HE’S ALIVE!

He's Alive
 

HE’S ALIVE! HE’S ALIVE!! HE’S ALIVE!!! 

Good morning and welcome to Crossroads! We cherish the opportunity to celebrate history’s most intriguing mystery—the death and purported resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Few dare to debate the historicity of Jesus Christ. Apologist Josh McDowell has written that there is more documentation substantiating and authenticating the life of Jesus than there is the life of America’s first President, George Washington.

The life and legacy of Jesus has impacted every continent of our world. His words, parables, prophecies, and miracles have been translated into over 2,800 languages. Our English Bibles contain 2026 words that were attributed to Jesus, as recorded by writers Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul. Most of those words were spoken during His life. What has raised the ire of many throughout history are the words attributed to Jesus after His resurrection. How can a dead man come back to life and talk? That Jesus lived, none can deny. The notion that Jesus was raised from death is still challenged or denied by many. Does it matter? Really?
 
This weekend, BILLIONS  of people all over the world will sing songs, share testimonies, and observe customs founded in Scripture’s claim that Jesus was raised from death. Saul of Tarsus was one of those who lived during the time of Jesus. He heard about His miracles, His compassion, and His wisdom. He heard his fellow Pharisees tell of conversations with this “renegade rabbi.” Like Annas and Caiaphas of the Jewish Sanhedrin, Saul wanted nothing more than for this “maniac” to disappear so that things could return to normal. Heresy was common in Judaism, but this  heretic demonstrated power over storms, cleansed lepers, healed sick people, cast out demons from the oppressed, raised the dead, and spent time with “sinners.” He was Public Enemy #1 in Roman-occupied Israel.

Eventually one of Jesus’ disciples, Judas Iscariot, grew weary waiting for the eviction of the Romans and the restoration of Israel’s kingdom. He conspired with Jewish religionists to betray Christ, delivering Him to Roman authorities. After being beaten beyond recognition, being cursed by many of those He had cured, and being abandoned by His disciples, Jesus was crucified. Joseph of Arimathea claimed the body of Jesus and buried it in a tomb he purchased. Finally, the Romans got what they wanted—peace. The Jewish authorities got what they wanted—control of Jewish culture and spirituality. All was well…or so they thought.

Those who loved Jesus remembered His words: “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” (John 2:19). Did He mean what He said? The mystery was short-lived. Angels greeted Mary at Jesus’ tomb on that first Resurrection morning asking, “…Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again’?” (Luke 24:5b-7). “Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them”
(see Luke 24:10) testified of the risen Christ Whom they had seen. Paul later wrote that Jesus was seen by over 500 people before ascending to heaven (see 1 Corinthians 15:6). Mystery Solved!
 
If you know Jesus as Savior and Lord, you know HE’S ALIVE! You hear His voice, sense His presence and know His heart. As a line in a song by Ron Kenoly says, “I believe the tomb is empty, ’cause I know my heart is full, of the glory and the wonder of Your Name.” Today—and every day—celebrate His resurrection, and yours! Because of Jesus, we have a hope that extends beyond this life. I’m living resurrection life right here and now. Won’t you join me? After all we are HIS witnesses. Let’s show the people we live, work, and play with, that Jesus is alive. HE’S ALIVE IN US!

Happy Resurrection Day!

Pastors Glenn and Diann



Stand Out From The Crowd

Stand Out

Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born,

I set you apart for a special work. …

JEREMIAH 1:5A (NEW CENTURY VERSION)

   Good morning! As you spend time in the Lord’s presence, we trust that you will be blessed and encouraged today.

We’re so glad you’re here!

   Have you ever heard the term “groupthink”? Psychologist Irving Janis coined the word. What is it? Janis explains:

“Groupthink occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment. Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making” [Janis, Irving L. (1982). Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes. New York: Houghton Mifflin].

   GROUPTHINK influences minds more than we might imagine. Janis’s research and writings were controversial decades ago. Growing up in a religious cult, I found his insights to be liberating when I read the book after encountering Jesus. The longer I live, the more I realize how widespread GROUPTHINK is. I’m not as worried about war or pestilence as I am this condition. Thomas Edison once said,

“Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.” Isn’t that frightening?

    As followers of Jesus, we can’t afford faulty decisions due to negative group pressures. We must think and live as new creations in Jesus Christ. That’s who we are. WE’RE THE FIVE PERCENT! Our Lord provided atonement not only to purge us from dead works and sin-stained consciences but also to TOTALLY RENEW OUR MINDS. Hallelujah!

 

   I am full pursuit of Christ so that I can become all He set me apart for before I was formed in my mother’s womb! Aren’t you? Like everyone lost in sin before being rescued by God’s grace, I did not realize how much I thought like “the world”. Its values, goals, and hopes controlled my mind and directed my every thought. That is “GROUPTHINK”.

 

   When Jesus mercifully revealed Himself to me in 1984, not only was my spirit reborn, but

my mind was also purchased by His Blood. I began realizing how vital it was to have my mind renewed daily. The first Scripture I memorized was Romans 12:1-2—“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (NKJV). Another Scripture I memorized was Ephesians 4:22-24—“that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (NKJV). Friend, renewing our minds is a daily must!

   If followers of Jesus allow “the world” to frame our thoughts, shape our values, determine our goals, and dictate our pursuits, we’ll

think, speak, feel and act like “the world”. We’re made for more! We were not born again to “fit in” with this world. Don’t let a demonically-controlled media hijack your mind. “For who has known the mind and purposes of the Lord, so as to instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ [to be guided by His thoughts and purposes]” (I Corinthians 2:16 AMP). We are His workmanship. Elevate your thought life. Jesus fills our minds with His wisdom, motivating, inspiring, and directing us as agents of His kingdom. Say NO to “GROUPTHINK”! Say NO to the pressure to think like “the world.”

   As the graphic on the front of the bulletin depict, let The Master Potter fashion your heart, fill your mind, and direct your steps. His wisdom is easily identified. His will is never restrained from those determined to know it and do it. His ways are revealed to His sons and daughters who desire to honor Him with their whole hearts. What grand and glorious purposes He has for

YOUR life. This week, transform your world by transforming your thought-life. We are praying for you!

 

Never Forget: YOU Are Loved!

Pastors Glenn & Diann



True Worship

Worship
 
Hello! Our hope is that you will be outrageously blessed as you seek the Lord with all your heart in worship. Worship—a word that we use almost every time we come together in this place.  
Just what is worship?

 

    If you read the exchange between Jesus and the Samaritan woman in John chapter four, you’ll notice that her understanding of and approach to worship was quite different from His. In other words, she confused the issue and therefore missed the true meaning of worship. Over nineteen centuries have passed since that conversation, but little has changed…

 

    The Samaritan woman first referenced the 
location of worship. She said to Jesus: “Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem” (John 4:20). Jesus informs her that location was irrelevant, but knowledge was not. “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:21-22). She focused on place. Jesus focused on relationship
. The Samaritans worshipped, but their worship was lifeless and pointless. There was no spirit (inspiration) because there was no accurate knowledge (truth). I’m sure you’re at the place on this page where you’re thinking, “So, what’s the point?”

 

    Here’s the point: If “worship” to you 
feels lifeless and seems pointless, you’re reliving the Samaritan’s nightmare AND you’re missing the party! Aren’t you ready for a worship upgrade?

 

    Last week, our grandson, Chase, went with a group of teens, young adults, and Youth Pastors/Leaders to Orange Beach for a couple of days. By his—and all other accounts—it was a phenomenal experience. Have you ever been to a Youth Convention/Camp/Rally? If not, you need to see Pastor Andy or Angie today and tag along at the next event. Why? Your soul will be blessed and your spirit will be awakened when you see people actually head-over-heels in love with Jesus. Every time our teens and young adults return from a worship experience, they’re different. Why? 
A more accurate knowledge of God will always lead to a deeper expression of worship. That is worship “in spirit and truth”!

 

    In recent years, I’ve noticed a troubling trend in the Church. Praise and worship—God’s 
only
 authorized path of access into His Presence—(see Psalm 100:4) has become an option for a growing number of people who claim to love Jesus. I never thought I’d see the day when men, women, and children who take the time and make the effort to come to a place of worship would rather loiter on His property than linger in His Presence. What in the world is going on?

 

    I’ve prayed day and night and drenched yards of carpet in tears as I searched for an answer. I’m starting to understand it little by little. Do you remember a few years back when as many people came to Sunday School as did the worship service? Our study of the Bible preceded our entrance into the Sanctuary to encounter the God we learned about. In those days, I don’t recall people standing in the foyer (the outer court) when the God of Glory was present. In other words, our ignorance is showing! The less we study, meditate, and feast on His Word, the less we value His Person…the less we crave His Presence…and the less we experience His Glory. Friend, it’s time for a change!

 

    Allow me to remind you of our HIGHEST priority when we gather here to worship.
“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness” (Psalm 29:2). If you want to feel the Presence of God and experience His pleasure, give Him priority over everything
else. When the first note is played or word is sung, follow the lead of our youth: put your phone up, stop the small talk, and engage with your Heavenly Father in true, inspired worship. He’ll be so happy to see you!

 

Never Forget: YOU Are Loved!

Pastors Glenn & Diann



Repentance

Now this type of deep sorrow, godly sorrow, is not so much about regret; but  it is about producing a change of mind and behavior that ultimately leads to salvation.  But the other type of sorrow, worldly sorrow, often is fleeting and only brings death.  Look at what is happening among you!  Notice how   authentic and diligent you have become because this godly sorrow has been  at work in your community. But there’s more: your desire to clear your name, your righteous anger, your respect, your longing, your zeal, and your concern for justice.  All these demonstrate how you have been made clean.

II CORINTHIANS 7:10-11 (THE VOICE)

 Welcome to Crossroads! We pray that you will be blessed today as we worship our Lord and receive His inspired Word! On the heels of our previous study (The Lies We Believe), I feel a need to address a subject most of us are familiar with—REPENTANCE. A phrase that reveals a lot about this word was used by the Apostle Paul in the passage above. He wrote of “godly sorrow” in his letter to the Church at Corinth. In our day, ANY kind of sorrow is avoided at any and all cost. However, the Holy Spirit reveals the impact and importance of this horrible hurt that heals.

Last Sunday, I shared my belief that our greatest need isn’t revival, but repentance. Why? Because we’ve forgotten how to blush.
Our obsession with personal liberty and freedom of expression, has resulted in a moral freefall that would have made the Roman Empire proud. Heinous sins that invited public censure—if not jail time—in recent years are paraded openly. Even in Christ’s Church, unthinkable activities are now practiced routinely as we choose to excuse our “struggle” instead of being set free from them. As a result, our witness to the world is on life-support.
Is there anything that we can do to escape from this pitiful deception?
YES—There is blessed relief from our predicament! As usual, the way forward begins by looking back. Note particularly the words of Paul in II Corinthians 7 as he defines the impact of true repentance: Godly sorrow “is not so much about regret; but it is about producing a change of mind and behavior that ultimately leads to salvation.” He then shares indicators of godly sorrow working in the lives of penitent believers.

Repentance produces fruit that remains! Worldly sorrow (temporary emotional embarrassment) can’t change the human heart. Why not? Our social consciousness is ever changing. God’s Word never changes. What was wrong in Eden 4004 B.C. is wrong in America 2016 A.D.. We need “godly sorrow”! Repentance is more than feeling bad for a day or two. Godly sorrow produces lasting changes in minds and hearts. The Church in Corinth needed to experience “godly sorrow” and be changed by it. So does the Church in Albertville—more specifically our Church. Why would we pray for a revival if we aren’t living proof of revival’s power? Think about it…

The graphic above contains a powerful quote attributed to a spiritual giant in our day—J. I. Packer.  Read these words slowly please:

 

“Repentance means turning from as much as you know of your sin    to give as much as you know of yourself to as much as you know of your God, and as our knowledge grows at these three points so our practice of repentance has to be enlarged.”

Do we “practice” repentance? Seriously. Do we recall and lament our failures or offenses? If we believe the Bible, why do we carelessly ignore this verse: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored” (James 5:16a AMP)? How can we witness to others about a faith that we do not “practice”?

 

Today, you can finally find freedom by being honest with yourself and with God. If you’re tired of making excuses, choose deliverance from the things that choke the life right out of you. Allow the Holy Spirit to reveal anything holding you back from God’s best for your life. Give it ALL to Him and leave this time in His presence changed from this day forward. That is “godly sorrow”  and that is REAL REPENTANCE!

 

Pastors Glenn & Diann

 



Selfie Addiction

Selfie

 

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?

 

LUKE 9:23-25 (NEW LIVING TRANSLATION)

     Welcome to Crossroads! We are honored that you have joined us today for worship. We pray that the words you hear, speak, read and sing will form a flowing fountain of LIFE that will nourish your spirit today and throughout next week.

     Today, we will share Part 4 of a study entitled,

“The Lies We Believe.” In previous studies we’ve addressed seven lies which are widely accepted as “truth” by many people—including Christians —in our world:

1) “God wouldn’t want me to be unhappy.”
2) “When in doubt, I should follow my heart.”
3) “It doesn’t matter what I believe as long as I’m sincere.”
4) “I know I should forgive _____________, but…”
5) ____________ may be wrong, but it’s not hurting anybody.”
6) “Nothing is more important than family.”
7) “I can’t help it; that’s just the way I am.”

 

    We saved the BIGGEST lie for last. In the last half of the Twentieth Century, a plague of narcissism began infiltrating our world. This dire sickness has escalated from a strange malady suffered by very few to a raging epidemic that is as uncontrollable as are the forest fires that claim thousands of acres of our nation’s land every year. So, what exactly is narcissism?
 
   An ancient allegory is the origin of a character named Narcissus. In Book III of Ovid’s Metamorphoses we meet a young man so handsome that all the nymphs are in love with him. Narcissus doesn’t understand why; he wishes they would leave him alone. One day, in the woods, he happens upon a pool of water and leans over to take a drink. In that reflection, Narcissus sees his face for the first time, and falls in love. He swoons, kissing his image, but he cannot have the thing he desires. In despair, he stops eating and sleeping. Finally, Narcissus lays his head down and dies. Nineteen hundred years later, psychologists began to recognize that some of their patients exhibited a grandiose sense of self-worth even to the exclusion of normal relationships with people outside of themselves. Thus

“narcissism” came to mean: Excessive Self-Love.

      Fast forward to 2016. Did you ever think that you would see a person (or persons) bloated by ego, infatuated with themselves, their ideas, their viewpoints, and their accomplishments tolerated—much less celebrated—en masse by our society? Do you remember Mother Teresa? She was honored by being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. She served the lowest of India’s caste system (Untouchables) during her decades of ministry. What attracted people to Mother Teresa? Her humble, selfless love for others. Today, Mother Teresa would be forced to take a back seat to egocentric, dominant personalities, if she was even noticed at all.

  

Is Crossroads a Church or is it a psychiatrist’s office? Great question! Yes, Crossroads is a Church; it is a place where LIES are exposed and replaced by TRUTH. Jesus confronted excessive self-love during His earthly ministry. Malignant pride was a problem in His day, too. Roman Emperors—like Tiberius Caesar—were self-proclaimed “gods.” Their egos were infamous and deadly. Jesus was just the opposite. Everything Jesus did was for the glory of Another—His Father. Jesus disdained the spotlight, avoided publicity, and refused to “market” Himself. Jesus was the Servant-King, and we need His example now more than ever!

     Hyper-egoism is sweeping our world. “Social-media personalities” post dozens of “selfies” every day to keep their fans in the know. It’s all about ME—MYSELF—& I! Today, we’ll expose the lie that mankind’s ultimate need is to “feel better about themselves.” The Truth is found in Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23-25. His Truth offers relief from the terrible, terminal plague of excessive self-love. Today: Believe and Be Free!

 

Pastors Glenn & Diann

 

 



Believing is Seeing

blog 6.28.15
DAVID JEREMIAH

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  HEBREWS 11:1 (NKJV)

 

Before the pioneering work of British surgeon Joseph Lister, it was thought that “bad (infected) air” was the cause of spreading diseases in hospitals. Surgeons operated without sterile hands or instruments. Lister discovered that carbolic acid was an effective disinfectant for hands, wounds, and surgical instruments. His work greatly increased the understanding of the role of germs in spreading, and preventing, disease.

Germs couldn’t be seen, but their effects certainly could be. Survival of patients was “the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). And that is what faith is. We cannot apprehend faith with our senses, but we can definitely see its evidence. We see the world that exists and believe God created it (Hebrews 11:3). We can see the changes in our lives and believe the power of God is responsible (John 9:25). We pray and believe God answers our prayers (James 1:6). Like Abraham, we trust God’s words and believe we are made righteous in His sight (Genesis 15:6).

Don’t let faith be a stumbling block. Faith is ultimately dependent on the object of faith—in our case, God and His Word. Place your faith in the God you cannot see—believing is seeing!

At the end of the day, faith means letting God be God.”

John Blanchard

 

 


The Power of Vision

Blog 6.12.15

The Word For Today by Bob Gass                                                      

 

“I will instruct you…in the way you should go.”

Psalm 32:8 (NKJV)     

 

 

     Mother Teresa didn’t set out searching for fame, it found her. She simply went to India, found a need that no one else was meeting, heard the call of God, allowed her heart to be consumed by it, and ministered to multitudes of the world’s most neglected and forgotten people in the slums of Calcutta. One of her most famous slogans was: “A life not lived for others is not a life at all.”

 

     Let’s face it; much of what we do each day really doesn’t seem to matter until it’s evaluated as part of a larger picture. When you take the minutiae of any given day, drop it into the cauldron of a God-ordained vision, and stir it around, suddenly there’s purpose, worth, adrenaline, and joy that comes from knowing that you’re fulfilling your destiny. It’s like the difference between filling bags with dirt and building a dike to save a town. There’s nothing glamorous about filling sandbags, but saving a town from the ravages of a flood is another matter entirely. Building a dike gives meaning to the drudgery of shoveling dirt into sandbags. And it’s like that with your vision.

 

     Many times the everyday routine of life can feel like shoveling dirt. But take those same routines and view them through the lens of a God-given purpose, and suddenly everything looks totally different. Vision brings your world into focus. It brings order and purpose out of chaos. It enables you to see everything in a fresh light. And the good news is that God is the giver of visions—so ask Him for one!

 



Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 23-0

 

1

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all you lands!

2 Serve the Lord with gladness! Come before His presence with singing!

3 Know (perceive, recognize, and understand with approval) that the Lord is God! It is He Who has made us, not we ourselves [and we are His]! We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name!

5 For the Lord is good; His mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting, His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations.

PSALM 100 (AMPLIFIED)

This Thanksgiving, Be Sure to Count Your Blessings!

 



Speed The Light

20 Oct 13 blog pic

 

LIMITLESS

 

God is ever present. God is eternal. God is unchanging. God is all powerful. God is merciful. God is truth. God is Spirit. God is all wise. God is good. God is perfect. God is infinite. God is…LIMITLESS.

Words seem inadequate to describe Him. Our finite minds find it difficult to fully comprehend Him. Even Paul the apostle, when penning a letter to the Ephesians, struggled to describe the greatness of God: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). Paul uses a compound superlative that means “exceeding, abundantly more.” One writer commented that it is bad grammar, but great theology! And it’s true, God is beyond what our human minds can fathom and our tongues can express.

If we believe God is really who He says He is, then we must also believe that He can do what He says He can do. When we believe—when we act on that belief. This changes everything. God’s power moves in and through us. He uses us for things that we never dreamed were attainable. The impossible becomes probable. The miraculous becomes reality.

This is our story. This is the story of our movement. For almost 100 years we have, by faith, determinedly allowed God, who knows no limits, to use us to reach the world with the message of Jesus. We have embraced the call. We have gone where none would go. We have given sacrificially. We have seen an amazing harvest. And yet, there are those who have not heard.

So…we choose to believe for more for our generation. To love deeper. To walk humbler. To trust farther. To reach higher. To dream bigger. To Speed the Light. To change a life. To change the world. #STLLimitless

 

 

 



As Great As You Choose

6 oct 13 blog pic

 

“Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re    content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.” 

 

MATTHEW 23:11-12 (THE MESSAGE)

 

    Good morning! Do you remember studying Latin in high school? I’m sorry if that question brought back painful memories. You’re probably thinking the same thing that I am: “I can barely understand English. Why bother with Latin?” One Latin word captured my attention back in the early 70’s. “Quantuvis” which means: “as great as you choose.”

 

    In Matthew 21-23, Jesus was speaking to multitudes of people in the temple area. The Pharisees had been plotting to trap Him by asking trick questions. Jesus responded by asking these doctors of religion similar questions. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were “image-conscious.” As Matthew 23:11-12 indicates, Jesus revealed to them and to all who listened what was most important, and it certainly wasn’t “image.”

 

    In our culture, “image” is everything—or so it seems. Celebrities and artists manipulate their world so as to capitalize on their “image.” We do the same thing in the church. Talk about majoring in the minors! Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.” Neither position, power, nor prestige determine greatness. Jesus reminds us how God measures greatness: “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant.” Friend, you too can be “as great as you choose.” Servants are rarely noticed, honored, or celebrated, However, our Heavenly Father sees all. He rewards those who stand out by stepping down. God bless you as you serve!

 

 

Never Forget: You are Loved!

 

Pastors Glenn & Diann

 

 

 




Blog 5.3.15
 

You Are God’s Masterpiece                                            MAX LUCADO

To see sin without grace is despair. To see grace without sin is arrogance.  To see them in tandem is conversion.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (GALATIANS 2:20)

   Christ is on the move, aggressively budging you from graceless to grace-shaped living. The gift-given giving gifts. God sees in you a masterpiece about to happen.

   He will do with you what Vik Muniz did with the garbage pickers of Gramacho. Jardim Gramacho is the largest landfill in the world, the Godzilla of garbage dumps. What Rio de Janeiro discards, Gramacho takes. And what Gramacho takes, catadores scavenge. About 3.000 garbage pickers scrape a living out of the rubbish, salvaging 200 tons of recyclable scraps daily. They trail the never-ending convoy of trucks, trudging up the mountains of garbage and sliding down the other side, snagging scraps along the way. Plastic bottles, tubes, wires, and paper are sorted and sold to wholesalers who stand on the edge of the dump.

   Across the bay the Christ the Redeemer statue extends his arms toward Rio’s South Zone and its million-dollar beachfront apartments. Tourists flock there; no one comes to Gramacho. No one except Vik Muniz.

   This Brazilian-born artist convinced 5 garbage workers to pose for individual portraits. Suelem, an 18-year-old mother of 2, has worked the garbage since the age of 7. Isis is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. Zumbi reads every book he finds in the trash. Irma cooks discarded produce in a large pot over an open fire and sells it. Tiao has organized the workers into an association.

    Muniz took photos of their faces, then enlarged the images to the size of a basketball court. He and the 5 catadores outlined the facial features with trash. Bottle tops became eyebrows. Cardboard boxes became chin lines. Rubber tires overlaid shadows. Images gradually emerged from the trash. Muniz climbed onto a thirty-foot-tall platform and took new photos.

   The result? The second-most-popular art exhibit in Brazilian history, exceeded only by the works of Picasso. Muniz donated the profits to the local garbage pickers’ association. You might say he treated Gramacho with grace.

   Grace does this. God does this. Grace is God walking into your world with a sparkle in His eye and an offer that’s hard to resist. “Sit still for a bit. I can do wonders with this mess of yours.” Believe this promise. Trust it. Cling like a barnacle to every hope and covenant.

   Grace hugged the stink out of the prodigal and scared the hate out of Paul and pledges to do the same in us.

   Grace comes after you. It rewires you.

   From insecure to God secure.

   From regret-riddled to better-because-of-it.

   From afraid-to-die to ready-to-fly.

I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never  think of them again. (ISAIAH 43:25)

 

 
 
Blog 4.19.15
 

Worry Is Worthless: God Takes Care of You

CHUCK SWINDOLL

My soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by. (Psalm 57:1)

    Worry is a complete waste of energy. It solves nothing. That is why Jesus asked, “Which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span” (Matthew 6:27)?

    In essence He was saying, “You go to bed tonight and fret and fuss because you’re not five feet, eleven inches; you’re only five feet, nine inches. But when you wake up in the morning, you’re still going to be five feet, nine inches.”

    Worry will never make you stretch! And it won’t solve that anxiety on your mind either. Let me be completely candid. Do you know why we worry? We have a quiet, hidden, love for worry. We enjoy it! When one worry is gone, we replace it with another. There’s always a line of worries waiting to get in the door. So as one goes out the back door, we usher in the next one through the front door. We enjoy entertaining them.

    Worries are our mental and emotional companions. But Jesus says, in effect, that they’re worthless!

    Worry erases the promises of God from your mind. Jesus implies this when He says, “O men of little faith. Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves’
(Matthew 6:31).

    The promise of God is that He will not allow His children to beg for bread. He will care for our needs and that’s the promise you can claim. Since He took care of our greatest need at Calvary by giving us Christ, then you can be sure He will take care of everything else He considers important for us.

 

 
 
blog 4.12.15
 
 

GOD’S POWER WHEN IT MATTERS MOST

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

I CORINTHIANS 10:13 (AMPLIFIED)

    Good morning! Last Sunday, we celebrated the triumph of Jesus over death. What a celebration it was! Most of us are familiar with Gethsemane, Golgotha, and the Cross. We realize that Jesus could have avoided all of those experiences if He had chosen to. Have you ever thought about the first temptation that Jesus experienced? It is so interesting that, according to Luke 4:1, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness where the temptations would occur. WHY?

    A wise man once said, “A faith that has not been tested cannot be trusted.”  Jesus, the Son of God, had to endure the process of temptation and refuse the false promises of temptation in order to experience the power of God when it mattered most. Our Lord suffered the same temptations that you and I do, yet remained faithful to His Father. Even though we’ll face trials and temptations during our time on earth, Jesus left an example of how to overcome every evil attack! “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18 NKJV). Notice that Jesus “…suffered, being tempted” ! Jesus revealed a life key that gives me courage every day: God never said it would be easy. He said that it would be worth it! So, the next time you find yourself in a battle, remember: Satan tempts us to get the WORST out of us; God tests us to get the BEST out of us. Friend, this week, I hope that you will experience God’s Power When It Matters Most!

Never Forget: You Are Loved!

Pastors Glenn & Diann

 

 
Love your enemies
 
 

Even From the Cross: Love Those Who Hate

Dear Jesus,

   Sometimes it’s really hard to love people, particularly when You ask me to love those who hate You and do evil things. Please show me. How can I hate evil and still love the haters?

   Isn’t that what Paul did when he was in prison? In the worst of circumstances, he hated evil but continued to love. And You did the same, Jesus. When You were beaten, mocked, and crucified, You asked God to forgive Your enemies because they didn’t know what they were doing. That is pure love.

   Jesus, You are always in my heart, guiding me and leading me to be more like You. And for that reason, I have to pray for those who hate You and do evil things. I don’t love what they do, Lord — but I want them to know You, so I pray for them. I love them enough to ask that You will save them. Please, Lord Jesus, come into their hearts. Open their eyes to see You. They need You so much.

* * *

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. — Matthew 5:43–44

When Jesus was on the cross, He prayed for His enemies and asked God to forgive them. Can you love someone who hates the Lord or who willingly inflicts suffering? Love doesn’t mean that you accept acts of hatred and evil, but love requires that you pray for those most in need of salvation. Remember them when you pray.

Excerpted with permission from Jesus, I Need You: Devotions from Your Heart to His, copyright Zondervan 2015.

 

 
 
 
blog
 

CHILDREN OF THE BURNING HEART

 

And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” LUKE 24:32 (NKJV)

     Have you ever heard of a chronic condition ENJOYED by followers of the Lord Jesus, called “Holy Heartburn”? As A. W. Tozer writes, there is a passion for more of God that only those who know Him best understand. We were sharing Fifty Things The Holy Spirit Does last Wednesday night. Discussing Who the Holy Spirit is and describing the things He does in and through us pushed me to the breaking point. I was about to jump out of my skin! I sensed an insatiable hunger for the Glory of God shared by all who were present. We were all, “Children of The Burning Heart”!

     Friend, I encourage you to begin experiencing “Holy Heartburn” today. God’s Word is alive! Every page of Holy Scripture is like liquid fire setting hearts ablaze and renewing the minds of its readers. As we worship today and next Wednesday night, make it your aim to be fully engaged. When we make God Himself the object and focus of worship, He responds in ways that makes us realize that our pursuit of Him brings Him great pleasure and delight. Our hearts overflow with a joy the likes of which no earthly pursuit or experience can ever remotely compare!

     Today, will you open your heart, clear your mind of clutter, and worship King Jesus with reckless abandon? This week, will you set aside time each day to soak in God’s presence and meditate on His Word? If so, you might want to buy a bottle of Pepcid. Holy Heartburn is on the way!

 

 
 
 
 
3.15.15
 
 

Tragedy Turned Into Eternal Triumph

 

And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how He  died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (MARK 15:39)

    Mark’s account of Jesus’ death is an agonizing record of what seems to be a total failure. A mock trial, a brutal crucifixion, cruel taunts, a hurried burial. And for three days hope died in the disciples’ hearts.
A.W. Tozer explains how failure in the eyes of the world may be success in God’s eyes: “The current mania of people seeking to succeed in the world is a good thing perverted. The desire to fulfill the purpose for which we were created is, of course, a gift from God. But sin has twisted this impulse about and turned it into a selfish lust for first place and top honors.

    “When we come to Christ, we enter a different realm, one infinitely higher than and altogether contrary to that of the world. Our Lord died an apparent failure, discredited by the leaders of established religion, rejected by society, and forsaken by his friends. It took the resurrection to demonstrate how gloriously Christ had triumphed and how tragically the world had failed. The resurrection demonstrated once and for all who won and who lost.”

    There is no greater success story than the resurrection, for apparent tragedy was transformed into eternal triumph. That would be good news enough. But there is more! Christ’s resurrection makes a similar success story possible in the lives of Christians who know the truth of this verse: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20).

    That’s a success story with brand new chapters being written every day. One of those chapters is reserved just for you. How will today’s page read?

Excerpted with permission from Once-a-Day Walk with Jesus Devotional, copyright Zondervan.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Valentines
 

Communicating Love and Respect in Marriage      Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Excerpted with permission from Love and Respect for a Lifetime by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, © Thomas Nelson.  

  God’s way of communicating in marriage is to talk with words of unconditional love and respect.

  “If,” comments a wife, “I’m in the middle of a conversation with my husband that has the potential to become heated and a negative thought about my husband enters my mind, I remember the simple advice in Love and Respect that when I communicate with my husband, I need respectful words, a respectful tone of voice, and a respectful countenance. I also remember the simple advice that I need to think respectful thoughts about my husband because he is created in the image of God, and God commands me to respect him.”

The heart of the wise instructs his mouth and adds            persuasiveness to his lips. (Proverbs 16:23)

  I also teach “my response is my responsibility.” When my spouse and I get on the Crazy Cycle, my unloving words are my responsibility. My wife, Sarah, does not cause my unloving words, and I must always ask myself before I speak, “Is that which I am about to say going to sound loving or unloving to Sarah?”

  A husband comments, “Our relationship changed from frequent nagging and fighting when I realized that my response is my responsibility. I find myself constantly going back to that [truth] in every situation that gets heated. Our relationship has gradually gotten better and better as I try to speak lovingly.”
 

    It would be easy enough to deduce that communication is the key to marriage, but I don’t agree. To say that communication is the key to marriage is to assume that both spouses speak the same language. After more than three decades of pastoring, counseling married couples, and conducting marriage conferences, I’ve learned that, in fact, the wife speaks a “love language” and the husband speaks a “respect language.” They don’t realize this, of course, but because he is speaking one kind of language (respect) and she is speaking another (love), there is little or no understanding and little or no communication.

    Your words are a very good indication of what is going on in your heart — and your spouse knows it. Just about every couple knows what it is like to get into a conflict that escalates into a full-blown argument and they are not sure why it happened. Spouses tend to write off these kinds of arguments, saying, “If only she weren’t so sensitive” or “If only he weren’t so touchy.” But those aren’t the real issues at all.

    Conflict inevitably happens when spouses focus on their own needs and overlook the needs of the other. That’s when the issues arise. The wife needs love; she is not trying to be disrespectful. The husband needs respect; he is not trying to be unloving. Once the Love and Respect couple grasps a basic principle — that the apparent issue is not the real issue at all — they are on their way to cracking the communication code.

    Conflict is inevitable; it is simply part of living together. The key to keeping conflict from escalating is to choose to practice love or respect. When a husband speaks with a loving tone during a conflict, which may range from a mild argument to a more serious disagreement, his wife will feel one with him. When a wife softens her facial expressions and comes across more respectfully during those times of friction, the husband will feel one with her.

    Will the disagreement be solved? Perhaps, but more than likely it will still be there. Yet husband and wife can feel oneness because nobody has to win and nobody has to lose. Oneness is, and it is gained when the wife feels loved by her husband and the husband feels respected by his wife. They bond with each other; two, indeed, become one.

 

 

 
 
Love
 

I CORINTHIANS 13 (THE MESSAGE)

1 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

 

10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

11 When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

 

 
 
 
Keep my mouth shut

“Help me, Lord, to keep my mouth shut and my lips sealed.”

PSALM 141:3 (THE LIVING BIBLE)

    Good morning! I’m not going to bother asking how many times you’ve wished you had prayed the words recorded by King David in Psalm 141:3. At least a dozen or two, right? Me, too! As you see on the front cover, an incredible prayer is recorded in Psalm 19:14. Years ago, I began praying that prayer before I left for each day’s activities. Being mindful of the huge impact of my words has saved me countless apologies and salvaged many vital relationships. If I’d only known this truth sooner! Can you relate?

    Over the first month of 2015, we’ve talked about the priority of setting a positive, spiritual atmosphere. It would be spiritual malpractice NOT to deal with the matter of our speech before moving forward. Today, we consider the power of our words. King Solomon writes, The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences

(Proverbs 18:21). As the Holy Spirit ministers to us, let’s allow Him to expose areas of speech that may cause Him grief, that maims our souls, or that wounds the hearts of those we love. This will be time well spent, even if it brings pain. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening —it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (Hebrews 12:11 NLT). Let’s do whatever it takes to reap a harvest of right living in 2015. God Bless You!

 

Never Forget: You Are Loved!

Pastors Glenn and Diann

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
Know Christ
 

 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (EPHESIANS 3:19 NKJV)

Possessing the Fullness of Christ                                 Francis Frangipane

    We have instructed the Church in nearly everything but becoming disciples of Jesus Christ. We have filled the people with doctrines instead of Deity; we have given them manuals instead of Emmanuel. It is not difficult to recognize someone from Pentecostal, Baptist, Charismatic or other traditional church backgrounds. Nearly every congregation seems to develop a particular slant or system of traditions, some of which ultimately obscures the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. We can honor our traditions, but we must not be limited by them. For us, they will never be enough. We are seeking to be like Jesus, not men. We want the kingdom of God, not typical American Christianity.

    Thus, as a man of God, I must be vigilant to submit myself, above all things, to the Spirit and words of the Lord Jesus, incessantly reaching for the holy standards of the kingdom of God. I consider that any focus or goal other than Christ Himself in fullness will become a source of deception in the days ahead.

    Look at what Jesus did with common people. In just 3 1/2  years average men and women were transformed into fearless disciples, literally filled with the Spirit of God. They did not wince at suffering; they did not withdraw from sacrifice. These once ordinary people were equipped with spiritual authority over demons and exercised power over illnesses. They were the actual living proof that Christ transforms people.

Three and a half years of undiluted Jesus will produce in us what it did in them: THE KINGDOM OF GOD!
 

The first disciples were just as average and human as we are. The difference between them and us is Jesus. He is the only difference. One may argue that this occurred two thousand years ago. True, but “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

    You may say, “But they actually heard Jesus speak; they saw His miracles!” The same Spirit that worked through Jesus in the first century is poured out upon us today! The Holy Spirit has not grown old and feeble; He is still being poured out today. The words Jesus uttered in the first century are still “living and active” today (Hebrews 4:12), even to the “end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). We have no excuses. The eternal One who established His kingdom in men two millennia ago is fully capable of producing it in us today. All we need is undiluted, uninhibited Jesus. All we need are hearts that will not be satisfied with something or someone other than Him.

    Thus the pattern for leadership in the years ahead is simple: Leaders must be individuals whose burning passion is conformity to Jesus Christ. Is this not the highest passion of your heart—to possess the likeness of Christ? Heaven’s concern is: Will we become people who are seeking hard after Christ?
 

God—you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts. So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your  strength and glory. In your generous love I am really living at last!   My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a  breath; My arms wave like banners of praise to you.

PSALM 63:1-4 (THE MESSAGE)

 

 
 
  
   Lion
 

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Psalm 139:13-140

     I want you to picture your heart, that powerful machine pumping inside your chest. Believe it or not, it’s about the size of your fist and weighs less than a half a pound. Yet in less than twelve hours, it does enough work to lift 65 tons off the ground!

     And not only that, but if you were to line up the veins, arteries, and capillaries of the average adult end-to-end, they would stretch over 60,000 miles. That’s nearly 2½ times around the world!

    Three millennia ago, before any of these facts would’ve been known, the psalmist said we are fearfully and wonderfully made. How can any rational person look at the human body and not see a divine hand in its design?

You are created by God, not in a factory, but custom-made unlike any other person in the world!

    God made creation. He constructed light years upon light years of universe. Yet that very same God also knit you together in your mother’s womb. He intricately crafted you before you even took your first breath as a newborn baby.

    You have significance. You are NOT the product of an accident. God Himself created you; He sustains you; and He loves you. Yes, YOU! Praise Him today for that amazing truth!

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 Blog Pic
In this life we have three great lasting qualities—faith, hope  and love. But the greatest of them is love.

I CORINTHIANS 13:13 (PHILLIPS)

 

   Good Morning! Can you believe that there are only 17 shopping days left until Christmas? [I’ll make sure you’re informed from now until Christmas week!] Last week, we shared about the power of faith. I hope that article was an encouragement to you. And speaking of hope…

   The second link of this “life link” shared in I Corinthians 13 is the lasting quality of hope! What comes to mind when you consider this rich word? In my mind’s eye, I see three links of a chain. On one end is the quality of faith. On the other end is the quality of love. Smack dab in the middle of these qualities is the enduring, undeniable link of HOPE! An author/poet from a century ago, G. K. Chesterton once said, “Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” Powerful, huh?

   As we remember the birth of Jesus, history shows that it was a very difficult period. Rome ruled the world, forcing the servitude of people living in conquered nations. Rome owned it all and there was nothing anyone could do about it…apparently. But God!

   God sent hope to planet earth in the form of a newborn baby. During His time here, Jesus preached hope, gave hope, and fulfilled hope. And He’s still doing the same some 2,000 years later.

   Nothing you can buy online or in a store can supply what the lasting quality of hope provides. Only Jesus can do that. HOPE: That’s what Christmas is really all about!

Hope Works!

Pastors Glenn and Diann

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 Nov 23-0

1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all you lands!

2 Serve the Lord with gladness! Come before His presence with singing!

3 Know (perceive, recognize, and understand with approval) that the Lord is God! It is He Who has made us, not we ourselves [and we are His]! We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name!

5 For the Lord is good; His mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting, His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations.

PSALM 100 (AMPLIFIED)

This Thanksgiving, Be Sure to Count Your Blessings!