours? Instead of assuming responsibility for your own character, you’ve been ripping apart your partner’s character. Instead of looking out for your partner’s needs, you’ve been selfishly absorbed with your own needs. No wonder your marriage isn’t functioning” Before I left that day, they prayerfully committed to refocus their responsibilities according to the Word of God.
What kind of families and churches would we have if we all assumed responsibility for our own character and sought to meet the needs of those we live with?
Prayer: Lord, I want to be able to say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”


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What is the Purpose of Christmas?

This is a video journal I did for Christmas! 

Merry Christmas! 

-Austin

 

 


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NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD

By Neil Anderson

 banner_secondary_who i am in christ

December 25
 
Luke 1:38 
Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word
 
If God wants something done, can it be done? In other words, if God has a goal for your life, can it be blocked, or is its fulfillment uncertain or impossible?
 
I am personally convinced that no goal God has for my life is impossible or uncertain, nor can it be blocked. Imagine God saying, “I’ve called you into existence, I’ve made you My child, and I have something for you to do. I know you won’t be able to do it, but give it your best shot.” That’s ludicrous! It’s like saying to your child, “I want to you to mow the lawn. Unfortunately, the lawn is full of rocks, the mower doesn’t work, and there’s no gas. But give it your best shot.” Even secular scholars say that issuing a command that cannot be obeyed will undermine authority.
 
God had a staggering goal for a little maiden named Mary. An angel told her that she would bear a son while still a virgin, and that her son would be the Savior of the world. When she inquired about this seemingly impossible feat, the angel simply said, “Nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
 
You wouldn’t give your child a task he couldn’t complete, and God doesn’t assign to you goals you can’t achieve. His goals for you are possible, certain and achievable. When God’s will for us appears impossible, let’s say with Mary: “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
 
Imagine the overwhelming assignment that confronted Mary. She was to have a baby without being with a man. She was to raise the child who would save the world. The entire course of history would be altered, and the eternal destiny of believers would be changed. The fact that you are celebrating Christmas today is proof that Mary’s child Jesus was indeed the world-changing Son of God.
 
Despite the staggering nature of the task announced by the angel, Mary gave herself to accomplish God’s will. God is still looking for a few bondslaves who will dare to believe that nothing is impossible with God.
 
Prayer: Lord, I yield to You as Your bondslave. I choose to believe that whatever You want me to do I can do.