Wiser than the Wisest: A Lesson on Trust

By Angel Meléndez

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The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks – Proverbs 30:26

A few days ago our 10 month old son, James, was running away from my wife’s giant exercise ball. For some strange reason, James did not want to be near the ball and quickly crawled away when he looked at it. We thought it was probably because the ball was bigger than him, but, one day I took James with me to where the ball was to demonstrate that the ball was inoffensive. To my surprise, he was not scared anymore with the giant ball. The reason was simple: Although the ball was bigger than him, Daddy was bigger than the ball, and he was with Daddy.

Wiser than the Wisest: A Lesson on Preparation.

By Angel Meléndez

concept work, team of ants

There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise: The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer. – Proverbs 30:24-25

Wow! What lessons Agur learned from four small creatures, which, despite having certain weaknesses, had more wisdom to teach than many wise men. The first creatures that were carefully observed by Agur were the small ants. What Agur observed was that the ants did not have much strength within themselves.  Probably never would see them fight a bear or a lion, but their wisdom was not located in their strength. The wisdom of the ants lied in their preparation.  They prepared themselves in the summer for the winter.

What a great lesson for us! The victory does not depend upon our strength; the victory depends upon our preparation. The biggest question is: what are you preparing for in your life? Everything you do, voluntarily or involuntarily, is preparing for something – either to have victory in every area of your life, or a defeat. It is not necessary to be the strongest or the smartest, simply, you need to be prepared for victory.

Two Are Better Than One

By Pastor Dorrell

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Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. - Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

As travelers through life, God never intended that we make our journey alone. There are simply too many obstacles and challenges to navigate without the help and assistance of others. Plus, life is simply too grand not to have someone to share the joy and wonder of it all with!

The Blessing of God’s Presence

By John Mardirosian

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Have you had a question and you didn’t know where to turn for answers? Have you ever been lost, and experienced the sinking feeling in your gut that goes with it? Have you ever been unsafe, felt vulnerable, and didn’t know where to find protection?

God doesn’t want his children to feel helpless, without answers to life’s biggest questions; He doesn’t want them to feel lost, without direction, and He doesn’t want them to feel vulnerable and unprotected. He tells us in Psalms 16:11 “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” The Lord will provide us with security, direction, and protection. We see this clearly with the children of Israel as they set out to cross the desert to the Promised Land. In Numbers 9:15-23 we see God enacting a plan to communicate with his people as they made this long journey.

1. God’s presence as a source of security.

God chose to reveal himself to his children with a cloud above the tabernacle by day and a pillar of fire above the tabernacle at night. This served as a constant visible reminder that He was with them throughout their journey. I remember as a kid how comforting it was for me to know that my dad was home from work, or that he was in the room next door when I went to bed at night. God was providing his children with this same sense of security. For us as Christians today, He has given us his Holy Spirit to indwell each believer, and our understanding of this gift should give us an overwhelming sense of security.

2. God’s presence as a source of direction.

God clearly and repeatedly tells his people in these verses that they are to rely daily on him for direction and leadership. Psalms 107:7 says, “And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.” We see that God was willing to provide direction to his people if they were willing to follow. God gives each of us daily direction through his word, through prayer, and through fellowship with the Holy Spirit. We need to take time in the course of the day to receive that daily direction.

3. God’s presence as a source of protection

In the next chapter of Scripture, Numbers 10:9 God assures his people of his continued protection. For each of us that dwell in the presence of God, we are assured of his protection. If we choose to live apart from his presence we are open to the attack of Satan, the temptations of this world, and the weakness of our own flesh.

It is important for each of us to take advantage of the security, direction, protection that is granted to us if we walk daily in God’s presence.

Can Music Be Right or Wrong?

By Jesse Becker

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I was recently asked about the morality of music. In other words, is there good music and is there bad music? This question has been asked a lot and answered in many different ways. This short discussion is not going to address the lyrics, but just the music underneath.

For anything to have a position on a morality scale there must be a standard by which to measure. We know that God’s Word is the only valid ruler we can use with confidence. It is the only place where we can find truths and principles that remain intact through all societies, trends, and fads. They can be applied and they can guide no matter which direction the shifting winds blow. These principles remarkably work in many areas of our lives as well.

I use two primary principles to guide the music I listen to personally and use for corporate worship.

1. The battle of the flesh and spirit

Throughout the bible we see a battle between our flesh and our spirit. When we are saved we become God’s possession, both body and spirit. To please God we must submit to the Holy Spirit and deny the flesh daily. Those that are not saved can only submit to the flesh because, as the Bible puts it, their spirit is dead.

The world, who can only submit to the flesh, has an overriding sound to the music they create and consume. It contains the sounds that feed and bring attention to the flesh. In a nutshell, it is heavy with rhythm. Across all the genres the overriding characteristic is lots and lots of rhythm. Rhythm is scientifically shown to bypass the thinking mind and speak directly to the body.

So, does that mean all rhythm is bad? Let’s look a second principle to help us figure that out.

2. Balance or excess

Ephesians 5:18 tells us of this principle in reference to not being drunk with wine wherein is excess. When someone has excess in their life there is an imbalance, and imbalance can cause all sorts of problems. The apparent excess of rhythm in the world’s music is out of balance with melody and harmony. And knowing that rhythm speaks to the flesh, we can see where this imbalance leads. Another area of imbalance in popular music is the repetition of harmony. A typical song with this imbalance uses about 4 chords over and over and over again. It becomes hypnotic and the mind ceases to be challenged to think.

Verse 17 of Ephesians 5 tells us to not be unwise but understand what the will of the Lord is. And then verse 19 talks about making music to the Lord! If you desire to strengthen your walk with God you can apply these principles to determine what music is good for you. Music that feeds the heart and spirit and the flesh in reasonable proportions is a good place to start. We strive to keep the music in our church services balanced so that they can be lively, yet appropriately reverent and engaging.

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters

A Book Recommendation By Daniel Fleet

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Being a perfect dad is impossible. Being a good dad isn’t. But for most men being a good dad doesn’t come naturally. It takes hard work, determination, grit, and a lot of prayer. I have two young daughters that I adore and I remind myself frequently that I only have one shot at raising them. I’m not a perfect dad but I want to be the best dad I can be for them. Several men at church told me I needed to read Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Meg Meeker. I recently finished it and thought it was an excellent book. Meeker is a pediatrician who has twenty years counseling young women and weaves stories throughout the book help make the truths she presents applicable.

Our culture is at war with femininity and it is pulling the very best out of our girls. It’s a cruel world and it’s a dad’s job to stand in the gap between his daughter and the world and be the warrior who fights evil. I may have dramatized this a bit but it’s the way I feel and most men like to be called warriors (including me). Meeker (2006) writes to dads, “We have a popular culture that’s not healthy for girls and young women, and there is only one thing that stands between it and your daughter: You” (p. 28). The most important man in any daughter’s life is her daddy.

If you’re a dad and you have daughters under the age of 18 you need to read this book. I want to encourage you to set aside some time to sharpen your dad skills and become a better version of the dad you already are.

Exercising Regularly?

By Jim Ramsey

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For me, as well as for all seniors, an increased demand for attention to personal physical health and well-being is a big part of the “package” that comes with aging. As one who has been blessed with 10 years and 3 months of life beyond quintuple bypass surgery [April, 2006] I have certainly made an effort, with much spousal encouragement, to operate according to post-surgery dietary and exercise regimens, and though not always perfect, at least I am working at it.

Character Matters

By Pastor Troy Dorrell

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In a recent conversation with someone I was reminded of a principle that we would all do well to remember.  We were talking about some of today’s great college athletes who never fulfilled their potential.  Though exceptionally talented; they failed to succeed in both sport and life.  The reason was because “their talent took them to a place where their character could not sustain them”.  Think about that principle for a moment; talent is not enough.  Undergirding all we do is our character and if it is deficient in time it will be exposed and we will come tumbling down.  Every year we hear about athletic stars who get themselves into trouble and lose a scholarship or millions of dollars in the pro’s because of poor character.  We too can lose much when placed in positions of leadership or responsibility and then because of undeveloped character we break a trust, or talk poorly of someone, or fail to do right.  The place we held could not be sustained because we lacked what was most important…character.  Be careful not to let your talents, abilities, intelligence, or even relationships take you where your character cannot sustain you.  The friendship we have, the talents God gives, and the abilities we develop are all wonderful gifts, but all must be supported by character.   It matters!

Within our Means, or Beyond our Means?

By Jim Ramsey

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According to financial guru Dave Ramsey (who, for sure, claims no kinship to me) I am the “nerd” of our family! I don’t know how successful I am at the ongoing process of budgeting, but I sure do spend a goodly amount of time crunching (or crushing!) numbers. Honestly, Linda and I have always operated on a “zero budget,” because through the years many times there seems to be “too much month at the end of the money.” We have made an effort to be good stewards of the manifold blessings God has given us-not just finances, but family, time, talents, and opportunities as well. I’m sure we have not been without error in our efforts, but we sure have been blessed by trying to keep things in perspective.

In a financial sense, living within our means is an absolute necessity if we are to effectively manage and enjoy the material things God sends our way. However, I believe that in a spiritual sense, God wants us to live beyond our means. When Jesus said “without me, ye can do nothing” He knocked all the props of self righteous effort out from under us, and of course, we find, by experience the truth of His statement. On the other hand, with Him there is no limit to what we can do, or should I say, no limit to what He can do in and through us! In Christ we have been blessed with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places, and this being true, we should live beyond our means, claiming all He has already given to us!

 We are rich in Jesus, and we need to appropriate, to set aside for our practical use, what already belongs to us as His children! We need what we already possess to be worked out in our character as a means of bringing glory to our Heavenly Father. Think about it! We have a blessed POSITION – We are His “born ones.” We have blessed POSSESSIONS- eternal life, redemption, inheritance, etc., and we have blessed PRIVILEGES- prayer, fellowship, service, and giving.

Many times we settle for so much less than what God intends for us because we live within our means as His child. What only He can do in us, and for us, and through us is what is realized when we live beyond our means.

How to Develop an Effective Summer Routine

By Daniel Fleet

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Determine your priorities. What do you care about? How can you develop in those areas? Have goals for personal health and productivity. Think about ways to spend time with family.

Develop your schedule. After determining what is important, work those goals into your schedule. If it’s not scheduled, it probably won’t get done. Break down your areas of responsibility and make sure there is balance.

Discipline your schedule. The top priority is your relationship with Jesus. Next, aggressively tackle your tasks for the day. Have a planning system if it helps to stay on task, but all planning systems boil down to one simple principle: writing some things down, and getting them done.

Deal with interruptions. After carefully determining your priorities and developing your schedule, God will interrupt your plans. This is okay. God will bring up needs which we were not aware of. Ask Him for wisdom on how to best handle the situation and step back into your schedule.