YOUR GRACIOUS GIFT…

I went to the Promise Box this morning and found the following:

“Jesus said unto him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man comes to the Father, but by Me.” -John 14:6

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I began to ponder that verse in my mind-asking myself such questions as:

  1. Did Jesus know from the beginning, that He was going to have to die for us?
  2. Did He have anxiety over the thought of having to suffer?
  3. Did He see the picture of the Cross…the hill where three crosses stood…the soldiers casting lots for his clothes…his mother, and Mary Magdalene, weeping at the foot of his cross…all the legions of angels in heaven ready to fight, to rescue the Son of God…all of nature wailing the loss of their Creator?
  4. When He prayed, “Not my will…but Yours,  Father” – did he hear some of the angels whispering amongst themselves, “Isn’t there another way for Him to accomplish Salvation?  …There has to be an easier way…”

If He knows my life from beginning to end-I’m quite sure He knew everything that was going to take place in His life.  I believe He knew from before the foundation of this world that Adam and Eve would sin, and that He would have to die for that sin in order to save us all.

Yes…there may have been an easier route that He could have taken.  He could have made us without free will to choose.  Then He would not have had to die, because we would not have sinned.

But…that would not be love.  It’s our free will to come to God when He woos us to Himself that makes it love on our part.  And when He chose to die for all of us-even those that He knew would never come to Him- THAT was LOVE on His part!

“How gracious was your gift to me; that I a sinner lost, might live.  Yourself, You did all freely give, mine…ever mine, to be!”  -Unknown

Anita

WHAT DOES CHURCH DO FOR THE WORLD…?

We haven’t posted anything from Agent X-Fat Beggars School of Prophets, for some time.  I saw this on his post, and most of the time I must admit, I have the same question! I know what my church tries to do for the community…the world-but what about the rest of these places of “Worship?”  Think about it… -anita

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Question: What Does Church Do For The World That NO OTHER Group, Institution, Company or Nation Can???

Snapshot 1 Calendar attempt 1

Please read this, consider it, and offer an answer.

I am a churchman.  I believe Jesus when he says, “On this rock I build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!” (Matt. 16:18).

Now… we might argue over the meaning of all, or any part of, that statement.  And in arguing at that level, we might illuminate features that go normally unseen (even by me).  But I have no desire to argue that Jesus said it, that he meant it, or whether he might or might not be wrong about it.  No.  I will take that much at face value.  This is the word of God for us.  We must accept it.

But here’s the thing: I know LOTS of people who “do not believe in organized religion”, who say – “Give me Jesus; keep your church”, and practically every Christian in the world today either goes their own way (Lone Ranger Christian) or is part of a splintered off denomination.  Some way or another, we are all splintered off the rock and the church Jesus builds. We are not all together as one church – an assembly which apparently raids the gates of hell and wins!

My point is not to plea for unity in this post (though everything I say will beg the question).  Rather, my point is to question just what we thought “church” was supposed to do.  What do you think church does?  What does church offer?  What is church supposed to offer?  What is the point of it?  And especially… What among these questions is unique to the church that is found no where else?

I know I am speaking of an ideal church here.  But isn’t Jesus too?  And even with flaws, what excellence should we strive for?

I am not a Lone Ranger Christian.  I belong to both Catholic and Protestant communions – as a matter of negotiating the break among us in my own life.  I believe in “religion” (James 1:27) and church (Heb. 10:25).  I believe in the word of God (II Tim. 3:16).  But we have rejected these things in our rejection of each other.  And I sense we have lost our sense of vocation – our reason to be.

Yes, I am a churchman, but I am a critic too!  This also is biblical.  Just look at every letter St. Paul writes; he fills them with correction and critique.  Look at St. John’s Apocalypse with its letters to the seven churches – churches filled with flaws, damage, and heresy!  Yes, I am a churchman, but I am a critic too.

But getting to the nub of my point, my work as a street minister, prison minister, and hospital minister puts me in close quarters with lots of para-church ministries that somehow think they should and even can step up to fill some void that the church ignores, but I think that is a mistake.  Jesus did not start a 501c3 on that rock.  And I fear the gates of hell can withstand the assault of a 501c3!  But if Jesus is right, then there is something the church has to offer the world that no other organization can.

What is that?

Please think about it and offer an answer.

Agent X

THE PLACE OF SAFETY!

This morning, I was up at the crack of dawn…no different than any other morning;  but after I got my husband off to work, I found myself looking at some old books that my dad gave me.  The one I picked up is called, “D. L. Moody’s Anecdotes”, published in 1896.   My dad used to quote him a lot in his sermons, so I decided to take a closer look.  I noticed a book-mark within it’s pages, so I knew I had begun to read it at some point-probably shortly after my dad’s death.

Anyway, I found a short excerpt from one of Moody’s sermons.  He said something in there that reminded me of a saying my grandma (my dad’s mom) used to say all the time; she’d say, “Sometimes…you gotta fight fire with fire.”   I share this excerpt from Mr. Moody, now with you. -anita

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THE PLACE OF SAFETY

My friends, there is one spot on earth where the fear of Death, of Sin, and of Judgment, need never trouble us, the only safe spot on earth where the sinner can stand–Calvary.

Out in our western country, in the autumn, when men go hunting, and there has not been rain for many months, sometimes the prairie grass catches fire.  Sometimes, when the wind is strong, the flames may be seen rolling along, twenty feet high, destroying man and beast in their onward rush.  When the frontiersmen see what is coming, what do they do to escape?  They know they cannot run as fast as that fire can run.  Not the fleetest horse can escape it.  They just take a match and light the grass around them.  The flames sweep onwards; they take their stand in the burnt district and are safe.  They hear the flames roar as they come along; they see death bearing down upon them with resistless fury, but they do not fear.  They do not even tremble as the ocean of flame surges around them, for over the place where they stand the fire has already past and there is no danger.  There is nothing for fire to burn.

And there is one spot on earth that God has swept over.  Eighteen hundred years ago the storm burst on Calvary; the Son of God took it into His own bosom, and now, if we take our stand by the Cross, we are safe for time and eternity.

D. L. Moody

BAPTISM-THERE’S A LOT GOING ON THERE!

Here’s one from our own, Lee Pierce!  Enjoy! -anita

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Baptism—There’s a lot going on there

Baptism, as one of the two sacraments ordained by our Lord Jesus (the other being the Lord’s Supper), is important to all believers for many reasons. Most Christians, if asked, would probably acknowledge that their baptism represented being in union with Christ. I always felt that baptism was a public expression of my love for, and fealty to, my Savior.

I recently came across some teaching which greatly expanded my understanding and appreciation of the rite of baptism. In an article penned by Rev. Matt Ryman, senior pastor at a Presbyterian church in Florida, he opened my eyes to some things I’ve never known or considered. He maintains that baptism is a two-way street. Let me tell you what I mean here.

The Westminster Confessions talks about baptism being a washing with water in the name of our triune God, the key word here being “washing.” In the first century, to baptize something was to wash it [see Mark 7:4]. Before Jesus became incarnate, the Jewish Law required ritual washing for purification [see Ex 30:17-21]. It was customary to have ritual baths available to the people and many such baths have been found in excavations on the temple mount and even in private homes. John the Baptist, in his ministry, changed the emphasis of baptism from one being a private ritual to one being more of a public act symbolizing repentance in expectation of the Messiah’s imminent coming.

John is quoted in Mark 1:8 as saying he baptized with water but Jesus baptizes (cleanses) with the Holy Spirit. In his article, Rev. Ryman notes: “As we watch the pastor washing dirt off a person with water, it serves as a picture of Jesus washing our sin off of us with the Holy Spirit.” So, like many of you, I can easily relate to the baptismal act and view it as a ritual cleansing of the participant. But Rev. Ryman wants us to understand that there is a whole additional dimension to this act.

Jesus came to the Jordan where John was performing baptism to crowds of people from the area (Mt 3:5) and asked John to baptize Him. This always puzzled me; certainly Jesus had no need to be cleansed of sin. John at first refused but Jesus prevailed upon him and finally, John agreed. Rev. Ryman explains, Jesus inaugurated His ministry by being baptized and, in so doing, He identified Himself with sinners. Further, he quotes from the writings of the well-known Scottish theologian, Sinclair Ferguson, who explains that Jesus is indicating (by baptism in the Jordan) how He will become our Savior. “…by standing in the [Jordan river] in whose waters penitent Jews had symbolically washed away their sins, and allowing that water, polluted by those sins, to be poured over His perfect being,” says Ferguson.

So, in one way then, baptism is a washing away of our sins, but, from Jesus’ perspective, He is taking those same sins on Himself. And a very powerful and poignant aspect of baptism lies just below the surface here. Though I’ve read the verses, I managed to miss the import that baptism also points to the cross of Christ. Jesus Himself referred to His death on the cross as a baptism [Mk 10:38, Lk 12:50]. Symbolically, at the Cross, God the Father, in response to our sin, poured out His wrath onto Jesus, instead of onto us where it rightfully belongs.

I was baptized quite a while back, but I wish I had known at the time more of these factors that relate to baptism. I knew I was making a public pronouncement of my love for Jesus, but there is so much more to it. If you haven’t ever taken the time to be baptized, you should make plans to do so soon.

Lee Pierce

SUBMIT…RESIST…AND SEE THE VICTORY!

James 4:7 (KJV)

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

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I saw the following quote the other day; really think about this as you read it…then see how the above verse  fits.

“When we care more about what FEELS right than what IS right, we open ourselves up to the destruction of sin!”  -Lysa Terkeurst

Wow! This is so true!  Yet, that is the way of the world now days.  There’s even a saying-“If it feels good…do it!”  Then there’s the old song that says…”If it’s your thang…do what you wanna do….”  No wonder this world is going to hell in a hand basket!

We must SUBMIT ourselves to God…let Him lead us into what is right, what is good, what is true, what is Holy!  Then and only then will we be able to resist the devil!

Let’s submit ourselves to God today.  Let’s resist the devil…then watch him run!

Anita

FIND OUT YOUR REAL DESTINY!

Have you noticed all the commercials/advertisements  on TV, Radio, … all over the internet regarding Astrology, Your Future, Medium’s KNOWING what your future holds- and all willing to “guide” you…for a price?

I don’t know about you, but I am so fed up with these “Astrology Answers” sites-especially on Facebook, popping up every little bit!

They say things like, “The day you were born, is who you are.  Find out your real destiny.”

There were so many on my FB page yesterday, I, in frustration responded to one saying:

THIS IS BOLOGNA…ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT!  BEFORE I WAS BORN- GOD ALMIGHTY MADE ME WHO I AM!  HE KNOWS MY DESTINY…HE PRE-ORDAINED IT!

We as Christians need to stop seeking worldly counsel, and go to our Bibles!  We need to fall on our knees, and ask God to reveal to us WHO we are in Him, WHAT our purpose is in Him, WHERE we should go, WHEN we should do things, WHY we need to wait until He says it’s the appropriate time, and HOW to go about doing things when we get there – so we don’t do them in our own might!

Why would you seek counsel from someone who is as fallen as you are?  NO ONE has an edge on God!  Especially those folks!  They don’t even serve the same God  you do!  Stop trying to know what tomorrow holds….Just let God take care of it!  Put it all in His hands, and let Him lead.  The Bible says, “The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord.” -Psalm 37:23

God knows the number of hairs on your head…can the psychic say that?  He, (GOD) knows your life from beginning to end…does your fortune-teller?  Look back over your life…God led you, and continues to lead you, even when you were yet a sinner…your medium will only “lead” you when you pay up.

WAKE UP FOLKS!  LET GOD BE YOUR CONSTANT GUIDE!  He will lead you to eternal life.  Your astrologer will lead you to ruin!

Anita

STAND FIRM…AND WATCH THE VICTORY COME TO PASS!

I drew two promises this morning.  When I read them, they seemed more like an outline… bullets, points to follow.  Look at the verses below.  The first one says:

. Be watchful.  In other words, be sober, be vigilant, be aware!

. Stand firm in the Faith.  Don’t be wishy-washy, pick a side, commit!

. Act like men.  Don’t be a coward or fearful, man-up!

. Be strong.  Put weakness aside, put your trust in the Living God, let Him fight for you!

Then we look at the next verse.  It says:

. If God is for us….  We already know that if we belong to Him-He is on our side.  He will fight the battle!

. Who can be against us?  We know the devil is against us, him and all his minions, but he was defeated at The Cross, and has no power over the Believer!  So…who is left? No one!

 

** 1 Corinthians 16:13 (ESV)

13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

 

“When we in darkness walk, nor feel the Heavenly flame,

then is the time to trust our God, and rest upon His name!” -Unknown

 

** Romans 8:31 (ESV)

31 … If God is for us, who can be against us?

 

“I bow me to Thy will,  O God, and all Thy ways adore.

And every day I live I’d seek to please Thee more and more.” -Unknown

 

Let’s be watchful today, and when the devil comes knocking, we will be ready for him.  We can stand firm in our Faith-quote the Word of God to him.  Don’t be fearful, trust in God…He will make us strong!  We must remember…God Almighty is for us, and nothing…I repeat, NOTHING can come against us and succeed if we put our faith and trust in Him!

Anita

 

 

THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN…

I saw a post on FB the other day.  It was actually a video of several ‘old time’ preachers of the Gospel.  The video was almost an hour-long, and I usually don’t listen to more than five or ten minutes of the videos posted…but I was unable to turn it off!  One of the preachers on there was named Paris Reidhead.  I’m going to quote some of his sermon, Ten Shekels And A Shirt, as well as a couple of others (I’m not sure who they were.)

This missionary reminded me of my dad.  He didn’t water down the Word.  He told it like it was!  We need more of that today!

Hope you enjoy this!  I know I sure did!-anita

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Paris Reidhead (May 30, 1919 – March 23, 1992) was a Christian missionary, teacher, writer, and advocate of economic development in impoverished nations.

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“The end of all being is the Glory of God.  Humanism says the end of all being is the happiness of man.  This is the betrayal of the ages!” -Paris Reidhead

“You need to get out of the driver’s seat, and get in the passenger seat…better yet, you need to get in the back seat.  Actually, you’ve got to get out of the car, take the keys around and open the trunk lid.  Hand the keys to the Lord Jesus.  Get inside the trunk.  Slam the lid down.  Whisper through the key hole, “Lord, look…fill ‘er up with anything YOU want, and You drive; it’s up to You from now on.” -Paris Reidhead

Another preacher said this:

“God wants some men that are really drunk, intoxicated with the Spirit of God, who have a love life with the Lord Jesus, that He can ask ANYTHING of you, and you’ll do it!”

“To be part of the Bride of Christ, you have to be divorced from EVERYTHING in the world!”

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“Christianity is NOT what you’re going to get out of God….It’s what He’s going to get out of you!  Let’s be done once and for all with the Utilitarian Christianity  that makes God a means, instead of the Glorious end that He is!”

“There’s only one reason for God meeting you, and that’s to bring you to the place where…in repentence, you’ve been pardoned for His glory; and in victory, you’ve been brought to the place of death that He might reign, and in His fullness, Jesus Christ is able to live and walk in you!  Our only reason for being is the glory of God in Jesus Christ!” -Paris Reidhead

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Two young men, sold themselves into slavery so that they could preach the Gospel to an island full of African slaves.  It was a life time of slavery, so their families never seen or heard from them again.  As the ship left the harbor, they waved to their families, and one of them could be heard saying, “MAY THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN RECEIVE THE REWARD OF HIS SUFFERING!”

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May this be our battle cry everyday!  Jesus is worthy!  WORTHY IS THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN!  May we be the bearers of this message, and may He receive Glory, and Honor, and Power! -anita

 

 

MY MOTHER’S LEGACY…

Here’s a good one from Mike Mondragon-my sweet husband!  Good admonition for all of us parents!  Enjoy! -anita
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John 13:34-35 (KJV)34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

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As an adult, my childhood recollections consist of only sweet memories, of  heartfelt wonderful times and cherished moments!  My Mother protected me from the evils of the world, because as her last child, she was naturally very protective.  As such grew up kind of spoiled.  Yes, I know it! I am not ashamed of it.  I came by it honestly and thank her for it. Let me explain to you why…
My mother exemplified love.  I know she did this intentionally. That’s just the way she was. That was her way of doing things. It was her nature.  What she likely did not realize that because of her outpouring of undeniable unending and unconditional love, she would affect everyone she met.  Her example would help me to understand and know God more intimately. The love she showered on me would so affect my processes as to teach me to love fiercely, and be loyal to those I love.  This resulted in a man who places God first, and desires to be a man after God’s own heart.  To be more like Him everyday.  Make no mistake, I still fall short of the Glory of God every day!  I also fully realize how much I need God on a daily basis.
My Mother showed love in a tangible way.  But wait, don’t get it twisted!  When I needed a spanking, I got one- but love and acceptance with correction was a much better teacher. The fear of disappointing my Mother, impacted me much more than a good spanking.  But that was because Love with correction is a most powerful tool.
In short, I encourage you Mothers and Fathers to Love your children unconditionally, spoil them.  Cheer them on.  Encourage them.  Love them Fiercely.  They will personify that love and become children of God for GOD IS LOVE.
I do believe that correction is needed but do it in love, not because we are angry or hurt or just need someone to place our hurts upon.  Be careful, but show them love.  Be the example to them and everyone you meet.  Go out of your way.   Love costs something… just ask Jesus.  It cost Him His life.
BE the change you want to see…..   Next time you see me, if I come up and hug you, I hope you’re not offended.  I hope to be able to show you more love, because I had a great example!
Mike Mondragon

“VENGEANCE IS MINE…”

“Wait for the LORD, and He will make things right.” -Proverbs 20:22

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Some of you that just read the title to today’s post got excited thinking that ‘vengeance is yours’…not so!  The verse in Hebrews 10:30 says, “Vengeance is Mine, says the Lord…I will repay.”

I just went out to a nice lunch with a dear friend of mine on Sunday after church.  The food was great…but the fellowship was wonderful!  We both grew up with similar situations.  We did have some big differences, but the message conveyed to us as children by one or more of our care-takers, was the same…we were not important, we were unworthy of receiving  love from certain people.  They did all they could to make our lives miserable!

As we sat and dredged up the ‘old’ stuff-I could feel my anger and resentment rise.  I even remember at one point in the conversation saying…”It makes me so mad!  I’d just like to pop ’em in the face!”  Thinking about that scene later, I was appalled at myself…I thought I had been healed…I was sure that I had forgiven those that caused so much pain in my life; but I find I am still in need of healing.  Still needing to search my heart and grant forgiveness to them whether they asked for it or not!

But-I must admit that my heart is not in that place…yet.  I want it to be, because their injustices to me gnaw at my peace and happiness; and they…I doubt they even remember me!  Some of them are already dead and gone-so I’m the last thing on their minds.

Judgment is for God to meet out-not me.  When I want to take care of it myself, I’m assuming that God can’t do it as well as I could. Having that attitude is not showing reverence or respect to God.   However, when we make the choice to forgive and give it all to the Lord, we are declaring that He is faithful and Just, and will take care of those that hurt us.   And believe me…I’ve seen it over and over again-His justice, His recompense to them will far out-weigh anything we could ever meet out.

For those that see the error of their way and repent-many come back years later and apologize for their actions.  THAT is the kind of outcome we should pray for those that have hurt us!  That they finally come to a place where they see they need God’s grace and forgiveness!

Anita