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Study Study Study

2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth”  (NIV). The King James translates the first part of that verse with these words, study to show thyself approved…. The past few weeks have reminded me of the truth of this passage and how important it is for believers to stay in the word.

In our world today we are faced with a culture that will corrupt the message of God’s word to suit their own lifestyle. If they are unable to find justification then the next step is to deny its authority or attack its credibility.  On the other end of the spectrum we find believers who cannot defend even the simple tenets of  their faith. When confronted by the first group, believers wilt in their ability to justify their own faith.

So what is the answer to this dilemma? Study!! Devotional reading of scripture is a wonderful discipline, but we also need to move deeper in our reading and understanding of God’s word. I understand some feel intimidated by this challenge, but the only way to overcome that fear is roll up your sleeves and get busy. When you get to passages that are difficult to understand don’t gloss over them, get a commentary and read it. Talk to other believers and ask them what they think it means. Go to your pastor and talk with him about the passage. The key is to come away with a better understanding of what the scripture means.

Don’t give up. God will honor your desire to know His word.

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3rd Team Ministry

There are several reasons why I enjoy officiating High School football:  1) I love football and it allows me to be involved in the game. 2) As a pastor it allows me an opportunity to extend my ministry outside the walls of the church. 3) I look forward to the fellowship with our crew every Friday night.

Several years ago I remember meeting at midfield with our crew right before kick-off. I don’t remember the referee that night but will always remember what he said, “guys, there are three teams out here tonight and the crowd is only going to cheer for two of them so we need to be the best team out here.” He was right on target. The only time the crowd ever cheered for me was when the running back knocked me on my back side. Over the past several years I have sensed a need to have a ministry to sports officials. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes does a great job but their ministry is focused on coaches and athletes. So after a time of prayer I have decided to form a non-profit ministry entitled 3rd Team Ministry.

At the present time, I am in the process of filling out all the paperwork to form a non-profit corporation. Last week 3rd Team was recognized by the state of TN as a non-profit. But that is just a beginning. Bylaws must be written and a board of directors recruited. Still much work to do.

The main purpose in sharing this information with you is to request your ongoing prayer support as we continue in the process of getting the ministry off the ground. Let me share with you some specific ways you can pray.

1. Time Management-My first priority is to pastor the wonderful congregation of West End Baptist Church. Time devoted to 3rd Team comes after that commitment.

2. Vision Planning-Working out the plans on how to make the vision a reality.

3. Board of Directors-Seeking God’s leadership in enlisting directors that provide leadership to the future of the ministry.

4. Funding-3rd Team is a not  for profit and will need funds for initial costs such as incorporation fees, web development, publicity and event planning. Pray that in the future the ministry will be self-sustaining through its events.

5. Pray that God will open the door to share the good news with sports officials and encourage them in their walk with the Lord.

Thank you for your prayers. I will keep you up to date on our progress.

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Walking in the Spirit

In the movie Force 10 from Navarone, Harrison Ford and Robert Shaw have the task of blowing up a dam that will eventually take out a key bridge. Using a small amount of explosives, they set the charges thinking it will blow the dam apart–it does not. As the smoke begins to clear the two believe they have failed. Within minutes small cracks begin to form in the walls. The pressure from the water begins to increase the cracks, eventually causing major structural damage. In the end, the dam cannot withstand the pressure and the weakened walls cave in, completely destroying the dam. Mission accomplished.

I wonder how much this resembles our christian walk when we allow sin to create cracks in our lives. In Galatians 5:16 ff, Paul challenges the churches in Galatia to live by the Spirit otherwise they will end up gratifying the desires of the sinful nature, which is contrary to the Spirit. Paul provided the churches with a sample of what the sinful nature would produce. In contrast, he encouraged the believers to live a life that was evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit.

Paul’s encouragement to the churches of Galatia is an encouragement and challenge to us as well. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Good advice – walk in the power of the Spirit and do not let sinful desires produce cracks that can lead to sinful actions.

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After the death of Moses, Joshua assumes the mantle of leadership with the children of Israel. In the first nine verses of chapter one, God challenges Joshua three different times to be stong and courageous. God is about to fulfill His promise to the children of Israel by bringing them into the promised land. God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous because he is called to lead the people into the land. They will be prosperous and successful therefore be stong and courageous. Great advice to Joshua, but what’s the source of his encouragement? The answer is found in two promises that God gives to Joshua. The first promise is found in verse 5, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU.” The second promise is found in verse 9, “Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Discouragement can be the achilles heal of the believer. It robs us of joy while questioning God’s presence in our lives. As a result we grow weary and tired. Paul speaks of discouragement in his letter to the Galatians (6:9). Paul writes, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Do not let discouragement rob you of your joy and service. Remember, God’s promise to every believer is the same promise He gave to Joshua. He will never leave us or forsake us and he will be with us in every situation. No matter what you face today, hear God’s word for us–“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous!”

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What did become of sin? Chuck Colson poses that question in his study book “How Now Shall We Live.” In today’s worldview, the idea of sin has been dismissed. As Colson states, the biblical doctrine of sin has been cast aside. Modern thinkers hold the belief that sin is an archaic and oppressive ideology. They believe man is good and given the right social conditions he will flourish in that goodness. These are the views that drive socialism and communism. The state attempts to create the right social conditions so that man may thrive in goodness.

Why does this matter to us? Because our country is moving closer and closer to that worldview. In doing so, our government attempts to create the right social conditions for people to excel. The big problem is that many see religion and the tenets of evangelical christianity as a hindrance to the development of a better social condition. Therefore, we must limit the expression of these for the good of everyone. The flaw in this view is that no matter what conditions the state or government tries to set up, sin is still present and will corrupt their attempts.

The second concern in this ideology is that of accountability. If the notion of sin is archaic then I no longer am accountable to a higher authority. God has been removed from the picture. It also means that whatever evil I do is not my fault but rather a result from the evils of society that impact me. This worldview is now rampant in our culture. “It is not my fault that I am a serial killer, it is my parents fault because they abused me as a child.” “It is not my fault that I abuse my wife and kids, my job situation is to blame because of the pressure put on my by my work and the greedy people who run my company.” 

As believers we must stand for the truth. We must now shy away from the fact that all have sinned. Our world is not in trouble because of the wrong social conditions, we are where we are because of sin. There is only one remedy for that problem-Jesus Christ!

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How do we know for sure that we have experienced genuine repentance? On Day 24, the authors provide a threefold process of change that will take place in our lives when genuine repentance has occured.When we repent our mind changes, our heart changes and our actions change.

With our minds, we agree with God’s truth about our condition. With our hearts, we grieve over our sin and return to our first love. With our actions, we turn away from sin and temptations. We begin to live the life that God had intended for us.

Repentance is not the end of the process but the beginning. As our minds, hearts and actions change, we begin to see God do something new in our lives. We begin a Fresh Encounter with Him that leads to renewal and revival. My prayer is that all believers may experience a renewed relationship with the one than knows them the best and loves them the most-our Heavenly Father!

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Solomon asked God a very important question; “Lord, if you punish Your people because of their sin and they turn their hearts back to you, will you forgive them?” God’s answer would not only affect Israel but it would affect us as well. Is there hope for us when our hearts turn away from God? When our hearts cry out for mercy and grace will He hear? The answer to Solomon’s question and to our questions is a resounding YES! If we repent and turn back to Him, He will forgive us.

Revival begins when our hearts turn back to God with a new commitment and a new resolve to love the Lord with all our heart. God has a plan and a purpose for our lives. He is ready to bless His children. “I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jer. 29:11)” Thank you Lord for your forgiveness and your promise!

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