UNITED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP OF ARLINGTON
Newsletter KEEP IT SIMPLE, SAINTS Dearly Beloved,
I am blessed to be writing to you once again in this edition of UCF Quarterly. I am also grateful, as always, to the volunteers who are responsible for producing this world-class journal to the glory of God. It is my prayer that God will reward you for your work and bless all who avail themselves of the fruit of your labor. I thank God for bringing us through another hectic summer season. When one considers all the graduation ceremonies, receptions, weddings, travel and church programs that we had to attend to along with the challenges of our ongoing construction here at the church, it should come as no surprise that we are all physically and mentally drained. However, instead of complaining, we ought to thank God for making it possible for so many of our children to graduate from school, for some of them to get married, and for our construction to commence. As I reflect on the summer and the toll that it has taken on us, I cannot help but notice that many of us have allowed the fatigue and stress to affect our service in church. Many who used to be regular in attendance appear to be less regular, and many who served with zeal are evidently less active. While, as I said before, our fatigue is to be expected, we should all be careful not to allow the many entanglements of life to keep us from serving the Lord. When God blesses us with good things, we should be motivated to serve Him the
more and be careful not to let those blessings become our reasons for not serving Him. In 2 Timothy 2: 4, Apostle Paul states that “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier”. This verse gives us much-needed spiritual guidance on how to maintain consistency in our service towards the Lord. It reveals that consistency comes from focus, and focus comes from simplicity. In other words, if we want to be consistent in serving the Lord, we must focus on Him, and the only way to do so is to keep our lives simple. If we learned anything from the summer, it is the fact that life is never short of things for us to do. In fact, life always has an over-abundance of things for us to do. It leaves us no time for ourselves, and it certainly leaves us no time for God. If we hope to serve the Lord, we must understand that nothing is more important than serving Him, and we must accord Him the priority that He demands and deserves. We must be like soldiers whose minds are focused on their mission during wartime. Though they have other facets to their lives, they cannot allow those things to distract them and infringe on their mission. Their lives are simple, focused on their mission and furnished with nothing but the basic necessities. As soldiers in the Lord’s army, we have a spiritual mission and that mission is to be representatives of our Lord Jesus Christ, leading the lost to salvation in him and promoting the spiritual growth of our brothers and sisters-in-Christ. Just like soldiers have others who fight alongside them, we too must serve sideby-side with other saints. We cannot fight this spiritual war alone; we must do it in the context of the church, where other saints stand with us, support us and encourage us along the way. We cannot serve well when we have too many things on our Continued...... Page 2
What’s inside Code for forgiveness.................................................page 2 No strings attached....................................................page 6 Opportunities in the midst of trouble...........................page 7 Technology guidelines for the youth............................page 8
KEEP IT SIMPLE, SAINTS contd....
minds, for they will distract and prevent us from fulfilling our mission for the Lord. We must keep our lives simple. Beloved, how are you doing in terms of simplifying your life? Are you entangled with too much on your hands and in your mind? Are these entanglements keeping you from doing the most important thing of all, which is serving the Lord? If this is the case, let me remind you that only what you do for Christ will count in the final analysis. Pray and ask God to help you disentangle your life. Keep it simple, saints!! Love always, Pastor Effiom
CODE FOR FORGIVENESS (Notes From 2013 Men’s Retreat @ Riverbend Retreat Center, Glen Rose, TX) As you are all aware our men just returned from their annual retreat in Glen Rose. Just as with years past, the retreat was very refreshing and the focus this year was on “Code for Forgiveness”, and it garnered a lot of spirited contributions from all in attendance. We were having so much fun on case studies during question and answer sessions at the end of each presentation that we ran the risk of derailing the daily schedules that had been meticulously put together. I thought I would share with our UCF members a summary of some of the presentations. We were made to realize that all relationships are susceptible to conflict and that the Bible actually recognizes this and made enough provisions for how we as children of God should handle our differences. That is, anger and conflict are normal and regular part of human relationships. Husband & wife; parent & child; business partners; Church members, etc., will all have conflicts. If we are not already in one right now, one is around the corner, if we live long enough. The Bible through the writing of Paul in Ephesians 4:25-27 tells us how to compose ourselves when conflict comes: “Therefore, putting away lying, let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil”. Even before Paul, in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant in Matthew 18:21-22 hear what our Lord said: “Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” The whole import of these is that God wants us to always forgive one another as many times as we offend each other. At the Retreat we were made to understand that the act of forgiveness is triangular: a.
God forgives the Offended
God forgives the Offender
c. The Offended and the Offender must mutually exchange Forgiveness for the triangle to be complete. The key, we were taught, is for us to recognize that Forgiveness is all about God and not about the Offender or the Offended. Everyone recognized that Forgiveness is hard to do, it takes the grace of God, but Forgiveness is what God demands of us. According to CS Lewis, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you”. I think that was a powerful statement!! The Importance of Forgiveness: · It is an imperative. It is a command from God. Jesus said in Mark 11: 25: “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” · It has to be given before it is requested. Paul told us in Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ·
It empowers us to stand before God
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Continued...... Page 3
CODE FOR FORGIVENESS contd....
· It secures answers to prayers. 1 Peter 3:8-12 tells us: “ Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For “He who would love life and see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Secured answer from God is not one that is according to our will but that which is according to the will of God. Question: Is it necessary for us to insist on an apology before exercising the act of forgiveness? Answer: The word “apology” is derived from the Greek word “apologia” which means to argue or to defend. This shows that if we insist on an apology before forgiving, then we are inviting argument as the offender will try to rationalize the offending act. Jesus demonstrated this to us by leaving the comfort of His Heavenly glory and coming into the sinful world He created to die and take away our sins while we were still so deep in our sins. Jesus forgave us ahead of time and died a Substitutionary Death on our behalf, willingly, so we could take on His righteousness when we confess our sins and profess Him as Lord and Savior. To wrap up one of the sessions at the Retreat, we listened to a popular song about Forgiveness and it blessed all our hearts, so I decided to reproduce the lyrics below. God Bless You. Deac. Adeolu Esho FORGIVENESS – By Michael West
It’s the hardest thing to give away And the last thing on your mind today Forgiveness, Forgiveness It always goes to those that don’t Help me now to do the impossible deserve Forgiveness It’s the opposite of how you feel When the pain they caused is just It’ll clear the bitterness away It can even set a prisoner free too real It takes everything you have just to There is no end to what its power can do say the word So, let it go and be amazed By what you see through eyes of Forgiveness grace Forgiveness The prisoner that it really frees is you It flies in the face of all your pride Forgiveness, Forgiveness It moves away the mad inside It’s always angers own worst enemy Forgiveness, Forgiveness Even when the jury and the judge Say you gotta right to hold a grudge Show me how to love the unlovable It’s the whisper in your ear saying Show me how to reach the unreachable Set It Free Help me now to do the impossible Forgiveness Forgiveness, Forgiveness Forgiveness, Forgiveness I want to finally set it free Show me how to love the unlovable So show me how to see what Your Show me how to reach the unreach- mercy sees Help me now to give what You gave able Help me now to do the impossible to me
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First Friday of the Month
C hr is t ia n la ughs There was a very gracious lady who was mailing an old family bible to her brother in another part of the country. " ?" asked the postal clerk." ," answered the lady. ~~~~~~~~~~ "Somebody has said there are only two kinds of people in the world. There are those who wake up in the morning and say, " ," and there are those who wake up in the morning and say, ~~~~~~~~~~ There is the story of a pastor who got up one Sunday and announced to his congregation:
~~~~~~~~~~ People want the front of the bus, the back of the church and the center of attention. ~~~~~~~~~~
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The minister was preoccupied with thoughts of how he was going to ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the church building. Therefore, he was annoyed to find that the regular organist was sick and a substitute had been brought in at the last minute. The substitute wanted to know what to play. he said impatiently. During the service, the minister paused and said,
At that moment, the substitute organist played, And that is how the substitute became the regular organist!
~~~~~~~~~~ Author - Unknown
Chris Unachukwu, Deacon of Fellowship Deacon Chris Unachukwu is charged with assisting the Senior Pastor in promoting fellowship within various life groups in our church, including children, youth, young adults, singles, men, women and seniors. A gifted singer with a heart to serve, he currently serves as our Sunday School Superintendent and is active in the Adult Choir and visitation ministries. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and a Field Nurse by profession. He and his wife, Patricia, are the parents of Anthony and Adora.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”[a]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. The text reminds us that we could be angry but we are also to refrain from sin. Take time to meditate within your heart and in your private moment. Offer the sacrifice of righteousness and put your trust in the Lord. Brethren, understand that the power and ability to do this comes from the Lord Himself. The Psalmist prayed in psalm 4:6 “Lord lift up the light of your countenance upon us” It is the Lord that can put gladness in our hearts in the time of despaired. This admonition is relevant in our everyday life especially in the area of our marriages and home-life. Yes we have the right to be angry but we should not bring ourselves to be subjects to anger or to let ourselves be controlled by anger. 1 Corinthian 6:12 puts it this way “12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.” This includes being angry. Philippians 4:8 says “8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” These I believe are the things we as Christians should focus on especially when we are faced with the challenge of anger. Anger is not true, anger is not noble, anger is not lovely, anger is not pure, anger is not admirable, anger is not excellent. As a result of these things, I encourage you my brothers and sisters in the
name of Jesus Christ our Lord “Do Not Let The Sun Go Down On Your Anger” Falsehood and untruthfulness are some of the agents the devil, our adversary, the accuser of brethren employ to cause anger in the family. Be encouraged and do not let him use you as an agent in accomplishing his objective of creating anger in your household. Even if it happens to occur in your household, Christ encourages us to forgive as many times as possible as he responded to Peter in Mathew 18:21-22 ” 21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times
Rev Godson Eleda
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No Strings Attached! You are reading this message because God wants you to examine yourself, make a decision quickly and get focused. God also wants you to know that Jesus Christ is the key to your life. Therefore, this information on your hand is part of the divine plan and orchestration for you. Wow! A famous sportsman’s life was recently rocked with scandal; banned for life and stripped of all his medals because it was discovered he used banned stimulants. The Sport governing body took this drastic action so as to discourage others and also preserve the standard of the game. Human standard cannot be compared to divine integrity. The righteousness of God demands that if any person is to be saved that individual must obey simple divine mandate. The ability to preach the gospel is not even the evidence of one’s salvation. Someone may say God is one, and that he believes in him. Well, your position is not different from that of demons; for they even tremble before God. The good news that ushers anyone to an enduring eternal relationship is portrayed by our Lord as a metaphor of simple act of drinking water, or eating food. If anyone thinks and has confused the simple spiritual exercise and sincerely added something to strengthen divine requirement for salvation; then he or she is exposed and warned in advance in these texts.
According to Scripture; the intrinsic nature of God reveals His Justice and Righteousness. Unlike man, God is not emotional. In His own integrity, “the right thing must be done the right way,” for He is no respecter of person. The divine nature was satisfied with the subsistutionary death of Christ on the cross. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” 2 Corinthians 5:21. About two thousand years ago, the Lord Jesus Christ, when He was carrying our sins on His own body on the cross had you in mind; He paid the debt He never owed. He knew you will be born at a particular point in human history. He made adequate plan to ensure that you would live in peace and prosperity. He wants you not to be a victim but a victor! “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds, (works). And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, everyone of them according to their deeds. And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he is thrown into the lake the fire” Rev. 20:11-15.
“Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” Matthew 7:22 But these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of name, John 20:31. heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter”( Matthew 7:21). Having read this message, I want you to know that the Lord Jesus Christ paid in FULL for your sins; past, present, and future. There is Religion is man’s effort to gain divine approval through his own ener- NOTHING you can DO than the non meritorious act of Faith alone in gy, or works. It implies that a person can do something to receive Christ. divine approval for salvation. Regardless of how one slices it, this denotes that the finished work of Christ on the cross is not enough; something else need to be added. This may have been done ignorantly and sincerely. To add anything to biblical requirement for eternal salvation is to think more highly than one ought to think. These acts of human energy or works could be FAITH or BELIEF plus confessions, commitment, baptism, raising of hand, walking down the aisle, Lordship salvation, inviting Jesus into your dirty heart, giving money to the church, church membership, good works, testimony or faith plus some experience, etc. Please do not misunderstand me; these are good things in their proper context.
If you understand and accept this message you have just read ,you may say quietly, in the privacy of your soul: Father I trust now in the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. The Scripture says you are SAVED! Written by: Rev. Amechi Godson
Now, what Jesus explained is the simple will of His Father “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and BELIEVES in Him, may have eternal life; and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:40). And after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, BELIEVE in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:30-31. Make no mistake, one reason those who prophesied, (preached or taught) the gospel of Christ, and performed miracles, were not saved was because they thought it is faith plus works (something else). Consequently, they had no true relationship with the Lord. They may have been sincere in their Christian service, but sincerely wrong! This is a warning to those of you who import some so called ‘good idea’ to “what think ye of the Messiah?”
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Opportunities in the Midst of Trouble Jonah 1:1-17, 2 Like Jonah many of us have been called to do great things. We’ve been given an assignment. However, due to insecurities, hindrances or limits we place on ourselves like Jonah, some of us rebel against God, and we sometimes leave His presence. In doing so, we find ourselves in trouble. I'd like to redirect our focus and possibly renew our way of thinking. What do we learn from our storms? I’m not here to talk about failure or missed opportunities. As a young man, a son, and a minister of the Gospel, who is growing in the Lord, I’ve had my share of ups and downs, missed opportunities and even found myself in trouble. Yet, through it all I have been graced to witness the faithful and merciful hand of God. “For he’s not a man that He should lie,” Numbers 39:19. And the word says He can not deny Himself. As believers, we can rest in this. Of course we know that trouble is inevitable. We all meet them. I want to invite us to look at this text, to look at the life of Jonah from the standpoint of Jonah’s troubles. Truth be told, we all experience trials. No one is exempt. In John 16:33 Jesus said to his followers, “ I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble,” (NIV). Trouble is inevitable. But what can we learn from our storms? The first thing we see is that when trouble comes it comes. The ship is about to break up and the crew is at the point of casting lots. Jonah is in the wrong place and all fingers are pointed towards him. And verse 4. Tells us the sea is now tempest and no matter how fast they row there’s no way out. Have you ever found yourself in a place where you were in trouble? You knew you weren’t supposed to be in a place, talk to a certain person or be around a certain group, and you did it anyway? Somebody say trouble. But trouble doesn’t always mean the end. God uses everything for good. He can make your bad days good, your past great, and use your storm as a stepping stone. He’s God and God alone. Let us not loose sight because even in the face of troubles God still presents opportunities. 1. The first opportunity I think we can see in Jonah’s story, is the opportunity to tell the truth! Look at verse 8-9. The trouble led to them casting lots. The lots fell of Jonah because Jonah was simply in the wrong place. While the crew members were working, Jonah was asleep. So he had every right to be questioned. So they asked, “What is your occupation? And where do you come from?” And Jonah, with no way out, simply says, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Notice his answer had nothing to do with what they asked him. And the bible says, “the men were exceedingly afraid.” This little episode of Jonah telling the truth just may have been the set up for him to encourage himself in the Lord. His truth just may have been the very statement that freed him from worrying or being fearful of what the men would do to him. Church when you’re in the midst of trouble sometimes you have to speak the truth. Speaking the truth Speak the truth about yourself, and speak the truth about Our Lord and savior. The bible says that you shall know the truth the truth will set you free. The real you is revealed
name of the Lord. Little did Jonah know he was being prepared for the message he would later deliver to the people of Nineveh. He not only tells them that he fears God, but he tells them what God has done. That’s called praise! There’s no telling what praise will do. It’s powerful. Anywhere we find ourselves, when we praise, it confuses and binds the enemy. Psalms 50:14-15 is a great place in the word that shows how effective praise is. Praise is a weapon we have as believers of Jesus Christ. A non believer can’t testify about someone they do not know or have no knowledge of. “If I be lifted all up, I will draw men unto me.” (John 12:32). Conflicts are resolved. It’s not a coincidence that the men on board began to call upon the name of the Lord. To me this was Church in a nutshell. This event spells out salvation and a glimpse of how God would later use His son to make salvation available to all men. 3. Finally, when we find ourselves in trials we’re presented with the opportunity to turn around. Another word for turn around is “to repent.” The resolution to the conflict was to toss Jonah over board and into the sea. It’s no coincidence the sea “ceased.” God, being the author He is, always has a way to bring us back. When we find ourselves in trouble we don’t have to panic or wonder why me? Our journeys are sometimes just redirected. In our redirection, we’re made stronger and tougher for what’s ahead. James 1:2 tells us to “count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know the testing of your faith produces patience,” (NKJV). Verse 17 confirms that God is constantly working something in us. He’s always at work. The text says, “And the Lord appointed a fish to swallow Jonah.” Jonah’s story is changed a total 180 degrees from what we read in the beginning. In chapter 2:1 the bible says, “Then Jonah prayed.” In the midst of our troubles when we tell the truth, relationships are reconciled. No matter how deep we are in our troubles, when we call on the name of Our Lord, He answers. In conclusion, we’ve learned a couple of lessons. We see that we can’t, and even though we know we shouldn’t, and still sometimes do, run from the presence of the Lord. We can’t choose to abandon assignments or places God has appointed for us to be. Doing so only brings about trouble. But in the midst of our troubles if we do the right things, like Rom 8:28 says; God still works things out for our good. So the next time you find yourself in the midst of trouble, stop for a minute. Remember who you are. Watch what you say. Tell the truth, testify, and don’t be afraid to turn around. Until next time Be blessed! Written By Rev Cyril Ileso
2. Not only are we forced to tell the truth in the midst of troubles, but we are also blessed with the opportunity to testify about the goodness of God. Jonah tells the people on the ship about his fear of God and about God’s goodness as well. Look at vs. 9. Troubles are opportunities to tell others, the unsaved about God and His goodness. The mini sermon he gave ended up provoking the crew members to believe in and call upon the
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Technology Guidelines for Youth Beloved, Technology is making more of an impact in our churches than ever before, and there is little doubt that youth are much more comfortable with these ever-changing technologies than most adults. From ipods, ipads, smart phones and tablets of every kind to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Flickr, our society is awash with new technologies and capabilities that youth handle with ease and glee, but many adults view with concern and suspicion. This difference in attitudes towards technology creates the potential for tension between youth and adults in the church setting, and makes it imperative for the church to develop and share a holistic, coherent and forward-looking policy with regard to technology.
Smart phone and tablet use should be limited to note-taking and bible reading only; and
Do not distract others
Teachers should endeavor to maintain youthsâ€™ attention by asking questions;
Teachers should develop a list of effective positive reinforcements and offer positive reinforcement for responsible technology use;
Teachers should verbally redirect youth from irresponsible technology use;
6. Teachers should remove youth from class after 3 infractions The truth is that we live in a technological age, and adults should be and inform parents; careful not to impose their fears and misgivings about technology on youth, for doing so will only hinder them in our increasingly technolog7. Youth who are removed from class will only be readmitted ical world. Many schools have already transitioned away from paper after meeting with parents; and textbooks and are now providing students with ipads for their study and homework, with the result that many young people are no longer 8. Repeat offenders will be banned from using their smart used to reading and taking notes on paper. Compelling such youth to phones or tablets in class. read paper bibles and take notes on paper like most adults are used to, can only be counter-productive and serve to turn them off from the church. In fact, given current trends, it will not be long before churches During Worship Services: too begin replacing paper bibles and hymnals with electronic tablets or other similar technologies. 1. We will permit the use of technology - smart phones and ipads, etc. - by youth, age 12 and older; Given the realities above, the church must be careful not to be left 2. Guidelines for responsible technology use will be displayed behind in this new wave of technological advancement. We must reon the overhead screen at the beginning of every service; member that the church has always been at the forefront of human knowledge and science, as men and women of God made new discov3. Ushers should redirect irresponsible technology use during eries and championed new technologies that transformed our world church services using verbal prompts; from its primitive beginnings to the technological society that we have today. We must remember that technology is not our enemy and has 4. Ushers will report youth to their parents on the 3rd incident never been, and banning it will not only surrender the fruit of divine of tech abuse; wisdom to the enemy, but also make the church look out of touch and create more tension with the very youth that we hope to reach for the Lord. Instead of banning the use of technology because of the challenge that it brings, we should rise to the challenge and turn it around for Godâ€™s glory. Instead of penalizing youth who use technology responsibly, we should develop and embrace a policy that will teach all to use technology responsibly.
Parents will be notified during the service in which the multiple infractions occur; and
Repeat offenders should be reported to the Youth Pastor for further action including parent conferences and referrals to the Senior Pastor.
The following will be our technology policy for youth:
It is our hope that all youth teachers and parents will review these guidelines with our youth and emphasize the need for personal responDuring Classes: sibility on their part. We also hope that all parents will cooperate with youth teachers and ushers in enforcing these guidelines during classes 1. We will permit the use of technology - smart phones and and worship services. Doing so will ensure that we do not surrender the ground of technology to the enemy of our souls, and enable our young ipads, etc. - by youth, age 12 and older. people learn to use technology for Godâ€™s glory. 2. Before every class, teachers should remind youth to use technology responsibly by following these guidelines: Finally, let us not underestimate the power of personal example in a.
All phones must be on silent;
All phone calls and texting are prohibited;
instructing and guiding our young ones. If we as adults use technology responsibly, our children will do likewise. If, on the other hand, we use technology inappropriately, our children will do so too. Let us be good examples to them.
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THE WORLD’S TROUBLE ALLEY TEXT: JOHN 16:33 The definition of trouble is not necessary since the word ‘trouble’ conjures up distress, fear, and persecutory delusions for many an average person. INTRODUCTION: A tornado is a rapidly rotating vertical funnel shaped cloud that destroys most things in its path, thus, causing trouble to everyone and every place it lands. Tornado Alley is an area the United States of America, where tornadoes are most frequent, encompassing Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Eastern Colorado. This area is used to tornadoes so people who live there always have their guards up and take steps to prepare. The tornado season is a trying and troubling time in their lives as they brace for tornadoes. Tornadoes generally destroy a lot of things and people in USA, every year. On May 20, 2013, a major EF5 Tornado with winds over 200 miles per hour hit Moore, Oklahoma killing 25people and injuring 377 people while destroying numerous houses. By the way, EF5 Tornado is the most destructive wind storm. Generally, the horizon after a tornado leaves everyone wondering how some people and houses are left untouched and unscathed while others are flattened or shredded. The Text states, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” We have been looking at some of the troubling trials Christians face that distract and sometimes engulf their lives preventing them from enjoying the Christian life despite Christ’s assurances and the number of years they have been in the Church. Christ stated clearly that we will face tribulations—troubling trials in this world. Thus, this world is trouble alley. Since troubling trials are unavoidable and unending, it is imperative that we look at some modes of the trials. Modes of Trials: Extra world, Underworld, Intra world, and Intrapersonal. We previously looked at Extra world trials and Underworld trials. Extra-world trials which are caused by the God factor and/or are exacerbated by the qualities of God: Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, Immutability, etc. These qualities make it hard for people who have no faith to relate to God. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. These trials lead to the Underworld troubling enigma like trap faced by many who cannot relate to God!! The mafia operatives who have been described as underworld figures commit crimes of murder, grand theft, grand larceny, robberies, burglaries, racketeering extortions, etc. Underworld starkly describes Satan who is below heaven and operates hidden/secretive in the spirit realm. The satanic factor is trying and troubling to avoid. Who can resist Satan’s allure without God? King Saul’s Under World troubling trials led to his disobedience and God’s subsequently adjudicated death sentence. Obviously, lack of faith in God led King Saul to seek a medium. “When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. 6 And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him ………. Then Saul said to his servants, “Find me a woman who is a medium that I may go to her and inquire of her.”And his servants said to him, “In fact, there is a woman who is a medium at En Dor.”(1 Samuel 28:5-7). King Saul went to a medium (something like a psychic or tarot card reader today) to get the answers he was looking for. This was expressly forbidden in the laws of God ((Leviticus 19:31) and Saul knew it, but he was looking for comfort more than he was willing to wait on God. It is clear that this pattern of Saul’s life eventually led to his undoing (1 Samuel 28:15-19). See also God’s warnings that He’ll cut off those who prostitute themselves to seek mediums and familiar spirits (Levi. 20:6). We must heed God’s charge that we consecrate ourselves and be holy (Levi. 20:7), and remember that King Saul and his 3 sons were wiped out after Saul saw a medium. The worldly trials propagated by satanic forces in this world naturally lead to the Intra-world trials faced by Christians. This installment deals with the third of the four troubling trials, Intra-World. INTRAWORLD TROUBLING TRIALS: Intra-world trials relate to the worldly problems in the purview of Christians. The worldly factor is trying and troubling to avoid. Who can resist the world’s influence without God? The world systems do not believe in God (John 16:9) and many people succumb to Intra-World trials for the sake of popularity, in other words, being a friend of the world. Hello Christian, there are troubling trials in this world from rulers, the authorities, and those in powerful positions. You stand no chance of surviving and standing your ground when, not if, the evil and powerful come against your way. For you to survive and neutralize worldly troubles, you must put on the full armor of God. We were cautioned
by Paul: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph. 6:12-17). The gospel states that in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. Since none of us has seen God, the word of God is a great resource from God that reveals who God is. God and God alone is omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (everywhere), and immutable (God never changes). A wise man once said that it is better to be insecure in the silence of God than to try to fill the void with outside voices. Wait upon the Lord, yes, wait upon the Lord. “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint” (Isa. 40:31). Remember what temptations and trials Jesus Christ endured and overcame. In the same vein any true follower of God would face intra-world trials. However, in order to be victorious, you must have actionable faith—faith in action. In Acts of the Apostles of Jesus Christ, it is recorded that Peter healed 2 lame people and they walked. He also condemned a couple to death—Anneas and Sapphira after they tried to cheat God in their giving. Additionally, Peter, through the power of prayer, broke out of jail two times. How about apostle Paul who, full of the spirit, healed one lame person; blinded a sorcerer In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with and false prophet, Bar-Jesus, the powerful counselor to Sergius Paulus, the Roman Proconsul to Cyprus, for trickery, deceit, and perverting the ways of the Lord; Paul also broke out of jail through faith and the power of prayer. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock, that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (matt. 7:24-27). God is able. Whatever is impossible with man is possible with God. FINALLY: Just like tornadoes cannot be prevented, Intra-world troubling trials cannot be prevented either. We must be vigilant and submissive with the knowledge that God is ready to provide a refuge for us. Christ assured,” In Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” King David Whose life from childhood to his reign as the 2nd said: ”I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against King of Israel was full of troubling trials said: ”I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Rev Edmund Chinaka
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One of the challenges faced by most of us as we advance in age is the challenge of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, as much as we know how critical it is, we still struggle quite frequently with eating right and exercising in an effort to attain a healthy lifestyle. Some of us continue living an unhealthy lifestyle because it just seems simpler and more gratifying to our flesh. It is easier to kick back and take our favorite couch potato posture than to take a walk or jog around the block or better still go to our local gymnasium to work up some sweat. It just seems more appealing to get a slice of our favorite cheesecake or bag of our favorite potato chips for snack than to settle for a healthy snack of fruits or vegetable. We want what we want when we want it and we typically choose to temporarily forget the ultimate consequences of fulfilling most of the detrimental instant gratifications we choose to indulge ourselves in. The book of Genesis 25:20-34 relays to us the story of Jacob and Esau. They were the result of the blessing of the womb given by God to the union of Isaac and Rebekah after Rebekah had been barren for several years. Esau grew up to be an outdoors man and his dad’s favorite while Jacob stayed mostly indoor and became what you might call a mama’s boy. As the story goes, Esau came home famished one day after working and playing in the fields. It just so happened that Jacob had just finished cooking a fresh pot of delicious looking stew. The bible took the extra step to describe the stew as red just to reinforce to us how tempting and appealing the stew must have been to the eye. To get a taste of the stew Esau offered up his birth right. The birthright was an honor given to the first son of the family. It benefits also included the double portion of a family’s inheritance along with the honor of one day becoming the leader of the family. By trading his birthright, Esau showed total disregard for the spiritual blessing that came with keeping it. He offered up an eternal gift in exchange for a stew that was to fulfil a need that was temporal. For many years, reading this text without understanding the implications of the level of disparity in the exchange left me walking away thinking of this as just another fascinating bible story. But gaining more insight into the exchange has gotten me to understand the implications of some of the exchanges we make in our daily lives in an effort to satisfy some temporary needs and desires. This is why we give up on a healthy life style to satisfy the craving for potato chips, French fries or any unhealthy eating habits we often indulge ourselves in. This is why a student with a promising future will pass up on going to classes to satisfy the desire to party or hangout on school nights. This is why a couple will squabble about silly issue and cling on to meaningless grudges until they rob each other of a lifelong friendship and marital bliss. This is why a church member will hold on to a remark or comment made by a fellow church member and use the comment as an excuse to leave a vibrant church where he/she is being fed and built up to become the man or woman of God they are meant to be.
Today we see various examples of people trading their God given blessings for what amounts to a bowl of soup. When we exchange our purity, our integrity, our morality, our family, our future objectives, our relationship with Christ and His church. When we give up these God given gift for instant gratification, what we receive in return is nothing more than a bowl of soup. This is understandable for unbelievers that thrive on phrases like “if it feels good do it” simply because they just don’t know better and it is incumbent upon us as believers to take the living gospel message to a dying world, to teach them the lesson of the benefit that comes with a sacrificial lifestyle. And to us believers, we should know better, we know about the sacrifice of His shed blood on the cross of Calvary, we know about the lesson He taught us when He said “Not My will but Thine be done” and we know the lesson of Hebrew 12:2 that says “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God”. So let us be wise to the wiles of the devil as he constantly tempts us with all forms of soup in his attempt to tempt us to forfeit the eternal riches of our spiritual inheritance in Christ for some instant gratification. Understand that it is a bowl of soup when you are tempted with watching an ungodly program on TV instead of heading to bible study, it is a bowl of soup when you are tempted to have an extra marital or illicit affair instead of humbling yourself to fix your relatrionship, It is a bowl of soup when you are tempted to make a financial compromise to get ahead or do any other ungodly act that results in backsliding. My UCF brethren, such act represent nothing but a bowl of soup that provides us with nothing but a fleeting pleasure and just as Esau did, succumbing to their allure demonstrates nothing but a disregard for the promises of the living God for our future By Deacon Segun - Adegoke
So why do we give up so much for so little? I am reminded of the writing of Paul in the book of Romans Chapter 7 where he elaborates on the struggle between the spirit and the flesh. We are dealing with the double occupancy of the old man and the new man in us. The implication in his writing is that the one we feed the most is the one that rules our lives. The more we feed on things of the spirit the less likely we are to fall for the lust of the flesh and the less likely we are to settle for life’s bowls of soup in exchange for righteousness and Godliness in Christ Jesus.
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Pictures From Recent Church Events
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On behalf of the editorial staff, I will like to share my sincere gratitude and appreciation to everyone that contributed to this publication. May God almighty continue to bless and favor you in all your efforts.....Amen
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