Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Is There an Energy Crisis in the Kingdom? by John Wright

Is There an Energy Crisis in the Kingdom?                                                     
John Wright   

The lifestyle we enjoy in this modern age has caused us to be very dependent on our access to affordable and abundant energy supplies.  We need power to run our cars, light our homes, and to keep us comfortable with instant heating and cooling.  Even our ability to work and do our jobs depends upon our connection to information and data that streams around the world.  It would seem that all of these advances would give us more time to work in God’s Kingdom, but the question is, “how is that working out?”  The answer for most of us, including myself, is not very well at all.

Today at work, we lost all our power.  For two hours, we had no lights, phones, internet, or working cash registers.  That was a big inconvenience, but we remained open and got every sale that there was to be had because we turned no one away, and we used the basic tools available to us in order to get the job done.  I was very happy when the power came on and it gave me a renewed appreciation of the modern tools and the power that makes our lives easier.  Now, this causes me to wonder.  Is it the modern age that has made us so busy that we have less time for God?  Or, could it be that we have taken our eyes off of God because the energy that powers our world is oil, electricity, and technology?  Church, the answer to our crisis is to plug back into God.

Jesus said in Mark 12:24 (NIV)—“Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?”

If we do not know the Bible, no matter how educated or tech savvy we are, we will never know where real and abundant power comes from.

Hosea 4:6 (NIV)—My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.

Knowledge is very important, but it is not what we know, but “who.”

John 1 (NIV)—In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  Later in the chapter, it says in verse 14: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The answer to that question of “who” is: We are to see God through the image of his Son, Jesus. 

Since we know these things, I want to encourage everyone to take advantage of opportunities to know God.  Read your Bible, and attend one of the Bible classes on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights.  I know we are all busy, but the benefits far outweigh the cost.

2 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV) – But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 

To not plug into God’s power is just like letting our electricity be turned off.  His power is ready to be streamed; we only need to connect and it will work in any old jar of clay.

There does not need to be an energy crisis in this outpost of God’s Kingdom.  Just come and sit at the master’s feet.

Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)—“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  

My prayer is that more of God’s people will become actively involved in everything offered here at Southeastern.

Peace and love.

Thursday, July 14, 2016 Step Up by Steve Faidley

Called…to Step Up

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV)


What do you believe?

Is Jesus Christ your tradition or is he your savior and the Son of God?

What do you believe you are called to be?

What did Christ ask of you?


How you are you answering these questions today…right now?


Why do we men so often feel it’s our paramount duty to have our job as #1 in our lives and our faith as an afterthought…if at all?  What holds us back from stepping up?  Is it machismo?  Is it pride?  Is all that church stuff is just for women?


Men and women are called to serve.  While there is much discussion about what women’s roles should be in our tradition, that is not my focus right now.  My focus is simply serving and looking to do the work that God has called you and me to do.  My focus right now is primarily on us men, but it applies to everyone – men and women; young AND old.


What will it take for you to engage? What will it take for you to get involved?  What will it take for you to serve the Kingdom of God better today than yesterday, better tomorrow than today?


Don’t get me wrong.  I so appreciate the men that are serving.  I’m not going to list all the ways that some men do serve…I don’t want to elevate one means of serving over another.  But consider that we are called to grow, to mature, and to strive to be more and more like Jesus.  And that requires that we step up and don’t let fear of failure hold us back.


I Peter 4:10

10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (NIV)


Step out.  Serve.  Stretch yourself.  Remember that Jesus didn’t call in a bunch of highly educated professionals to set up his kingdom on earth.  He was a carpenter.  Among those he called were fishermen, a tax collector, some political agitator brothers, and a tent-maker who was also a religious opponent.  They stepped up to a challenge that probably seemed pretty daunting.  At times they doubted their success and at times they flatly failed.  Think in terms of what you do for a living.  If you ever took on more responsibility at work, you stepped up!  If you ever learned a new skill and then applied it to your craft, you stepped up!  If you ever learned how to use a new piece of equipment and then used it, you stepped up!  If you ever earned a designation, certification or title, you stepped up! If you ever accepted that promotion to a new level of responsibility, you stepped up! Every time you ever stretched yourself to grow…a little or a lot… you stepped up and took a chance that you might fail.  I know there’s a chance our brothers and sisters might sometimes be a tough crowd, but more often than not, you’ll never have a more supportive and appreciative audience than your church family – thankful for your willingness to serve them, their families, their children, their community and the Lord.  ALL of us have the obligation to encourage and support everyone that steps up.  And I have to keep in mind myself that service cannot be allowed to replace spiritual growth and maturity.  The two should go hand-in-hand.  Perhaps one will help encourage the other, but both are necessary.

So, what’s your calling?  What can you do?  What are you willing to do? 


We need everyone in our congregation to look for ways to start or expand their service – men and women – but I’m primarily challenging the men right now.  We need more men to share their skills and their experience.   Will it take time from your week?  Yes.  Will it require some discipline?  Probably.  Will it be scary?  More than likely.  I still fight the butterflies EVERY time I get up in front of a group – congregation sized or class sized.  As for me, there are some things I CAN do that I don’t like to do – I need to work on that.  There are some things I do at which I need to get better – I need to grow.   No one ever said that improvement is easy.


So what are you waiting for?  Your invitation to serve and to grow was extended at the moment you accepted Christ.


To what service have you been called?  Now is the time to step up!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

"My Kingdom Is Not of This World" by Terry Gardner

“My Kingdom Is Not of This World”
by Terry Gardner
In this season we are surrounded by the factions and frictions of the human political order.  Even among disciples of Jesus we find partisan political strife.  We do well, in such a time, to think carefully and prayerfully about what God teaches us concerning our relationship to human power.
A year or two ago, on a visit to Great Britain, I found great interest and bitter controversy about a referendum in Scotland deciding whether Scotland should declare independence and leave the United Kingdom, or remain in it.  While I was visiting, passions were enflamed; some thought such a move would be the greatest thing that ever happened and others thought it would be an absolute disaster.  Yet I had little interest in which way the vote went!  Why?  I was not a citizen of the UK or of Scotland; I could not vote; and I would soon be moving on, as my visit was only very brief.  “For our citizenship is in heaven,” Paul wrote, “from which also we eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20).
As disciples of Jesus, we are to pass through this world of sin and sorrow, as our Lord did—teaching, preaching, and healing as we can (Matt 4:23). As we “seek first the kingdom of God and his justice,” all  that we need to do that work will be supplied (Matt 6:33).  We are not called to accumulate treasures on earth, “for where your treasure is,” Jesus says, “there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:19, 21).  We have work to do on earth, seeking God’s kingdom—the rule of God—and sharing it as we can with all whom we meet. We have no call to promote any kingdom of the human order or any political faction of it.   Abraham “looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10).  When we become obsessed with party politics, are we looking for the city of God or are we focused on a kingdom that is passing away?
Yet, someone may say, preacher X who has never written about politics has come out against candidate Y!  So we must oppose candidate Y!  If this be true then God’s Word will have something to say about it.  In the time of the emperor Nero (who murdered Christians), our brother Paul writes to disciples of Jesus in Rome to “pay to all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due” (Rom 13:7). In the first letter to Timothy, Timothy is encouraged to pray and give thanks “for kings and all in authority” (1 Tim 2:1-3).  Timothy is to pray for King Agrippa, for the Caesars (even the vicious Nero), for all rulers whether he likes them or not. So also we should pray for rulers the world over—whether they are democrats or republicans, indeed whether they are good or evil.  Let us pray that they do justice, that they love mercy, that they walk humbly (Micah 6:8), even that they speak the truth. It is not too much to ask! “With God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26).
“The president recently asked for prayer as he faces the complex and dangerous challenges of leading our country in such tumultuous times,” Franklin Graham wrote in 2014.  “His request was a pointed reminder to me that I should be praying for our president and our leaders every day—not to get something from them—but simply in obedience to the Scriptures.  I personally haven’t prayed the way I should, and I’m sure that’s the case for some of you as well.” We can join in that prayer. Let us seek first the kingdom of God that is eternal. The kingdoms of this world are passing away.
Jesus calls us to love our enemies (Matt 5:43-48). Can we truly love the person whose political defeat is our obsession? Can we pray for that person, before and after the election?  Whoever wins the election in November, God will still be in heaven—but will my heart, soul, and spirit still be focused on God?  It is good to be informed and to understand what is happening in the world, for we must live in the world as witnesses for Jesus. Yet we do well to turn away from the 24-hour resentment factory that television networks and radio talkers and internet “bloggers” provide. We do well to love all human beings and to focus on the law of the Lord, which is “perfect, restoring the soul” (Psalm 19:7) and know that men and women of God “delight in the law of the LORD, and in his law” on which we may “meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2).  We do well to “pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess 5:17-18).
 All the best,