The UnOfficial Christian Newsletter for October 29, 2004
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And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and
While they are yet speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. About this Newsletter
2. Letter from the Editor and Bible Study Combo!
3. Editor's Picks - Links to Check Out!
4. Music, Books, and sites also to check out!
5. Prayer requests!!!!! We are Praying People!!! Amen!
About this Newsletter & Bible Study
We are here to serve God, and serve our Community of Believers. Each of us desire to be instruments of God’s handiwork. We each have something that God has put on our hearts to teach, and preach the Good News of The Gospel! Always lifting Him up. Expect from Him to meet your needs! With His anointing, we pray the Holy Spirit has His way in our lives. He has placed this in my heart to say, that here in this newsletter, there will be no watering down of the Word, or teaching a social gospel. I care nothing for political correctness! I care about scriptural correctness! My pastor says, "God uses many "pots and pans" to feed His sheep!" I am just one more "pot" with a few cracks in me, hopefully... that lets more of His light...shine out.
Letter from the Editor
I too would like to introduce myself to the group as one of the newer members and one of your co-editors for the newsletter. I am here only by God’s leading and direction. I never intended to co-edit a newsletter. But God had other plans for me. More about that in a minute.
I’ve been a member of writing.com for two and a half years. It’s been a blessing in so many ways. Most importantly, it’s linked me with other Christians who’ve accepted the call to write for the Father. It’s provided me with wonderful friendships. And, it’s allowed me to share my writing with others. I truly believe God uses this site in wonderful ways and that most of us will never know those whom our writings have touched and changed.
I’ve been writing most of my life. It’s what makes my heart and spirit sing. And I’m humbled that God chooses to use it for His glory. I’ve been encouraged, taught, and lifted up by my involvement in this site. And now, God has led me to work on this newsletter.
God brought me to the saving grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ when I was 31 years old. Up until that time, I only had a vague, passing knowledge of God. I always believed in Him and He’d been calling me for years but I’d never really heard the plan of salvation. In retrospect, I can only thank Him for bringing me into the Kingdom. I certainly traveled some very dark and lonely roads seeking to fill that empty place we all have within our souls.
It hasn’t always been an easy journey and it hasn’t always been pleasant – after all, God had a lot of work to do on me. And, there’s much still left to be done. We are all a work in progress and that’s what’s so awesome about the Father. He never gives up on us. He never lets go of us. And, as He occasionally has to remind me, He never leaves us nor forsakes us.
Where Do You Find Real Life?
That brings me back to God’s plans for His children. Here is what God has laid on my heart to share with you.
So often, we toddle along in this world, living a hit or miss kind of life. It isn’t that we choose to be disobedient. In fact, many of us strive to obey God’s commands … as long as they fall within our comfort zone. Yet, as I was reminded recently during quiet time with my husband, we must forsake everything for Real Life.
In Matthew 19, verses 16 to 22, Jesus is answering the question about having eternal life. It’s interesting to note that in verse 17 he says, “If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” I think Jesus’ reference to “enter life” is important. I would suggest that Jesus was referring to Real Life. If you are familiar with this passage, then you know that the man who asked the question is referred to as the rich, young ruler. And in verses 23 to 26, Jesus talks about how hard it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. I think we often associate these verses to someone with lots of money. But we certainly can be rich in other areas of our lives – rich in families, rich in friends, rich in possessions, rich in position. Jesus does give believers a way out of this difficulty with the rather popular verse: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Then we come back to Real Life again. Matthew 19:27-30 says: Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses of brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”
And that brings me to the concept of obedience. Often times we choose something other than the Father’s plans, justifying it by any number of ways. And some of those ways seem valid. I can only say that because I lived that way for such a long time. My family came first. But it wasn’t until I chose to be obedient, in spite of the pain and suffering that choice made, that I truly came to understand the joy in obeying.
I currently reside in Germany with my husband who accepted a position over here for three years. My initial response was that I would toddle my way back and forth between Germany and my home in the states where my daughter and two grandchildren reside, along with sisters and their families. I could not imagine being parted from these folks, especially my grandchildren. After all, who would take them to church? Who would be the Christian example in their lives? Good arguments, aren’t they?
Needless to say, I struggled and argued and stomped my feet and cried and whined but I couldn’t ignore what I knew God wanted me to do. And so, in obedience to the Father, I left my family. To be totally honest, the first three months here were the most painful days I’ve ever experienced in my life. It was as if I had a raw, open wound that relentlessly tortured me. My heart was constantly filled with a deep sorrow and grief. A good day was a day I didn’t cry as my heart broke in two.
The hardest part was that I knew I could go back. My husband would support whatever decision I made. And in the depths of heartbreaking anguish, I heard the Father tell me that I had the freedom to choose. It wasn’t what He had in mind for me, but He also told me that if I chose to return, I would never know all the plans He had specifically for me. It still wasn’t easy, but I’d learned that the only way I could have peace in my life was to be in the Father’s will. In Philippians Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I believe the key to that verse is that our hearts and minds are to be in Christ Jesus. The only way to do that is to immerse ourselves in the Word, prayer, and fellowship.
And so I stayed, experiencing a more intimate relationship with the Father than I’d ever known.
While I only desired to be obedient, God has blessed me in so many ways. The blessing Jesus spoke about in verse 29 about receiving 100 times more became more real to me than I could’ve ever imagined. Thus, when I felt God’s leading to volunteer any way I could to help in this newsletter, I obeyed.
There are so many aspects to obedience:
Sometimes obedience brings opposition. Joshua experienced opposition on a grand scale. In Joshua 9, verses 1-6, kings in the area began to form alliances against the Israelites and the Gibeonites tried deception. I’m sure all of us have experienced opposition when we are obedient to God’s word. Sometimes it’s external but there are times when it’s internal. God will strengthen us to endure opposition if we rely on Him and remain in His presence.
Obedience can open doors to God’s care. Moses was obedient and even in his complaining, God gave him a promise we can cling to. Exodus 15:26 says: “If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.” The Great Physician will heal us from any grief or suffering.
Obedience combats temptation. When Satan tempted Jesus in the desert, the Messiah demonstrated this truth. “The tempter came to Him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:3-4). Jesus gives us a clear cut example that obedience to His word is our defense against temptation.
Obedience is the key to putting God’s truth into practice. James gives us some insight on putting God’s word into action (listening versus doing). “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:22-25). In other words, obedience is walking the talk.
And obedience is the key to living as Jesus did. John tells us very simply, “But if anyone obeys His word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2: 5-6). In other words, God’s love is made complete in our obedience.
Consider this question when you are struggling with obedient living. Who or what do you love more – God or yourself?
Joshua tells the Israelites in Chapter 22, verse 5, “But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to obey His commands, to hold fast to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul.”
God never forces us to obey but we all need to recognize one important truth: failing to obey is sin. Genesis 3:14-19 shows God’s punishment as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin – they disobeyed His specific command and lost paradise.
Too often we choose to be “cultural” Christians. While we talk and preach and sometimes judge others by Christian values, our own lives show something entirely different. Instead of seeking God’s will and obediently following, we make our own choices and then ask God to bless our decisions. Are you speaking louder by the way you live or by the words that are so easy to say?
Note: All scripture used comes from the Life Application Bible, New International Version.
writegirl is back ,
If you would like a little more to think about regarding obedience, please have a look …
In putting together the picks for this issue, I tried to come up with a little variety. In one way, shape, or form, the items I’ve selected touch on obedience. Either through poetry that depicts an area where anyone may be encouraged, a fiction or opinion piece that may get readers to thinking, or song lyrics that creatively describe our relationship with the Savior, my prayer is that they will help you examine your obedience to the Father.
Links To Check Out!
Planner Dan offers a wonderful story that’s uplifting and inspirational and offers a glimpse into the blessings of our obedience.
And if you want an awesome, true story that reveals a motivation for obedience, check out another of Planner Dan's items.
There are times when the only thing we can do is plea with the Father for obedience. Theophilus Lightwalker's beautiful poem is a cry from the depths of both heart and soul.
Magdaleine’s poem might help us better in answering the question, Who or what do you love more.
Finally, Baby Sister’s song lyrics expound praises to the Father.
Music and Books/Sites
Sometimes, Christian artists never make it BIG via radio or concerts, yet they develop loyal and faithful followers who never forget the impact of their music. David Meece is just such an artist. I first became familiar when David performed at our church in southeastern Arizona. His lyrics and music spoke to a broken area of my life and I realized this guy was for real. His first music was released back in 1976 and he’s been recording ever since. Some may be familiar with his more popular songs, “We are the Reason” and “One Small Child,” a Christmas classic. But the song that most touched my heart is, “My Father’s Chair.” David grew up in an abusive home and this song is autobiographical. You can visit his web site and discover how talented and dedicated this Christian man is. And while I don’t have all his CDs, I can recommend “Once in a Lifetime,” which includes “My Father’s Chair,” and “Odyssey.” The thing I like most about David is that he has such variety in his music you’re bound to find something you like.
David Meece Ministries P.O. Box 65899 Tucson, Arizona 85728
520.981.1828 Fax: 520.292.2257
If you’ve never listened to Kim Hill, you’re missing a wonderful opportunity to just worship. She too is another one of those real people, singing about real life. She has recently become involved with Focus on the Family’s Renewing the Heart national women’s conference, while juggling a life as mother of two boys. Her music career has spanned fifteen years and she has a new CD out. If you are looking for renewal of your spirit from a realistic perspective, her two CDs, “Arms of Mercy,” and “the Fire Again,” will leave you more than satisfied. One song in particular, “I Can’t Believe,” speaks to the human side of being obedient and faithful
With the hit song, “I Can Only Imagine,” which garnered several Dove Awards, the group MercyMe, was one of Christian’s fastest selling bands in 2001. This particular song illustrates what happens when we take the focus off our circumstances and place it on Jesus. Some of you may be more than familiar with their music but their CD “Almost There,” really touched my heart. And apparently I’m not alone. The group appeals to both devout Christians and young teens. While their more upbeat tempo may not appeal to some, their music really has been a blessing. When Christian artists can reach outside the Christian arena, then they are making a real difference in the world.
If there’s one thing we as Chistians don’t do enough, it’s taking the time to laugh. And there’s one man who can do that with wholesome, realistic humor that will leave you rolling on the floor. Mark Lowry has been in the business for more than twenty years and has been performing since he was eleven. Not only is Mark a gifted commediene, he’s also a talented singer and songwriter. If you are familiar with the Christmas song, “Mary Did you Know,” then you know just how gifted he is. And if you watch any of the Gaither Vocal Band’s “Homecoming” videos, you’ll see how God has perfectly meshed Mark's gifts into a wonderfully mischievous package.
My tastes in books run the gamut, be it Christian or secular authors. But I want to recommend one of the most creative (and most successful) Christian authors of fiction.
Frank Peretti is known for his unique ability to take the unseen supernatural forces and create stories that demonstrate the spiritual battle that rages around us. One of his more interesting books, “The Oath,” presents readers with a story of high suspense about a little place called Hyde Valley. Residents have kept a step ahead of poverty despite the slow collapse of mining in Clark County. For the most part, they are satisfied to remain within the confines of small town living and keep their noses out of other people’s business. But when a bear attack brings the valley unwanted attention, more than the residents are upset. The last remaining ancestor of the town’s founding fathers, Harold Bly, thinks he has things under control and uses his heavy influence to try and silence the truth from being discovered. But one man threatens not only Harold’s powerbase but something far more powerful that has a hold of Hyde Valley. Peretti does an excellent job of putting the reader in the midst of danger far more perilous than what appears on the surface. And after you’ve read the last page, you might just want to read the book again in case you’ve missed Peretti’s subtle allegorical message that may be closer to reality than we'd like to believe.
One last recommendation I’d like to make comes from Max Lucado. Just about every Christian knows this talented and gifted man. His Bible studies and devotionals bring fresh and new perspectives that give readers heavy doses of reality in the brutal honesty of the subjects he covers. But he is also a creative fiction writer. As you begin to prepare for the holidays, I’d like to strongly recommend “Cosmic Christmas.” If you’ve ever gotten caught up in the hustle and bustle most of us struggle to escape from during Christmas, this book will give you a gloriously new perspective on the true reason for the season. Lucado speculates that maybe Satan didn’t sit idly by while God’s most wonderful and perfect plan was put into place. Instead, his imagination takes flight into the spiritual realm where hosts of angels play a part in the true Christmas story. Using scripture from Revelation … ”there was a war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back,” (Rev. 12:7 New International Version), Lucado puts forth an imaginative story that will leave readers with an even more precious view of the Christmas Story.
Ever wonder if an inspirational book is what it promises? You can determine if your definition of Christian is the same as the author's at http://www.theinspirationalreader.com. While the site is in no way complete, it's a convenient way to search by author, genre, etc.
Prayer Requests & Answers
regained You can pray for my oldest son, John, a member of the US Army Infantry Airborn who will soon be deployed to harm's way... A step-daughter Mindy who is making some very harmful decisions... For our nation, which faces some difficult changes and decisions and deperately needs a church that is fully alive.
jmaranez My husband, daughter and I will be travelling to the west coast of the USA in a few weeks to spend time with my Grandmother. She is very sick so I would appreciate the Group's prayers for comfort and healing upon her according to God's will. I would also appreciate prayers for God's protection and travelling mercies over us as we travel - we live in Australia, so it will be a long trip (and my daughter is 9 months old!).
Mommy4Life Please pray for my children. We are going through a difficult time and I want them to experience love and peace like never before. Thanks!
Please pray for the upcoming election. We have an obligation to vote and my prayer is that God’s hand will be on our country and that it be His will that reigns supreme.
Please do not hesitate to send your prayer requests to the Editorial Team so that it can be included in this Newsletter - we are here to pray for one another! In the same way, please let us know if you believe God has answered prayer requests that you have shared with us - we all can be built up in Christ with your answered prayer!
Thank you for taking the time to read through another edition of the UCN. We hope that you have been challenged, blessed and inspired! Please do not hesitate to provide feedback or raise questions on the content of this Newsletter.
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