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

Rethink the Bucket List

By Jim Ramsey

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The title for this blog article is borrowed from the Wall Street Journal (Monday, March 21, 2016 issue) It zeroes in on retirees, and has some very insightful points that merit serious consideration, even by those of the younger generation in planning for their future.

This article, written by Dr. Marc E. Agronin, a geriatric psychiatrist and author of “How We Age: A Doctor’s Journey into the Heart of Growing Old,” states that the “bucket list “ has become the “ultimate celebration of aging” to many seniors today. This “bucket list,” according to Dr. Agronin, is not necessarily a bad thing, but in dealing with many retirees who suffer from isolation and depression, he states emphatically from his experiences that this list needs to be refocused if it is not to become a selfish addiction. The truth is this: retirees now have longer life spans, and generally more cash, accompanied by more freedom from day-to-day obligations. Many times, due to great distances from family members, they set their sights on thrills and experiences as a highway to happiness, a “bucket list” that never seems to be “enough.” Consequently they keep piling on activities to keep the thrills coming, a process which further alienates them from real life back home.

Dr. Agronin states a “…deep psychological truth: You don’t need to make yourself happy in old age. We get happier naturally as we grow older.” An improperly focused bucket list may be a list of wrong choices: choices to focus on doing rather than on being. This article makes a valid point: We should evaluate planned activities on our bucket lists by using these criteria:

  1. What is the purpose of the activity? Is it to have fun, spend time with partner, see new places?
  2. What long lasting impact will it have on others? (Family? Friends?)
  3. Would this activity mean more long term if I included family in it?
  4. Would the time invested in it be better spent on “local turf” making and cultivating relationships?

The author of the Wall Street Journal article is writing from a secular viewpoint, but I’m sure you, as I did upon first reading, can see the spiritual life-application to what he says! Here’s the real truth! — We were created for others, and the greatest happiness and fulfillment comes from a “bucket list” that is rich with investment of time, energy, and emotion that will extend beyond our “retirement years.” God help us to stay on track!

Reasons to Engage in Political Activism Carefully

By Pastor Dorrell

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As Christians living in the United States, it is easy to get caught up in political activism. There is no doubt many of us care deeply about the moral issues facing our nation. We incessantly hear about politics on the television news, on the radio, and in conversation. And, much of what we hear can discourage us. It can become tempting to think that legislation and politics are the keys or pathways to solving the moral problems that plague American culture and society. However, I simply want to pose the question: Is that really true? Where does the real potential reside to see American culture, values, and ethics change for the better?

The Heart of Giving

By John Mardirosian

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In I Kings 17 we read the story of the widow of Zarephath. Elijah is the prophet of Israel in exile for the prophecy he gave stating that God was going to judge Israel with a severe and lengthy drought. Initially God sustained Elijah through ravens bringing him food as he hid by the brook Cherith. After the brook dried up, God told him to get up and go to Zarephath where he would find a widow to sustain him. Upon arriving, he sees a widow and asks her to bring him some bread. She informs him that she has just a little meal and small amount of oil. Her intention is to prepare a small final meal for herself and her son and then to die. Elijah understands her plight, but asks her to first prepare the bread for him and then for herself and her son. He says that God will supply her with meal and oil until the famine ends.

Widows were often very poor as they would likely be the recipients of difficult unforeseen circumstances. But that is just the person God chose to sustain the life of his Prophet. In the story, it took faith on the part of the widow for God to be able to set in motion an amazing miracle. The heart of giving is placing God and his plan for our money ahead of our own plans. If we take this step of faith, then God’s plan for taking care of our needs is set in motion. Often, we put more faith in our small amount of money than in God’s limitless resources. If we do this, we are robbing ourselves of amazing blessings.

Reasons You Should Smile More

By Andrew Calabrese

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Recently, we began a lesson series in our Young Marrieds class about being positive. In our world today, it seems as if there is an epidemic of negativity. Think about it. You may find yourself around people who are always finding something to complain about. If you turn on the news, chances are in seconds you will hear a negative story unfold. Even in our own self-talk—the way we speak to ourselves—we seem to talk down to ourselves and about ourselves.