by Daniel Durkee
"Congratulations! It’s a boy!” I can still remember as the doctor blurted out those words that forever changed my life. God has blessed Michelle and me with three wonderful sons; however, I have learned that being a successful father means a whole lot more than simply producing children.
by David Wise
The stories of Israel’s past glory days made the present reality of Roman rule even more difficult to bear. Joseph and Mary were very aware of their nation’s ancient golden age and were yearning for the fulfillment of those prophecies that spoke of an even greater glory. Yet, all around them, they saw very few signs of hope.
by Matthew Ellison
The “Christmas Chapter” is one of my favorite chapters in the greatest love story of all time. Anyone reading this grand event will be warmed with joy one minute and be shedding tears of gratitude the next. One rejoices with Mary as she realizes that she will be the earthly mother of the Messiah, yet sheds tears as he reads of the division it brings into the life of two people madly in love with each other, as she and Joseph were.
How can anyone read about the shepherds on the dark hills, guarding the flocks of sheep under their watch and care, and not sense the complete moments of fear that must have gripped them as their peaceful night was interrupted by a bright light and talking celestial beings? Surely, they must have initially been scared nearly to death. But yet, imagine the great calm that must have gripped their hearts as they realized they were talking to God’s messengers. The point is, this “Christmas Chapter” is full of beauty. It is an emotional roller coaster for sure...but then again, aren’t all love stories?
by Rex McDowell, Sr.
It is a common cliché among us: “You can go, or you can give, or you can pray.” We are so familiar with the statement about missions that we seldom pause to question it; however, it presents two problems serious enough that we may need to repeal and replace it!
Nov. 22: Administrative work
Nov. 23-25: It was wonderful to have family drive from Ohio to visit for Thanksgiving.
by Nathan Purdy
My childhood memories on the Emerald Isle include walking with Shadow, our sheepdog, through the rolling fields on my Dad’s farm. I grew up in a farmhouse, surrounded by picturesque fields dotted with sheep and bordered by hedgerows. Drives into a local village could be interrupted by a neighbor leading his sheep down the main road, as he moved them from one field to another. Memories linger of the day my sister and I received our own pet lambs - Lucy and Skippy. In a child’s way, I loved it all.
by Johnathan Arnold
On November 29, 20-year NBC News veteran Matt Lauer was fired after sexual harassment allegations. Multiple women have come forward with graphic stories, including one employee who claims Lauer solicited her in his office and reprimanded her for refusing his advances.
While this was a devastating shock to many of Lauer’s family members and coworkers, it is one incident in a line of similar situations this year. From journalist Charlie Rose to Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein to Senator Al Franken, the secular world is launching a warranted crusade against all forms of sexual misconduct in the workplace. Social media is currently flooded with expressions of pain, anger, and cynicism.
Lauer’s coworker Savannah Guthrie said, “All we can say is we are heartbroken; I’m heartbroken.” Although we often characterize unbelievers as flippant and unserious about ethics and morality, many are hurting deeply. This is no time to prove a point. We should not capitalize on people’s brokenness to advance our agenda. Rather, this is the time to herald the glorious Good News that there is forgiveness and soul-deep healing for sexual sin and its scars.
by Johnathan Arnold
You have probably played it before: it’s called The Bible Lottery. It goes something like this: Discouraged? Bored? Feeling dry spiritually? Open your Bible to a random page, skim to a random verse, and see if God speaks to you. You consciously hope it’s not a verse like Judges 4:21, where Jael drives a tent peg through a guy’s head. You subconsciously hope it’s something really generic like Philippians 4:13. (It does say that we can do “all things,” after all.) The unfortunate, underlying assumption is this: if “all Scripture" is profitable, whatever text I turn to must be about me.
Even if we do not play The Bible Lottery, we are often guilty of mishandling God’s Word for similar reasons: we hear a Bible verse that on the surface appears to speak to our immediate needs, then spread that meaning without ever investigating its context. If we really like the meaning that we read into a text (meaning B), we will likely go the rest of our lives without ever discovering the amazing richness of God’s meaning (meaning A), which is far better than any meaning that we could read into it. Consider this example:
by Jacob Martin, Conference President
The work of a "bishop" or "overseer" is very important. Those who lead have a serious responsibility. Paul wrote, “This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach" (1 Timothy 3:1-2).
General S. Schwartskoph, who commanded the U.S. forces during Operation Desert Storm, once spoke to an automobile dealers' convention in Dallas. He shared several military rules. Among them was rule #13: when in command, take charge and rule #14: when in charge, do right.
We need leaders who live with integrity, lead with intelligence, labor with intensity, and love instinctually.
by Nathan Purdy
Have you ever been asked a question such as this one? If someone asked me this as a pastor, I would typically thank him or her for asking and arrange to meet, giving me time to work through the issue. When we met, I would pray for God’s help and then turn to the Bible.
It is important to locate the answer in God’s Word, rather than in the pastor’s words. This particular question provides an opportunity to model a proper approach to answering ethical questions in general. Our final authority is God’s Word, so that is where we need to turn. My answer would then run something like this...
by Johnathan Arnold
"For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God" (2 Corinthians 4:15). The King James translators chose the word "redound" from the Latin redundare meaning to surge like a wave: an explosive wave of thanksgiving to the glory of God! The Greek carries the idea of overflowing like the cornucopia pictured above. The more thanksgiving, the more glory that God receives!
The glorification of God is the ultimate purpose of our jubilant thanksgiving. As we know, 1 Corinthians 10:31 is plain that the whole end of our Christian life is God's glory. "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." This Thanksgiving we will be doing a lot of thanking, eating, and drinking. But will we consciously lift up our thanking, eating, and drinking as God-glorifying acts of worship?
Sermon on Galatians 3:6-9 by Johnathan Arnold
In Galatians 3-4, Paul is exploring in-depth the most important question ever asked: “How can we be right with God?” Paul’s answer is simple: in one word, “FAITH.” Whoever has faith in Jesus is made right with God.
Not faith plus circumcision. Not faith plus the law. Not faith plus baptism. Not faith plus the Catholic mass. Not faith plus membership in the church. Not faith plus rules and standards. FAITH plus nothing. Sola fide. Faith alone.
The book of Galatians is Paul at his most passionate because false teachers convinced his beloved Galatians that we are right with God “by the LAW” or “faith PLUS the law.”
Nov. 6: Penn’s Creek, General Board meeting. We were excited to grant licenses to Bro. Billy Simmons, Bro. Matt Kilgore, and Sis Becky Clark.
Adapted from Holiness and High Country by A. F. Harper
[Ask yourself these questions.] Am I tempted to think that my case is different from and more difficult than the spiritual problems of others? Am I thinking about some wrong attitude of which I am ashamed? Am I disturbed by my failure to more fully achieve some spiritual goal? I may ask grace for this also. I may be different from others and my special problem may seem impossible. But, thank God, there is power adequate for me. Paul commends us "unto him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us."
by Serena Sickler
We all enjoy a good story. As children we love hearing the same book read over and over again even though we know every word by heart. We like hearing stories and we like telling them. This love of stories is a reflection of who God is. God is a story-teller.
God's story is written in history; our stories are imitations of His larger work. Though our love for stories was originally good, the entrance of sin into the world means that much of what was intended for good is now used for evil. Many writers have a distorted view of God and the world around them. We as Christians must use discernment in our reading choices.
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