Thanks to God For His Great Mercy

In last month’s THE EARNEST CHRISTIAN I left off with my decision to not return to Azusa Pacific      College for a second year, but to stay in the Bay Area to go to college locally and help out in my home church   during a time of pastoral transition.  I mentioned serving as a counselor at our conference Jr. High Camp in the summer of 1973 with Pastor Art Carl from the Sacramento F M Church as the camp director and how that led to the possibility of another major change in my life.


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In Me You Have Everything

In Me you have everything. In Me you are complete. Your capactiy to experience Me is increasing, through My removal of debris and clutter from your heart. As your yearning for Me increases, other desires are gradually lessening.

Since I am infinite and abundantly accessible to you, desiring Me above all else is the best way to live. It is impossible for you to have a need that I cannot meet. After all, I created you and everything that is. The world is still at My beck and call, though it often appears otherwise.

Do not be fooled by appearances. Things that are visible are brief and fleeting while things that are invisible are everlasting.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”

–Ephesians 3:20

“Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.”

–2 Corinthians 4:18 (AMP)



Unwitting Service

To read more from Bishop Thomas, visit fmcusa.org/matthewthomas.

BY BISHOP MATTHEW THOMAS

I have heard it said that the person who is conscious of his or her humility does not possess humility.

Humble people rarely recognize their humility. In fact, they are often the ones most aware of their need to become less filled with themselves and more filled with Christ.

Those who think they are most humble generally are not. Similarly, with all of the talk these days about service and servanthood, I find the best servants are those least aware of their service. Those who believe they fully understand service exercise it least.

Servanthood is a heart orientation. It is not a particular practice or set of practices. It is done best by people who are aware of the needs of others and actively strive to meet those needs. Service is best done by those who cannot stand to see people in need without doing something.

Those who organize a committee to serve are rarely oriented toward service. They may be motivated by guilt, the desire to achieve results or the belief that many can accomplish more than few. But, from my experience, real servants get a little frustrated with committees that organize service efforts and projects.

True servants simply desire to eliminate suffering in others and help those who need help most. That is what they do. It is part of their daily exercise. It is about helping, not planning.

So, if you want to be a servant, start serving. Don’t form a committee or build a program. That will kill it. If you need to enlist others to serve with you, OK, but a committee has never made a servant.

The churches that serve their community best are the ones filled with people who see needs and meet them. They just cannot walk by someone in need. They have Good Samaritan written all over them. They are likely the ones who think they don’t serve enough. They just cannot separate the love-act link (1 John 3:16–18).

So think about five tangible needs that you see right now, and make service a lifestyle.



Consecration of Service

BY B.T. ROBERTS

A great deal is said about consecration. Sermons and hymns pledge us to a full consecration of our all to God. In the baptismal vow, we promise to devote ourselves to the service of the Lord.

Many say they give their hearts to God, but still love the things that God hates.


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The Virtue of Hospitality

“… a dear friend…went home to be with the Lord recently.

Dottie Wicker’s  “glass door welcomed any visitor with time for a chat.  Toys lined the floor for the broods that accompanied young moms willing to stop by and receive a dash of sunshine in her living room.  Dottie had a lovely set of silver containers on the front table in her modest dining room.  What would an eighty- year-old woman hide in those treasured keepsakes?  Hershey’s Kisses—a promised treat for any little visitor (and sometimes their mothers).  She expected visiting children to follow just two rules at her house:  stay out of the formal living room and collect their Kisses on the way out.  She wanted them close to her on their visits, not rummaging through the candy jar.

I hope to grow old as gracefully as my lovely neighbor did.

With her other-centeredness, Dottie exemplified the heart of hospitality.  She welcomed me, a stranger, into her home and we sat on her couch getting to know each other, watching my kids politely scamper through her toys.  Dottie’s grandchildren lived in Baltimore.  Those toys were for guests.  Her house was warm but not fancy.  There wasn’t food, but conversation flowed.  She never burdened; she always loved…

…our sweet Dottie was teaching about her favorite subject: hospitality.  It isn’t just a word, a gift or an act.  It’s a lifestyle.   And it might be what life’s all about.

Something along the lines of loving ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”

Excerpted from Cleaning House by Kay Wills Wyma



Constantly Serving

BY MICHAEL J. METTS

Lamb’s Fellowship Lake Elsinore – Serving the City from Light & Life Communications on Vimeo.

 

Gary Enniss (Photo by Michael J. Metts)

When strangers offered to help Lake Elsinore, Calif., resident Alasdair McAulay clean up his property, he was overwhelmed.

“It made me cry,” he said.

McAulay’s property was one of the many projects members of the Lamb’s Fellowship Lake Elsinore accomplished during a Serving the City event. Twice a year, the church cancels its Sunday morning worship service and works on a variety of service projects in the city.


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Made to Serve

BY BRENDA YOUNG

Songwriters eloquently affirm that humans were made to worship. True, but we were clearly created for another high purpose. Deep in every believer’s DNA is the need to serve.

Ephesians 2:10 states, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

We do not serve God by serving others — doing good works — because God needs employees to get His work done.

The urge to serve is a gift to us. Serving triggers at least four personal benefits:

Stimulated Mind. Figuring out how our abilities and resources can intersect with the needs of others helps transform our minds to think like Christ. Effective service always renews and stimulates my mind.

Edified Emotions. Because we are emotional beings, managing our emotions is a skill of maturity. Though Christians should be characterized by positive emotions, often Christians are just as fearful, depressed and self-involved as the rest of the world. The fruits of the Spirit are the antidotes to negative emotions. Selfless service is the premier way of cultivating these fruits.

Enhanced Relationships. We have a relationship with God because Jesus selflessly left heaven “to serve, and to give his life” (Mark 10:45). The gospel is relational. When we serve as Jesus did, the served and the servers grow and deepen relationships.

Transformed Behavior. I believe consistent service contributes more to rapid, deep and sustained spiritual growth than any other component, even Bible studies. Transformation, not information, is the goal. Serving gets us there, because it is what God created us to do.

Brenda Young is lead pastor at Cornerstone Church (cornerstonefmc.org) in Akron, Ohio, and director of Clear Blue Global Water Project (clearblueproject.com).



Serve Uncomfortably

BY SUSAN AGEL

Do you remember this conversation from the movie “A League of Their Own”?

Dottie Hinson: It just got too hard.

Jimmy Dugan: It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.

What about this Bible passage?

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard” (Isaiah 58:6–8).

American culture emphasizes comfort. Movie theaters, automobile manufacturers and homebuilders all focus on comfort. We are overwhelmed with options when we search for furniture. Have you looked for a mattress lately?


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Keep Your Eyes on Jesus, Not Circumstances

“Christ is not valued at all, unless He is valued above all.” – Augustine

My family faced intense challenges with no end in sight. We felt overwhelmed and scared. During the months leading up to this crisis, I had chosen to be brave and have faith. Many people prayed for us regularly. Deep down I believed God would miraculously intervene. I wanted to believe it would be over soon and help was around the corner.

Then bad news hit. The hoped-for change seemed beyond reach and impossible to believe in. I felt I could not go on. “How long, oh Lord? I can’t do this anymore!”


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Parent’s Progress 4.4.13

By now you know that Thursdays on this blog means you are a passenger of the Tip Train for parents. But hopefully you don’t just pass this by if you are not currently a parent of an at-home child. (We don’t mean the children living with you who should have moved out years ago.)

The truth is that many of the advice and encouragement offered for parenting are good rules for dealing with any relationship. For instance, today, we bring you some articles on being proactive, which is never a bad idea.


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