Archive for: February, 2012

Jesus the Light

Feb 29 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

by John Bueno

During the events surrounding Christ’s birth, one of God’s great servants made a startling statement. Simeon had been promised he would not die until he saw the Messiah. When Jesus was brought into the temple by Mary and Joseph, the Spirit immediately bore witness to Simeon’s heart that this was indeed the Messiah. Simeon exclaimed, “Lord, now I can die content! For I have seen him as you promised me I would. I have seen the Savior you have given to the world. He is the Light that will shine upon the nations, and he will be the glory of your people Israel!” (Luke 2:29–32 TLB)

 We need to reflect on the importance of this statement as it relates to Simeon’s own experience as well as the challenges of our day. All of the Old Testament pointed to this moment and to this person. From the third chapter of Genesis, the promise is made of the Messiah. The prophets and the patriarchs spoke of the Messiah. In the book of Proverbs, Solomon devotes several chapters to what he terms “wisdom,” but in the application to spiritual truth, he’s speaking of the Messiah as well.

This was the moment Israel had been awaiting for hundreds of years. This was the fulfillment of the promises to Abraham and the great covenant of Genesis 15. It was a pivotal moment in history when Simeon saw the Messiah and the Spirit spoke to his heart, and eventually he took that babe into his arms and exclaimed, “Now I can die content.”

I have often walked the great cities of the world and sensed nothing but spiritual darkness and oppression. I’ve often wondered what it will take to bring the masses of humanity into the knowledge of Jesus Christ and into the light of Jesus Christ. Dark countries and dark cities and dark hearts need the impact of this light. Even in our own lives, darkness can envelop us with seemingly no way of escape. Yet Simeon’s words assure us Jesus is the light of the world. Only He can dispel the enemy’s darkness. These two verses in the book of Isaiah contrast the light Jesus gives and the artificial light of humanity:

The people who walk in darkness shall see a great light—a light that shall shine on all those who live in the shadow of death.” (Isaiah 9:2, TLB)

But see here, you who live in your own light and warm yourself from your own fires and not from God’s. You will live among sorrows. (Isaiah 50:11, TLB)

 It seems as though, from the beginning, humans have tried to warm ourselves and bring light to our experiences through human efforts. Almost everything you read in the religious sections of our bookstores is about self-improvement and how to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. It is a tendency in humankind to find ways to solve our own problems and to develop schemes that will in some way bring solutions to the darkness of our world. It is a human tendency to warm ourselves with fires that have no real source, but Simeon saw in the Messiah the one who would be a light for the nations. I pray the warmth of this light will give hope to difficult places and to those who are going through dark moments in life.

Jesus came as the light that dissipates sorrows in the deepest darkness. The hope of the nations is the light that shines forever: the glory of God and our redeeming Messiah.

John Bueno is the founder of Latin America Child Care and serves as Chairman of the Board for Global University. For more information about Latin America Child Care, visit http://lacc4hope.org/

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The Church and Culture

Feb 21 2012 Published by under Church

by Alver Rance 

Over the last few years, we have been made aware of how the culture of this world has affected the church. The Scripture warns us not to let the world entice us to accept its values. Romans 12:2, tells us to not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

 I John 2:15, says, “Love not the world neither the things that are in the world”.

What are the things against which we are being warned ? Just by observing the culture around us, we notice that the world places value on pleasure, comfort, entertainment, popularity, recognition, power, authority, money and forging one’s own path. Many would never worship an idol of wood or stone, but the things mentioned are pursued irregardless of the price it may cost. God does not want us to conform to these values, for in so doing we compromise our relationship with Him and our family.

To be accepted by the world, one must espouse these values or be rejected. Even though these values fly in the face of Biblical principles, many churches bow to the culture of the world in order to be accepted.

Recently, a religious denomination rejected an amendment that is being offered in the Minnesota legislature that would define marriage between one man and one woman. Their reasoning is that since they have been discriminated against in the past, they don’t want to discriminate against any, including those who want to marry someone of the same sex. Another example of this is how the abortion issue is often framed. It is popular to say that a woman should have the right to chose. In their argument, they fail to disclose that their choice leads to the death of a baby. No mention is ever made about the baby’s right to life. Both the Old and New Testaments are very clear about both of these issues.

As Christians, we must not allow the world to squeeze us into its mold. When two laws are in conflict, we must always choose the higher law.  God’s law is that higher law.

 All through history, the church has been persecuted for not conforming to the culture around them. II Timothy 3:12 says, “All that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution”.

As Christians, are we willing to stand against the world’s culture like millions of our fellow believers around the world who suffer for their testimony, or will we conform to it?  It is true that a life of holiness is a lonely road and not well traveled.

Alver Rance serves as a Missionary at Global University. Alver and his wife Linda served as Missionaries to Latin America for 35 years. For more information about Global, visit www.globaluniversity.edu

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Love Letters

Feb 13 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

 by Dr. Mary Logan

Most of our thoughts on February 14, at least those of us who live in the Western world, turn to cupids, hearts, and love letters. In fact, Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-sending holiday of the year.

Do you remember the excitement as a child of exchanging valentines with your friends each year? Then as a teenager, you may have had a special friend with whom you exchanged not only valentines but even love letters. Or perhaps the communication was between family members. You may still have a few of those mementos tucked away in a drawer somewhere as a keepsake.

As I thought about this upcoming holiday, I especially remembered a love letter I received when I was six years old. It was from my Father, and it changed my life forever. I could tell from the beginning of the letter that the words came straight from His heart as He expressed His love for me.

You see, He knew me. He had been there when I was conceived. He was thinking of me all the time I was in my mother’s womb. I was literally made in His image. I was His offspring. He told me He chose me and I was not a mistake. The reason He lavished His love on me was because I was His child.

He made a promise to provide for my needs and said He would never stop doing good for me. He even said I was His treasured possession. In talking about my future, He gave me hope and said He had great plans for me. He said nothing could separate me from His love.

In His letter, my Father also talked to me about my older brother and said He loved me even as He loved my brother. My Father loved me so much He demonstrated His love by giving up everything, including my older brother. Such a demonstration by my Father was done so I could experience His love for me.

Even though I didn’t fully understand all the details of this letter at age six, I accepted my Father’s word. As a result, I experienced a new kind of love. Within a short time after receiving this love letter, I discovered I was not the only one to whom my Father had sent the letter. He had also sent it to my adopted brothers and sisters, expressing the same sentiment.

Because our entire family has experienced such hope, peace, and love by receiving these love letters, I asked my Father to send a letter to you too. He indicated He had already sent the letter to you but had not received a reply yet. Would you please reply to this letter soon? I am anxious to meet you and have you as part of our family.

Just in case the letter gets lost in the mail, you can find a copy of it in a famous book called The Holy Bible. As soon as my Father receives your acceptance letter, He will welcome you into our growing family, and you too will experience this new agape love.

Never again will your Valentine’s Day be the same!

The inspiration for this blog came after listening to a six-minute message from the following Web site: www.fathersloveletter.com/

Mary Logan, Ed.D., is a Course Development Specialist and Professor of Business and Education at Global University. For more information about Global University, visit http://think.globaluniversity.edu

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Jesus’ Prayer for Disciples

Feb 06 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

by Dr. Randy Quackenbush

We learn a lot about discipleship through the prayers that Jesus prays for his disciples.  One such prayer is found in John 17:6.  Here are some reflections on this mighty prayer.

1.  Jesus reveals the Father to his disciples (v6a). Salvation is only possible through revelation.  It is fitting that Jesus begins his prayer for his disciples with this thought.  The receiving of revelation is necessary for discipleship formation to begin.  And, each step of the discipleship path is governed and possible only through fresh revelation.  Jesus talks more about such revelation when He refers to the Word later in this prayer. I am thankful for the revelation of the Father through the Son.

2. Disciples are “given to Jesus” and “obedient to the Father’s Word” (v. 6b)  Prior to his purchase of souls with the price of his blood, Jesus declares that his disciples are his. Disciples of Christ are not their own, but rather belong to Jesus.  Disciples are redeemed from the penalty of sin.  Given to Jesus, it stands to reason that disciples are obedient to the Father’s Word.  The proof of discipleship lies in one’s obedience to God’s Word.  Thus evidence of Christ’s ownership of our lives exists. Disciples are not saved through obedience.  Rather, obedience is evidence of our salvation.

3. A disciple of Christ knows that everything comes from the Father (v.7).  Jesus prays, “Everything you (the Father) has given me comes from you.”  This is consistent with James 1:17 which tells us that “every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of lights.”  As we interact with the Triune God, there is clarification in our thanksgiving as we realize that it is the Father that is the source of everything good and necessary for living.

4. A disciple relinquishes all to the Father only to gain all the Father has (v. 10a).  What a marvelous thought!  Often, teaching on discipleship focuses only on the former – the giving up of all we are.  While surrendering all to the Father is vital to the Christian life, just as vital is the realization that “all you have is mine.”  In faith, we tap into all that the Father is and has as we render believing prayer as children of God.

5. A disciple gives glory to Jesus (v. 10b).  On the heels of saying we have access to all that the Father has, we are reminded that recipients of good and perfect gifts we are to rightly ascribe glory to Jesus as we thank the Father.  Jesus is the broker of restored relationship between the Father and humankind.  We eternally owe a great debt to Jesus for being the mediator who restored us and made such blessings possible.

6. Disciples are protected by the power of the name of the Father (v.11a).  A disciple does not look to escape the world, but to be protected from the evil one (v.15).  Protection comes by “the power of the name.”  The name of God is powerful and mighty. Disciples long to sing of the name, revere the name and call on the name.  (I recommend the song “At Your Name” recorded by Phil Wickham for your edification and worship.)

7. Disciples embrace unity; the stated reason for the aforementioned protection (v.11b). Jesus prayed, “Protect them by the power of your name, so they may be one.”  Based on John 17:11, we surmise that the evil one schemes to bring division among disciples. We know that the disciples who walked with Jesus struggled at times in this regard.  How much more prone are disciples who did not walk with Jesus (us!) to such attacks of the evil one.  Jesus prayed for the Father to protect (cover, shield) his disciples so they may be one.

8. Disciples may experience the full measure of joy that Jesus had/has (v.13).  Even though He faced the cross, He states that He had joy.  Joy is not circumstantial, but transcends situations and trials. If such perpetual “Jesus joy” was not possible, why would Jesus have included this in his prayer?

9. Disciples are sanctified by truth.  God’s Word is truth. (v. 17).  We deduce, then, that immersion in the study of God’s Word is vital to a disciple’s sanctification process.  Sanctification represents initial and ongoing righteousness.  All truth is, in fact, God’s truth.  The revelation of truth is contained in the Bible.  It is the clearest and most profound revelation of truth.

10. Disciples are sent into the world (v.18).  “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”  Disciples are not cloistered together in four walls or closed relational circles.  Disciples are empowered and released to be salt and light in the world. Disciples are on a mission.  Disciples embrace the one life they have to live and live it to the full for Christ’s kingdom’s sake.  Let us walk in the full armor of God and be strong (Eph 6) as witnesses and worshippers of the living God.

Dr. Randy Quackenbush is Executive Pastor/Worship Arts Pastor at Lakeview Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Dr. Randy can be reached at Randyquackenbush@lakeviewchurch.org

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