The Voyager: Encouragement for Life's Journey
Below you will find articles from our Church's leadership meant to encourage you and give you insight into questions about life, faith, and God.
I recently had a friend of mine lend me his Chevrolet Corvette for me to take on a trip. He let me drive his beautiful, expensive car in all its aerodynamic, advanced-technology, high-acceleration glory!! I felt like a crop duster pilot who was offered the undeserved chance to fly an F-15 fighter jet.
Such an opportunity makes a context that is ripe for pretense. When I pulled into a parking space, people noticed me, particularly when it was a space in a Walmart parking lot. I must admit that I liked the attention. I would get out of the car with my sunglasses still on, stand by this beautiful vehicle that was not even mine, and try to look like I owned it. Even the low profile of the Corvette made me feel taller.
If someone commented on how nice “my” car was, I would just respond with a “thanks” and let them draw their own conclusions. Maybe they thought I was a successful businessman, perhaps a company CEO, or possibly a financial professional who maneuvers the stock market as well as the Corvette maneuvers turns. There was no doubt that it was extremely easy for me to use the unmerited privilege of driving that car to motivate me to walk with an extra self-promoting strut.
The truth of matter is that the opportunity to take my journey in that Corvette was my friend’s idea by his initiative. The underserved reality of such a request caused me not to even consider making it. There was nothing I could do to show I was worthy of benefitting from his investment. He bought that car. He invested time and resources in customizing it. For me to think that it should be available for me to drive would be arrogant entitlement at best. In opening that vehicle’s door to me, my friend showed me grace, giving me the chance to take my journey in a context of quality that I did not deserve.
“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. . . . So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God” (Romans 5:8,11 NLT).
What my friend did for me Jesus did for us on an immeasurably greater scale. He offers us not just hope for life after death, but a quality of life in the here and now, a journey of living in a right relationship with God. It was His idea by His initiative. He preemptively saw us in the broken down junkers of our own self-reliance and chose to offer us the unmerited opportunity to travel in style. By trusting in what Jesus did for us on the cross, we have the opportunity to benefit from His investment. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT). The new vehicle of life in which we can travel belongs to Jesus. It is His. He invested himself in it, signing the title in His own blood. By His grace, He opens the door and we sit down by faith.
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:8–9, NLT).
So how do we respond to such a privilege? What do we do once we sit behind the wheel? We drive in such a way that honors the owner, understanding that the vehicle of life in which we are traveling belongs to Him, not to us.
“. . . You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, NLT).
Before my friend allowed me to leave in his car, he went over some specific instructions with me. He gave me practical directions in how to properly steward his investment with which I was entrusted. Those instructions set a context that protected both me and the car. As he spoke to me, I did not ignore or reject his guidance out of some presumptuous sense of competency. I listened intently because I knew that the owner of the vehicle knew best how to operate it, and wise was I if I took his words to heart. Wise are we if we respond to God in the same way. Humble teachability enables prudent stewardship of the opportunity Jesus has provided for us and the investment He made to make it all possible.
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves” (Galatians 5:16, NLT).
My friend reassured me that he was just a phone call or text away if I needed any help. He was not abandoning me to steward his investment on my own. He would be available to help along the way. By the Holy Spirit, God offers us the same opportunity to an infinitely greater measure. While I drove the Corvette, I was reminded to drive in a manner of which I knew my friend would approve. The unmerited opportunity brings with it the responsibility to drive in a way that honors the owner. The Holy Spirit guides and enables us to drive the vehicle of life so that we are protected and others around us benefit from our choices.
The point is that others see the quality of life that we have and want it. Just as the Corvette was on display to others around me, we are to put the life we have in knowing Jesus on display. But don’t follow my example. When others look at you, tell them who the owner is. Don’t use God’s grace as motivation for you to do some pretentious, self-righteous strut. Relying on the Holy Spirit, drive in a manner that brings honor to the owner. Let people know that the same grace the opened the door to you is available to them. By faith, if they will choose to sit behind the wheel, the journey of a lifetime awaits!
Article by Pastor Jeff Pfingston
"At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and
have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”
There is something about a story that connects with the heart of its hearer in a way
that didactic teaching cannot. Perhaps that is why Jesus told so many stories, which the Bible calls parables. The parables of Jesus have been a favorite subject of theologians and Sunday school teachers alike. They are memorable and relatable. The metaphors and allegories of the parables can be adapted to our own culture and circumstances. However, if we are not careful we may miss Jesus’ meaning, why he told stories, and what they really say to us today.
I know that you probably have no desire to distort the meaning of Scripture, but we
all tend to read from our own context and on our own terms. We want the Bible to speak to us in our world with our lenses and our preconceived ideas. This is something we don’t require of any other story. One thing my childhood fairy tales have taught me is that we all have the capacity to surrender to the story and let it take us on its own adventure. We have the same opportunity with the Bible. I have learned that I must be willing to surrender to the story of the Gospels before the story can truthfully speak to my life. The Bible wants to speak to me on its own terms and from its own context. Those of you who are new to the Bible may actually have an advantage over those of us who have grown up with it as a part of our daily life. You probably aren’t sure what to expect, where I, and others like me, had it all figured out a long time ago. We know the stories by heart. We can tell you what they say and what Jesus meant because we’ve been told by people we trust what to expect. Those kinds of expectations rob us of the experience of exploration and fresh adventure.
As a student of theology and teacher the temptation is to mull over the meaning of
Scripture in my mind, to study every word looking for a deeper meaning, to try to
condense the story down to practical points I can give my students to take home and
apply. However, if we are to surrender to the story we must engage more than our
minds, we must engage at the heart level and allow our heart to respond.
God’s Word is meant to be experiential. So what do you experience when you
enter the story of Jesus’ life and ministry as told in the Gospels? Maybe you see Jesus
as a Gandhi figure bringing peace and happiness to all. Do you picture yourself sitting at the feet of the gentle teacher? Maybe you see Jesus as the miracle man, the knight in shining armor, or maybe you don’t know what to make of him. Maybe the stories are so familiar that they are little more than ink on a page. Maybe you feel guilty because you know you’re supposed to be getting something from your Bible but overall you just can’t seem to engage. Wherever you are starting from, it’s time to lay down your past experiences, preconceived ideas, and expectations. It’s time to humbly ask, “who does the story tell us Jesus is?” It’s time to pray, “Holy Spirit, show us Jesus in the story.”
There is an unexpected adventure waiting for us if we can lay down our expectations
and surrender to the story.
In this article, Pastor Jeff reflects on Mary's words in response to God's will for her life.
“I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” (Luke 1:38, NLT)
This statement, uttered from Mary’s heart, astounds me. This trust is not based on that fact that the plan of God has been completely explained to her. After the angel Gabriel gives her a summary of what is in store for her, Mary is in the position to have more questions than can be accurately counted. She has been told that she, an unmarried young virgin, is going to become pregnant and give birth to the Son of God. Through her, the One who transcends time and space, He whose right hand spread out the heavens (Isaiah 48:13) would become a baby. God would encase himself in human flesh and walk among us, and it would all happen through her.
What about all the cultural and social implications of her pregnancy? How would her and Joseph’s families respond to her expanding condition? How could she and Joseph convince the society around them that the only logical conclusion about the cause of her pregnancy was not the correct one? These are only the beginning of the questions that Gabriel’s pronouncement did not answer. Yet Mary’s response is, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Amazing!!
It seems to be reasonable for Mary to ask to know more about that for which she was signing up, or better stated, that for which God had signed her up. “God, I am willing to consider your plan, but I need to hash out some details with you. There is some need-to-know information that I have yet to understand. Explain those things to me, and I’m all in.” This approach to “trust” in God is typical to humanity – “Explain it to me, and I will trust You.”
Such an approach is humanism disguised as faith in God. It focuses one’s trust and reliance not on God, but on one’s own intellect as seen in one’s ability to understand the given situation. Proverbs 3:5-6 reveals the reality of Mary’s trust in God. She chose to trust in God with all her heart and not to depend on her own understanding. Mary chose to seek God’s will in all that she did, trusting Him to show her the path to take to effectively navigate, step-by-step, all the nuances of the circumstances that she and Joseph would face. Mary understood that she did not have to understand it all. She chose to trust that God already had all the answers to the unspoken questions that permeated her mind. Therefore, she chose to be a conduit for the miraculous, a means by which God performed a feat that challenges the wonder of creation itself. Through her, God became human and the world would never be the same.
The message is clear. When we approach God with the same trust that Mary exemplified, we are positioned to join God in the supernatural expression of His character and purposes. We become living channels through whom Jesus is revealed right into our situations and circumstances. This is the fountain from which transformation flows, both in our lives and the lives of others God uses us to impact.
As we approach the threshold of 2021, change in the upcoming year and beyond is not found in making “resolutions” that focus superficially on symptomatic behavior. True change is found in the attitude that motivated Mary’s humble words – “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” It is a statement of identity (“I am the Lord’s servant”) that establishes a context of trust that genuinely believes what God says to be true, regardless of our lack of understanding concerning how it will all work out. It is trust born of relationship, reliance on God that makes the time to listen to Him, allowing the Holy Spirit to progressively apply the truth of who God is to our lives, the truth of the character and purposes of God as revealed in the Bible’s pages.
Do you want 2021 to be different? Then take a lesson from the words of a teenager. Use the attitude and motivation of Mary as a template for your approach to life – “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”
In this study of Ephesians 6:14-18, we will be looking at the whole book of Ephesians in order to understand what each piece of armor represent. We will find that putting on the armor of God isn’t a daily declaration that “this morning I am putting on my helmet of salvation, I am picking up my shield of faith…” Putting on your armor is living in the reality of your position in Christ Jesus! It is believing the truth about what God has done for you because of his great love for you (Ephesians 2:4; 3:18-19).
We start with the belt of truth…
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (Eph. 1:13).
“…you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:21).
The Belt of Truth: The Ephesians have heard the truth by the gospel having been preached to them. The result of them hearing and believing the truth is that they are now included in him who is the embodiment of truth, Jesus Christ.
“…put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24).
The Breastplate of Righteousness: Before Paul instructed them to “put on” the armor of God (Eph. 6:13) he instructs them to “put on” the new self, provided to them through the blood of Jesus (Eph. 2:15). By putting on the new self they are in essence putting on the breastplate of righteousness since that is part of the nature of the new self.
We should not be thinking individualistically about this righteous and holy new self. In fact, self isn’t a very good translation of the Greek word here. A better translation would be “new person” and it is the same Greek word used in Ephesians 2:15. Paul tells us in chapter 2 that this new person is created in Christ Jesus and made up of all those, Jew and Gentile, who have been reconciled to God. When we put on the “new person” of the Body of Christ our spiritual DNA becomes the DNA of that Body which is righteousness and holiness.
“For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace” (Eph. 2:14-15).
“This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6).
Feet Fitted with readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace: Are you starting to see how interdependent these pieces of armor are? The good news about peace is that inclusion in God’s plan is no longer limited to those with whom he made the Sinai covenant. The law of that covenant created animosity between Jew and gentile because gentiles represented everything that Israel was to be separated from. But now, through Jesus, we all have the opportunity to be reconciled to God. Peace with God results and peace with each other! That is good news worth sharing.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8).
Helmet of Salvation: To understand this verse in the correct tense it should be translated, “For by grace you are saved…”. What does it mean to be saved? Paul describes it for us earlier in Ephesians 2…
“…you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked” (v. 1).
“God made us alive together with Christ” (v. 5).
Once you had evil at work within while following the prince of the power of the air…
“following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (v. 2).
Now you are in Christ, seated in heavenly places…
“…and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (v. 6).
Once an object of wrath…
“…we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (v. 3).
Now an object of grace…
“…so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (v.7).
Salvation isn’t just that he forgave us our sins, but that he has repositioned us in His Son seated above the demonic princes that once dominated us. He changed our very nature from objects of wrath into objects of grace. When the truth of your position in Christ gets down deep into your heart your mind is also impacted. Confusion about your standing with God leaves. Fear that the enemy will get you disappears. Performance motivation and anxiety is replaced by the assurance that Christ has already done all this for you!
“This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him” (Eph. 3:11-12).
“…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith...” (Eph. 3:17).
Shield of Faith: Faith is the key that allows us to unlock all the benefits of salvation and our position in Christ. It is also what allows the Lord access to dwell inside us. If we are within Christ and he is within us, what access does that give the enemy to us? Appropriately, Paul uses the Greek word that describes a full, body length shield that will cover the whole person, in contrast with a small round shield used in closer proximity. The purpose of this shield is to “extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16). In ancient warfare flaming arrows or spears were hurled at the shield of the enemy in an attempt to get them to throw aside their shield and leave themselves unprotected. To deflect this kind of attack the Roman soldiers would cover their wooden shields in skins and leathers and soak their shields in water before a battle. If our shield is faith then the water it is soaked in is our communion with Christ. Without that ongoing communion (described in John 15) our faith can become dry, vulnerable to the attack of the enemy, and in the worst case scenario we may throw it aside in an attempt to fight the battle without it.
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 1:13
Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God: Notice that the sword Paul mentions in Ephesians 6:17 is given to us by the Spirit of God. This is the same Spirit who secures and authenticates our position in Christ’s Body. The “word” of God mentioned in 6:17 is the same “word” mentioned in 1:13 and should be associated with the Gospel that the Ephesians and heard and believed. How is the gospel like a sword? When the gospel of salvation is preached the kingdom of darkness is raided and its prisoners rescued and brought into the Kingdom of God!
Summary: So if we were to take away the metaphoric reference to armor and state the truths that Paul is representing here what might that sound like?
Remember the truth you first heard and believed about Jesus, that you are now a part of the new person, the Body of Christ, and that you have peace with God! This is the peace that you proclaim to others! Remember that he has taken you out of the kingdom of darkness and evil no longer has dominance over you. Believe that you are now positioned in Christ Jesus above every demonic spirit. It is faith in your position in Christ, and his presence within you, that protects your from any attack the enemy might hurl at you from below as you remain in communion with Jesus. When you share this good news and true word about salvation in Christ you are doing damage to the demonic kingdom.
“If you have raced with men on foot and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses?” Jeremiah 12:5a
God is the biggest visionary of all. He envisions the minutest details of your life and how they fit with his grand vision of all creation restored to its original purpose. He is orchestrating those details and taking you on a journey of your complete restoration to the purpose for which you are created. On this journey you will continually be discovering who he created you to be.
There are a few things that God has taught me on my journey that have made me into the person I am today. He has taught me how to love well, how to trust him even when it hurts, and how to live from the place of knowing I am loved by Him. I have a lot more to learn, but I am so grateful for these lessons. Nothing I’ve done for the Lord has been as important as learning to become who he has created me to be, and that sense of being is what has allowed me to participate in his vision of loving people into their purpose.
It is my passion to help people rise above the impossibility of their situation into abundant life and the destiny that God has planned for them. Too often I’ve seen people, including myself, miss opportunities to realize more of their destiny. It is not the outside obstacles that trip us up, although it is easy to point to those things as the reason for our “can’t do” attitude. It is the inner issues of the heart; fear, self-pity, offense, pride, that so often way lay us and take us on a detour through the wilderness for 40 years when we could have gone right into the promised land. Another lesson I have learned on my journey is that the outward obstacles we come up against can be our scapegoat for why we can’t move into our purpose or they, through the grace of God, can serve to mold us into people of destiny. Destiny, at the end of the day, is not about what we do but about who we are becoming.
In Jeremiah 12 the prophet voices a complaint to the Lord. He asks, “Why does the way of the wicked prosper?” I’ve asked similar questions before. It usually goes something like this, “Why is this so hard? Am I doing it wrong? Is there a shortcut? Does this ever get easier?”
God’s answer to us is “I never said it would be easy, but will you trust me that it will be worth it?”
God, knowing that the process is difficult, will give us promises to hold onto during the journey. However, it is our choice whether we will embark on the journey he has called us to. During the journey, our mind is renewed so that we are able to carry the anointing and destiny God has for us. We begin to think like God thinks, recognize his will, and expel the lies we believe that keep us from carrying out his will. That is why I say destiny is more about who you are becoming than what you are doing. But it is not just in the process that we will be tested – even in the realization of our dreams we will continue to face challenges. That’s why we need the process. It’s the process of realizing destiny that develops the strength in us to steward our destiny. It never gets easy, but it is always worth it.
Article by Pastor Shawna Carpenter
“Then he said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.’” (Luke 9:23, NLT)
“And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.”
(Luke 14:27, NLT)
As indicated in the title, this is Part 2 of a blog that I started on May 21, 2020. If you have not read Part 1, you can do so by using the following link:
God has been teaching me about the reality of what it means to carry my cross and follow Him. It is an ongoing journey of experiential learning, a journey in which the Holy Spirit is progressively applying the truth of the Bible to my daily life.
“For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls” (1 Peter 2:21–25, NLT).
As we learned in Part 1 of this blog, the example established by Jesus to which 1 Peter 2:21 refers is the reality of how He dealt with the offenses that others committed against Him. Jesus used those offenses as a context by which He made life available to others. Before the offenses occurred, Jesus purposed in His heart to be the means by which salvation was brought to all who acted offensively against Him, encompassing those who were culpable in the immediate situation as well as all of us who have insulted and dishonored Him by our sin. This is the example that God wants to enable us, by His Spirit, to follow.
How do we do this? What does this look like in the context of daily life?
Jesus purposed in His heart how He would handle the offenses before they occurred. For us to be channels of God’s purposes through the offenses we suffer, we must purpose in our hearts to be so before the offenses occur. If we are currently struggling with offense, we must choose how we are going to take the next step in effectively addressing the offense. We must make that decision before the next step is taken, not decide in the moment we are taking that step. This is done in the context of our personal time spent with Jesus, in the time we make to be alone with Him and allow the Holy Spirit to speak into our lives, progressively transforming us to practically reflect the character of Jesus. Our public actions are determined by the priority we place on our private pursuit of God.
It is in the place of private pursuit that we can reflect the same heart that David expressed . . .
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23–24, NLT)
Repentant, specific surrender of all that is in us that offends God enables us to effectively handle the offenses of others. Death to our sin positions and authorizes us to deal with the sins of others according to God’s loving, eternal purposes.
“When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.” (Isaiah 53:11, NLT)
The above passage from Isaiah, which is a prophetic pronouncement concerning Jesus, also applies prophetically to us as we allow the Holy Spirit to express the life of Jesus through our repentantly surrendered lives.
Jesus uniquely bore all the sins of humanity, taking the punishment of our sins in our place. No one else could ever do that. No one else needs to do so. That work was exclusively and permanently completed by Him. However, when people act and speak offensively against us, we bear the impact of their sinful choices. We suffer the pain that their course of action produces.
We follow Jesus’ example when we choose to see each offense against us as an opportunity to reflect the character of Jesus to those who are offending us. In those strategic moments, the Person of Jesus can be exhibited through us, showing people by our example that He is real. In the place of personal pursuit, the Holy Spirit will enable us to respond to personal attacks with love, to insults with forgiveness, to disrespect with selfless patience, and to accusations with purposeful compassion. In doing so, we make it possible for others to see Jesus and to respond to the salvation that He offers to them. By seeing Him reflected through us, they can be drawn to Jesus and understand their need to know Him personally. As a result, they are attracted to the real life they see in us, to the freedom they wish they had.
Resounding through our lives, they will hear the Holy Spirit inviting them to trust in what Jesus did for them as the only way by which they are made right with God. As we respond to the experience of offense by following Jesus’ example, we will join God in making it possible for others to be counted as righteous before Him. This is the reality of Isaiah 53:11 being prophetically expressed through us.
God is calling us to see every offense we feel as a strategic, God-given opportunity to be coworkers with God in the fulfillment of His purposes in the lives of others. When we feel offense, we must see opportunity. That perspective is developed in the context of the private pursuit of God.
Get alone with God and allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart. As He illuminates your attitudes and motivations, repent of all that is contrary to Jesus’ character. God will empower you to walk in freedom over offense as you join Him in using the offenses you feel to bring His life to others.
Article by Pastor Jeff Pfingston
Don't ever give up in praying for your family!
I have a grandson who has been having a problem giving up drugs. He spent some time in jail and while there, accepted Jesus as his Savior and was baptized! He was fanatically saved and as soon as he was able to, they moved him to a Christian rehab house.
He moved forward in the Lord but as temptations arose he gave in and had to go back to jail to finish this time. After he got out again, he struggled with temptations and moved away from the Lord. God is faithful and caused his insurance company to move him to a rehab in Florida near his dad. He is now back walking with the Lord and doing great. They're moving him forward in the program at a fast pace. When he leaves there, his plans are to live with his dad and make his home in Florida.
This is an answer to a prayer to get him away from the influences in the state where he was. I believe that God has great plans to use this young man in His kingdom work. Don't give up in praying for your families! It's in God's timing that your prayers will be answered.
"He sent his word and healed them" (Psalms 107:20).
There is no distance in prayer!
One morning I came into the church office and the telephone rang. One the other end of the phone was a person needing prayer. I'm so glad there are no boundaries with God. To my knowledge this person has not been to our church building and we have never met face to face.....but we have the same heavenly father. This person needed a physical healing in their back.
There were two of us in the office and we agreed with this person in prayer for healing. After a few moments of praise and prayer this person was healed of the pain in their back. To God be all the glory!
A few months ago in Children's Church, an 8 year old girl kept coughing and complained about her cold. Keith Mullican, our children's ministry leader, wrote out I Peter 2:23 on a white sheet of copy paper and gave it to her. He told her that she WAS healed because Jesus already paid the price for her healing. The next day, she went to the doctor and was fine. She was in church recently, and pulled a piece of paper out of her backpack. It had been folded crookedly and kept in a safe pocket. Mr. Keith asked her what it was, and she opened it up to show him the verse he had written out months ago. She said every time she starts to feel bad, she reads it again. God healed her with his word!
Around May, Mr. Keith had a really bad pain in his back, and God prompted him to have another little girl lay hands on his back and pray for him. She said she did not know how. So he showed her and prayed with her repeating what he said. His pain went away slowly over the next 24 hours. Then a few weeks later, a 6 year old boy told Mr. Keith that his back was hurting. He called the girl who had learned how to pray and had her lay hands on his back and pray for healing. In a few minutes, Mr. Keith asked how his back felt now. He answered with wide eyes, "Is that magic?" We explained that God is not magic, but healing is almost like that to our minds. Praise God for healing and using our children in ways they did not think possible!
"'Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,' says the Lord of Heaven's Armies, 'I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!'" Malachi 3:10
We started tithing out of obedience giving 10% of our income. God began to bless and as our relationship grew with Him, we started giving more out of love! (not of duty).
In 2004 we started a business. There were two ladies in our local fellowship that prayed everyday for our business to grow. As our business grew we decided to "try God" in our giving. As we doubled our giving, God began to bless more and more. God gave the increase. The more we gave to God the more he blessed us and gave to us.
God gave protection, healing and provision. He met our every need.We know by experience that you can never outgive God!
Try Him and See. He is a loving God and always faithful to His Word.
Pastor Herrill & Dorothy Herring
Pastor of Senior Ministries
IfWhen I was a kid I spent hours and hours in the cornfields and woods behind our house. I had forts and hiding places. I knew where to find berries, and good climbing trees and where to cross the river (also known as the irrigation ditch). There is something about discovery and exploration that is written in our bones. When we are caught up in discovering our Father it is easy to take the perspective of a novice – I’m having too much fun exploring Him and his Kingdom to worry about being an expert!
If you’ve stopped discovering it’s because you’ve stopped exploring. If you’ve stopped exploring then you’ve stopped growing, taking risks, and finding treasure.
If you’ve stopped exploring it may be because you think you’ve figured it all out – discovered everything there is to be discovered. Maybe you’re even offended with people who claim to be exploring where you’ve never been. “That’s not on the map!” or as we frequently hear “That’s not in the Bible!” Are you sure? Maybe you just don’t see it because you’re not looking with exploration in mind – only to defend the territory you’re familiar with.
Several times in the Gospels Jesus uses parables to describe what the Kingdom of God is like. In Matthew 13:31-33 the Kingdom is a mustard seed that starts small yet grows big and leaven that works through the whole batch of dough. The Kingdom of God is always increasing (Isaiah 9:7) and the knowledge of his glory is filling the earth (Habakkuk 2:14), giving us more and more territory to explore!
In Matthew 13:44 the Kingdom is a treasure hidden in a field and the man who finds it sells everything so that he can buy the field. Have you ever wondered what he was doing in someone else’s field? Maybe the same thing I was doing as a kid. Exploring!
There is something about the Kingdom that compels us to move, to grow, to risk and discover. If we just hunker down with our one talent until Jesus comes back we are missing it! In Luke 19 Jesus tells a version of the parable of the talents in which the servant’s reward for stewarding and increasing his investment is to be given cities to rule. That’s our role in the Kingdom! To rule and reign with Christ!
“For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17).
“You have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10).
This verse in Revelation 5:10 is interesting because it shows us the tension between the past action of having been made a kingdom (in the Greek it actually says that we have been made kings) and the future tense that says we “shall” reign on the earth. I know that some teachers like to put the entirety of this verse in the millennium. I’m not saying that there isn’t a future glorious reign when we will be given “cities” to rule. However, just like in the parable of the talents there is an already and not yet aspect to reigning. In fact, the parable seems to indicate that way we reign now will determine what we reign over later. If we are faithful with the talents he has given, he will give us cities to govern.
Reigning now isn’t sitting back on our throne and admiring the Kingdom, although we are seated in heaven in Christ (Ephesians 2:6). Reigning now means we are taking risks, investing, exploring and discovering new territory. It’s what the 72 disciples did when Jesus sent them out in Luke 10 and they returned to him excited about what they had discovered! Jesus rejoices with them saying, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will” (Luke 10:21).
Discovery is what keeps us childlike novices with nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s what keeps us dependent on the Father because we may not know what is coming around the corner but we know that he is faithful! It’s what keeps the awe and wonder in our hearts as we see some new aspect of the Father’s nature and the way he thinks.
I know that familiarity is more comfortable then discovery. Being familiar with something is what makes us experts. The problem is that things that make us comfortable breed a false sense of reigning. We think that we are the master’s of our own domain but we’re just sad little people stuck in a box. Comfort is a counterfeit for reigning.
The good news is God is shaking everything that makes us comfortable so that we will embrace the only thing that is unshakeable… His Kingdom!
“At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ This phrase, ‘Yet once more, indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:26-28).
We may think that we are secure in our familiar little box, but really the only secure place is right in the middle of discovery. That’s what the writer of Hebrews is saying in Chapter 12. You’re not coming to what you’re familiar with, to what you can see with your natural eyes and touch with your natural body, to what you know with your natural mind. This is all new – a whole new reality. You are coming to that which is heavenly and supernatural. Yet it’s more real then what you see with your natural eyes. It may be scary to those of us use to relying on our natural senses and empirical evidence. Expertise is safe. But if we really believe that God is a good Father then we will grab hold of his hand and step into the unknown. After all, there are no experts in the Kingdom of God. There are only children and explorers.
Article by Pastor Shawna Carpenter