June 2017

What an awesome day we had today at. Curbside Service!  Thank you to a great team that showed up and let God show out!  We had our biggest turn out yet and for the first time in 7 months Laina and I drove away with no leftovers. Sorry Alex City Police and Fire Departments…we couldn’t bring y’all a load of food but God obviously had something else planned. It was so awesome to see such a large group of kids and adults enjoying food, fellowship, and faith together. We are already planning for next month when we will have our regular service on July 1 and a special extended VBS day on July 15. Come out and see us!

Bad Day

Remember that song by David Powter…it was famous for about a minute. While the meaning of the song has been debated about as referring to a fight between a couple or as someone trying to cheer up a depressed friend, the fact is there are some Biblical elements to the lyrics. For those of you with as bad a memory as I have here are the lyrics:

Where is the moment when we needed the most?
You kick up the leaves, and the magic is lost
They tell me your blue sky’s faded to gray
They tell me your passion’s gone away
And I don’t need no carrying on

Stand in the line just to hit a new low
You’re faking a smile with the coffee to go
You tell me your life’s been way off line
You’re falling to pieces every time
And I don’t need no carrying on

‘Cause you had a bad day
You’re taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don’t know
You tell me don’t lie
You work at a smile, and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
The camera don’t lie
You’re coming back down, and you really don’t mind
You had a bad day
You had a bad day

Well you need a blue sky holiday
The point is they laugh at what you say
And I don’t need no carrying on

You had a bad day
You’re taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don’t know
You tell me don’t lie
You work at a smile, and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
The camera don’t lie
You’re coming back down and you really don’t mind
You had a bad day

Sometimes the system goes on the blink, and the whole thing it turns out
Wrong
You might not make it back and you know that you could be well, oh, that
Strong
And I’m not wrong

So where is the passion when you need it the most?
Oh, you and I
You kick up the leaves and the magic is lost

‘Cause you had a bad day
You’re taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don’t know
You tell me don’t lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
You see what you like
And how does it feel one more time?
You had a bad day
You had a bad day (had a bad day, had a bad day, had a bad day)

How often are we, as Christians, “faking a smile with the coffee to go”? When we pretend to be happy in a moment, or a season, of struggling we are in essence trying to solve our own problems instead of depending on God and sharing the problem with our family of believers. Instead, we end up trying to “sing our way out” or lying about how we feel.

Next time you have a bad day, go to God and give it up to him. Then, share your feelings with your loved one, your accountability partner, or a trusted friend. The most important thing is to share it with God, but He did not intend for us to be alone in this world.  Join a small group, a bible study or start one yourself.

I’m stronger than Jesus

In Acts we read the story of “the seven sons of Sceva” who were going about driving out evil spirits through incantations and ritual. Even though these seven men were Jews, and the son’s of a chief priest, they were using chants and charms to drive out evil spirits. (Acts 19:13-20) These exorcisms were not a new thing to the first century Jews. There are ancient documents that refer to “Jewish magic” being used through amulets and incantations as far back as King Solomon’s time. Though many of the Jewish magical scrolls were intended to help, heal, or cure they still showed a large dependency on man’s abilities to mix a potion or create a charm in order to defeat or control an evil spirit.

In the case of these son’s of Sceva they were using a mixture of Jewish exorcism magic and the invocation of Jesus’ name to expel an evil spirit. While this type of activity may not be something that we see or are involved in on a regular basis I am sure most, if not all, of us can empathize with them. How often do we try to use our own power, will, or strength to create an opportunity? When was the last time we walked into a situation without praying about it first? How often do you acknowledge that you can do nothing without God?

Anytime we act without dependency on God’s strength we are putting ourselves in a position to act without God’s blessing. God even tells us, through his prophet Jeremiah, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord”(Jeremiah 17:5). Without God’s strength in our decisions we are as “weak as a plant in the desert, and shall not see any good come” (Jeremiah 17:6) to our plans. But…there is hope in Jesus. When we place our faith in Him and depend on his wisdom and power we “bear much fruit” (John 15:5) because “he who is mighty has done great things for me” (Luke 1:49). Our love for Jesus should not manifest itself in just good works for others or only studying the Word and prayer. In order to fully commit to Jesus being our Lord it is imperative that we live in his presence at all times, doing nothing without a prayer for guidance from Him.

So I challenge you over the next few days to think about more than just Easter weekend as a time for God. Think about how many times each day you act as if you are stronger than Jesus and then be intentional about how you acknowledge His presence and your need for Him.

 

Jude’s Words of Warning

This morning at the Legacy Builders Men’s Bible study in town we learned about Jude, Jesus’ brother. Mr. Billy Coleman shared with us a more in-depth look into what Jude, or Judas (No, not that one), was trying to tell the early church and how it is still a very relevant piece of advice today. Though the epistle of Jude is only 25 verses long, the importance of the information it gives is immeasurable.

Jude was written sometime between 65 and 80 AD and directed at the Church in general as a warning against apostates who have either heard the good news of Jesus’ resurrection and denied it, or who have twisted the disciples’ words into a worldly version of the gospel. His warning is to the devout Christians and current leaders within the Church to beware of “certain individuals…[who] secretly slipped in among you” (Jude 4). These people have integrated themselves into the Church as it has grown and now are “perverting the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ [is] our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 4). I don’t know about the rest of you but those words sound like they could have been spoken in my church last Sunday. And it wasn’t just Jude who saw this problem…Peter also writes to the Church, “…there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who brought them…” (2 Peter 2:1) False teachers are all around us today, not just in the pulpit but also on TV, leading small groups, and teaching our children. The only way that we can be assured of what we are hearing is by reading our Bible and praying; spending time with God and asking Him for guidance. Only in this way can we receive the true Word of God and not the distorted truth of Satan. Because at the end of the day the force behind these false teachers is just that, the Devil.

Jude’s last few words are of the most importance to Christian leaders. He says in verse 22-23, “Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupt flesh”. Jude’s letter to the Church is not just a warning, it is instructions to us as Christians. Our number one responsibility is to create new disciples of Jesus Christ, but we must also protect each other, especially new Christians, from false teachings. Discuss among yourselves and make sure that there is someone among you who is knowledgeable in the Word and a trustworthy, Godly person. In doing this we can test and try the words of man to ensure that they follow the true Word of God.

The King Has Risen!

I know…we’re a little early. Our Easter version of Curbside Service was right on time and right when God wanted it to be. We had a great turn-out…especially for Spring Break…and had the privilege of serving over 50 people this past Saturday. We all dined on pulled-pork BBQ sandwiches (Thank you so much Mr. Clay Greene), coleslaw (courtesy of Jim Bob’s in Alex City), and baked beans. In between bites of food the residents were treated to the true story of Easter and our risen Lord. We told them the story of Jesus’ triumphant entry, the traitorous arrest, his illegal trial and subsequent crucifixion, and finally the amazing story of his resurrection and freeing of all mankind from our sins. Our ladies did a great job teaching this story to the children through the Resurrection Eggs. We also had an Easter egg hunt that everyone enjoyed!

Our Bible and book table was completely full at the beginning of the day, thanks to the International Gideon’s and Church of The Highlands, and completely empty when we packed up for the day. We gave away over 50 Bibles, over 20 Christian-themed books and devotionals, and more than 15 Christian music cds. Our prayer request and connection table always seemed to have someone at it praying with one of our volunteers or writing down a request, praise, or need. This week we also added a 6 foot wooden cross to the area. Guests were given a band-aid and offered the chance to write down anything that they feel might be keeping them from having a closer relationship with Jesus. Then they placed the band-aid on the cross; they laid that sin, insecurity, or addiction at Jesus’ feet.

Laina had an amazing ministry moment right there at the cross as an elderly gentleman came forward and asked her to pray for him because he had several major surgeries coming up. He had brought his grand-children by and said he didn’t intend to get out of the car, but when he saw us praying with the children he felt the urge to join in too. It was a major win for God and something that Laina will always remember being a part of.

Thank you to everyone who came out to serve and we hope to see even more of you next month.  We are having the next Curbside Service on May 13, due to schedule conflicts this will be on the second Saturday instead of our usual first Saturday.  Hope to see you there!!

Saturday Serve

This Saturday, April 1st, we will be in the Springhill Housing Community serving others. Curbside Service will be providing a meal and a chance for the people in the community to learn about Jesus. We will have an Easter egg hunt for the kids as well as a Bible story time. There will be an opportunity for everyone to “nail their hurts and sins” to the Cross and let Jesus carry them away. If you feel led to serve with us please let us know. We will be next to the Housing Authority on County Road at 10:30 am. Please come share in the blessing!

Why minimalism is good for your soul…

via Daily Prompt: Minimal

Four-car garages; $100,000 cars; extra, double, fudge-covered chocolate ice-cream…Why are we so obsessed with bigger, better, and more?

It hasn’t always been this way…at least not at the level we see today. There have always been people who yearn for more material objects than they have and are never satisfied in the present. But, it seems that there is a larger majority of people today that have this outlook where a few years ago those living a profligate lifestyle were in the minority. Personally, I see this as a direct reaction to the ease of access we now have to social media both because those living extravagant lifestyles are easier to observe and those seeking that lifestyle have a greater ability to observe them.

So what? What’s the point of this and why is it better for your soul and less stressful on our physical bodies to ignore the over-indulgent lifestyles and practice minimalism? King Solomon, arguably the wisest man who lived, tells us in Proverbs, “Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.”(16:8) Now I know that many of you are thinking, “Just because I’m rich doesn’t mean I did it in an illegal way or gained my wealth through injustice.” That’s not what I am implying or what King Solomon was saying.  The “injustice” here is defined as what is done with the wealth once it is acquired.  If we work hard and are rewarded for it then by all means, enjoy your reward. However, when we go from ‘enjoyment’ to ‘overindulgence’ we are not being good stewards with what has been given to us by God. Overindulging people have forgotten that we only have what God has allowed us to have.  We are simply overseeing the gifts and physical goods that he is allowing us to maintain until he comes again.

In addition to the fact that we do not actually own the material objects that we want to possess we are given assurance by Jesus that God gives us everything we need.  In Matthew He tells us, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (6:25-27) You see, God loves us and wants all of mankind to join him in perfect unity with each other and Himself. In order to receive these blessings we need to only listen to his Word, believe in his Son, Jesus, and what He did for us, and accept Jesus as our Lord. In doing these things God grants us immeasurable grace and countless blessings to enable us to live fruitful lives on Earth.

Finally, the blessings that we are granted along with the things which God has granted to us to steward are not meant to be hoarded and enjoyed in a selfish manner.  We were meant to enjoy these things as a community and within the relationships that we build with each other. John, the disciple, tells us in Acts, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” (2:44) As a community of fellow believers we are there for each other; we hold each other up in times of sorrow, but we also share joy with one another. With our excess we are meant to give to those in need and share with others when we have success. We are also meant to help the needy and less fortunate, whether they are fellow believers or not. Remember, Jesus did not come for the righteous and kind-hearted just as a doctor does not concern himself with the healthy. He came for those who need him and we are to do likewise by helping those who need us.

Safe and Secure…

One of the most difficult things for people to comprehend these days is having security, true security. There are dangers around every turn; physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual. Just watching the news, picking up a paper, or browsing the internet will prove this fact every single day. So with all this fear-mongering and danger threatening us day after day how are we supposed to get out of bed in the morning and make it through one more hour?

Unfortunately there are many people out there that “cope” with these problems in unhealthy and harmful ways. They turn to alcohol and drugs and begin abusing them, or they allow their anger at this dangerous world to overcome them and form habits of lashing out at others. Some individuals never find ways to cope and their mental health becomes more and more degraded until they need professional help and medication in order to function. These are all different sides to the same coin…we are trying to fix a supernatural problem with man-made, natural solutions.

The only true security that we have is in Jesus Christ. His love and sacrifice on the Cross gave us all the safety net that we will ever need. There is no fall to small or too great that his rope of salvation can not save us from. Their is no assault that his armor of righteousness can not defend. King David tells us in Psalms that, “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.” (40:2) When God sent his son, Jesus, to die for us it was not just to save us from sin and then let us fend for ourselves until eternity. Jesus is always with us once we believe in him and profess who he is in our hearts. His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, is with us from that day on providing us with guidance and the knowledge that we are loved and protected by our Father and our Lord. Paul told the Ephesians, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,” (1:13) So we can have total security in Jesus through our daily contact with the Holy Spirit. We are “safe and secure from all alarms” when we lean on Jesus during our times of trouble and when we are afraid.

On top of all the power and glory that God has and the security that Jesus provides for us, we can know that these are a constant and everlasting protection because of what the author of Hebrews tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (13:8) and John begins his Gospel with this description of Jesus, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (1:1) So we can rest in the promise that not only is Jesus our protector from the dangers of the world, but that he will never leave us.

Now, will Christians experience pain, loss and even death? Yes. We are not perfect beings and will not be until the Lord returns and we join him in Heaven. But, what we do have is a constant companion that helps guide us through the trials and sorrows that we experience. Without Him we are surely lost, but with our faith in Jesus and by remaining in constant contact with him through our study of the Bible and prayer we can find security while we remain in this world.

 

-Ben

Your pain is over…

I did not know Libby Hankins but knew of her through several friends that knew her personally. This makes me very sad to know that so many people that she touched are feeling this great loss right now. However, as sad as her loss to us is I am overjoyed to hear if the amazing ways that she affected other people’s lives while she was in our presence. Those of you who knew her are living brighter lives because of that, perhaps look at things a little differently due to her influence. She may have left us here in our physical condition, but I believe she will continue to be in hundreds and thousands of hearts and minds for many, many years to come. Rest now Libby, your work here is done. 

Libby’s Story

God gives us peace…

Times are tough folks…I mean scary, tough! While half the world is getting destroyed, burned, and/or looted the other half is falling into a severe ethical depression which is destroying the infrastructure of the nations. It’s easy to look around, especially if you pay attention to the news, and think that we are really living during the tribulation times; that any day now the Antichrist will appear to raise an army. More and more people are looking for Jesus’ return in the clouds.

theblessedhope

While being encourage by the return of the Lord and our entrance into Heaven is most definitely something to be excited about, sometimes the world’s events can be distracting.  In that respect, we are not unlike the Israelites of the Old Testament. They were so easily distracted by what other nations were doing that it directly affected their relationship with God to the point that God had to redirect them multiple times.  Sometimes He used direct action, sometimes through an intermediary, and sometimes He used His words given through a prophet or leader. In Deuteronomy Moses writes, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (31:8) The psalmist also encourages us with his words, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (46:1) 

By remembering that God is present with us no matter what may be happening we can draw on His strength and not be concerned with our own strengths or weaknesses. Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (14:27) Knowing that Jesus is your Lord, your Protector, can give you the true peace that passes all understanding. By trusting in the power of God and knowing that Jesus is always watching over us we can move through this world and all its dangers without fear.

Know God, trust in Jesus, and continue to spread the Word to all who will listen!

–Ben