Archive for: June, 2013

Call to Men – Stand Up!

Jun 24 2013 Published by under Family, Leadership, Life

By Rev. Randy Valimont

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It is interesting to note as we have recently celebrated Father’s Day the different impact of Father’s Day (vs. Mother’s Day) on the local church.

 

Winning men must become a priority in our culture. Statistics show that when a man finds Christ, 86% of the time his whole family will follow him into the Kingdom. Yet based on what we typically see in most churches on Father’s Day, men don’t usually attend church in droves. The exceptions to that are when churches and leaders emphasize the man’s role as priest of his home.

 

As always, our model should be Jesus. He was able to get some of the toughest men on the planet to follow Him and give their lives for Him, and yet was tender enough to stand in front of Lazarus’s tomb and weep.

 

The balance that Jesus displayed was incredible and far reaching. Men like challenges. They like to conquer things, and they certainly like adventure. Following Christ provided all of these and more for the 12 disciples.

 

Today, the spiritual challenges in the world are more than ever before, but the strides we’re making are also greater than any before in human history. Global University continues to penetrate the darkness through online colleges and creative ways of equipping and training pastors all over the world.

 

The challenge to preach the Gospel in every nation is a different one, but not an impossible one. When men are challenged by someone who believes his own vision and is willing to give his life for it and respond, then the “impossible” becomes possible.

 

In the opening remarks of the Gospel of John, a statement was made by John the Baptist.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John (John 1:6 NKJV). As a leader, I try to challenge the men and women under my sphere of influence to insert their name  in this statement. As they do, they open their minds to the possibility of changing the world for Christ.

 

Don’t give up on the men in your life. Jesus challenged them with a God-sized goal and vision. “There was a man sent from God whose name was__________.” May we as men and women be able to insert our names.

 

Pastor Randy Valimont and his wife, Jelly, are celebrating 20 years of service at Griffin Assembly this year. Pastor Valimont also serves as President of Calcutta Mercy Ministries, is a General Presbyter for the Assemblies of God, and serves on a number of state, national and international boards.

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Is Healing for Today?

Jun 17 2013 Published by under Life, Ministry

By Ramona Edgman

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You bet it is!  God’s promises are the same today as they were when Lazarus was raised from the dead.  Why don’t we expect it?

 

I can personally tell you that when I was diagnosed with cancer in October 2011 I had hoped for healing, but deep inside I didn’t expect this healing to occur until a friend told me I needed to change my attitude.  Thankfully this interaction happened early on. The cancer I had was rare and besides the double surgery I was going to have, there was no treatment.  It was slow growing but eventually it would almost assuredly take my life.

 

The Bible tells us by His stripes we are healed – I could either believe it or ignore it.  The Bible doesn’t say we might be or could be…it says we are!

 

Thank God I changed my attitude.  I started believing  in and truly expecting my healing.  In June 2012, as we met with our U.S. Missions and Chaplains representatives in Tulsa, OK at our Celebration Conference, our Executive Director, Zollie Smith, asked me to pray over communion.  As I prayed over the cup I spoke His promise – by His stripes we are healed – and was immediately prompted to say ‘by His stripes I am healed.’  I knew it was true.

 

God reminded me again as I took communion in August 2012 before traveling to Mayo Clinic to be examined further.  He told me I would get my answers at Mayo.

 

There, the cancer specialist told me that, inexplicably, they did not see any evidence of cancer.  She said they had reviewed all of my previous tests that clearly indicated a cancer diagnosis, but now they didn’t see any cancer at all.  Of course my heart was leaping for joy but my small mind desired more proof.

 

God answered that plea for additional evidence of my healing.  As the specialists ran further testing, they decided to do a biopsy of an area that was supposed to be cancer filled.  The results? It was benign.  Even in the small things, God answered my prayers.

 

God actually prepared me for this journey at the start of 2011.  I began to let go of bitterness that I had held on to for some time, and drew closer to Him.  I felt that something big was going to happen and that I needed to make some changes in my life.  I realized that what matters most in life is God and our relationship with Him.

 

What I learned from this incredible journey is that God didn’t just desire to heal me from cancer, He wanted to deliver me from the bitterness in my past and  the feeling that I was unworthy of God’s work in my life.

 

So I truly believe that yes, healing is real, healing is for today, and healing is for YOU!

 

Ramona Edgman is the Administrator of the Assemblies of God U.S. Missions division. To learn more about Assemblies of God U.S. Missions, please visit www.usmissions.ag.org.

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Light of the World

Jun 10 2013 Published by under Evangelism, Life, Ministry

By David Stoecker

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In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus lets us know how we should present ourselves to the world when he says, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (NIV).

To begin, why would we need to be light in a world that was already lit brightly? The first part of verse 14 lets us know that this world is shrouded in darkness. This is not visual darkness, but a spiritual and moral darkness that covers the world. When there is darkness, there is only one way to remove it. Since light is the absence of darkness, the only way to remove darkness is to add light.

What does it mean to be the light of the world? We know Christ and have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Due to this, we as Christians have had the spiritual veil lifted from our eyes. We no longer live in darkness. More than not living in darkness, with the aid of the Holy Spirit in us, we have the ability to glow like beacons of hope to others.

We glow like beacons by living for Christ. We live for Christ by being the city built on a hill, the lamp placed high upon a stand. How? We stand out from the rest of the world by being spiritually and morally different. We should not blend in with everyone else. Our light should shine before men!

There are many ways our light should shine. Going to church twice a week does not make my light shine. Getting dunked in water by a pastor is not enough. Doing the right thing out of obligation or guilt isn’t the way to brighten the world. Sitting in the front row, having the Bible memorized, singing the loudest and raising hands in worship do not cause our light to shine.

If I want to illumine those in the dark, I must live dynamically outside of the church. Dynamic living is getting yelled at but not yelling back. It is refraining from joining in the gossip at work. It is not judging someone by how they look or dress, or what they have financially. It is saying a kind word and being nice to the person you least want to because it is the right thing to do.

If I live dynamically, I will apply the golden rule and then some. I would challenge you to treat others BETTER than you want to be treated. That is letting your light shine.

Being dynamic is being open and honest about my relationship with Christ. Living dynamically and having a personal relationship with Christ that I keep to myself are diametrically opposed ways of existence.

I can no more hide my relationship with Jesus Christ than you could hide that city on a hill in broad day light. I want others to know the incredible power of change and hope gifted by the Holy Spirit.

Sin extinguishes our light. “Thou shall not lie” means that we should not even tell little white lies. “Thou shall not steal” refers to cheating on our taxes too. Lust is cheating. Pride, greed and coveting seem to be common. We are called to be uncommon!

Inaction is a huge sin. When we see a wrong and do nothing to make it right, that is a sin. Being silent about my faith when it is my duty to be vocal and lead by example, to always be the bigger person when a situation could go south, is sin.

If we are the light of the world, we are to live our lives well. People should know that we are Christians by our love, compassion, hope and how we live our lives. That is how we become the beacon of light in a dark, dark world!

David Stoecker is a Substance Abuse Counselor with Alternative Opportunities, Inc.. You may reach David at david.stoecker@gmail.com

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Labeled or Loved?

Jun 03 2013 Published by under Evangelism, Ministry

By Dr. James Bradford

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As a kid I was short, skinny and quite shy. That made me an easy target for name calling and bullying. Then, during high school, my family moved from Canada to the United States. Most of my new American ‘friends’ had no trouble reminding me that I was, indeed, an ‘alien’ – and probably the only one around.

 

It was obviously no fun being labeled and written off. But when it comes to valuing people, God’s perspective changes everything. He looks at us through the lens of created dignity. It is as if God has hung a sign around the neck of every human being: “Made in the image of God – handle with care!” This creation-centered dignity trumps preference, prejudice, politics, passion, position and power.

 

For example, “When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’”(John 4:7) Here Jesus broke through at least four seemingly insurmountable barriers.

 

First was the RACIAL barrier. This is the issue that the Samaritan woman initially reacted to – “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (John 4:8) Racial prejudice ran poisonous between Jews and Samaritans.

 

Jesus also broke through the GENDER barrier. This is what first shocked the disciples when they got back from their shopping trip. They were “surprised to find him talking with a woman.” (John 4:27) Jewish Rabbis would pray, “I am thankful that I am neither a Gentile nor a woman.” They considered Samaritan women, in particular, to be unclean from birth.

 

Then Jesus broke through the RELIGIOUS barrier. Because the Samaritan religion was a contorted mix of Judaism and paganism, the Jews considered Samaritans little more than religious road kill. Differences in dearly held ceremonial traditions and doctrines, laced with religious hostility and unforgotten history, created barriers that most in Jesus’ time could not overcome.

 

Finally, Jesus broke through the MORAL barrier. “You have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.” (John 4:18) She was a woman with a past, shamed by lust and relational failure. Yet here was Jesus, not even letting her lifestyle create a barrier to his living water.

 

What did he do? He entered her world and he reached her heart. Entering her world was the unnatural thing to do. The racial, gender, religious and moral barriers were immense. It would have been easier to label and accuse than to listen and engage. Entering her world took time and courage, but Jesus did it.

 

Having entered her world, Jesus then reached her heart. Beneath this lady’s promiscuous exterior was a heart that had been used and discarded by many different men. Now this man, Jesus, would change the rules of engagement and reach her soul. No barrier was too strong for that important work. He exposed her secrets prophetically but handled her heart tenderly. Jesus loved someone incredibly different from himself and in doing so left her reformed, not demeaned.

 

Followers of Jesus cannot take this lightly. As Creator God, Jesus imbedded immense value in every human being and as Incarnate God he pushed beyond reaction to redemption. Jesus came to bring life, not apply labels. This is the Jesus way into the lives of people.

 

Dr. James Bradford is the General Secretary of the General Council of the Assemblies of God. He holds a Ph.D. is Aerospace Engineering from the University of Minnesota and has served as a lead pastor for over 30 years.

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