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.

No Answer is Not Always a “No” Answer

By Jesse Becker

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Luke 1:5-25

After a year or so of marriage, my wife and I looked forward to having children. Many of our friends’ families were beginning to grow, and we were excited about having the same for us. But our family didn’t start for another 5 years during which we had at least 3 miscarriages. Those years were long and hard, and we prayed and prayed for children. However, our prayers only seemed to be answered with a resounding “no.”

Believe it! There IS a Fountain of Youth! Part 2

by Jim Ramsey

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For thousands of years tales of a spring that supposedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks or bathes in its waters have been recounted across the world. The legend became particularly prominent in the 16th century when it became attached to the Spanish explorer Ponce De Leon, the first governor of Puerto Rico, who supposedly was searching for it when he traveled to what is now Florida in 1513.