Sunday, June 28, 2009
This weeks focus is on Gary Bratcher, Jr. Gary does a lot of behinds the scenes work at Boonville Wesleyan. He maintains the church website and help me set up our church blog. If you have a computer question, Just ask Gary. We appreciate his wife Theresa and kids and all they do also. Next time you see Gary, give him a pat on the back and tell him how much you appreciate him.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
There are many prayer needs here within the congregation here at Boonville Wesleyan Church. . There are several who need a divine touch of healing from above. Jesus told His disciples that some things can only be changed by prayer and fasting. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, made numerous references to days of prayer and fasting. Wesley listed fasting as an instituted means of grace, along with prayer, searching the scriptures, and The Lord’s Supper. Early Wesleyans observed three basic kinds of fasting. The ‘single sense” ,which was not to eat for a certain length of time. Secondly, was “abstinence”, which was eating smaller portions of food. Lastly, was the avoiding of pleasant foods, such as fasting from deserts. As our DS, Dr. Mark told us in class, ”three square meals can make a very round person..” We put together a prayer and fasting calendar for the month of July. (We will be making this available in our Sunday Morning service.) The purpose of this calendar is to have a month of continual fasting here at Boonville Wesleyan. Just initial the meal or meals you plan to abstain from. You can put “Anon” if you would wish to remain anonymous. You don’t have to list what type of fasting you are doing. That’s between you and God, and what your health and medications will allow. You can participate as often as you like. Please put an “H” after your name if you are fasting for needs of healing. “S” would be for salvations, and “G” for general needs within the church, or “U” for unspoken. We hope you will participate and would like to have a special time of prayer and anointing at the end of the month. Of course, God’s miracles are not limited by our time table. You are invited to pray and fast with us for these special needs. Let’s fast and pray and look forward to great things from God in July…God bless, keith 1 Cor 13
“So Jesus said to them, Because of your unbelief, for assuredly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, Move from here to there, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17:20,21 NKJV
Friday, June 26, 2009
"On February 4th, 2004 Mark Zuckerberg launched The Facebook, a social network that was at the time exclusively for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 weeks, half of the schools in the Boston area began demanding a Facebook network. Zuckerberg immediately recruited his friends Dustin Moskowitz and Chris Hughes to help build Facebook, and within four months, Facebook added 30 more college networks.
The original idea for the term Facebook came from Zuckerberg’s high school (Phillips Exeter Academy). The Exeter Face Book was passed around to every student as a way for students to get to know their classmates for the following year. It was a physical paper book until Zuckerberg brought it to the internet.
Over 1 million new users signed up every week, 200,000 daily, totaling over 50 million active users. Facebook received 40 billion page views a month. Long gone were the days of Facebook as a social network for college students. 11% of users are over the age of 35, and the fastest growing demographic is users over 30. Facebook has also seen huge growth internationally; 15% of the user base is in Canada. Facebook users’ passion, or addiction, to the site is unparalleled: more than half use the product every single day and users spend an average of 19 minutes a day on Facebook. Facebook is 6th most trafficked site in the US and top photo sharing site with 4.1 billion photos uploaded. "
This Brings me back to the question at the beginning. Have you thought of Facebook as a witnessing tool? Many people have. Its easy to set up an account. Its free. People can only have access to your page and info if you approve them. You control what information is available to others. We hear many horror stories about this or that. Truth is, if someone wanted to "stalk" you, they can usually find you in the phone book.
I've been able to connect with old friends I haven't seen in years and meet new ones with similar church and networking interests. Some of my friends are Christians and/or pastors. Some are not. What a great way for unchurched friends to be exposed to those who are, as many churches are in an individuals profile or favorites page.Most people I know with a Facebook page also post church events and Bible verses from time to time. Jesus told us to be the salt and light in this world. I believe that he would want us to use any and all means at our disposal while we have the opportunity. With all the recent attacks on free speech, we don't know how long these opportunities will be available. That's something to think about.(To check out my page, just click on my name above my Facebook badge in the left-hand column of this page.) ...God bless, keith 1 Cor 13
Thursday, June 25, 2009
By Stacie Ruth Stoelting
CBN.com – “Total package,” announced Grandma Hilda, who twinkled and patted my hand. She seemed right: “Phillip’s” 1,000 watt smile, endless church commitments, and Jesus-talk whisked me off my feet. He showered me with attention, talked marriage, and snowed my parents.
My mother turned into a professor lecturing me on Marriage 101. Yes, marriage seemed just around the corner. It elated me to think God had provided someone so wonderful for me.
Slice! A dagger stabbed my heart: “Phillip” cheated…with someone at his church. Then, he blamed me for his infidelity and insulted me. He liked me for external qualities – including my being a speaker, actress, and singer. He couldn’t keep up “the Christian courtship act” any longer.
I felt like someone died. Sheer shock. Flashbacks to his flashy smile, Jesus-talk, and unkempt promises crashed over me like numbing, heavy waves. Man, it hurt.
After the break-up, friends cautiously emerged from hiding: Other “copycat Christians” had played the same game of false blame. Upon learning the true Christians wouldn’t compromise, the copycats dumped them faster than junk mail. They blamed the true Christians.
Copycats use Christianity to date/court. They flaunt faith through outward acts and Bible facts. They talk all about what they do for Jesus rather than what Jesus did for them. They think they know Jesus, but their actions totally deny Him (See 1 John 1-5, 2 John, 3 John).
Hey, Jesus knows what it is like to be betrayed by a “Christian.” Judas talked like a mature believer and snowed people. People never expected Judas of being the traitor. Suddenly, Judas sent Jesus to the cross with a kiss.
But we don’t focus on Judas. So why should we focus on modern-day versions of Judas? We serve Jesus – not Judas!
Jesus warned and encouraged us: “…in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33, NIV). Jesus said “in me” and not “in Christians.”
We follow Christ, not Christians. We are all simply imperfect people who recognize their immense need for a Savior.
Follow Jesus – not the Judas in your life.
- Realize some people mislabel themselves. Would you drink a cup of chlorine bleach mislabeled as Kool-Aid? No way! The distinct odor of chlorine would turn you off. C’mon, folks. Anyone can say they’re Christians. Actions speak louder than words. Jesus said to know them by their fruits (what they’re producing in their lives). Some people produce really rotten fruit –even worse than that no-longer-identifiable, stinky fruit in your fridge! Real Christians produce quality, sweet-smelling fruit in their lives.
- Separate the copycats from Christ. Don’t mix ‘em up. Christ remains loving, true, and real. The devil wants you to blame God. That way, you’ll be destroyed and no longer a threat to his plans. Just remember: “Religious” people put Jesus to death. But He arose! He’ll help you arise from your heartache. He’ll fill you with life again! People fail and bail. But Jesus stays and loves us always.
- Place purpose to your pain: God won’t waste it. He will reward you (here and hereafter) and heal you over time. Let’s use our pain to reach out to hurting hearts. God “…comforts us every time we have trouble, so when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us. (2 Cor. 1:4, NCV)
- Righteous indignation is a natural reaction. But we must forgive (let it go) and let God punish. “Vengeance is Mine…” –Almighty God (as spoken in Deut. 32:35, NKJV)
- Feel dumped like garbage? Stop it. You are treasure! Memorize Scripture detailing God’s unfailing love for you. “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” - Jesus. We simply need to accept His healing and not fight it off like injured puppies snapping at their owners’ hands. (Gal pals, let’s remember the profound Scripture: “For your husband is your Maker, whose name is the LORD of hosts…” -Is. 54:5, NASB)
- Make it a “learning and leaning” experience. Learn of and lean on Jesus –not people. Life isn’t found in a husband or wife. Life is in Jesus! Be sure you know Him –not just about Him. Why? If you know Him, you know what I know: Real love and joy drench us when we trust in Jesus! Click here to meet Him.
Stacie Ruth's passion for Jesus combines with professionalism to propel events to higher levels! Why? She steps aside and points people to God Most High. Discover why she's sung/spoken for a former President, been pictured in major media (The New York Times and USA Today), written a book at age 15, and keynoted conferences since she was a teenager. Today, she offers a new conference for those hurting from job losses, financial troubles, depression, grief, diseases (like Alzheimer’s), and other heartaches through her national conference, The Heart Hospital. Her new album, Heavenly, will release nationally in April. To watch video clips, listen to music, view and download photos for articles, and other features, visit www.stacieruth.com or www.brightlightministry.com.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a school's strip search of an Arizona teenage girl accused of having prescription-strength ibuprofen was illegal.
The court ruled on Thursday that school officials violated the law with their search of Savana Redding, who lives in Safford, in rural eastern Arizona.
Redding, who now attends college, was 13 when officials at Safford Middle School ordered her to remove her clothes and shake out her underwear because they were looking for pills. The district bans prescription and over-the-counter drugs and the school was acting on a tip from another student.
Ibuprofen is an over-the-counter pain reliever sold commonly as such brands like Advil and Motrin.
The high court, however, said the officials cannot be held liable in a lawsuit for the search. The justices also said the lower courts would have to determine whether the school district could be held liable.
A schoolmate had accused Redding, then an eighth-grade student, of giving her pills.
The school's vice principal, Kerry Wilson, took Redding to his office to search her backpack. When nothing was found, Redding was taken to a nurse's office where she says she was ordered to take off her shirt and pants. Redding said they then told her to move her bra to the side and to stretch her underwear waistband, exposing her breasts and pelvic area. No pills were found.
A federal magistrate dismissed a suit by Redding and her mother, April. An appeals panel agreed that the search didn't violate her rights. But last July, a full panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the search was "an invasion of constitutional rights" and that Wilson could be found personally liable.
The case is Safford Unified School District v. April Redding, 08-479.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Pardoned or Paroled?
Rev. Robert D. Shofner, Jr.
St John's UCC Boonville
We’ve all seen that bumper sticker: “Christians aren’t perfect … just forgiven.” I like that. Do we really understand it? Or do we ask ourselves: “Are Christians paroled … or pardoned?” Let’s think about that for a minute. What does it mean?
When a prisoner is pardoned, he is free unconditionally. No strings attached. But when one is paroled, there are conditions to one’s freedom.
We still have to report to the parole officer.
We are restricted in our travels … we can’t go here or there.
We are restricted in our actions … we can’t do this or that.
A lot of Christians live like they are on parole. They act like they’re on parole. They even talk like they’re on parole. But has God put us on parole? That’s a serious question.
Paul’s next few lines bring us to the heart of the Gospel. He writes:
“Since we've compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we're in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.
“God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public — to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it's now — this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness.
“So where does that leave our proud Jewish insider claims and counterclaims? Canceled? Yes, canceled. What we've learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We've finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.
“And where does that leave our proud Jewish claim of having a corner on God? Also canceled. God is the God of outsider non-Jews as well as insider Jews. How could it be otherwise since there is only one God? God sets right all who welcome his action and enter into it, both those who follow our religious system and those who have never heard of our religion.
“But by shifting our focus from what we do to what God does, don't we cancel out all our careful keeping of the rules and ways God commanded? Not at all. What happens, in fact, is that by putting that entire way of life in its proper place, we confirm it.” (Romans 3:23-31 The Message)
Paul brings us to the vital answer that Christianity offers to all who have sinned and fallen short … and that’s all of us. God has provided for our salvation. God came into the world in the person of Jesus Christ and suffered for our sins on a bloody and terrible cross. God allowed His only Son to take our sin upon Himself so that we could be justified. Can we really understand that?
The key statement in that passage is verse 24. In the Revised Standard Version it reads; “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus …” (Romans 3:24). Let’s unpack that.
To be justified before God means that God’s justice has been satisfied through the substitution of His perfectly sinless Son for us sinners. God accepted Christ’s death as the payment we deserved for our sin. So Christ paid the penalty for us. Christ also removed the guilt from our sin. And this last point – about guilt – is an important fact that many Christians overlook or never fully understand.
Let’s say you get a traffic ticket … doing 70 in a 50 mile an hour zone. You go to court knowing you’re going to get fined, because you were speeding, breaking the law. But when you get there, you find out that good old Uncle Bud had come along and paid the fine already. You’re off the hook, at least for the bucks. Getting that fine paid by someone else partially explains justification. But God goes one important step further. While getting the fine paid for is cool, it doesn’t alter the fact that you’re guilty. But when the sinner turns to God through Christ, the guilt is wiped out along with the penalty.
In God’s eyes, the Christian is completely pardoned for all past sins. Paul declares; “Out of sheer generosity [God] put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we're in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be.” And where did God always want us to be? His child. A member of His family; brother or sister of His Son.
Look at it this way. Our lives are like a dirty, torn, wrinkled piece of paper. On that paper is listed every single thing we’ve ever done wrong … all the lies … the hatred … the jealousies … the cheating … the harsh words spoken in anger … all of it. When God looks at that piece of paper, He hates it! Because He is a holy and just God. But when we trust in Christ, when we put our lives in Him, it’s like taking that piece of paper and putting it into this Bible. Now what does God see? He sees, not the paper, but the Word. And that Word is Christ. When we are in Christ, all God sees is the perfect righteousness of His Son. He doesn’t see our sin any more.
That’s what justified means. “Just of I’d” never sinned! And that’s really good news.
But how can that be? The next key word tells us. Grace. We are justified freely by God’s grace … His unmerited favor, mercy and love. Grace is like getting two more days to complete that assignment even though we’ve goofed off for six weeks and missed the deadline. Grace is like getting a warning from the traffic cop instead of a $200 fine and a suspended license. Grace is getting another chance, even though we haven’t earned it or deserve it … we may not even want it!
But no earthly analogy explains God’s grace. God’s unmerited love and mercy are available to all persons, even those who hate Him. When a person is truly sorry about his or her sin, and when that person trusts Christ as personal Lord and Savior from sin, God freely forgives and accepts that person, no matter what has been done. Only God could offer grace like that!
There is one more important point.
We are justified by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Redemption involves payment. Redemption means “releasing from bondage by payment of a price.” The idea of ransom is involved.
The Lindberghs paid $50,000 in the effort to save their son. The Weyerhaeusers paid $200,000 for the release of their 9 year old child. Frank Sinatra paid $240,000 for the return of Frank Junior.
But Christ did far more than just pay a sum of money for our lives. He gave His own life as a ransom to deliver us from the bondage of sin (Mark 10:45).
People are separated from God … lost to Him. People are sinners … captive in the hands of Satan. Jesus came and died to pay the maximum price to buy us back. The price was His own life, given on the cross. He ransomed us not with silver or gold, but with His own precious blood.
So, what is there left for us to do? Nothing.
Nothing except to believe it, this Good News, to have faith in it. “Because our salvation,” as Paul writes, “is not based on our good deeds; it is based on what Christ has done and our faith in Him” (Romans 3:27). Faith, as Martin Luther defines it, “ … is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man would stake his life on it a thousand times.”
There is no magic in faith. Faith is simply our response to the salvation Christ has obtained for us. We can now face God unafraid. The penalty and guilt of sin is gone, paid for by God Himself. Religious rites and works don’t make us right with God … and God doesn’t expect them after we come to Him in Christ either. We are fully pardoned, even the guilt is gone. We are not on parole, earning our freedom by our good behavior, continuing to pay the debt for our crimes.
But wait a minute! Does that mean I can live any old way I want to and not be concerned about obeying God’s laws? Certainly not, as verse 31 puts it; “That’s what it does not mean!” Being pardoned by God makes us new persons. We trust Christ for the power to live as we should each day. “In fact,” as it says in that verse, “only when we trust Jesus can we truly obey Him.” We can’t trust Christ by being religious. Trusting and religious self-efforts are contradictory. To trust Christ is being a Christian without being religious.
God has always saved people by faith. Before the Law was given through Moses, God called a man named Abraham. Abraham became the father of the Jewish nation. God sought out this Abraham, who lived almost 2,000 years before Christ, and Abraham responded by faith. Paul tells us …
“What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about — but not before God. What does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’
“Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
“‘Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.’
Skipping to verse 18.
“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead — since he was about a hundred years old — and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why ‘it was credited to him as righteousness.’ The words ‘it was credited to him’ were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness — for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:1-8; 18-25 NIV)
Why does Paul stop to talk about Abraham? He has good reason. Paul is writing to Jews and Gentiles who have become Christians. He has made the claim in chapter 3 that faith is central to being justified before God. But what if this faith idea is not in harmony with God’s revealed will in the Old Testament? If there is no biblical foundation for the importance of faith, the Jews could claim that Paul is a heretic. If it is possible for the Jews, the children of Abraham, to be justified by works, to be saved by keeping God’s Law, Christianity, and Paul, is all wet!
Paul doesn’t choose Abraham as an example by accident. Abraham was the father of the Israelites. If Paul can show that Abraham, of all people, was justified by faith, and not by his works, he has made his point … that faith is firmly rooted in the Old Testament.
And Paul does make his point. Abraham believed God and that is why God cancelled his sins and declared him just and righteous.
In Romans 4:13-16, Paul clarified his main thrust:
“That famous promise God gave Abraham — that he and his children would possess the earth — was not given because of something Abraham did or would do. It was based on God's decision to put everything together for him, which Abraham then entered when he believed. If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract! That's not a holy promise; that's a business deal. A contract drawn up by a hard-nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect. But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise — and God's promise at that — you can't break it.
“This is why the fulfillment of God's promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does. God's promise arrives as pure gift. That's the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who keep the religious traditions and those who have never heard of them. For Abraham is father of us all. He is not our racial father — that's reading the story backwards. He is our faith father.” (Romans 4:13-16 THE MESSAGE)
So Paul is saying, “Read Abraham’s story and decide for yourself.” Abraham was called by God to leave his home and go to a new land. He went. Abraham was promised by God that he and his wife would be the parents of a great multitude, even though he and his wife were well past the age for child bearing. He believed. Abraham heard God’s promise that through Abraham all nations would be blessed …. by the coming of a Savior. He believed God. And his belief, his faith, was counted as righteousness. His faith justified him in the sight of God.
With Abraham it was all faith. He believed God. He obeyed God. He acted on his faith. Faith is response, action. Belief, pure mental assent, may be fine when we’re sitting safe and sound in the pew on Sunday morning … but faith is for the rough road of everyday life.
Supposedly a true story …
Many years ago, a tightrope walker by the name of George Blondin announced that he was going to walk a tightrope across the Niagara Falls. So they stretched that rope across the Horseshoe Falls . . . and there were hundreds of people, on both sides, just cheering and carrying on. Blondin stepped up to the rope . . . put one foot on, then the next, and he walked across that rope one step at a time. The crowd was silent. They knew just one misstep and old George would fall to his death. He got half-way across . . . then he got all the way across, finally stepping on firm ground. The crowd went wild! He raised his hands for silence, and then announced, “Wait a minute! I’m going back!”
So he stepped back out on the tightrope and made his way back. He got to the middle and kind of jiggled the rope. (Made all the ladies go “Ah!”) And then he finally made it to firm ground. The crowd went wild again! And again he raised his hands for silence, and said, “Wait a minute! I’m going to do it again. Only this time I’m going to push a wheelbarrow full of dirt!” So they got him a wheelbarrow, filled it full of dirt, and he pushed it across that tightrope.
Well, to make a long story shorter, he did that nine of ten times. And the crowd went wild each time. And after the last time he crossed, he set that wheelbarrow down right in front of one of the spectators. Blondin asked the man, “Well, what did you think of that?” The guy answered, “Mr. Blondin, that’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. I’m really proud to be a witness to such a feat.” Blondin asked him, “How many more times do you think I can do it?” The guy said, “I believe you could do it for the rest of the day.” Blondin asked, “You really believe that I can do it for the rest of the day?” The guy said, “Yes, I believe you can do it for the rest of the day. In fact, I have faith you can do it for as long you want. In fact, I have faith you could do it with your eyes closed!” Blondin took the wheelbarrow, dumped out the dirt, and said, “Okay, buddy. Get in the wheelbarrow!”
The faith we have will lead us to get in that wheelbarrow if that’s God’s will for us. Faith is not merely head belief. Faith is life lived a new way … in response to God’s revealed will. But faith also is risky.
Astronauts have a kind of scientific faith. Careful calculations make them believe that things will work out and they blast off into space. But Abraham had even greater faith. He had no way of calculating how things might work out. He simply accepted God’s word. He stepped out in trust and obedience. He went out, obeying God’s command, not even knowing where he was going.
When we have the same kind of faith, it will show. We’ll learn how in the next chapter.
Heavenly Father, thank You for revealing Your Word and will to Paul, that he would write it down for us to read two thousand years later. Thank You that You call us to faith, and grant us the Spirit that we may respond. Thank You that You have cancelled our debt of sin, and have wiped out the guilt that comes with that, by accepting the perfect sacrifice of Your Son Jesus on our behalf. In faith we accept that, we believe that, we rejoice in that gracious act! Strengthen us to show with our lives that we truly believe what You have revealed, not striving to earn our salvation, but out of simple and heartfelt gratitude for what You have already given us.
And the people said, “Amen.”
Rev. Robert D. Shofner, Jr. attended California State University at Northridge followed by Yale Divinity School. Pastor Bob has served churches in New York, Washington, California, and Nebraska. He has been serving St. John's UCC Boonville since December 2001.He preaches a message that is contemporary in style, but grounded in the unchanging authority of God's Word.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Happy Father's Day 2009
to all the fathers in attendance today at Boonville Wesleyan Church. We had 14 fathers in attendance. We enjoyed a great time of special music and testimony and a word from our Pastor on Father's Day and what it means for the Christian. Each father present received the book,"God's Wisdom for Father's." (A special Thank-you to Gene Heidorn for the photo.)
Saturday, June 20, 2009
From Wesleyan Life Magazine
By Denn Guptill
Every wedding has a story. Perhaps the most famous wedding faux pas was the one where they hadn’t ordered enough wine, and halfway through the festivities the proverbial well ran dry. This story will never be forgotten—not because of the blunder, but because of how the mistake was corrected: Jesus miraculously turned water into wine, and everyone had enough to drink (John 2:1-11).
It’s a great story; it reveals a lot about Jesus’ character and personality. But sometimes I wish John had skipped it. It would have made it easier to justify The Wesleyan Church’s stance on alcohol consumption:
To demonstrate a positive social witness by abstaining from all forms of gambling and by abstaining from using or trafficking (production, sale or purchase) in any substances destructive to their physical, mental and spiritual health, such as alcoholic beverages, tobacco and drugs (other than proper medical purposes of drugs). (From The Discipline 265:4)
Often when people hear about our stance they say, “But Jesus drank wine!” I concede that it does appear Jesus drank wine, and I will not insult your intelligence by trying to convince you that he turned the water into grape juice. As one pastor said, “Jesus turned the water into wine, and for the past two thousand years we’ve been trying to change it back.”
So because I’m sure I’m not the only one to field those questions, I thought this would be a great place to address why Jesus drank wine and I don’t.
It Was a Different Time
Imagine living in a time when water supplies were used for bathing and washing clothes, and there was no effective way to treat wastewater.
Add to that a lack of refrigeration, and you can understand what Palestine was like 2000 years ago. Drinking untreated water would have been dangerous, and the most practical solution was to use the antiseptic qualities of alcohol.
They drank wine 2000 years ago because there weren’t many options; today there are. You can go to a tap and get a glass of clean, safe water. You can go to your fridge and get a glass of cold milk or juice. If you need to take a beverage on a trip there are hundreds of safe options.
I don’t drink because I have other options.
It Was a Different Place
In Jesus’ day, wine was an important part of everyday life—from meals to celebrations. However, drinking alcohol was not recreational. Drunkenness was a social taboo, much like how people feel about drunk driving today.
Our culture’s view on drinking today is typified by writer Stephen King in his autobiography On Writing: “I found the idea of social drinking ludicrous—if you didn’t want to get drunk, why not just have a Coke?” Drinking a little in our culture can easily become drinking a lot. As Francis Scott Fitzgerald said: “First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.”
The scriptures do not clearly prohibit drinking, but it does prohibit drunkenness. Strongly. Galatians 5:19–21 says, “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (NLT). That’s harsh: drunkenness will keep you out of heaven.
When does having a drink become drunkenness? I’m not exactly sure where that line would be for me—or whether when I got close to the line I would be able to keep on this side of it—so I don’t toe it.
I don’t drink because my culture doesn’t require it and often abuses it.
It Was a Different Brew
The wine that Jesus drank 2000 years ago wasn’t a whole lot different than the wine that is around today—somewhere between 3 and 11% alcohol content; but it was mixed with water, usually two parts water and one part wine. And there was nothing stronger than wine. Distillation was not discovered until about 1500 A.D. When the Bible speaks of strong drink, it’s referring to unmixed wine.
Are you going to follow Jesus’ example by drinking? Then you should be willing to limit your alcohol consumption to what his would have been. Also, if you intend to copy him, keep in mind that he prayed with devotion, he studied the Word of God, he fasted, and he tithed—not to mention that he gave up his life for others.
I don’t drink because it’s not even close to what Jesus was all about.
It Hurts Others
I have stood at the coffin of a teenager killed by a drunk driver, I have sat across the desk from women abused by drunk husbands, and I have seen marriages dissolve because of alcohol abuse. Addiction to alcohol happens subtly, and the results are devastating.
I don’t ever want to be someone’s example to drink. You might be able say that Denn drove you to drink, but you will never be able to say that you drink because Denn does. Romans 14:21 says, “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble” (NLT).
I don’t drink because I will not support an industry that destroys lives, wrecks marriages, and kills people.
The Bible does not order you not to drink. But it does say, “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts,” Ephesians 5:18-19 (NLT).
If you so badly want to drink, ask yourself why. And ask yourself what would be missing if you gave it up.
— Denn Guptil is a pastor and columnist
I just added these two fast links to "the Wesleyan Hour" and to "Wesleyan Life Magazine Online."You will find these in the left hand column of this blog. Just click on the picture with your mouse and you are there.
This post is from Rev'd Dr Ken Schenck's (pictured above)blog Quadrilateral Thoughts.You can also find a rss feed in my blogs's section in the left-hand column. Ken is a professor of New Testament & Philosophy at Indiana Wesleyan University. I met him and heard him preach in the 80's at his sister's pastorate, First Wesleyan Church of Fort Lauderdale while he was still in Seminary.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
(From Rev'd Dr. Todd Stepp's blog http://wesleyananglican.blogspot.com)
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
What Is A Dad?
A dad is someone who wants to catch you before you fall
but instead picks you up,
brushes you off,
and lets you try again.
A dad is someone who wants to keep you from making mistakes
but instead lets you find your own way,
even though his heart breaks in silence when you get hurt.
A dad is someone who holds you when you cry,
scolds you when you break the rules,
shines with pride when you succeed,
and has faith in you even when you fail... - Unknown
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
WASHINGTON -- President Obama, under growing criticism for not seeking to end the ban on openly gay (homosexual) men and women in the military, is extending benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees on the government dole, at taxpayer expense.
Obama plans to announce his decision on Wednesday in the Oval Office, a White House official said Tuesday. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the president hadn't yet signed the presidential memorandum.
The official said Obama would release more details on Wednesday.
The decision is a political nod to a reliably Democratic voting bloc that in recent weeks has grown frustrated with the White House's slow movement on their priorities.
Several powerful homosexual fundraisers withdrew their support from a June 25 Democratic National Committee event where Vice President Joe Biden is expected to speak. Their exit came in response to a June 12 Justice Department brief that defended the Defense of Marriage Act, a prime target for homosexual and lesbian criticism. Justice lawyers argued that the law allowed states to reject marriages performed in other states or countries that defy their own standards.
The legal arguments -- including citing incest and sex with minors -- sparked rebellion among homosexual and lesbian activists who had been largely biting their tongues since Obama won election. They had objected to the Rev. Rick Warren's invitation to participate in the inauguration despite his support for repealing homosexual "marriage" in California.
Their January protest won the invitation of Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson, whose consecration as the first openly homosexual bishop divided and almost split his denomination.
Homosexuals and lesbians later fretted as the White House declined to intervene in the cases of enlisted military members facing courts martial for defying the Clinton-era "don't ask, don't tell" policies. White House officials say they want Congress to repeal the policy as part of a "lasting and durable" solution, instead of intervening on individual cases.
"The president agreed that ... the policy wasn't working for our national interests, that he committed to change that policy, that he's working with the secretary of defense and the joint chiefs on making that happen," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said last month.
In the meantime, the administration has tried to make small, quiet moves to extend benefits to homosexuals and lesbians. The State Department has promised to give partners of homosexual and lesbian diplomats many benefits, such as diplomatic passports and language training.
But without a specific change in the Federal Employees' Health Benefits Program, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's promises left out financial benefits such as pensions. Obama's move could make that shift.
Homosexual and lesbian activists had expected Obama to take action some time in June, which is homosexual pride month.
John Berry, the highest-ranking homosexual official in the administration and the de facto human resources chief for the administration, told a homosexual rally last weekend that Obama planned to take action on benefits soon.
Berry, who heads the Office of Personnel and Management, has repeatedly told reporters that he expected the White House to turn to legislation to give domestic partners access to federal health and retirement plans.
But Obama so far has sent only one piece of legislation to the Hill -- a pay-as-you-go measure that is part of his wooing of fiscally conservative Democrats.
Instead, Obama will use his signature instead of legislation to achieve the benefits parity sought by same-sex couples.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Rev. Bob L. England will be the evangelist for this year's Chandler Interdenominational Holiness Camp in August of this year.Special music will be provided nightly by our member churches. This camp has a history dating back several decades. The camp has a history as an outdoor camp, with services being held inside at Chandler Church of the Nazarene adjacent to the campground when temperatures get into the unbearable range. Wesleyan, Nazarene, and Free Methodist churches have participated over the years.
Rev. England or Bro. Bob to those who know him is currently pastoring at Paoli Wesleyan Church, and is currently serving as Assistant District Superintendant for the Indiana South District of The Wesleyan church. He also coordinates the ministerial training and seminars for the district. He also conducts revivals and campmeetings in his spare time.
He has pastored churches throughout southern Indiana including Boonville. He and his wife Vivian reside in the rural Paoli area. You can read his personal testimony by clicking here: www.indianasouth.org/bob_england_testimony.html Last year we had an indoor campmeeting in the spring, a youth camp coordinated by Kaleb Kanopta and others at Chandler Nazarene Church, a Camp member. We hope to do so again this year. I will be posting more information as it becomes available...keith 1 Cor 13
Saturday, June 13, 2009
|10 Thoughts on the Role of the Bible in America|
| Pastor Bill Shuler|
Capital Life Church, Arlington, VA
This past week a nation took notice when a San Diego couple was ordered to stop holding Bible studies in their home without a permit. (The order was rescinded after public outrage.) In an unrelated story, a U.S. Court in Pennsylvania ruled that the Bible could not be read during a show and tell time when a kindergartner brought what he described as his, “favorite book” to class. Is it possible that a nation that has such a rich history of going to the Scriptures for guidance now is in the process of turning its back on the same? The following are 10 thoughts on the role of the Bible in America:
1. In a review of nearly 15,000 items written by our founding fathers, the Bible was the most quoted of any source material.
2. George Washington and successive U.S. Presidents have been sworn into office placing their hands on the very book that is now unwelcome in many public schools.
3. “The Bible is worth more than all other books which have ever been printed” — Patrick Henry
4. “The Bible is the best book in the world” – John Adams
5. If the Bible is “just a book,” it should not be uniquely excluded.
6. If the Bible is more than “just a book,” it is to our folly to exclude it.
7. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances” — The Bill of Rights
8. “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education” — Theodore Roosevelt
9. “We cannot read the history of our rise and development as a nation, without reckoning with the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the republic.” — Franklin Roosevelt
10. “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has given to man” – Abraham Lincoln
As Ronald Reagan is honored with a statue in the Capitol Rotunda, I think of the Congressional Proclamation he applauded, signed and implemented, declaring 1983 as a national “Year of the Bible.” Here’s the text:
Whereas the Bible, the Word of God, has made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation and people;
Whereas deeply held religious convictions springing from the Holy Scriptures led to the early settlement of our Nation;
Whereas Biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and the constitution of the United States;
Whereas many of our great national leaders—among them Presidents Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, and Wilson—paid tribute to the surpassing influence of the Bible in our country’s development, as the words of President Jackson that the Bible is “the rock on which our Republic rests”;
Whereas the history of our Nation clearly illustrates the value of voluntarily applying the teachings of the Scriptures in the lives of individuals, families, and societies;
Whereas this Nation now faces great challenges that will test this Nation as it has never been tested before; and
Whereas that renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through Holy Scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President is authorized and requested to designate 1983 as a national “Year of the Bible” in recognition of both the formative influence the Bible has been for our Nation, and our national need to study and apply the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.
Friday, June 12, 2009
God's accuracy may be observed in the hatching of eggs The eggs of the potato bug hatch in 7 days Those of the canary in 14 days; Those of the barnyard hen in 21 days. The eggs of ducks and geese hatch in 28 days; Those of the mallard in 35 days. The eggs of the parrot and the ostrich hatch in 42 days. (Notice, they are all divisible by Seven). God's wisdom is seen in the making of an elephant. The four legs of this great beast all bend forward in the same direction. No other Quadruped is so made. God planned that this animal would have a huge body, too large to live on two legs. For this reason He gave it four fulcrums so that it can rise from the ground easily. The horse rises from the ground on its two front legs first. A cow rises from the ground with its two hind legs first. How wise the Lord is in all His works of creation! God's wisdom is revealed in His arrangement of sections and segments, as well as in the number of grains. Each watermelon has an even number of strips on the rind. Each orange has an even number of segments. Each ear of corn has an even number of rows. Each stalk of wheat has an even number of grains. Every bunch of bananas has on its lowest row an even number of bananas, and each row decreases by one, so that one row has an even number and the next row an odd number. The waves of the sea roll In on shore twenty-six to the minute in all kinds of weather. All grains are found in even numbers on the stalks, and the Lord specified thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and a hundredfold - all even numbers. God has caused the flowers to blossom at certain specified times during the day, so that Linneus, the great botanist, once said that if he had a conservatory containing the right kind of soil, moisture and temperature, he could tell the time of day or night by the flowers that were open and those that were closed! Thus the Lord in His wonderful grace can arrange the life that is entrusted to His care in such a way that it will carry out His purpose and plan, and will be fragrant with His presence. Only the God-planned life is successful. Only the life given to the care of the Lord is safe. ~Author unknown~ (This was sent to me by Martine Deer)
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Here we Stand; we can do no Other...
Ken Ham www.answersingenesis.org
This month, we released an eye-opening new book (see the cover at right) that we ask you to symbolically nail on the door of churches, Christian colleges, and seminaries across America.
From your history classes, you may recall that in 1517, a young monk, Martin Luther, boldly nailed 95 Theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. He was calling the church back to the authority of the Bible and away from the opinions and traditions of fallible man.
Four years later, Luther stood before the emperor, princes, and others in the Bishop’s Palace in Worms, Germany, where he was told to recant his theses and books. The next day, after a long night of prayer and counsel, Luther famously replied that he would not recant unless it could be shown from the Scriptures that he was in error. He is then reported to have said:
Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me. Amen.
This month marks a milestone in the Answers in Genesis ministry. In the book Already Gone, you will learn about a major research study that we believe could help lead to a revolution—another reformation, if you will—for a desperately needed transformation of the church in America.
For years, we have been challenging the church to stand without compromise on the authority of God’s Word, beginning in Genesis. We have insisted that Christians should be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11: “They received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”
Similarly, we have been encouraging Christians to be like Martin Luther, who stood before the authorities of his day and insisted that we judge our beliefs against the absolute authority of the Word of God—regardless of what the majority might say (e.g., scientists of today who hold to evolution and millions of years).
In this newsletter and in my lectures over the years, I have insisted that Christians who compromise by accepting the idea of an earth supposedly millions of years old (or who are indifferent to whether or not that is even a problem) have greatly contributed to the decline of the church and its influence. Most churches lack apologetics teaching for their young people (and their adults, for that matter). As a result, a very significant number of young people are leaving the church—and thus the decline of the influence of Christianity in this nation continues.
To help understand why millions of young adults have already left the church of their youth, a generous supporter of Answers in Genesis offered to fund a major research effort through America’s Research Group. (ARG is headed by the highly respected secular market researcher Britt Beemer, a frequent guest on national TV news programs.)
Britt’s company composed survey questions to find out why so many young adults are being lost from the church . . . plus why Christians are not having the influence on the culture that they once had (and thus why we are ultimately losing the “culture war” in America).
The results will shock you—and shock the church as a whole.
For example, our national survey discovered that children who grew up in evangelical homes are being “lost” from the church as early as elementary school, not primarily in college (as most might expect). Furthermore—in one of the biggest and most distressing surprises of the research—something you might call the “Sunday school syndrome” is contributing to the epidemic!
Already Gone is an alarming wake-up call for the church, because it reports on Britt Beemer’s research and shows how church programs and approaches to Christian education are failing—and thus millions of our young people are leaving the church. While the research statistics reveal the root issues of a huge problem, Already Gone shows how to fight back and reclaim our families, our churches, and our society for biblical truths.
I urge you to read the book and absorb its findings, and please encourage many others to do so as well. (By the way, it is a “quick read.”) And then I plead with you not to stop there. I believe that once you understand what the researchers have uncovered, you will be motivated to symbolically nail Already Gone on the doors of churches and Christian organizations. We need many “Luthers”—many Answers in Genesis supporters—nailing this book on church doors throughout America.
As we finished writing this book, I knew that it could bring a tidal wave of disbelief and frustration from those who don’t want to accept its findings. But I couldn’t help but exclaim from the bottom of my heart:
Here we stand; we can do no other.
May God help us reach the church with a crucial message of reformation—and may God raise up generations in the church who will stand on His Word and be the salt and light that this culture so desperately needs.
Please pray with me, that through resources like Already Gone, we’ll see a new reformation in the American church.
Author: Jerry Rankin
Christians already have victory over the world through Jesus, but Satan picks a fight with believers nonetheless, tempting them with the influences of the world in an effort to steal God’s glory. Indeed, the battle rages on, but the nature of the enemy is baldly exposed in Spiritual Warfare, helping readers better understand feelings of resentment, anger, doubt, pride, and adversity for what they really are: fiery darts of deception.
Written by International Mission Board president Jerry Rankin, who has witnessed spiritual warfare at work around the world, the book in turn becomes an inspiring guide to the Spirit-filled life, illuminating spiritual disciplines that equip us for victory including prayer, Bible study, fasting, Sabbath observance, active church membership, and praising God in all things.Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
Pub. Date: March 2009
ISBN 10: 0805448802
ISBN 13: 9780805448801
Product #: 005178766
Weight: 1.21 lbs
Trim Size: 6.28 X 9.28 X 0.99