Issue 4 August 2013
Welcome to the August issue. We are now officially in Autumn – nooo! Let’s call it late summer! The weather is what counts for us now. After a belter of a ‘summer’, we don’t need reminding that winter is coming. For me, August was always summer anyway. If the weather was good – it was still summer! I didn’t pay much attention to the 4 Seasons, especially Autumn. Nature, on the other hand does. As nature completes it’s cycles, we will notice the change of growth in plants trees and agricultural produce. They are subject to times and seasons. But even nature is affected by the weather (even though weather is technically a part of nature!) if you have a few flowers in your garden, then you couldn’t miss how abundant they have been and how big some of them have grown. Even the lowly geranium looks spectacular! So, we still have some summer left and if the weather forecast is to be trusted, then it’s looking good for August. Enjoy the rest of ‘Summer’. This is a time of rest & refreshing as we head into a new season with our God. Take time to look back over the last few months and notice how God has been speaking to you. The e100 allowed us time to reflect each day on the wonder of our God in all His dealings with us. How patient, generous, loving, Holy and Good He is. It is because of what his precious Son; Jesus has done, that he can be ridiculously generous! We will be starting the 2nd part of the e100 in September with the ‘The Living Word’. What a way to begin the new season – with the Living Word! Our tour of the Old Testament will enrich our understanding of the teachings and miracles of Jesus. When we read the genealogy in Matthew’s Gospel, we will be reading with a deeper insight. The fulfilment passages will make more sense, the claims of Jesus as Son of God and Messiah will almost be expected. His prophetic utterances will be recognisable. His death – across every chapter of the gospels - imminent. He is the Living Word of God, punished by death for our sins and raised from the dead. Seated in glory at His Father’s right hand. ‘I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Revelation 1:18
Contents ‘Inheritance’ – Stories of Faith - Page 2 Something Nice to Look At - Page 3 De Funnies
- Page 4
Some prayer items
- Page 5
- Page 6
Food for Thought
- Page 7
- Page 8
- Pages 9 & 10
- Page 10
Out & About
- Pages 11 & 12
‘Home is where The Heart Is’ by Paul Coulter
- Pages 13 & 14
- Page 14
‘Prickly Sticky, Pooh!’ by Hal Nesbitt
- Page 15
‘Inventiveness of Evil’ by Mick Mooney
- Pages 16 & 17
Child Care First aid
- Page 18
Everything to Lose, Nothing to Gain By Ray Vander Laan with Stephen and
- Page 19
by Ray Vander Laan with Stephen and Amanda Sorenson
- Page 19
Stories of faith
Story four: Humility
“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” Proverbs 3 : 34. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” 1 Peter 5 : 6, 7. Humility, as her name would suggest, is humble both in character and in her contribution to the church. Exceptionally private, she specifically asked for anonymity in the writing of this report, but she did share some stories of faith. The first, in which she felt the Lord had a direct hand, concerns a holiday that she had a number of years ago, when she slipped on a grassy slope. Both her wrists were broken in the accident and it was understandably a very difficult time for her. During that time a great friend, another vibrant Christian lady from DEC, came to visit when she had plasters on both her arms and said “This verse for you is “The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms”” (Deuteronomy 33: 27) and it was a lovely verse to have and very personal and appropriate. She found that verse very comforting at that time and was told later that many people had been encouraged by that story also. At another very sad time in Humility’s life that very well-known verse in Proverbs was particularly poignant “the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and are safe”(Proverbs 18: 10) and she liked that verse so much and found it very consoling. She had encountered it many years ago when there was a Tuesday service for young people in Northumberland Hall (she has a very long association with the church) and Dorothy Blake (another great woman of the church) came to speak to the children about that verse and that was the first time Humility came across it. The other verse that has meant so much to Humility recently is found in the Psalms, “How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find shelter in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 36: 7). These verses have comforted Humility and helped her faith in difficult times, when circumstances were challenging and anxiety levels were raised. Humility believes that if we look to God as a Father at these times, and not look at our problems, we will be helped. Despite some health issues, Humility is thankful to the Lord for being able to live an active, exuberant life. Many years ago she founded the Girls’ Club ministry in the church and remains active today, regularly swimming and keeps her mind active with crossword puzzles. Her love of the Lord and her faithfulness to the church should be truly appreciated, especially as she has shown such selfcontrol by remaining so humble about her walk with the Lord, focussing completely on what he has done for her. This is a great example to us all! 2
Something Nice to Look At
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"Smoking and drinking haven't really affected me one way or the other," declares Phyllis Stump, seen here celebrating her 28th Birthday.
This is funny: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152852687565483
Pray for the elders as they meet and pray for us. Pray for unity in their relationships and wisdom in their decision making.
Congratulations and blessings to our newly appointed elders; Ross Campbell & Darren Mooney. Please remember to pray for their protection and spiritual well being.
Congratulations and blessings to Dougie McCormack on taking up his new position as Teaching & Worship Pastor. Let us hold Dougie and his family up before the Lord in prayer. Pray for the ministry teams as they prepare for the new season ahead. Pray also for those who are laid low through illness and pain.
As you may already know, the two small offices – Peter’s & Sally’s – are being made into one big office to accommodate all the staff. There will now be 5 people working together or at least sharing the same office space! This also means the library will be moving to another location. Please pray that the work will go ahead as planned and the staff (Peter, Sally, Dougie, Ross & Mick Mooney) will work well together.
Congratulations to Andrew & Lisa Lewis on the safe arrival of baby Eddie. Congrats also to Jude & Sarah Davis on the safe arrival of baby Millie. & Congrats to Mick & Anne Mooney on the safe arrival of their 7th grandchild - baby Katie. We praise and worship you Heavenly Father, giver of life for these precious new lives. We ask for your protection and blessing on them, that they may grow to be followers of Jesus, your precious son.
Please remember Clodagh, Abbie and Finn in their grief. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 1Corinthians 1: 3 - 5 5
This summer has been a busy one, both in and out of the office. I am just back from speaking at a BCM camp in Castledaly to 40 teens and 20 leaders. From DEC there was Bradley, Wayne, Matthew Kearney, Stephen Young, Grรกinne McKnight and Andrew Plunkett. Chantelle was on the leadership. The camp was brilliant. Super campers and leaders. Lots of young people pressed forward in their relationship with the Lord. Tomorrow we (Chantelle Plunkett, Ruth Monds, Toni Childs, Rebekah Donnelly, Elysia Taylor, Nicole Burrell, Ciara Young, James Burrell, Stephen Young and Jeremy Boles) head off to Teenstreet in Offenburg, southern Germany. It has been a busy time getting things together for September. We have a new children's programme on Friday nights called The Hub (3rd to 6th class). I have been spending time getting things ready for:
& 18+ September will also see some leadership training for those involved with youth and children within DEC. This will happen on the first three Thursdays in September. On the 5th we will have an evening on Child Protection led by Olive Good. On the 12th we will have a session on engaging young people and the Bible with myself and Paul Brown. Finally on the 19th we will have a session on engaging children on the Bible with Ian Horner and Grace Deegan. October will see some seminars that I have been asked to do based on Youth Culture. These will happen on the first three Tuesdays in October. Seminar One will look at Youth Culture, a look at what is going on amongst adolescents. Seminar Two will look at how we can be families that nurture a faith that sticks with our children. Seminar Three (final session) will look at how we can build churches that nurtures a faith that sticks among our young people.
I am hoping that these will be worthwhile for the whole church.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT! The greatest food in human history
trade and cruelty-free?) Produce may seem cheap to environmentally
In terms of cost-per-calorie, no locavore, organic veggie can compete with the McDouble
aware blond moms who spend $300 on their highlights every month, but if
By KYLE SMITH Posted: 10:35 PM, July 27, 2013
your object is to fill your belly, it is hugely expensive per calorie.
J unk food costs as little as $1.76 per 1,000 calories, whereas fresh veggies and the like cost more than 10 times as much, found a 2007 University of Washington survey for the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. A 2,000-calorie day of meals would, if you stuck strictly to the good-for-you stuff, cost $36.32, said the study’s lead author, Adam
McDonald’s McDouble cheeseburger
What is “the cheapest, most nutritious and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history” Hint: It has 390 calories. It
Drewnowski. “Not only are the empty calories cheaper,” he reported, “but the healthy foods are becoming more and more expensive. Vegetables and fruits are
contains 23g, or half a daily serving, of protein, plus 7% of daily
rapidly becoming luxury goods.” Where else but McDonald’s can poor
fibre, 20% of daily calcium and so on.
people obtain so many calories per dollar?
Also, you can get it in 14,000 locations in the US and it usually costs $1
And as for organic — the Abercrombie and Fitch jeans of food — if you
(€1 for regular burger) . Presenting one of the unsung wonders of modern
have to check the price, you can’t afford it. (Not that it has any health
life, the McDonald’s McDouble cheeseburger.
benefits, as last year’s huge Stanford meta-study showed.)
The argument above was made by a commenter on the Freakonomics blog
Moreover, produce takes more time to prepare and spoils quickly, two
run by economics writer Stephen Dubner and professor Steven Leavitt,
more factors that effectively drive up the cost. Any time you’re spending
who co-wrote the million-selling books on the hidden side of everything.
peeling vegetables is time you aren’t spending on the job.
Dubner mischievously built an episode of his highly amusing weekly
Activists will go anywhere to wave the banner of caring and plant their
podcast around the debate. Many huffy back-to-the-earth types wrote in
flagpole of social justice right in the foot of the working class.
to suggest the alternative meal of boiled lentils. Great idea. Now go open a restaurant called McBoiled Lentils and see how many customers line up.
Forcing New Yorkers to pay unnecessary high prices, they’ve managed to keep Walmart out of the five boroughs of New York City. The City Council
But we all know fast food makes us fat, right? Not necessarily. People who
of Washington, DC, recently passed a bill, designed specifically to punish
eat out tend to eat less at home that day in partial compensation; the net gain, according to a 2008 study out of Berkeley and Northwestern, is only
only Walmart, which would mandate a super-minimum wage to benefit a small number of employees while effectively placing a surtax on every
about 24 calories a day.
The outraged replies to the notion of McDouble supremacy — if it’s not
plans for three stores. The bill may yet be vetoed by Mayor Vincent Gray.)
the cheapest, most nutritious and most bountiful food in human history, it
uel prices, like food prices, disproportionately hit the poor, so do-gooders
has to be pretty close — comes from the usual coalition of class snobs,
do everything they can to raise energy costs by blocking new fuel sources
locavore foodies and militant anti-corporate types. I say usual because
like the Keystone XL pipelines and fracking. And they are always up for
these people are forever proclaiming their support for the poor and for
higher gasoline taxes and regulating coal-burning energy plants to death.
Walmart shopper. (Walmart responded by saying it was cancelling
higher minimum wages that would supposedly benefit McDonald’s workers. But they’re completely heartless when it comes to the other side of the equation: cost.
If the macrobiotic Marxists had their way, of course, there’d be no McDonald’s, Walmart or Exxon, because they have visions of an ideal world in which everybody bikes to work with a handwoven backpack from Etsy
Driving up McDonald’s wage costs would drive up the price of burgers for
that contains a lunch grown in the neighbourhood collective.
millions of poor people. “So what?” say activists. Maybe that’ll drive people to farmers markets.
That’s not going to work for the average person, but who cares if they go hungry because they can’t afford a burger anymore? Let them eat kale!
For the average poor person, it isn’t a great option to take a trip to the farmers market to puzzle over esoteric lefty-foodie codes. (Is sustainable better than organic? What if I have to choose between fair
Irish price not part of original post – added by DEC
The Work of IJM - The International Justice Mission International Justice Mission is a human rights organisation that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to ensure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, to prosecute perpetrators and to promote functioning public justice systems. IJM staff work in their communities in 12 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America to secure tangible and sustainable protection for victims of injustice through implementation of national laws through local court systems. IJM is headquartered in Washington, D.C., overseeing and directing field operations. There are currently four affiliate offices located in the UK, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands. IJM UK began operations in 2006 under the leadership of Terry Tennens, with a number of goals:
to raise awareness of injustices in the world and how IJM responds;
to gather support, both of finances and prospective employees;
to form partnerships that strengthen and expand IJM’s global operations; and
to engage Westminster and Brussels with the aims of promoting functioning public justice systems and mobilising intervention on behalf of the oppressed.
• Please pray for four orphans in Uganda: Their parents passed away and now the children are trying to survive on
their own. Neighbours have started to destroy their crops and threaten the young children in an attempt to run them off the land. IJM Kampala has intervened, but please pray that local officials will stand up for these children and ensure they remain safe on their land. Latin America • Please pray for IJM Bolivia’s new Field Office Director, Greg, as he moves with his family to La Paz next month.Ask God to give Greg and his family peace and joy as they answer his call to serve children who need a strong defender. • Praise God that an aftercare home was found for IJM Guatemala client Jaimica*. Please continue to pray for her ongoing healing. Please also pray for safety and wisdom for the IJM Guatemala investigative team as they continue to collect evidence against Jaimica’s alleged perpetrator. South Asia • Ask God to give rescued slaves the perseverance and boldness they need to rebuild strong lives in freedom. Most of the families IJM work with do not have government-issued IDs and other critical documents that help them get benefits like education, food and housing. Please pray for the IJM staff assisting former slaves with paperwork, and pray for the government officials who will be reviewing these requests. Southeast Asia • Praise God for five boys who were rescued last week from terrible abuse in the Philippines. The youngest was only 9 years old. Ask God to restore these boys and renew them in body, spirit and mind. Praise God that the suspect was arrested and please pray that he remains in custody as the case develops • Pray for Sid,* a woman who is pressing charges against her husband for sexual abuse. She did not show up for a court hearing earlier this month and we have not been able to get in touch with her. Please pray that she will remain safe, that our team can reach her soon, and for the ongoing trial.
The Work of
Church in Chains is an independent Irish-based charity (CHY 15443) which encourages Irish Christians to pray and act in support of persecuted Christians worldwide, with a special focus on CHINA, EGYPT, ERITREA, INDIA, IRAN, MEXICO, NORTH KOREA, PAKISTAN, TURKEY and UZBEKISTAN. Church in Chains publishes the latest news in a quarterly magazine, a monthly news summary and on this website. Church in Chains works with a number of international partners in prayer and advocacy campaigns (by means of letters, petitions, vigils, meetings with Ambassadors etc.) on behalf of persecuted Christians. Church in Chains channels aid to families of prisoners and provides Bibles, Christian literature and assistance to Christians who are in poor circumstances because of their faith.
ERITREA: 39 secondary school students held in latest crackdown The Eritrean authorities have arrested 39 secondary school students (28 boys and 11 girls) and are punishing them for their Christian faith, excluding them from a graduation ceremony and subjecting them to beatings and hard labour at Sawa military training centre.
Read the full story at http://www.churchinchains.ie/node/635
The work of Compassion
Céad Míle Fáilte. Compassion is an international Christian child development and child advocacy ministry. Partnering with local churches, we are committed to the spiritual, economic, social and physical development of children living in extreme poverty in 26 countries, enabling them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults. Learn More. Our programmes are unique in that they are Christ Centred, Child Focused and Church Based. Compassion works in 26 of the world's poorest countries. View a map of where we work.
Happy Birthday all you August Babies! 3rd Marie Coady
4th Mick Mooney
8th Selina Fausset
9th Margaret Boles, Sean Cassidy & Darren Mooney 7th Zenny Graham, Michael Rafter Molloy & Jacob Herd 26 Wayne Gilmore 27th Noah Fagan 10
24th Ed Plunkett
We are now a blogging church! Visit, Read, Follow & Contribute (write a short piece)
The First Irish National Alpha Conference
HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS... by
“ By faith Abraham … waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” Hebrews 11:10 “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come” Hebrews 13:14
t is suggested that the origin of the word “Hebrew” is rooted in a word which means “sojourner” or “passer through.” Abram was the first man in history to bear this title (Genesis 14:13) and it is fitting that in the letter to
the Hebrews Abraham is identified as the first of a line of pilgrims and strangers on earth. In this wonderful letter we are told that it was a glimpse of this heavenly city and our homeland that motivated both Abraham and all the saints of old. I am not a lover of the sea and I almost get seasick just looking at the waves. An uncle of my wife took us yachting off the coast of Arklow many years ago. And I got to steer the yacht! However, this was no easy task as waves, wind and currents all continually worked to get us off course. As we were within sight of land the solution was to identify a fixed point on the coast and use that to steer by.
s Christians we are also so easily moved off course in our lives and can at times have a sense of drifting through Alife without direction. However, for those who are born of the Spirit God has given us a glimpse of something eternal. Our apostle Paul wrote about this, in one of the most misquoted scriptures in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 2:9,10 “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” I say this is a misquoted scripture because invariably the preacher stops at this point. The point Paul goes on to make is that God has in fact revealed these things to us by His Spirit.
In other words there is a reality other than the one we see around us with our natural senses. This reality is an eternal one and thankfully we do not have to wait until we die to see it. This reality is our birthright and is revealed to every saint by the Spirit of God. The type and shadow of the Old Testament priesthood meant that they could walk barefoot with their feet on the earth while gazing upwards at heavenly glories in the holy place. While the type and shadow belonged to them it is clear that the fulfilment is ours to enjoy even while we live in this world. How thankful we should be for the Word of God which reminds that our home is in heaven and for the Spirit of God who makes this a reality to us even while we live on the earth.
It is reassuring to know that although we need to endure through so many difficulties and troubles in life, for the Christian these are not arbitrary but behind them there is the chastening hand of our good Father. He is working with purpose in our lives with the ultimate purpose that we might see the Lord and receive a “kingdom which cannot be shaken”.
inally, we are exhorted not only to follow the example of the saints of old but to take our gaze even higher than heavenly things onto the Lord Jesus himself. And to look on Him until our hearts burst out with the words of the
Psalmist “Whom have I in heaven but You!”1 We are told that “home is where the heart is” and ultimately our home is where Jesus is. So let us fix our eyes on Jesus today. He is our fixed point on the heavenly shore and will not fail us. He has gone before us and ever lives to make intercession for us. Let us set our hearts afresh on Him, today! 1
Psalm 73 verse 25 (New International Version)
August Schedule – Family Services Date th
4 11th th 18 25th
Worship Leader Heather Adams Ben & Aoife Lewis Gary Nixon Sally McKee
Theme The Trustworthiness of The Trustworthiness of The Trustworthiness of The Trustworthiness of
Mission Focus God God God God
Gary Horner/IFES Irl.
Steward Geoff Langrell Patricia McNabb Clive Dave Johnston
Prickly, sticky, pooh ! By
The best antidote to a heatwave is a nice, cool shower. Not the outside variety, but the one you can take in your bathroom. Just think what would life be like without showers ? I mean, everybody appreciates the hot weather, but as a hot day draws on, well, you can start to feel... prickly. Maybe that's not too bad, but the next stage gets more serious. That's when your clothes get... well, moist, and you feel sticky as if you're wearing clingfilm. If that's not bad enough for you, there's worse to come by the end of the day, as by then it's not just your reputation which precedes you - pooh ! Which of course is why showers are so important. Hot water and a bit of soap, and you're as fresh as the day you were born.
Water is actually an incredible invention. No wonder aliens from Hollywood regularly invade earth to pinch the stuff. Everyone knows now that life would be impossible without it. And water does 101 other things apart from just maintaining life. I remember trying to explain how water was the almost universal solvent to a young schoolgirl (and not succeeding very well) when she exclaimed : "It's what makes the stain disappear !" The penny had dropped. Yes, it does indeed. Water makes almost all kinds of stains disappear, and with a little soap and energetic rubbing, the rest disappear too.
That reminds me of a Bible story :
when Jesus was washing the disciples' feet. The Lord came to Simon Peter, who wanted Him to wash his head and his whole body as well ! Simon Peter didn't understand that the Lord was giving a lesson in service and not in washing. So the Lord said to him that he only needed to clean his feet as he had already been made clean by His word. This of course is even more interesting, as that means that just as water can clean away stains on the outside, the Word of God cleans us on the inside.
Let's think about that for a minute. Jesus is saying that, just like we get clean on the outside by taking a shower, we can get clean on the inside by taking in Jesus' teaching. THAT merits some serious consideration. Put another way (Jesus didn't say this, this is just me), if you don't expose yourself to the Word of God as often as you'd take a shower, then watch out for some serious consequencees : prickly, sticky and pooh !
Of course, you will say that we don't get as dirty on the inside as we do outside on a hot day, but I would say that we do, even more so, and not only when the weather's hot. "In the world," said the Lord Jesus, "you will have trials." Every bad thought, word or action in the course of a day, from ourselves or from others, adds to the accumulated dirt ; we get dirty on the inside, but just in a different way. Every time we rub up against another person (rhetorically speaking), good and bad can result, and we store these things in our memories. After a while, our consciences get prickly, and if we don't take a spiritual shower, we'll soon be feeling sticky (in French we say "mal dans sa peau" = feeling bad in your skin). Worst of all is what God thinks, as from that time on we really are preceded by something other than our reputation, and our communion with God suffers (Is. 59:2) - pooh !
So cheers for showers - of all kinds ! And let's remember too that we don't have to wait until Sunday to take one! (John 15:3, 17:17)
Some partially coherent ramblings by m i c k m o o n e y
The Inventiveness of evil I’m sure you have seen, heard or read of the recent accidents in Spain and Italy; train and bus respectively. I watched with shock as the train came speeding to a bend and left the tracks killing 79 people. The bus crash in which 38 people lost their lives, appeared to have had no initial cause. The driver of the train was said to have been arrested and questioned. The driver of the bus died in the accident. As it turned out, in the train crash in Spain, the driver was allegedly on his mobile phone talking to the ticket inspector, at the time of the crash. In the bus crash in Italy, the driver appears to have lost control after a possible tyre puncture and was believed to be travelling at speed. However, as I pondered the developments in each case, a peculiar thought crossed my mind. ‘What if this had been new mode of terror attack?’ Remembering that suicide bombings of many varieties are perpetrated against innocent people are all too common place, this, however would to my mind, constitute a new variation on the theme of ‘the suicide terrorist attacks’. What I am going to say next is in the context of acts of terrorism, which terrorism, is, in my view, an expression of evil. While we [do not like to] would not ordinarily associate inventiveness with evil, mankind has utilised his skills and talents, his shrewdness and intelligence, for both good and evil. Now we don’t like to thinking of good things being used for evil purposes, the fact remains, evil doing often requires a great deal of skill and inventiveness. Here’s where it gets tricky; it is not the inventiveness itself that is evil, but the use to which it is put. It is not to be applauded nor borrowed. It is not to be admired (however tempting that might be), but rather, condemned. I remember when President Bill Clinton was in office and was brought before a senate committee to answer for his alleged affair with Monica Lewinsky, many secretly admired his manoeuvring abilities. His gifted mind and political prowess was often applauded. Yet at the same time, few believed he was innocent and many felt he should have been impeached! So when considering these things, we are sometimes left with a sour after-taste. On the one hand, we recognise how inventive evil-doers can be, but on the other hand we are repulsed at their task. I’m not suggesting that there is a dilemma here for followers of Christ. But we do recognise our moral and immoral duality, and how we skilfully apply the same talents to both! I was reminded of the apostle Paul’s grand work on the spiritual and moral devolution of mankind in the opening chapters of his letter to the church at Rome. In chapter 1 verses 29 - 31, Paul writes thus:
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 29
Also, in the book of the prophet Jeremiah, God, when accusing His own people Israel, describes their skilfulness in their idolatry and unfaithfulness to Him: ‘…my people have forgotten me, days without number. skilled you are at pursuing love!’ Chapter 2 verses 32b - 33
And there are many more examples of this. Do you remember the parable of the shrewd manager? Read it again in Luke 16. We know that Jesus is saying to us, use your skills, abilities, and especially your brains, for the extension of The Kingdom of God, because when you do, you will bring Glory to God the Father by living out my teachings. 16
But we need to remind ourselves of what Jesus is not saying to us – use your skills, abilities, and especially your brains, to make life easy for yourselves and gain a good reputation. The definition of the word shrewd is: ‘marked by clever discerning awareness and hard-headed acumen’ and ‘Characterized by keen awareness, sharp intelligence, and often a sense of the practical.’ The apostle James tells us “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. All good gifts are from God. All that we have is both, immediately and ultimately His – not ours! We are skilled, gifted, talented, experienced (in something!). We are intelligent. We are wise for salvation and knowledgeable in the things of God. We are rich beyond measure and it’s all His!! Graciously and lavishly given to and bestowed upon us. His love literally poured out over us. Yet we can use it for evil, selfish reasons! We can take from God and greedily fill our pockets and bellies. We can use His gifts, given for the good of others, and build up our own reputations, make a name for ourselves. We can become legends in the church, celebrities even. And all this with the gifts and talents God has given us to make Him known! Notice I said ‘we can’? This is the challenge we face daily. This is the great decision we make all day every day -
God or me?
God’s creative beauty is something to behold
For those who work with children and may be Interested...
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Everything to Lose, Nothing to Gain An excerpt from ‘That The World May Know - Early Church Discovery Guide’. Written by Ray Vander Laan with Stephen and Amanda Sorenson
A short time after Jesus the Messiah ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives, his disciples started to proclaim his message to the world. They began in the familiar lands of Galilee and Israel. Then they pressed on to the far reaches of their world – even to Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), the most pagan and immoral province in the Roman Empire. What gave Jesus' disciples the passion to endure hardship and persecution in order to share his message in places God-fearing Jews from Galilee preferred to avoid? What inspired them to go where they had nothing to gain for their efforts – indeed, where they had everything to lose, even life itself? How had Jesus prepared them to live out his teachings in daily life and proclaim them so boldly? Like other rabbis of his day, Jesus interpreted the Torah and taught people to apply its teachings so that they could learn how to obey God. But a rabbi was more than a teacher; a rabbi was a living example of how to live life in the way God intended. So a Jewish disciple (talmid in Hebrew) desired not only to learn what the rabbi knew but to act as he acted and to take on the godly character he possessed. As talmidim, Jesus' disciples had a passionate commitment to be like Jesus in every way possible. They not only taught his interpretation of the Torah, they demonstrated to others how to obey God and live in a way that honoured him. Wherever they went, they followed Jesus' example and taught in word pictures, using concrete illustrations of familiar objects that helped their listeners understand the message of the kingdom of God. In stark contrast to the disciples of Greek teachers who were trained to stand alone and be self-sufficient in their own knowledge, Jesus' disciples established nurturing communities of believers who supported, encouraged, and – when necessary – corrected one another as they sought to obey God and live out their faith. The message Jesus gave his disciples to share was also fuelled by their passion and commitment. Just days before his crucifixion, Jesus took his disciples to Caesarea Philippi, a stronghold of pagan worship located at the foot of Mount Hermon. Here, a river of spring-fed water rushed out from the deep cave at the base of a rock cliff more than one hundred feet high. This cave, called "the gates of Hades", was believed to be the entrance to the underworld from which the goat-god Pan returned annually to bring fertility to the earth. In this seemingly strange location, Jesus had three key lessons for his disciples. The first had to do with their answer to Jesus' question, "Who am I?". Jesus knew his disciples would soon go into places where people worshiped Roman emperors and numerous pagan gods. They would need to remember with certainty that Jesus was the living Messiah. The second lesson had to do with the "gates of Hades" and the shrines built into the rock cliff at Caesarea Philippi. This pagan worship center represented everything that was disgusting and wrong with the world, yet Jesus wanted his disciples to build his church on top of that rock. He wanted them to replace the pagan values of the culture with his values. In order to do that, his disciples needed to know that nothing they'd encounter in Asia Minor or anywhere else – even the "gates of Hades" itself – could stand against his power. The third lesson had to do with Jesus' challenge to follow him. He challenged his disciples and the pagan crowd to give up trying to gain meaning, purpose, significance, and value from life and instead to give their lives to other people as he would. He challenged them to never be ashamed of him or his words. Jesus' boldness in teaching them while they were surrounded by pagan worshipers in Caesarea Philippi must have given the disciples courage when they later spoke to hostile kings, priests, and Gentiles in palaces, temples, theatres, and arenas. After his resurrection, Jesus took his disciples to the Mount of Olives for a final lesson. He commanded them to be his witnesses "in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Then, he raised his hands to bless them and ascended to heaven while they watched. Within a few years, the Roman emperors' claims to divinity would erupt into widespread emperor worship. But Jesus' disciples had actually witnessed the Son of God – the King of kings and the Lord of lords –
ascending to heaven to sit at his Father's right hand. They could travel the world and testify with confidence that Jesus, indeed, was the living Son of God. Used by kind permission of The Truth Project - http://www.thetruthproject.org/ ©Copyright 2004-2013 Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family's The Truth Project is a federally registered trademark of Focus on the Family.