COMPLIMENTARY MIDDLE GEORGIA
Strong! “Be on alert, stand firm in the faith, ...” I Corinthians 16:3
A CHRISTIAN HRISTIAN C HURCH HURCH P UBLICATION UBLICATION JANUARY 2016 - MARCH 2016
Message From The EDITOR
CHURCH CONNECTION Volume 6 No. 1
hanks for taking a look at the 1st quarter edition of Local Church Connection. As we enter into 2016, it is our prayer that God will bless our efforts as we continue to try and assist our local churches in their efforts to reach the unchurched in our communities. We are very fortunate to have local businesses partner with us to help us reach that goal. Without our advertisers we could not exist. Please support them in the coming weeks and months ahead to show your support for these Christian owned businesses. They have made a statement about their beliefs by advertising in this magazine and need your support.
While thinking about Local Church Connection and the statement that these business owners are making by advertising with us, it is hard not to contemplate where we are in our society today. There are less and less people willing to take a stand for their belief in our Lord Jesus Christ. The reason for this is that our culture has become more tolerant of other religions and less tolerant of Christianity. The popularity of Christianity is not on the rise. As a body of believers, we are losing the war for lost souls. In fact, popular culture says that to be Christian is to be judgemental and hypocritical. The day has arrived that people are being persecuted for their belief in Christ as their savior. The day has also arrived that some are trying to manipulate the word of God to suit their own purposes. It is time for Christians to stand firm on the word of God in a loving but truthful manner. I Corinthians 16:3 says, “Be on alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” What will you do when the day comes that you have to decide between standing firm in your faith or caving to political correctness or cultural correctness because that day is coming? What will you do when your faith causes you to be unpopular or politically incorrect? It should be our prayer that we all will be prepared for that day and will past the test in a way that will be pleasing to God. In the interim, a continual relationship with Christ through consistent bible study and prayer with other believers will help prepare you for the coming days no matter what may be ahead. We would like to encourage everyone not currently active in a local Christian church to attend one this week and become a part of an imperfect group of people that worship a perfect Savior in Jesus. Christians that attend church admit every week that they are very imperfect, because if they were perfect, they wouldn’t need church. If you are not perfect but want to know a savior that can save you from your imperfections, start your journey this week at a local church and worship Jesus with all the other sinners that are there. Happy New Year! Great time to renew your faith and your walk with Christ! Cover Photo of Matthew Smith
For more information, please contact Robbie Burns email@example.com • www.localchurchconnection.com
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The Corporate Annointing By TREY DICKERSON
f there is one thing the devil is absolutely terrified of, it is the anointing. This is, in fact, the reason Satan fights against those who grab a hold of the truth and actively seek God. He fights against those who read their Bible, pursue God in prayer, and are putting their hand to the plow because he is afraid. Afraid of what, you might ask? He’s afraid of the one who gets a hold of the truth and begins to walk in the anointing of God. Why? Because the anointing of God can destroy in a “nano-second” what he has been working on for years. For example, he might have kept someone in physical or emotional bondage for years and then the anointing comes on the scene and suddenly destroys that yoke! Hallelujah! This is what satan is terrified of! Friends, 133rd Psalm prophetically declares to us that there is a corporate anointing for the body of Christ, and when we dwell together in unity- putting aside our cultural and doctrinal differences while also laying down our pride and insecurities for one common purpose and one common goal- it is a good and pleasant thing! When we join together as the body of Christ, that oil of the Holy Spirit can then flow from one part to the next, from top of the head down the edge of the garments. Amen!
So it is no wonder why Satan fights unity so much! It is because He fears the corporate anointing and he is afraid of a body of believers who might join together with one common goal. This is why you see church splits, division in the community, and an escalation in divorce. It is because his number one goal is to divide! For as the Master taught us, a house divided against itself cannot stand.
shall be impossible
I want us to now consider Genesis chapter 11 and see an example of how Satan inspired an event called the Tower of Babel…
for those who believe.
In Genesis chapter 11, we have the story of a man called Nimrod, and this man had a plan. He and his people decided they wanted to make a name for themselves. So they planned to build a tower that would reach to the heavens lest they be scattered across the earth. Well, God saw what they purposed in their heart to do and came down and divided their language because He said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.” Friends, that is such a powerful statement! God was basically saying something similar that came out of the mouth of Jesus when He said that nothing shall be impossible for those who believe. And why was there the prospect of this people accomplishing anything and nothing being impossible for them? It was because they were one! It was because they all had one language! It was because they had tapped into a spiritual law that when a people become one and they pursue a common goal- with one mind, one mouth, and in one accord- nothing shall be impossible of them. So if this is a true principle for Satan and the ungodly, how much more do you suppose this will work for the body of Christ!?! I guarantee you that if it works for them tenfold; it will work for us a hundredfold! Amen? And, as a matter of fact, we already saw it work in the Book of Acts in two places (chapters 2 & 4)! In Acts chapter 2, we see how when the disciples were gathered together in the upper room in one accord, that the Holy Spirit filled that room like a rushing mighty wind and what appeared to be tongues of fire sat on each of them. Then in Acts chapter 5, as the disciples were gathered together and prayed in one accord, the place where they were assembled began to shake. Friends, in both of these accounts, we see Psalm 133 fulfilled! When they gathered together in that upper room, the Holy Spirit- the anointing Himself- came upon each one of this royal priesthood and took ordinary men and women and made them extraordinary! That oil was poured out on them and was mixed with those tongues of fire and they became the light of the world. Hallelujah! They became that golden lampstand filled with oil and with fire at the wick to burn bright in this dark and perverse generation. Then a couple of chapters later, that timid body of believers began to lift up their voice and the power of God physically began to shake the building. This, in turn, filled them with the anointing of God Himself and shook them up, stirring up great boldness in them. But how did it all start? As they were in one place and in one accord! Lord, may we, as the lights of the world, burn bright for your glory!?! May our churches be golden lampstands in our respective communities!?! May we truly see a “church connection”!?! Amen!
Crossroads Counseling Center
2016 Financial Budgeting Classes
inances and budgeting can put a tremendous strain on individuals, newlyweds and families. Crossroads Counseling Center wants to help you get this important area of 2016 off to a strong start by offering a workshop entitled - Second Tuesday Finances.
Led by Mr. Tim Hemingway, Second Tuesday Finances is an interactive class that meets from 6 pm – 7:30 pm the second Tuesday of each month. To take advantage of the time, attendees are asked to bring the following: A copy of your written budget (if you have one) A copy of your tax return for 2014 (or 2015 ) A written list of three financial changes you want to achieve in the next twelve months During the first quarter of 2016, classes will be offered on January 12th, February 9th and March 8th. For more information, please call Crossroads at 478-475-4608. Crossroads is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit counseling and education center. Established in 1998 at Martha Bowman Memorial United Methodist Church, it is affiliated with congregations in the Middle Georgia area. Believing that wholeness is possible when the mind, body, and spirit work together, our staff of professionals are committed to a holistic approach to counseling. The highly trained, licensed and experienced counselors at Crossroads assess problems, explore solution and provide a secure framework as you seek personal spiritual growth in your life. Our clinical staff includes licensed marriage and family therapists, professional counselors, a clinical psychologist and psychiatrists.
Eighth Annual Crossroads Counseling Golf Championship Brickyard at Riverside • Monday, May 9, 2016 • 1 pm shotgun start
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Safe Sanctuaries and Verified Volunteers (Part II)
By Julia H. Magda
y son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight . . . Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble. Proverbs 3:21, 23
In my last column, I explained why we act intentionally to protect our most vulnerable members like children, youth, and senior adults. My goal was to inform you how a little risk management goes a long way in serving God as long as legalism is not allowed to trump love and grace. As promised, here are some practical tips on how to carry that out: Motor vehicle reports. If your churchâ€™s insurance carrier does not require background checks of your motor vehicle operators, I would be highly surprised. You should have a policy in place that requires an initial motor vehicle report (MVR) for any person driving a church vehicle or even a personal vehicle on official church trips. These drivers should then have a corresponding duty to report any change in their driving record and have the church periodically update the MVR to check for violations, too. When you are rolling out new church-wide policies, this is an easy one with which to open the dialogue on volunteer checks. Background checks. The harder pill to swallow comes when you ask a volunteer to undergo a background check, especially one who has been helping you for multiple years already. After all, this person is not being paid and is giving up time and possibly money to work with your children or senior adults. Nevertheless, you want to obtain a comprehensive background report that will verify the personâ€™s Social Security number and address history, check him or her against local, state, and federal criminal databases and sex offender registries, and consider aliases. I would also recommend including personal references and the names of employers and other churches or charities where the person has volunteered so you can vouch for character and background. Do not limit yourself to calling only the personal references given by the volunteer; call someone official with the prior church or charity to get additional information. Of course, you should only undertake a volunteerâ€™s background check after first obtaining a written consent form so you do not run afoul of state or federal law. Credit history checks. Perhaps the most personally invasive of all checks is the credit history because it is not public as contrasted to arrest and conviction records. Federal law is very strict about what notices must be given to volunteers whose financial credit will be checked and on what timetable, and I do not recommend going down this path without consulting an attorney well versed in this area. Nevertheless, this type of check may be advised for your church treasurer or other volunteers handling large sums of money and other fiduciary responsibilities. Scope. In order to comply with applicable anti-discrimination laws, you should always limit your search to the actual job descriptions and functions of the volunteer role. For instance, you would not seek a credit history report on someone volunteering to drive seniors to Atlanta, but you would for your church treasurer who counts the offering on Sundays while everyone else sits in worship.
FCA Christian Athlete Spotlight
aimeson Taylor is a Macon, Ga. success story. He was a three-sport letterman and valedictorian of his 2013 class at Southwest High and received a Presidential Scholarship to Mercer University. He was the Middle Georgia FCA Athlete of the Year for his role in leadership at Southwest. He appears to be successful at everything he puts his mind to. But after his first college semester he had some serious doubts. “My GPA after my first semester was 1.9 and I was just shocked,” Taylor said. “I had no idea how to study successfully in college because I didn’t have to study much in high school to make it. I was spending hours in the library but seeing very little positive results. I basically had to learn how to study all over again.” Taylor credits three things for helping him turn things around and get him back on the road to his 2.93 average now. “Once you start with a low GPA, it takes a long time to make it climb back up. But, my faith in God, my family support, and learning quickly from experience kept me from getting depressed. I know God gave me the ability to learn and I want to honor Him with that. My family never doubted I would make it and told me that a lot. And, there is nothing better than experience to help you learn. I had a lot of trial and error before I figured some things out.” Athletically, the transition from playing at a high level in high school, to not playing anything in college can be a tough adjustment for some. Jaimeson has become an intramural fanatic at Mercer which has seen him join teams for football, softball, volleyball, and many others. But his most exciting activity is his affiliation with the Mercer women’s basketball team. “A friend told me that Coach (Susie) Gardner was looking for guys who played in high school to be practice players for her team. I went that day to find her. Her only questions to me were ‘can you play’ and ‘can you be here?’ I answered ‘Yes’ to both and I can’t believe how much fun it is,” Taylor shared. “I love learning the other team’s plays and running them to help our girls get better. We practice 2-3 times a week with the team and on weekends. Last year I was there for every 6 a.m. practice. I also have two paying jobs, but I have never missed a women’s practice I was supposed to be at. I love it.”
By SCOTT ADAMS, Local FCA Representative
arrives early and greets me with a hug. He is very selfless, they all are. They do this for shoes and shorts. They don’t get scholarships but they are very much a part of our team and success. They come to all our games and even watch us on the road. Jaimeson is a special person. It’s an honor to have him, and the others, in our program.” Taylor was recently asked to speak at a special gathering of high school students at New Griswoldville Baptist Church on the invitation from one of his friend’s mother. His message was straight to the point. “I told them to be ready, be social, but keep God first. I had to experiment a lot with how to get school things done before I discovered how to do it. And, I love the social aspect of college. The diversity at Mercer is special. I have friends from Africa and India. I used to be caught up with how different people from another part of Macon were. Being here has really opened up my world, I love it. “I don’t know how I would have made it this far without some special mentors. One of my teachers from Southwest (Keith Young) took me to dinner one night and helped me formulate my new major. I was in mechanical engineering but decided to switch to industrial management. I want to be a project manager for something like Habitat for Humanity. I want to be able to analyze a project, figure out the financial part and then make it work. That will be exciting. I also met a guy through ‘Minority Mentors’ at school (Dontavious “Skip” Jones). He took me under his wing and told me ‘you are going to make it.’ I hope to be able to do that for someone else one day.” Faith in God, mixed with a lot of hard work, and some incredible blessings in life have Jaimeson Taylor rolling in the right direction. We couldn’t leave our discussion without mentioning his beautiful girlfriend who is featured prominently on his social media. “Timara Harvey is a cheerleader at Mercer and a big cheerleader for me, too. She went to Mary Persons and is another great blessing of my life. But, I give all the credit to God. I am certainly blessed.”
Gardner said the bond the guys have formed with her team is special, and so is Jaimeson. “This guy always
By Marti Sullivan Tidwell
ight after I got engaged a few years ago, I made a trip to Bed Bath & Beyond to register. Jason and I hadn’t been engaged long, but I needed to get everything done rather quickly because we had set a wedding date only three short months away. I remember walking into that store and looking down at that beautiful ring on my left hand… And feeling like a complete fraud. I was just sure it would all go wrong. I was positive he would wake up and change his mind and break my heart into a million pieces. I knew it was all a big mistake, a tease. So annoying, I know. I don’t know about you, but I have this ridiculous habit of expecting the worst. It’s a dirty little secret I’m admitting to you. I’m not sure where this came from, but it most certainly haunts me. I have a hard time enjoying anything honestly and fully, for fear of what will go wrong. I could blame this on genetics or family. I could blame this on life circumstances and hurts along the way. I could blame this on legitimate reasons why, really and truly, it might not turn out okay. Let’s face it, sometimes bad stuff just happens. There is a scene in the movie The Polar Express that always touches me, when the kid from the shabby house that they pick up very last looks at his friends onboard the train as they explain to him all the many reasons why Christmas is sooooo wonderful, and he says, “Christmas just doesn’t work out for me.” I mean, there he was, Christmas magic happening right before his eyes, and all he could tell himself was it would never work out for him…no matter how convincing the present circumstances may seem. What I am saying is that I am that kid. This is where I live more than I care to admit. Debbie Downer, preparing for the worst no matter how promising the present may seem! And I have a sneaking suspicion, I’m not the only one…
... and He ia always faithful and true ...
I have lived a scandalously blessed life. It has not been without heartaches and loss and even downright grief, but I say with 100% confidence that I am humbly and gratefully one of the most fortunate women walking around on two feet. But, sometimes, along the way, I let the pain of the past turn into fear and dread of the future. Let’s face it, sometimes what we pray and hope for just isn’t meant to be. But, lots of times, we wind up in a great place, the place we dreamed to be! But, maybe the road to the blessing was a tough one. Here’s the thing: sometimes, my journeys toward blessing have been filled with much more difficulty than I would have chosen… So, what’s Debbie Downer to do?
Remember. I am a child of God. And, just as you know better than your children, my Father knows better than me. I may not always feel that way…I may feel He is unfair, or too harsh, or doesn’t care about my pain and sadness and fear. But, thankfully, my feelings don’t equal the truth, and God is exactly NONE of those things. The Word of God tells me a much different story. It tells me THE Truth… So, here is my challenge to you and to me for the brand new year, for 2016: Let’s remember. Let’s remember THE Truth about our Father. Let’s remember our Father is good and loving, and He thinks good thoughts towards us. Let’s remember His plans for His children are good. Let’s remember He has dreams and desires for us beyond our wildest imagination, if only we would look to Him and trust Him with our lives. Let’s remember every heartache is for a bigger purpose and every unanswered prayer is for a greater good. Let’s remember, things are often not as bad as they seem, and He is always faithful and true, never changing or turning away. Let’s remember how our hearts would break if our children felt fear and dread over our plans and wishes for their future…and how our Heavenly Father’s heart must break when we feel this way towards Him. Let’s believe Him for our very best. Let’s remember… He is good. He is trustworthy. And in His care and confidence, all things work together for good. Ephraim.
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The Year That Went To The Dogs By David Duncan
ouncing baby New Year has arrived and I say a hearty “Welcome!”! 2015 wasn’t a bad year but it did sort of close out with a bust for me. Shirley came in on New Year’s Eve with a new box of these fancy looking crackers from the grocery store, bragging about how delish they were. I was not the least bit interested as I chomped down on my remaining chocolate from Christmas. I mean, who wants a cracker over chocolate anyway??? She kept crunching and munching, extoling their goodness and tempting me to try one. I held on to my willpower until later in the afternoon when I waltzed through the kitchen and 2 were sitting on the kitchen countertop. “Oh”, I thought to myself, “she left those out for me.” So I grabbed one and bit into it, anticipating the utmost from Shirley’s descriptive reviews. “Ugh!” I exclaimed as I tasted nothing delightful at all but rather blandness with a dash of pure disgust. I couldn’t figure exactly what the taste was so I grabbed the other cookie and tried to chew on that one for a while. Still, it proved a complete disappointment and I spit out the last of it in my mouth. So, when Shirley returned home I asked her what kind of cookie that was. I could have passed out at her response! “THAT WAS A DOGGY TREAT!!!” I swallowed hard and GROWLED my way into 2016!!! LOL. Oh, well! This New Year is brand new. Fresh. Exciting and open to every possibility and potential. It reminds me of high school football games and how enthralling they were to watch and be on the edge of the bleacher seats awaiting the final score. Some of us wait until the final end of our lives to truly grasp what is important. A lot of football games are played rather mediocre until the last few minutes and the end score approaches. I think 2016 deserves more than a blasé meandering through it as if it doesn’t matter until the last month or so, and then we step up our game to make the year count for something in the end. To live like that is foolish. The Bible tells us, “Teach us to number our days carefully” and to be wise in our choices. Eternity is a long, long time, especially if you are wrong. It was not until I almost lost my life due to end stage renal failure that I began to intentionally live every day as if ‘today’ is all that I would have. I want to live with urgency and excellence in everything that I do. I recommend the same attitude for you as we enter this unmarked territory of 365 opportunities to really thrive in God’s best for our lives! Don’t squander your life. Instead, make the days count rather than just count off the days on a calendar. Live your life honoring Christ and fulfil all that He created you to be. That is the only way that you’ll ever be truly happy and satisfied down deep on the inside. It is time to live victoriously with urgency and excellence in everything you do. I will close out this epistle with a few of my most urgent and excellent New Year’s resolutions: 1. I cannot always oblige, but I will always endeavor to speak obligingly. Kindness matters.
Pain is inevitable but misery is a choice.
2. I don’t do foot washing (I am a double amputee!) but I think it is a good reminder to teach us who we are. A servant. That right there eliminates a lot of ego related problems. Live out that attitude every single day. 3. Un-thankfulness is theft. Stealing God’s rightful due. Accentuate the attitude of gratitude. 4. Stop trying to be a nutritional overachiever. The button and the buttonhole must come closer together with ease. 5. Avoid any diet that discourages the use of hot fudge. Salads are fattening. Everyone who eats them is fat. 6. Pain is inevitable but misery is a choice. You might as well be happy. 7. Do the thing that you think you cannot do. Ask God for help. No regrets is better than apathy. “The New Year lies before us like a tract of spotless snow. Be careful how you tread on it for every mark will show.” ~Unknown In His Love, David Duncan Contact me on Facebook or email@example.com.
A new church being planted on Hephzibah Ministry properties Palm Sunday, March 20, 2016 Pastor Rusty Bissell (478) 258-5614 www.macon4life.com
By Will Davis
n his 44 years, Bolingbroke resident Clint Ward has travelled the world hunting, helped grow his family's successful construction business and with his wife Christa raised three young children. Despite having lots of experiences and a few successes, Ward said one thing has haunted him: His inability to share them with others. "My kids didn't know the stories," Ward said over a Waffle House breakfast earlier this month. "I couldn't tell the whole story about how I felt like God was a part of my life." By nature reserved, Ward said he has the very common man-problem of not wanting to get out of his shell. He had some of the very personal experiences that have shaped his life and faith but they were sort of buried. For instance, few knew about his near-death experience of falling off a mountain while hunting mountain goats in British Columbia. Ward said his first step out of his cave was reluctantly agreeing to take a mission trip to Haiti with his church, Ingleside Baptist in Macon. As they prepared to go, the laconic Ward confided in a friend, Denny Sims, that he wasn't wild about the trip. "I've got to tell you I'm not comfortable at all," admitted Ward. "I'm not a compassionate, touchy-feely person, and we're going to an orphanage. I want to help but I'm just not one of these people who's good at this." Sims encouraged him that he would do fine, that each person has their own role he would find it once they got there. In Haiti, some members of the group, including Ward, stayed up late into the night just talking. Ward said he mostly just listened but then the others coaxed him into sharing his stories. When he did, the group was stunned. They insisted he put his incredible stories into a book for his kids. Ward said he fought it. "Why would anybody care?" wondered Ward. But his friends put it back to him: "Why do you think it's up to you?" They suggested perhaps God allowed those stories to happen to help someone else. Ward tried to write down one story at 1 a.m. and said he realized quickly he wasn't much of a writer. He reached out to Kevin Mills, the pastor of Northway Church in Macon, who had written a book previously. Mills suggested that Ward simply tell his stories to a recorder, and said he would take it from there. The result is "Looking Back: Stories of Hunting, Fishing, Family, and Faith", a collection of 37 stories ranging from the humorous to the incredible to the encouraging. He urges readers to start with one of his favorites, "Shopping Season". "They’re going to laugh," said Ward, "Every guy will want his wife to read it." "Trophy", "Toughen Up" and "Second Chance" are other favorites. Last Thursday, the Wards invited a few friends to their Estes Road home to announce the book release. Ward said it was a shock to some, because he's kept it a pretty closely-guarded secret. It's not often a construction company CEO and avid hunter writes a book. Ward, who moved to Monroe County from Macon nine years ago, said he looks forward to reading the book to his 9-year-old son, Stokes. He hopes his daughters, Dallas, 12, and Jarett, 10, will also take an interest even in the hunting stories. "Reading these stories to your kids I hope will slow down the life we’re all leading," said Ward. "You realize pretty quickly that time spent with your kids is not wasted at all." Ward said he's been nervous about releasing the book. "I'm a very guarded person," said Ward. "I'm putting myself out there. But I'm very happy with it and proud of it." Ward said that in the end, publishing a book was about fulfilling his responsibility as a father, not pointing people to himself. "I felt a responsibility to my kids to do it," said Ward. "It's something I felt I needed to do. Looking back on it I realize that what I wanted is not the same thing that God wanted. It took this book to realize it." "If only my kids say they love the stories," said Ward, "that’s all that matters." "Looking Back: Stories of Hunting, Fishing, Family, and Faith" by Clint Ward and Kevin Mills can be found at www.amazon.com where 12 reviewing customers have given it five out of five stars so far. Will Davis, Publisher Monroe County Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org office - 478-994-2358 • cell - 478-550-8355
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Four Inspirational Words for 2016
By Marben Bland
s we close out 2015, our thoughts and dreams turn to 2016. And as we take stock of the year and the year to come I am pleased to present four inspirational words from God’s Word that I pray will bring you strength, comfort and power for the 2016 journey ahead. 1. Endurance “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.” Romans 15:5 As 100% God and 100% Man, Jesus got tired as he traveled, healed, preached, and dealt with the frailties, faults, and foolery of man. However, Jesus showed us that when the weariness of the activities of life comes, we can turn to God for the renewal we need to press on. John 4:1-26 tells the story of Jesus at Jacob’s well. Weary from His journey Jesus stopped and, while resting, He encountered a Samaritan Woman whom He asked to draw water from the well for Him to drink. The woman is startled by the request from Jesus who, as a Jew, is required by law not to associate with Samaritans. Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” After further discussion Jesus gives the Samaritan woman and all of us the advice that will help when we get tired from the burdens of life. “Everyone who drinks the water from this well will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Yes we will get tired and weary, however, when we are engaged in doing God’s work, He will give us the strength and endurance to finish the task. 2. Ambition “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” Luke 9:25 God wants us to have ambition, however, He wants us to use our ambition in the context of advancing His kingdom here on earth. We can advance God’s ambitions, and our own, when we remember the words of Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” 3. Growth “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:18 In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul says, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." We can more closely follow the example of Christ when we commit to a life of spiritual growth and when we: (1) Increase our knowledge and understanding of God's Word by reading and studying His word. (2) Decrease our frequency and severity of sin, by living our lives according to His word (3) Increase our practice of Christ-like qualities (continued on next page)
found in His Word and (4) Increase our faith and trust in God with never-ending prayer. For more read my post: Spiritual Growth: A Black Friday Gift For You 4. Love “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4:20 Love is the basis of everything that God wants us to do and be. As followers of Christ we are called on not only to love God but to love our fellow man as well. And while loving God is easy, it is the loving of people with all of their faults, transgressions, and stupidity that is not. Jesus in Matthew 5:43-48 (as translated in the Message bible) provides us with clear instructions on what God intends us to do as we follow the difficult task of loving our neighbors. “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that law. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you; not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Final Thoughts God declares in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” While I titled this post Four Inspirational Words for 2016, God is not confined to only four words nor does the year matter. God is active and ready right now for the execution of the plans that He has for us today and beyond. Marben Bland is a Speaker, Writer, and Strategist and regular contributor to Church Connections. His ministry focuses on assisting people to fulfill God’s promises in their lives. Read Marben’s latest blog at www.marbenbland.com.
(Originally Featured in the November 2012 Edition of LCC) By Michael Hubbard
here do I begin? I've found that a great place to start is at the beginning.
My name is Michael Hubbard. I was born to two fine Christian parents. I had an early drug problem too; I was drug to church on Sunday morning, Sunday night and on Wednesday night and every time the doors were open.
As I was sitting in church one Sunday night when I was 9 years old, I heard the preacher preaching one of those "Hell Fire and Brimstone" messages and talking about going to hell and burning for the rest of your life. Well, I knew what it felt like to be burned. I can remember it like it was yesterday. It was blue and white and had a blue and white cord on it. When I was about two years old, Momma was ironing and when she got through, she told us three boys, "Do Not Touch that iron because it is hot." Well, I didn't see any flames so I marched right up to it and put my hand on the iron. It was hot! I got a burned hand, and that is how most of my life went on from there. When I was 18 an evangelist named Domingo Garcia came to our church and talked about how he ran with Nicky Cruz from "The Cross and the Switch blade" and all of the things that he had done until he met Jesus and got saved. I remember thinking, " I wish I had a testimony like that." Well fast forward to 1979. I had just gone through a divorce. In 1982 I went to Pensacola, Florida and went to Buras, Louisiana. Buras is about 15 miles from Vinis, Louisiana. That is where they carry all of the men and supplies out to the oil rigs. It also is the place where they were during the B. P. Gulf oil spill a few years back. That is what I was doing at the time working on the off shore oil rigs, as well as being a part time male stripper. If you were to ask me if I was a Christian, I would have told you, "Yes I am."
If you were to ask me if I was a Christian, I would have told you, "Yes I am."
I had just landed a job as an off shore electrician and to celebrate, Bobby, an acquaintance of mine, and my brother Ronnie and I went to New Orleans to dance as male strippers. When we got to the bar to dance, they told us that they could only pay one of us to dance. I asked if they paid one, could the other dance just for tips, and they said okay. You see, I knew I looked better than Bobby and I could out dance him as well. When I got dressed for my night of dancing, I went up to the bar in our private room and asked the bartender for a shot of tequila. I then took a hit of speed called a "black beauty" and proceeded to do it five more times. When it came time for me to go out and dance I was feeling no pain. In other words I was higher than a weather vane on the top of a barn. I was dancing to Phil Collins "In the Air Tonight". At one point I turned and looked at the wall at the opposite end of the dance floor which was a solid mirror. When I saw myself, not the physical me but the spiritual me, I said to myself, "I've got to make a change in my life and do it now or I'll never do it" I gathered my clothes up and walked off the dance floor. Bobby came up to me and asked what was wrong. I told him I couldn't do it any more. I told Ronnie, my brother, that it was time to go home to Georgia. We stayed at the bar until it closed at 3:00 AM and then left and started towards Burus, which is 45 miles southwest from New Orleans. We stopped at a store and I bought a ham and cheese sandwich and a chocolate milk. When I finished them and we got to the red light at the Harvey tunnel I told myself to take a good look at that red light because that is the last time I would ever see civilization. That was a familiar saying there because there were only two ways to go, either up the road or down the road. Same as it is in life. You're either going up the road for Christ or you are going down the road to hell. Well it was April 1, 1982. I laid my head against the window on the passenger side, and went to sleep thinking I would wake up as we turned into the driveway and I would get up and go inside to bed and start all over tomorrow. But the next thing I knew I woke up in an ambulance. I raised up on the stretcher and realized that I had been in an accident. The paramedic told me to lie down because he had to put a tube into me to help me to breathe. I laid down and could hear the siren, the tires and the two way radio and that is the last thing I remember until I woke up in Charity Hospital 19 days later. A doctor came up to me and introduced himself to me as Doctor John Thomas, associate professor of ophthalmology at L S U Medical School. He had studied at Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic. He had a long list of credentials, (continued on next page)
longer than a laundry list. He proceeded to tell me that I had been in an automobile wreck and that I had gone through the windshield. He then told me that my left eye and eye lid had been ripped completely out, I had a cut that went across my nose to my right ear, the cheek bone from my temple down to my jaw and from my right ear to my nose was shattered and had been pushed up into my right eye and had destroyed my optic nerve. I then asked him if he was telling me that I was going to be blind for the rest of my life. He said, "Yes, I am sorry." I told him it was not his fault and I knew he had done all he could. I was just glad that God had given me a second chance. Little did I know at the time it was a second chance for eternal life. That was my life and I would have to take it and do the best that I could with it. Seven days later on April 26th I walked out of that hospital on my own two feet and started on my journey back home and to Christ. That was 30 years ago. Since then I have met and married my beautiful Christian wife, Melba, and we have been married for 28 years this past September 2nd. I met my wife, Melba, on a blind date, and we've been together ever since. LOL. I was blind for 5 years before I realized that I was lost and gave my life to Jesus Christ. It took me losing my sight to be able to see what life is really all about. Between us we have 6 children and 12 grand children and two great grand children. I love to deer hunt so I get my hunting partners up in my 21 ft hydraulic deer stand. I have a captive audience, because I am between them and the door. They can't go anywhere so I witness to them about Jesus Christ. I also have 4 businesses that I either own or I am a partner with. One is a charter boat and another is a fish bait product. You can check them out at: http://catfishreapercharters.com and one is a fit tone and trim program http://msh.myitworks.com and the other is an online grocery store, where you can order your organic groceries and have them delivered to your front door. This one has a fundraiser built in it for your church or youth. You can check it out at: http://grocerytrain.com/msh To become an associate or a customer: http://morningfreshmarket.com/msh . This is only part of my story that I can tell in these short pages. If you would like for me to come to your church and talk to your church or youth group you can reach me by phone at 478 836 4269 or 478 808 1729 or email to: email@example.com Good Luck and God Bless, Michael Hubbard
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Middle Georgia Jan - Mar 2016