How to Be Joyful

Apr 21 2014

By Rev. Michael Johnson

MJ

How does one keep a smile on their face on a daily basis? Is joyful bliss simply a genetic trait or is it the result of hard effort? WebMD, an online organization that provides medical information, states in an article:

“Research has shown that your talent for happiness is, to a large degree, determined by your genes…and yet, psychologists who study happiness — believe we can pursue happiness.”[1]

This bifurcation in research is devastating because it leaves out a critical influence, the divine connection in Jesus Christ.

For this reason, it would be beneficial to revisit Paul’s letter to the Philippian church where he introduces some key “how-to’s” regarding joy. By both reviewing and following Paul’s admonition one can experience the type of joy only Christ delivers.

At the time of Paul’s writing to the Philippians, he was imprisoned and trying to deal with issues about disunity, worrying, and false teachers. So in Pauline fashion he handles these problems with a Christ-centered theology. Thus, he gives an exhortation to unite and live in peace, at which he also imperatively advises the church to rejoice! After doing so, he gives steps to help the church express their joy.

Step 1. Be gentle with people (vv. 2-5). This direction came as a solution to the conflict between Euodia and Syntyche who were advised to “agree in the Lord” (v. 2-3). Paul uses this case as a teaching point and says “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone; the Lord is at hand.” (v.5). In other words, let conflicts and disagreements be settled with this perspective in mind because in the end, relational problems do not matter in light of Christ’s coming.

Step 2. Pray about everything (vv. 6-7). The Philippian church was overwhelmed with troubles from without and within. Therefore, Paul gives an imperative exhortation to stop being anxious. In its place he encourages prayer and intercession with an attitude of thanksgiving. As a result of this discipline the believer experiences peace that acts as a guard (garrison, mounted guard) against an invasion of worry into the heart and mind.

Step 3. Think about good things (v. 8). Not stopping at prayer, Paul goes further in his exhortation for rejoicing and urges the church to engage in careful and intentional reflection of the following virtues and noteworthy actions: truth, honor, justice, purity, loveliness, commendable, excellence, and worthy of praise. These high traits encourage the believer to look upward in life, rather than downward; thus increasing the joyful state of mind.

Step 4. Learn from others (v. 9). “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things.” Paul offers his life as an example of how to live joyfully, that is, actively practicing the principles he prescribed when going through difficulties. Keep in mind that Paul’s experiences qualify him as a model to follow because in life he encountered multiple challenges to his faith: shipwreck, imprisonment, persecutions, etc. From this viewpoint, he gives a bold and yet humble plea to the Philippian church, which urges today’s believers to also learn from others through a discipleship and mentorship dynamic.

The search for living joyfully, given from Paul’s perspective in Philippians, offers solid answers because the “how-to’s” were given from a real life experience involving personal struggle, people conflicts, and dark human emotions. It is no surprise that God uses real life characters and events to deliver genuine instructions and guidance for his people. So with great joy I too urge everyone to REJOICE!

Scriptures to consider:

Psalm 98:4

John 15:11

Romans 14:17

[1] http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/choosing-to-be-happy

 

Rev. Michael Johnson serves as the Director of Ethnic Ministries for Global University. He can be reached at mjjohnson@globaluniversity.edu.

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Memories

Apr 14 2014

By Rev. Gary J. Blanchard

Blanchard29More than 73 million Americans gathered around their televisions on the night of February  9, 1964, to watch the Fab Four’s debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” As a 15 year old teenager I was as close to our old black and white TV as I could get. Several weeks ago, exactly 50 years later to the day and time I was again in front of my TV.  This time I sat in my lazy-boy watching The Beatles: the Night That Changed America — a Grammy Salute on my big screen.

I’m no longer into music the way I was back then.  This time around I hardly knew any of the performers, but I remembered the music.  I knew the melodies and the lyrics.  I even found myself singing along.  Not out loud of course; I didn’t want to embarrass myself.  But in my head, I was right on key with every word.

Several days later, while still thinking about the show, I was amazed at how each song had stirred memories.

Memory is a wonderful thing.  That night my memory was full with sights, sounds, events, places and friends.  Memories of 50 years ago were as fresh as if they had happened just last week.  That’s amazing because on most days I can’t even remember what I had for lunch.  I wish I knew why that happens because maybe it would help me better understand why I sometimes forget the faithfulness of God.

Ever been there?  I have.  Times when I’ve been discouraged, disappointed, frustrated, fearful and even angry.  Times when it seemed like my prayers never left the room.  Times that have tested my faith.

Psalm 77 was written by a man who experienced similar feelings.  Through the opening verses we discover that he was going through a bad experience that sent him running to God.  He tells how he prayed and wept and tried to connect with God all night long, but, to his great distress, he heard nothing.  With no response, his heart began to fill with doubts.

In verses 7 to 9 he asks, “Will the Lord reject forever?  Will he never show his favor again?  Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

But in verse 11 the writer has a change of heart; “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.  I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” (vss. 11, 12)

Something happens between verses 10 and 11.  This man is suddenly transformed from depression and discouragement to being filled with thoughts of God.  I can’t attest with certainly as to what happened, but I believe his memory kicked in and it changed his focus.

His focus changed from need base to remembrance based.  Instead of being overwhelmed with his needs he began thinking about God; remembering His deeds, remembering His miracles and meditating on His mighty works.  When he did, it deepened his understanding of who God is.  Doubt left; faith filled his heart.

Memories are like pictures.  Before digital photos most of us stored our old pictures in books or boxes.  I have shoe boxes filled with old pictures in my basement.  Some day, when I have time, I’ll retrieve them and relive the memories.  But other old photos are framed and placed in various places in our home.  I see them daily; occasionally, I’ll even pick them up and examine them closely.  Every time I do, I relive that moment.  Our God encounters should be like those special photos…viewed every day and frequently examined.

Like the Psalmist, we’ll realize that reflecting on our God encounters of the past will fuel fresh encounters today. When I take time to “remember the deeds of the Lord” – my salvation experience, my baptism in the Holy Spirit, my call to ministry, miracles of healing in my family, God’s provisions – my faith is stirred.

So while you may forget what you had for lunch yesterday; don’t forget the faithfulness of our great God.  Let the sights, sounds and events of the past generate fresh faith for today’s new challenges.

Rev. Gary J. Blanchard serves as the Assistant Superintendent and Executive Secretary for the Illinois District of the Assemblies of God. He can be reached at gblanchard@idcag.org.

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Help Me, I Have a Problem!

Apr 07 2014

By Rev. Tom Cederblom

P.TomPlease help me, I have a problem!  I’m a pastor and I’m surrounded by people who are saved. My wife is saved, my kids are saved, my secretary is saved, and even my youth pastor is saved.  My problem is that I spend ninety-five percent of my time around people who are not lost!

I decided a couple of years ago that I needed to do something about this problem. I realized I needed to be very intentional about getting out into the world that surrounds my church and my home.  I made the decision that I was going to venture into the schools of our city as a substitute teacher and walk in the part of the world where many people fear to tread:  The world of the elementary school student, the middle school student and the high schooler.

The first thing I recognized was that I needed to follow the example of the One who I was supposed to be following.  John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”  (NIV)  Jesus understood that He needed to leave the comfort zone of heaven and come down to earth and walk among us.

And so my first day as a substitute teacher I “became flesh” and “made my dwelling” among 4th graders in a Special Education class (God has a sense of humor!)  I was scared as I walked the halls of that elementary school.  I was nervous, I was uncomfortable, I was without a friend and I was about to enter a classroom with six special needs students.

I survived that day and I have continued to survive for the last 2 years as a substitute teacher, but in the process I have learned a lot about myself and about my “problem”.

My problem is that it’s been awhile since I’ve felt like a visitor.  Can you remember what it’s like to be on the outside looking in, to be on someone else’s turf, walking in their territory?  People visit our churches all the time and we forget how scary that experience can be for them.

I share with my congregation stories about going into the different schools and I tell them, with humor in my voice, that when I am walking down the hallways as a substitute teacher, it’s as if I am “invisible-man”.  Teachers don’t say “hi”, administrators ignore me, and secretaries treat me like I’m not very bright because I don’t know the routine of their school.  The only ones who treat me like I’m visible are the students!  Now, before you think I am having a pity party, remember my point, we need to be sensitive to what it feels like to be a visitor, again.

My problem is that I am a creature of habit.  I need desperately to get out of my comfort zone and walk into the war zone of real life.  When I walk into a middle school, my heart starts to beat faster, my mind is very aware of how much I need God’s strength, and my prayer life comes alive with simple phrases like, “Holy Spirit, help me to be ready with the right response when a seventh grader asks me a question,” and “Lord, please help me to make a difference in this place!”

My problem is that I have forgotten how to weep for souls.  I need desperately to get around lost people and have my heart broken for their lives, their situations, and their world.  It’s amazing how many times a student will just start to talk with me about the things going on in his or her life, and before I realize it, the student has opened up a window into their world.  And when I take a brief glimpse into their world I sense the Holy Spirit doing a work on this religious heart of mine.

The Message quotes John 1:14 this way, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”  May the Lord help us with our “problem”, may He help us to be intentional in moving into the neighborhood of hurting souls and lost lives.

Rev. Tom Cederblom serves as the senior pastor of Life 360 Church – Calvary Campus in Springfield, MO. He can be reached at tom@life360.org.

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Release

Mar 31 2014

By Carolyn Hittenberger

Carolyn PR Photo CROPFor you know it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect .  1 Peter 1:18, 19

He was bigger than life.  Some called him a king.  Others thought He was God.  He had to be stopped.  “Crucify Him!”  His enemies thought his death would end His life.

The crown of thorns they pressed upon His brow seeped beads of scarlet, releasing new birth for those dead in sin.  The crown of death became a crown of life!

Nails tore His hands, those healing hands that touched blind eyes and gave them sight, cleansed infected lepers, repaired withered limbs and blessed little children- releasing forgiveness and restoration to every needy man.

Spikes pierced His feet, those calloused feet that walked dusty roads to meet seekers and skeptics, led a ragtag band of followers to secluded places where He taught them Kingdom truths and climbed hills to keep divine appointments with His Father, releasing a blood-stained plan to show us how to walk.

A Roman sword exposed His broken heart, opened a double fountain of healing and cleansing, releasing an endless supply of compassion and paying the price for our rebellion and sin.

The cross, honored by His blood, stood tall to lift up the Lamb of God, the dying Life-Giver, each wound releasing the purchase price of redemption, relationship, freedom and hope.

Yes, they crucified Him, thinking that would be the end.  But the very death-act of crucifixion was part of God’s plan for Life…released to reverse the curse of sin.

Yes, He is bigger than life.   Yes, He is a King…the King of Kings.  Yes, He is God…very God. Jesus could have called off His crucifixion, but He knew without shedding His blood there would be no remission of sin.  He allowed them to crucify Him.  They did not know that every wound they opened up released His life-giving blood for us…for me…for you.

… Jesus Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  Ephesians 5:2

 Carolyn Hittenberger recently retired from serving at Global University, and is still active in ministry and as an AGWM missionary. She can be reached at rchitt@gmail.com.

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Deep Waters

Mar 24 2014

By Karen Kingsriter

2013 Promo Karen-5x7“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.”  Isaiah 43:2

It all began one ordinary night in Nairobi, Kenya – into our 5th year of missionary service. I’d just gone to bed when – out of the blue – my body started trembling – strongly enough to rattle the bed.  I didn’t feel ill, and had no idea why I was shaking.  But it was to be the start of a very frightening and bewildering time in my life when anxiety and panic would overwhelm me.

The emotional stress of not knowing why this was happening to me began to take its toll.  It left me feeling out of control and totally spent, physically and emotionally.  Some days I stayed in bed because spasms of uncontrollable shaking racked my body – from head to toe.  Never in my life had I experienced anything like this before.

“But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.”  Psalm 22:19

When my parents called long distance from the US, it frightened me that I didn’t have the strength to take their call.  I’d never been so weak and helpless.  Mom told me – much later – how terrible she felt when she couldn’t speak with me.

“We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”   2 Cor. 1:8-9

In desperation, I asked several close colleagues to come pray for me. God responded, and a Word was given that this time of suffering was for a purpose; He would see me through safely.  I clung to that like a drowning person thrown a lifeline because I knew that I would be rescued!  This gave me desperately-needed reassurance and hope!

“But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.”   Job 36:15

I had an appointment with a kind-hearted Seventh Day Adventist physician. After describing what I’d been experiencing, I asked him how long it would take before I felt ‘like myself’ again.  Without blinking an eye, the doctor replied, “About a year and a half.”  (mentally, I did a….”Are you kidding me?”)  I knew, then, that I’d been through the “fire” – and it would take time, patience, and the Lord’s grace to restore my emotional and physical strength.   That wise doctor prescribed the following:  a little medication, adequate rest, and frequent prayer.

“For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”    Psalm 22:24

Sometimes, I still wonder ‘why’? But it’s OK because I know now that God had really important things to teach me, and He needed my undivided attention!   Though this personal summary is simplified, the lessons have been divinely inspired:

-  God is ultimately the only Source for every part of my life – period.

-  Even though I was depleted, depressed, and distraught, I KNEW I was still standing on the Rock of my Salvation.   Despite how I felt, I was secure in Him!

-  Having survived the terrifying experience of unreasonable and uncontrollable anxiety, I have since had many opportunities to reassure like-sufferers.  “You WILL – with the Lord’s help – live through this and be okay! In fact, you’ll be stronger!  Have courage!”

-  My compassion deepened for others who were struggling with something they could not fix.

-  It prepared me for a new phase of ministry: leading a support group for missionary women in Belgium, called “Heart to Heart”…. something I had never done before, nor even imagined.   But God had a plan for those dear women.

-  A new realization of how much we need each other.  I stepped up my “May I pray with you about that?” interaction with friends and family.

-  During my worst moments, reading Scripture, praying, and listening to worship music all brought peace and calmness to my troubled spirit. I learned how to lean on the Lord – in my darkest hours – and He was always there!

“My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.”   Psalm 119:71

The Lord turned my season of anguish into a heavenly school of learning – for my spiritual growth. (“…suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope…Romans 5:3)

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”  1 Peter 4:12-13

Are you in deep waters?  Underneath are the Everlasting Arms. You will not drown!

Karen Kingsriter serves as an International Student Services Representative for Global University. She can be reached at kkingsriter@globaluniversity.edu.

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Your Love Is Amazing

Mar 17 2014

By Rev. Doug Clay

Clay_Douglas_Casual_100Some of you just need to let God love you.

I John 4:16

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

Do you rely on God’s love? I’m afraid way too many people are not living with a sense of contentment or spiritual satisfaction, because they don’t let God love them enough.

Here’s how much God loves you.

Ephesians 3:17-18

So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.

1.    It’s wide enough to include everybody.

Psalm 145:17

The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does.

  • The secret to feeling good about yourself is letting God love you. You don’t have to prove your worth to Him.

2.    It’s long enough to last forever.

Jeremiah 31:3

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

  • Unfortunately, human love wears out, but God’s love never fades.

3.    It’s high enough to go everywhere.

Romans 8:39

Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  • There is absolutely no place on earth that you can escape God’s love.

4.    It’s deep enough to be personal.

Psalm 40:11

Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me.

The movie “The Hiding Place” tells the story of Corrie Ten Boom and her sister Betsy Ten Boom who hid Jews in their home to protect them from the Nazis. When they were discovered, not only were the Jews taken to a concentration camp, but Corrie and Betsy were taken there too. Corrie came out alive; her sister was killed. At one point in the movie, Corrie says to Betsy, “This place is the pit of hell.” Betsy replied, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

I love Brenton Brown’s song, “Your Love is Amazing.” Here are some of the lyrics:

Your love is amazing, steady and unchanging

Your love is a mountain firm beneath my feet

Your love is a mystery, how you gently lift me

When I am surrounded your love carries me

Your love is surprising, I can feel it rising

All the joy that’s growing deep inside of me

Let yourself be really loved by God today and make it a great day!

Rev. Doug Clay serves as the General Treasurer of the Assemblies of God.

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Words, Words, Words!

Mar 10 2014

By Rick Hoover

_MG_3598_Hoover,RickEveryone who has a healthy voice box will use it during any given time to express themselves, complain, bless, curse, whisper and shout. Our vocal cords are an amazing part of our body. Some people’s voices are very unique and well known by countless others. Who can forget the voice of Darth Vader, a.k.a. James Earl Jones?  Or Paul Harvey’s distinguished voice as he shared the daily news and ended with his cheerful “Good Day!”. Or Sandi Patty and Larnelle Harris when they hit those high, high notes as they sang “I’ve Just Seen Jesus”?

Each of us uses words to talk, to communicate ideas and thoughts, to explain or to defend ourselves. If you were born and raised in China, you learned to speak Chinese. If you were born and raised in France, you learned to speak French. And if you were born in Sweden but moved to the Philippines as a young child and raised there, you would able to  speak Tagalog fluently.  Each language has its specific sounds, accents¸ and “lingo”. However, everyone uses their vocal cords to express these words.

Many of us are familiar with the little ditty: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”. Not! How many of us can recollect someone’s unkind and harsh words that cut us to the quick? As children, while playing with others on the playground at school, we may have been the brunt of caustic words that deeply hurt us. Words can be used as vicious weapons that cause untold sorrow and grief. We all have been the purveyors or recipients of such vocal poison tipped darts.

Words, however, can also be a blessing and a balm to others. You and I can be the messengers of good news, of kind and encouraging words, and they can be communicated in any language. Our goal, as Christ-centered individuals, ought to always be one of articulating uplifting, soothing, wholesome words. Even when the subject of our conversation revolves around a controversial or touchy issue, our speech should remain tender, pleasant, and gentle.

Scripture is our absolute and sure source of meaning and life. Jesus, the Son of God, the “Logos” made flesh, is the model we learn and are learning to fashion our lives thereafter. His words are our bread and water; they are our sustenance and health. Happy or blessed is he or she that listens eagerly and carefully to His speech and submits him or herself to His lingo. And, blessed are we that share His words with others that have not yet learned His gracious and life liberating language.

So, may the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer (Psalm 19.14 NLT). And, so comfort and encourage each other with these words (2 Thessalonians 4.18 NLT).

Finally, may we all be filled with a very precious and encouraging word and pass it on to others:

Joy is a not a toy to employ when you’re feeling blue and blah.

Joy is not a mood to elude mere sadness and sorrows.

Joy is not a change to rearrange sentiments of woe and weariness.

Joy is a fruit, a spiritual plum, that beckons you to eat and savor its nectar and flavor.

Joy is an attitude of understanding that keeps you sane in an insane world.

Joy is mantle spun from majestic melodies that shields you from ugliness and sin.

Joy is Jesus, personified in you, full of wonder, rapture and tenacious love.

Rick Hoover serves as an Assemblies of God World Missionary on assignment to Global University, and also serves as Global University’s Portuguese Language Liason. He can be reached at rhoover@globaluniversity.edu.

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Thoughts on Faith & Science from a Pentecostal

Feb 24 2014

By Dr. Jim Bradford

Bradford, James T. - Casual 1 -- 02 24 2009The cover article of an issue of Time [Magazine], February 2011, featured a concept known as ‘Singularity.’ It is not a mathematical singularity or a black hole, but a moment in human history when futurists predict that machines will have exceeded human intelligence by such a margin that human existence as we know it will change forever.

“Imagine,” the article suggests, “a computer scientist that was itself a super-intelligent computer. It would work incredibly quickly. It could draw on huge amounts of data effortlessly. It wouldn’t even take breaks.” Machines creating machines . . . technological capacity growing exponentially . . . human life being extended by decades, even centuries . . . artificial superhuman intelligence that can “write books, make ethical decisions and appreciate fancy paintings.”

The time line? Just over 30 years from now!  Futurists are predicting that by the year 2045 ‘Singularity’ could be upon us. Quoting again from the article, “In that year… given the vast increases in computing power and the vast reductions in the cost of the same, the quantity of artificial intelligence created will be about a billion times the sum of all the human intelligence that exists today.” Sound far- fetched? Even NASA hosts what is now a five-year-old Singularity University for graduate students and high level executives.

The offspring of science, in the form of advanced technology, is one reason why understanding the integration of faith and science is so important. How will faith relate to a ‘singularity’ world and what kinds of ethical frameworks will be needed to guide that kind of technological explosion? The importance of this discussion is further underscored by the implications of the new atheism’s assertion that science is at war with religion.

Some of us with conservative Christian upbringings may have been exposed to the church’s own version of that ‘war,’ being taught that science was contrary to Biblical teaching. Sometimes more highly educated people have wondered if they can remain in the church given a somewhat anti-intellectual bias that has been advanced. Still others have walked away from faith completely, believing that science is irreconcilable with Scripture and, in fact, disproves Scripture.

As a follower of Christ, a Pentecostal and a student of the sciences (Aerospace Engineering, Ph.D.), my starting assumptions over the years have been the following:

  • Understanding how and why things work in the natural world does not preclude the existence of a personal God. He is more than ‘God of the gaps.’
  • All truth is God’s truth, because he is Creator of all.
  • The capacity of the human intellect to be curious, to investigate and to learn is a God-given attribute, not a threat to my faith.
  • The very nature of God himself, imprinted in what he has made, makes scientific study possible.

There has always been a direct link in Scripture between God’s creation and God’s character:

“The heavens declare the glory of God,

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

(Psalm 19:1)

“God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”

(Romans 1:20)

Because of this I would often leave science classes feeling like I had been in a ‘worship service.’ If our starting assumption is that discovering how the natural world works will eliminate the need for a God to explain that world, then our faith will be threatened. But does discovering the beauty of a painting mean that there must not be a painter? Quite the opposite – both the Old and New Testaments teach us that the created order reveals the glory and character of a creator God.

Furthermore, Proverbs 8 declares:

“I [wisdom] was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep. . . Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.” Prov. 8:27, 30-31

Most every scientist has tasted that enthralling ‘delight’ of discovering the handiwork of God as revealed in astronomy, biology, botany, chemistry, physics, geology and the breadth of scientific endeavor.

Loving God with ‘all of our minds’ (Matthew 22:37), in fact, calls us to that delight – exploring and being in wonder of all God’s handiwork. Not only does he ‘know’ it all but he ‘designed’ it all. Here is an invitation to curiosity and intellectual pursuit in a way that does not threaten our faith, but glorifies and honors our Creator.

 Dr. Jim Bradford serves as the General Secretary for the Assemblies of God. In addition, he holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Minnesota. To learn more about the Assemblies of God, visit www.ag.org.

2 responses so far

Follow the Call

Feb 17 2014

By Rev. Michael Johnson

MJGenesis 12:1-3

“Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

When I was 6 six years old, my parents enrolled me into the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) Boarding School in Crystal, NM. It was my first time being away from home. I remember the feeling of being alone amongst strangers. While I did not cry, I did experience a time of loneliness. Thankfully, I was a hyper and interactive kid so finding likeminded boys was not a problem!

As I reflect back, the hardest part was going to the boarding school. For any child, attending school for the first time is difficult and in my case, it was even more so because of the parting from mom and dad. Nonetheless, my parents had a great plan for me that included: an education in a good community that upheld high standards in academics, sports, and community activities.

In comparison, Abram heard the command of God to “go” into a distant land and follow the call. The call included a plan of blessings upon his name and offspring, with the ultimate gift coming in the form of a savior, Jesus Christ. One can only imagine if Abram’s first reactions were fear, stress, or disbelief.

Thankfully, Abram obeyed the Lord’s command: “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him” (12:4).

Today’s challenge in following the call of God is no more or less than what Abram experienced. This text is a reminder that while God’s calling often includes difficulty, it also involves blessing.  Therefore, Abram’s example gives us a game plan on how to follow the call of God:

  1. Sacrifice-leaving one’s place of comfort and familiarity
  2. Obedience-responding to a directive with positive action
  3. Trust-faith in God’s plan for self and family

Prayer: Father, today we acknowledge your goodness and thank you for placing a call on our lives. We ask for strength to respond as Abram did, with obedience. Let our lives too be an example for others to follow, so that we can bless the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Rev. Michael Johnson serves as the Director of Ethnic Ministries for Global University. He can be reached at mjjohnson@globaluniversity.edu.

6 responses so far

Real Powerade

Feb 10 2014

By Rev. Doug Clay

Clay_Douglas_Casual_100For years people have relied on various sources for energy. There was burning wood; then coal, followed by petroleum. Today scientists are experimenting with multiple sources to power the world: solar, wind, hydrogen, algae, methane, gas, ocean currents, geothermal, ethanol, and other bio fuels. No doubt, the search for energy and power is a constant quest.

Similarly, many Christians are on a quest to find more spiritual power and energy. So they attend conferences; attend specialized small groups; join cohorts; etc. Did you know that there is a Christian nutritional product company that guarantees their supplements will make you feel more energized, look healthier, and help you live longer? Crazy!

Jesus said, “You will receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”

Sadly, some people feel awkward relating to the Holy Spirit. They ignore Him; they treat Him as an “it.” It’s almost as if He’s the uninvited member of the Trinity.

The fact is, if you want more spiritual vitality in your life, then give more room for the person of the Holy Spirit to be in control of your life. After all:

1.      He will guide you when you’re confused.

John 16:13a

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.

2.      He will be with you, wherever you are.

Psalm 139:7, NLT

I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!

3.      He will renew you when you feel spiritually sluggish.

Titus 3:5-6

He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he       poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.

4.      He will remind you that you belong to God, in those times that you doubt it.

Romans 8:16

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

5.      He will help you to pray when you’re not sure how to pray or what to pray for.

Romans 8:26

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

If you are looking for some renewed spiritual energy, seek to be filled or refilled with the Holy Spirit.

 

Rev. Doug Clay serves as the General Treasurer of the Assemblies of God. To learn more about the Assemblies of God, visit www.ag.org..

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