Slow Down, and Live!

By Jim Ramsey

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What a busy world I enjoy! (or maybe, endure!) I often jokingly tell our seniors: “Life sure gets a lot more simple at our ‘life stage doesn’t it!’” NOT! Truth is, at the age of 65+ it seems like my Daily Planner is more crowded than ever.

I was thinking of an activity that was obviously not a part of Jesus’ life as seen in the New Testament: HE never RAN anywhere! Yet HE was always where HE needed to be when HE needed to be. Could it be that if HE is my Guide in life that I might need to slow down in order to live the abundant life HE wants for me? “Abundant” can be full without being fast!

Reasons to Direct our Thinking – Part 2

By Pastor Troy Dorrell

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The Bible teaches us that we are to direct our thinking toward those things that honor God and are good for us. Part of the reason for this is that our thinking takes us somewhere. When we direct and align our thinking with the Bible and wisdom, we find life and peace. However, when we allow our thinking to become negative and worldly, we discover outcomes that diminish us and hurt others.

Reasons to Direct our Thinking Part 1

By Pastor Dorrell

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A number of years ago, we had a skunk problem at our house. Our home backs up to a field that (at that time) had a large population of the odoriferous creatures. Well, a number of them decided to take up residence under the deck in our back yard. We probably would have been willing to share our deck with them, except whenever they felt threatened or the mood hit them – they would utilize the defensive mechanism God placed within them, and they would assault us with their noxious, foul-smelling spray. They did this often enough that our house was beginning to take on the aroma of our uninvited guests. One night, when Teri and I were coming home from an emergency 2am hospital visit, we met and unintentionally cornered one of the little creatures on the back deck next to the door entering our house. He sprayed us both at point blank range. The clothes we were wearing, the Bible I was carrying, and my wife’s purse and all its contents ALL had to be disposed of because of the early-morning attack. For weeks, we continued to live unhappily with the skunks and with the smell they emanated. During that time, we tried to cope the best we could. We tried to minimize the effects with candles and air fresheners. Most of the time, we just tried to ignore it.

Reasons to Read

By Pastor Troy Dorrell

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Over the course of my professional and vocational career, I have been a reader. I enjoy books and the learning process, and I have found that few things in life have benefitted me as much as my time in a good books and what I have extracted from them.

During and after college, I spent many hours reading technical journals, scientific literature, and books about both science and creation. My undergraduate degree was in Biology and Chemistry, and to this day I have a love for the natural world.

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

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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.