The Power of Our Words

​By Andrew Calabrese

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Our words are incredibly powerful. In fact, Solomon said this about our words in Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue:” To summarize, Solomon was saying that the words we speak can be life-giving words or they can be life-taking words.

I hate to BRAG, but…

By Jim Ramsey

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A Kentucky woman boasted to a Texan that there was so much gold in Fort Knox that you could build a wall of solid gold 10 feet high all around Texas. The Texan answered, “Well you go ahead and build it, little lady, and if Ah like it, Ah’ll buy it!” I’m a Texan, but I’ve never been that much of a braggart!

Nobody likes people who constantly brag, but the Bible actually encourages the right kind of “boasting!” The critical part of scriptural “boasting” is that it is directed toward Him Who alone is worthy of it! Bragging on myself is actually “misplaced affection,” and steals glory from the One to Whom I owe everything!   I want to made a determined effort to practice Psalm 34:2 “My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.”

Fake News

By Jesse Becker

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It’s been exhausting listening to the media (both main stream and otherwise), and hear all about “fake news.” What is fake news? It’s any news reporting that is fabricated either entirely or partially to make a political statement or influence people’s thoughts about a topic or person. Fake news is nothing more than varying degrees of lies with the intent of misleading. I, for one, am tired of it. It is becoming nearly impossible to distinguish fake news from real news. Unless you are personally connected with a person or an incident, I advise great caution on what you believe.

In a world of “fake news” I am so grateful that I have the Good News of the gospel. Whatever is spewed out around me, I know that I know that I have a written record from the One who holds all truths. God’s truths are absolute. They are as true today as they were when those Godly men penned them. The true news of God tells us of a holy, just and good God who created this beautiful world for us. The true news of God shows us that we are all sinners, and that our sin separates us from God and requires a payment for us to ever be able to fellowship with Him. The true news of God informs us that there is absolutely nothing we can do in and of ourselves to make such a payment. Then the true news turns to good news as we learn that God loves us in spite of our sin, and has made that payment through the death and resurrection of Jesus, His only Son; that Jesus’ blood can cleanse us from our sin; that all we must do to be saved is believe this good news!

But God doesn’t stop there. Verse after verse we learn that God cares about us in every way and works continually to mold us and shape us into the person He wants us to be. He promises to meet our needs and bless us when we submit to His ways.

I would lose all hope if all I had was the fake news in the media. Praise God for the good news—the true new—found in His Word. Be sure to read and listen and heed it. It is best news you’ll hear all day.

What it Means to be a Good Citizen.

By Oklahoma State Representative Tom Gann (District 8)

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First, you have to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. This sparks the desire to love your neighbor as yourself. If that is your foundational belief, everything you do from there helps you be a good citizen. You love God, which means you seek to learn His will for your life. You learn your spiritual gifts, talents, strengths, which show you the role you play in His body, the church. As the church fulfills its role in bringing about the kingdom of God – God’s will done on earth as it is in heaven, that changes society – from the individual to the family to the schools to the marketplace to the community to the government to the media… If you are loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself, you will do everything from that motivation, which means you will serve others but speak the truth in love as Paul did, correcting wrong behavior when encountered, helping set people on a right path to learning the love of God for them (expressed in the sacrifice of Christ) so they can repeat this pattern of serving others, bringing others into the knowledge of the love of God.

Once you know what you believe and why you believe it, you need to understand your local, state, and federal government and how they work. We live in the most blessed and exceptional country ever on the face of the planet. You should be familiar with how we govern ourselves. I would suggest studying the founding documents: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers. Read about our founding fathers to understand their perspective and what they believed, why they believed and why they were willing to risk all for their freedom.

One of the best books to read about the founding of our country is “The 5000 Year Leap” by Cleon Skousen. President Ronald Reagan said every high school student should read this book in order to graduate. The founding fathers did not see liberal versus conservative but rather liberty versus tyranny.

For local governments, understand your city and county governments and school boards. Find out who your local elected officials are and get to know them. Attend meetings and become involved. Listen; ask questions; send suggestions. Many laws start at the suggestion of a citizen who sees a better way to do something or a protection that needs to be added. A good book to read about the responsibility and importance of local governments and why they protect our freedom is the book “The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates: A Proper Resistance to Tyranny and a Repudiation of Unlimited Obedience to Civil Government.”

Finally, Christians make the best citizens. Romans 13 says, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. It instructs us that all powers in place are there by the will of God.” We are to be good citizens to bring glory to God and do good in our communities. God established three institutions, the family, the government, and the church. This shows He is interested in the affairs of men and their governments, and it is our calling and duty not to neglect our understanding of our role as a citizen in our country.

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.

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.

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.

Reasons to be Careful with Political Activism – Part 2

By Pastor Troy Dorrell

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America’s moral and ethical decline is a spiritual problem and not a political one. The fabric of our culture has changed as our nation’s Christian capital has diminished and the worldly values of consumerism, feminism, pluralism, and egalitarianism have taken hold. To think we can combat these philosophies and change people’s hearts and attitudes through political agenda is both naive and misguided. As a matter of fact the more we try to coerce people or force our values upon them – minus a change in their hearts – the more entrenched and adversarial they become, as is evidenced in all the conservatism verses liberal rhetoric.

Today, things are more hateful and mean spirited in America’s political climate than ever before. In our frustration, it is easy for us to get caught up in this and lose sight of our real agenda and purpose as Christians. Ephesians 6:12 says, For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. There lies our battleground: the spiritual dimension and the strongholds that hold people’s hearts.

If we are not careful, we can begin to view the homosexuals, the liberals, the feminists, and others who obviously don’t know Christ as our enemies. However, these are the people Jesus came to save. There is a truth we are reminded of in 1 Corinthians 5:9-10 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators; yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. The people who often hold differing political views than we do are the very ones to whom we are called upon to show the love of Christ and are not helped by a steady stream of vitriolic political angry rhetoric.

I am not arguing that Christians should not be involved in politics. On the contrary, all of us need to vote, to express our views with grace, and to run for office where we feel called to. I am just issuing a caution against placing our hope in a candidate or political party more than trying to change our nation through evangelism and the love of God. We are called upon to be salt and light, not political conservatives. We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (I Peter 2:9).

If we would focus more of our heart’s attention on this calling, we might actually accomplish more. My heart and my family were changed by a relationship with Jesus Christ, not legislation or laws. My worldview is informed by the Bible, not a political platform.

We can’t protect or expand the cause of Christ through political means; those before us who have tried have failed miserably. Trying to “Christianize” America through means not ordained by God will have anill effect. Making unsaved people live like saved people only hardens theirhearts and makes them more difficult to win to Christ. A politicized faith not only blurs our priorities, but confuses those we are trying to reach with the gospel. There simply is not one solitary example in the Bible of political activism being advocated or exercised by the people of God. So, what can we do? How do we save our nation and do what we can to change the course of American culture.

  1. We can pray. 2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Unlike political activism, the Bible is filled with the power and example of prayer to effect change. If we are doing more complaining about America than we are praying for her, then we need to make a serious correction. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 
  1. We can be humble. The second part of the above verse has to do with looking within rather than without. While it was true Sodom and Gomorrah received judgment for their wicked sins; that judgment didn’t fall until 10 righteous people couldn’t be found. Before we cast stones at others, let’s make sure our hearts are right and we are living for the Lord with all of our hearts.
  1. Offer practical help and intervention. If you are concerned about abortion – for example – find a way to serve, intervene through a ministry, volunteer in counseling.

Proverbs 24:11 If thou forebear to deliver them that are drawn unto death,and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, behold we knew it not;doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? Yes, supporting legislation and candidates who oppose abortion is important, as is actually doing something personally about it.

  1. Be politically active. I am not contradicting myself here. I do believe we have a responsibility to vote, support candidates with our values, and express our views. I just see that differently that being an activist. It’s a matter of hope, priorities, faith, and personal involvement in God’s work versus giving too much time, frustration, and negative verbiage and attitude to politics. Nehemiah, Ester, and Daniel all petitioned their kings and took appropriate stands. However, their hope was in God, and that was always clear. Petitioning is a biblical example, in contrast to protesting. Christians petition with a right heart; zealots and activist protest in a way that only divides.
  1. Finally, we need to proclaim the Gospel. Our main calling and greatest gift and contribution in this world is to share the love of God and the gift of salvation with a lost world. As Christians, we need to keep our hearts, minds, priorities and energy firmly fixed on the Kingdom of God and the proclamation of His good news. We are citizens of heaven first and foremost , our greatest allegiance lies there. That allegiance should be reflected in our actions, our attitudes, our hope, and spirit. To be concerned with this world is one thing. However, to be preoccupied with it is to marginalize our first love and to express way too little faith in what God can do through us through His appointed means to change the world.

Remember?

By Jim Ramsey

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I recently was sent the following funny, entitled “AGING: ONE PLUS ONE”

“Three elderly men went to the doctor for a memory test. The doctor asked the first, “What is one plus one?”

“Two hundred seventy-four” he answered.

He asked the same question of the second man- “What is one plus one?” “Tuesday,” he said.

The third man was asked as well, “What is one plus one?” “Two” said the third man.

“That’s great!” said the doctor. “How did you get that?”

“Simple,” said the third man. “I subtracted 274 from Tuesday!”

Funny, but I have certainly learned that the process of aging carries with it the hard reality that things just don’t work like they did in my younger years! It’s certainly difficult to be a spectator instead of a participant in so many activities that were once fairly easy to do somewhat well! (I recently was reminded of that at snow camp this year when I paid $40 to fall 40 times!)

Failing memory is many times an issue for the young (admit it!) as well as the “old.” I’m sure that you, like me, have endured the frustration of misplacing something or of being unable to remember someone’s name or an important date, or of forgetting an appointment, etc. It seems that sometimes the information I need just escapes me – It’s there somewhere, but I just can’t find it!

Too often in my spiritual life failing memory plagues me as well. How easy it is for me to forget the many wonderful things God has done in my life, to take for granted all the precious people He has used to help me along the way, and to be unmindful of all the grace and provision He has made for me to bring me to this place on my timeline.

Moses warned the people of Israel (Deuteronomy 4:9) “Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.” MY eyes have been privileged to see God do some great things, and I am asking Him daily to help me keep them in my heart and mind that I might praise Him for what only He can do, and that I might be sure that my children and grandchildren recognize His greatness as well.

Night Vision

By Jesse Becker

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We have all experienced dark days in our lives. Some of us know the loss of a loved one. Some know the difficulties of illness or pain. Some have lost the security of a job. We’ve all experienced personal failure. Most of us know the dim light of the unknown. While we as humans are only allowed to know the present and have memories of the past, we can’t help but feel the anguish of an uncertain future.

Let me encourage you with this thought: Our God is timeless. He is all knowing. He is the engineer of every event in our lives. And His purposes are perfect. We know these statements to be true, but how can these truths help us?

There is an old hymn, a favorite of many, called Be Thou My Vision. The melody is attributed to a blind, first century Irish Christian. The modern English lyrics with which we are familiar were written by Mary Byrne more than a century ago. These words hold the key to turning on the night vision we often desire. The key is to continually live in God’s presence; to let go of everything else; to think of nothing else but Him every hour of every day.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Psalms 46:1