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Salt Magazine theSaltMag.com

Are You the

Bride? | 38

2013

Volume 1. Issue 3

A gift that keeps on giving | 24 Step Up to Life with Elmer Murdoch | 29 SportsBarn: No Pain, No Glory | 58


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Cover Stories & Features 24 COVER STORY page 38

What are the 7 Mountains ?

Click here: www.thesaltmag.com

Generational Blessings 28

Step Up to Life! 58

Single or married, you should be a bride! Find out the secret to becoming the true bride. Picture provided by Apple Studios

No Pain, No Glory

Features The Josiah Foundation: Bearing Fruit for the Lord The Heart of God and the Heart of a Girl (Corazon de Ni単a) Nurturing the Church from the Inside Out (Emmanuel Fellowship) A Passion for Prayer (Becky Crossen) A Gift that Keeps Giving (Pastors Elmer and Lincoln Murdoch) Elmer Murdoch: Helping Others Step Up to Life in Christ Lincoln Murdoch: A Pastor for All Nations The Bride of Christ Heaven Sent Me Home By A Miracle No Pain, No Glory (The SportsBarn)

| 6 | 11 | 16 | 20 | 24 | 28

| 32 | 38 | 48 | 58


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Columns

Sponsors

Cavanaugh's Corner: Capture Every Thought | 37 Salt - Flavor Your World | 44 Reflections by Linda Robinson | 46

The Language of Blessings | 3 Omaha Insurance Services | 4 The Way Of Jacob | 15 The Salt Mag Experience | 47 The Fresh Start Classic | 64

God's Word Alive: Marriage, God's Idea | 56

Contributing Authors

Joe Cavanaugh III

Lead Partner of Gallup Faith Division, Bachelor of Science in Strength Based Leadership, licensed LifePlan Coach, coached 1400+ individuals.

Professional Teacher and Scholar of God's Word Alive which is a national radio show broadcast in four states. Godswordalive.org

Velma Sanders

Angela holds several degrees, including a minor in journalism from UNO. She also is on staff writing some Christian content for examiner.com

Angela Ramos

Former Associate Editor for the Patriot Whistle Newspaper and the Mission Chronicles. Award winning poet for numerous national contests.

Linda Robinson

Mary Kay, a mother of 2 grown children and former teacher in Fremont and Omaha shares an unexpected experience that has changed her life.

Mary Kay Hennings

A local believer in Omaha, NE. Bill recently shared highlights of his journey reading through the entire Bible in a year.

Bill Barbee

Verses quoted in this issue include New International Version (NIV), Holy Bible, New International Version速, NIV速 Copyright 息 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.速 Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. King James Version (KJV), by Public Domain


by Angela Ramos

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Dave Penner, founder of The Josiah Foundation, serving on a missions trip.

Religion Mountain

The Josiah Foundation: Bearing Fruit for the Lord As we often hear, "You shall know them [followers of Christ] by their fruit" (Matthew 7:20). From this perspective, one may imagine Dave Penner to be a gardener. As we will see, God ultimately is the gardener in this story. Dave Penner is the founder of The Josiah Foundation. The Josiah Foundation, a mission organization created in 2007 to serve the needs of one woman, has blossomed to become a help to many. The Josiah Foundation has, as its mission, the desire to accomplish two things: to glorify God by helping others come to know Him, and to help those living in deep poverty. When Dave says it's amazing to see how the vision has grown, he is not overstating. God,

says Dave, is the "Master Networker." This is the story of the network God has planted Dave Penner into, and the fruit that has been born as a result. The story begins in Dave's youth, when God planted a seed in his own heart. At the tender age of 4, Dave had been praying nightly with his mother, whom he calls a "godly mom." Indeed, through her example, Dave's faith began to grow. Initially, in childlike fashion, Dave was motivated by a fear of hell. His mother taught the gospel to Dave and his siblings from an early age, so it was not by chance that he prayed the sinner's prayer while still a child. However, as Dave explains, he did not feel special; he did not feel like a "child


The Josiah Foundation: Bearing Fruit for the Lord | 7

of God." The humility and respect for God so evident in such feelings were not so obvious in the mind of a child, and Dave's faith was tested. Just like David in the Bible, this young man conquered the foe and became very faithful indeed. During his formative years, Dave was blessed to be linked to several individuals who continued to guide him along the right path. God provided Dave with a network of others, even as a child. Dave was raised by his mother after his parents split up when he was seven years old. However, Dave had a loving grandfather and mentors from church to interact with. Thus, Dave might also be likened to Timothy of the Bible, as he explains, because he was taken under someone's wing. Through this, Dave remained on the path to God, despite his questionings. It was not until Dave was about 20 years old that he settled the matter of whether or not he had truly been given God's gift of eternal life. The matter was settled forever in Dave's mind and heart one evening when he determined to base his faith on the Word of God and not on his feelings. Dave decided to rely totally on the words of Jesus as recorded in John 6:37 (NKJV), "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." Faith initially leads us to not only believe in God's existence, but to believe Him. Through this, faith is strengthened, and grows ever stronger. God's Word tells us that once we accept the gift of salvation, we are His. Dave made the decision to believe God. "From that day on, the Lord has continued to work in my life," he says.

For many years, even during college, the Lord was tending Dave's heart. He graduated from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln with an engineering degree. For quite some time, Dave was focused on his career, family, and hobbies like 'Husker football and Creighton basketball. He succeeded in his career as an engineer with HDR, designing water treatment and power plants. In the midst of this, however, Dave could never shake another nagging concern regarding his walk with God. As he approached the age of 50, Dave was doing a lot of assessing. He had always wanted God to use him in a significant way, but he was disappointed in what had been accomplished through him to that point. Way back while a young student at Frontier School of the Bible (in LaGrange, Wyoming), Dave's "greatest fear," he says, "was God that would call [him] to be a missionary, especially if it was to a foreign country." He recalls claiming Philippians 2:13 (NASB), "for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." Dave had said, "God, I'd be a lousy missionary if You didn't give me the will to do what You want me to do." So, Dave had earnestly prayed, "God, You give me Your desire. You give me Your heart to do what it is You want me to do." As the years went by, and as Dave continued to ask God to plant His desires within his heart, that is exactly what God did! God had been long at work tilling Dave's heart and planting the desire to minister to those in the poorest regions of the world. Finally, one day, as he sat on a plane headed home from a business trip, he decided to put on paper exactly what he believed God was calling


8 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews him to focus on for the rest of his life. Dave wrote down two objectives: (1) to know God (personally), and (2) to help those living in deep material need. "He gave me a strong, strong desire to help those with material needs, but not just help materially; because that's of no value if, ultimately, their soul is lost. It must be accompanied with sharing Christ," Dave explains. Indeed, it appears Dave is on to something, as The Josiah Foundation is at work with the goal of bringing transformation to entire communities in Nairobi. "It's just incredible to see the power of forgiveness, which is one of the themes," Dave says, "finding freedom in Christ. When we forgive others, and Christ enables us to do that, the chains fall off and we are freed up to do ministry." When considering those in truly desperate poverty, Dave explains that, if someone doesn’t come along and help, the individuals literally have no other resources. He refers to Jeremiah 22:16, which is the scriptural basis of The Josiah Foundation. As the verse reads, "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me? declares the LORD" (NIV)1. Knowing God is then equated with helping people in desperate situations. "What a great way to open the door, when we share love in practical ways with people," Dave says. "They know that we love them; whether they trust Christ or not, we want to help them." He continues, "They are much more open to understanding what this love is about. God is a God of love, as well as a God of justice, so the two go hand in hand perfectly--you really can't separate the two."

Dave speaks vibrantly, with an energy that seems to belie his years. Dave was over 50 years of age when he started The Josiah Foundation. He speaks excitedly of how the organization came to be. Dave had just returned from his first mission trip to Guatemala, which he attended as part of a team from Westside Church of Omaha. A woman that Dave met while in Guatemala emailed him, asking for help to sell used clothing. Dave researched the options and realized she needed more than he could do. "A light went off," says Dave. He knew he needed to involve others. Together, they organized the 501(c)(3) charitable organization known today as The Josiah Foundation. "God has really directed our steps," says David. Addressing God, he prays, "We don’t want to be one step ahead of You or one step behind You." Since its inception in 2007, The Josiah Foundation has branched into several different areas. Herein one sees further evidence of God as a Master Networker. Dave and a few other missionaries were standing in line at an airport in Guatemala, waiting to board for Omaha. A woman approached, asking why the group had come to Guatemala. They began to explain their mission and the scriptures to the woman, who had no interest after all. A gentleman standing behind them in line, however, was very interested. "Excuse me," the man said, "I overheard your conversation." As it happened, the man, who was in the coffee business and headed for Seattle, was also involved in ministry. By contacts formed through this gentleman, the group has been able to help many others. "God just does stuff like that, to bring us into a relationship," says Dave. Through that relationship, The Josiah Foundation has gone from helping a lone woman with a


The Josiah Foundation: Bearing Fruit for the Lord | 9 used clothing business to providing wheel chairs to disabled individuals, building homes, assisting with orphanages, and assisting with a school in the slums of Nairobi. Current projects include a home for special needs persons in Guatemala with Pat Duff, a full-time Josiah Foundation agent, and also a medical clinic in the slums of Nairobi! Dave believes we are called to help "practically and tangibly." As such, the goal of the special needs home is not simply to provide caregivers, but to assist those residents to be and to do all that God has made them to be and to do. Patt Duff, the founder of this special home, ministers full time in Guatemala under the umbrella of The Josiah Foundation. Dave and his group also are active in Nairobi, Kenya with the goal of working toward transformation in the slums. Thus far, Dave has been to Africa four times. He has a "heart for Africa." On his last trip there, he ministered with Fresh Start for All Nations; team members consisted of Fresh Start Director Pastor Steve Peterson, Brad Thomas, and Joe Slabaugh. "We met some incredible people," says Dave. "It’s amazing the people God has linked us up with." The Josiah Foundation's latest efforts in Nairobi have been the establishment of The Josiah Community Medical Clinic. Dave's daughter, a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at the Creighton Medical Center is interested in assembling a team of colleagues to provide professional services in the clinic this coming year. Dave advises others to try to do something with a big impact for God. America, he says, has so many distractions--it is easy to lose focus and intentionality. "Be focused and

The Josiah Foundation and Fresh Start in Kenya

intentional in your walk with God…and on the way you live," he reminds us. Dave also stresses again his experience with his earlier feelings of inferiority and of not being special or a child of God. "Feelings come and feelings go," he says, "and you can't base faith on feelings." He also points out that "when you stop worrying about feelings, you start feeling better." Finally, Dave "When you stop recommends that Christians worrying about seek to use feelings, you start their talents for God's feeling better." purposes. "Life is a vapor," he says. "Be focused now. You don't know that you have tomorrow." Dave says he wasted time and energy; he could have invested much more in the kingdom, using his gifts, rather than waiting until he was 50 years of age to become focused. "Only we know our own hearts… do we want to have 30-fold/yield fruitfulness? Do we want to be 50-fold fruitful, or 100-fold?" As David points out, many times, the amount of fruit we bear is very much a function of how focused we are


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in giving ourselves, our time, our efforts, our talents, and our gifts for God to use however He wants. On The Josiah Foundation's website, there are a number of "God stories," as Dave calls them. "I have a desire to find and share stories that can only be done by the hand of God, as a testament." He wants others to know the "one true God," the One we read of in the Bible, is a relevant God Who is even working today on earth. "And I want to be in the middle of that," says Dave. "A lot of people don’t see God as even relevant, [yet] He is very interested and involved in what is going on, on earth." Envisioning the future of The Josiah Foundation, Dave again speaks with a youthful excitement. "I don’t even know what God has in mind for us next, but so many people are in need. I want God to use us to the max!" Dave believes God has a huge plan in mind for the ministry. His prayer is that God will send other likeminded people to come alongside them and help. "Without prayer, none of this happens," David says. In addition to a prayer coordinator, the Josiah Foundation is seeking a fundraising assistant to increase publicity and organize fundraising events. "I feel like, 'God give me a voice,'" he remarks. "If people only knew what a difference they could make, I think they would want to be part of this." If you are one of those people who would like to make a difference by lending your talents to The Josiah Foundation, call (402) 215-1379, or email Dave directly at dave@josiahfoundation.com. Please visit their website at:

www.josiahfoundation.com. If you are interested in Fresh Start for All Nations, you can read about them in one of our prior issues of Salt Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 1, released on 12.12.12. 1- Jeremiah 22:16 refers to Josiah, a righteous king of Judah described in more detail in 2 Kings 22 and 23.

Dave Penner of The Josiah Foundation


by Angela Ramos

The Heart of God and the Heart of a Girl

Jason, who had decided to partner with his sister to raise support, made the trip to bring a table, some computers, Christmas gifts, and other needed items he had fundraised

for Corazón de Niña. Jason says he had an amazing time. "I had never personally done anything like this, so I didn't know what to expect." What Jason did know was that God was involved. "I didn't know exactly how," Jason says, "but I just knew God was involved." Jason spent several hours at the orphanage, connecting with the girls. He wanted to show them God's love and His interest in their lives. During his time at Corazón de Niña, Jason toured the facility, visited with the girls, and witnessed a miracle. So, what was the miracle? Allow us to explain. Jason recognized one of the young girls from the ministry's Facebook. Her name is Juliana, though she goes by Julia. Julia had just gotten hearing aids a couple months earlier and was starting to learn to communicate with others. As Jason was leaving, God stopped him and "highlighted" Julia to him. So Jason asked Melissa and

Religion Mountain

Jason Doolittle from Waypoint Church has an amazing story to tell: the story of a modern-day miracle. The story begins with Jason's recent trip to Puerto Vallarta, where his sister Jenny lives with her husband and daughters. For the past two years, Jenny has sought to find someone in need of financial assistance, someone she could bless. What Jenny found were 14 someones. Jenny found Melissa, and the girls from Corazón de Niña, a local orphanage. The name Corazón de Niña means "Girl's Heart," or literally, "Heart of (the) Girl." Owner/director Melissa said the agency was absolutely in need, financially. Making the situation even more dire, Corazón de Niña is the only orphanage in the entire city of Puerto Vallarta that accepts girls over the age of 12.


12 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews Julia both if he could pray over Julia for her hearing to be restored. The two agreed, and Jason placed his hand on Julia's shoulder but struggled for words. Jason explains that he was "overwhelmed with emotion." Jason truly wanted God to move in a way he never had wanted before. Although Jason recognized the hearing aids were a blessing to Julia, he sought more for her. He explains how, as he tried to think of the words, he immediately began to weep. However, God knows the words. Through tears, Jason prayed for Jesus to come and restore Julia and make her eardrums like new. Jason prayed for about a minute. "I didn't feel any lightning bolts or anything," Jason said. However, in faith, Jason asked Melissa to test Julia's hearing. Melissa removed Julia's hearing aids. She spoke to Julia, and Julia responded. However, Melissa mentioned, Julia has the ability to read lips. Covering her mouth, Melissa tried a second time, and again Julia responded. Encouraged, Jason suggested they continue, as it appeared to be working. He placed both hands over Julia's ears and commanded her hearing to be restored, calling on the power and authority in Jesus' name. Overwhelmed again with emotion, Jason prayed another minute or two, and then Julia's hearing was tested again. Another girl called to Julia from about 15 feet behind her. Julia turned, and went over to speak to the other girl. According to Melissa, Julia could never have done such a thing before. The group witnessed a miracle. "The love of God was just falling down on all of us at that moment," Jason said. He is happy to report that both of the times he has made calls to follow up about Julia's hearing, the response has been the same. She is still operating at the capacity she was after

he prayed for her. "She is not 100%," Jason explains, but she is still functioning without her hearing aids. He admits that initially, he felt discouraged that Julia was only partially healed. However, he has since repented for that and cast it off. Jason is also happy to report that the healing is "snowballing." In addition to hearing problems, Julia has severe trauma from the things that have happened in her life. Emotionally, she had shut down. Now, however, she is blossoming. Jason explains that he didn't fully realize what had occurred until after he returned home. He says he was relaying the story to a friend, when he became aware that the love of God had come down from heaven that day and moved through him into Julia. "If I had to describe what perfect love feels like, this is it," Jason says. "I fell more in love with Jesus, seeing him move." Jason also loves the children at Coraz贸n de Ni帽a and cannot wait to go back. "I don't know what the future holds, but I am going back for sure," Jason says with confidence and determination. In the meantime, Jason is also determined to continue to help financially. Herein lies what may be a second miracle. When Melissa originally began working with many of these girls, it was through another agency that offered limited services to them. There came a point when the government informed the agency it would be shutting them down. The agency was apparently lacking things the government felt were required. So, Melissa scrambled to turn her home into a make-shift orphanage for any of the girls who wanted to come. It appears as though God closed that door to prompt Melissa to open a better door--her own front door.


Jason Doolittle and the orphans of Corazón de Niña

Today, they receive not simply services, but amazing love and care as Melissa and her husband have taken on the role of mother and father, providing for everything the girls need. Corazón de Niña receives no government funding. Assistance for provisions comes strictly through donations, such as from Costco, which gives them food that cannot be sold. Even items like day-old bread are a tremendous help. God is moving down there, Jason says. He also explains how God is blessing Melissa for her generosity. Despite the lack they are experiencing, Melissa has made it a point not to refuse food to the poor. Jason tells of how Melissa has been down to one box of rice, and someone came to the door hungry, so she gave the person the rice. The next day, Corazón de Niña would receive an anonymous food donation. Perhaps Melissa has entertained angels, as they say. Perhaps God has blessed her sevenfold. In any case, financial gifts are desperately needed for continued operation at Corazón de Niña.

Melissa has opened her home to take in as many girls as want to come. She refuses no one. Currently, there are 13 to 14 girls sleeping in one room, which is lined with bunk beds. The second story of the home is exposed. Ideally, the goal is to roof the exposed area to provide more sleeping space for the girls, and perhaps better accommodate even more girls. As such, construction is a major priority of the fundraising campaign. If you would like to learn more about Corazón de Niña, Jenny created an amazing blog. On her blog, she tracked the progress of events leading up to the big day, when Jason came with the first batch of donated supplies for the orphanage. She has posted pictures of the girls from that day as well. It was a "great day," says Jason. "I loved it, every minute of it." On the blog, one can also link to Jenny's personal story about why she now lives in Mexico and how she got there. Find the blog at:


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Julia and other orphans of Coraz贸n de Ni帽a

www.vallartachristmasproject.wordpress.co m/2013/04/19/the-latest/ If you would like to get more information or make a donation via Paypal, Coraz贸n de Ni帽a also has a website: http://www.corazondenina.mx/ As for Jason, he is hopeful that more donations will come so he can go back. It is quite clear that when Jason returned to the United States, he left his heart in Puerto Vallarta. "If you hear the Lord tugging on your heart, listen to what God has said," says Jason. Indeed, the scriptures are clear that we are to care for orphans. "Be encouraged," Jason said, "God is moving in Mexico."


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Nurturing the Church from the Inside Out:

by Angela Ramos

An Interview with Pastor Mike Harris.

Pastor Mike Harris

Recently, Salt Magazine sat down for an interview with Pastor Mike Harris of Emmanuel Fellowship (EF). Here is what he had to say about what makes EF special, and also some wisdom he has learned during 43 years of marriage.

Family Mountain

NURTURING INTO MINISTRY EF is about 14 years old, and was founded with the vision of “Nurturing into Ministry.” EF leadership would define that as “what has God put on your heart to do.” Every believer is in ministry; EF's goal is to help people fulfill what that is. There have been some 30 ministries that have developed since the beginning in 1999. For example, two ladies in the church came and said they felt led to start a neighborhood clothing giveaway. The leadership met with them, asked what they needed from the church, discussed whether it fit in with the overall ministry goals of EF, and then came alongside to help them launch. This will be the tenth year of the giveaway. Some 500 woman/man hours is volunteered during the week in preparation for the day, which is the last Saturday in July so that

families can come before school starts. The ladies have taken the ball and run with it, including interviews on a local TV station, signs in the community, and flyers in the neighborhood. Last year, approximately 400 people came through the church doors and took home bags of good used clothing. The ladies sort everything by size and eliminate items that are too worn. Even Northwest High School has contributed those things left at the end of the school year. The church has to think beyond the gospel to needs of mankind. The two go hand in hand. Another ministry that has developed is Silver Tsunami. That is simply a residential care ministry. Over the next 20 years, these care facilities will be inundated with elderly folks who rarely get visitors. Retired pastor Glenn Pearson came to the leadership with the idea of equipping and training people to effectively build relationship with residents of these facilities, always with the idea of sharing the gospel. Pastor Mike says it is exciting to watch it develop. About 40 volunteers have been trained in the ministry, some from EF and some from other churches. For many in these facilities, it could be their last opportunity to respond to the good news of Jesus Christ. One thing lacking in this ministry is men. There are a few, but many more are needed. Emmanuel Fellowship also has a heart for


mission. They support approximately 32 missionaries or mission organizations. Pastor Mike says “Our goal is not simply to give financially to mission, but to encourage every member of the body to have a missions (cross-cultural) experience.” They currently have several young people from EF in full time mission work: a young couple with their three daughters, ministering in South Africa; another young couple with their four children in Kabul, Afghanistan; a young lady in Nicaragua; and a young man in South Sudan. They also have some families who regularly support financially and physically a Native American reservation in South Dakota. EF has been blessed to give over $1.5 million to missions in its first 13 years. Pastor Mike says that in almost 26 years of ministry, "God has taught me many things, but the foundational thing, the thing that everything else is built on, is that ministry is not about me. It is not even about the church; it must be about GOD’S GLORY. 1 Corinthians 10:31 reads, 'Whether you eat or drink, whatsoever you do, do it all to the glory of God.' That is an extraordinary statement! Even in the smallest, mundane, everyday things we do, they should be done for God’s glory. We as leadership are not the big deal. We do not have much of anything to offer apart from Christ!" The leadership at EF understands that young people are looking for authenticity, especially in leadership. Transparency is essential and it starts at the top. Pastor Mike points out, "In the Word, God is very open with the flaws and weaknesses of those He has put into leadership positions.

Throughout church history, revivals and real movements of God have come with public repentance and confession. There are so many praying for revival here in America and as leadership we believe that is what God wants. However, the resurrection would not have happened without the cross. When the church is desperate and cries out to God with repentance, we will see revival." When asked about prayer requests for EF, Mike responded, "Prayer is such a vital part of any ministry, yet many believers spend little time there. They pray and are discouraged when answers do not appear to come. We even wonder if God is listening. I find it helpful to pray the Lord’s Prayer by phrase. When I focus one line at a time, like 'Hallowed be Your Name,' it builds faith, and I can spend significant time there. The line that says, 'deliver us from evil,' what a great place to put on the armor--on your family, on your self, on the leadership of the church. Each line is rich with things to pray and ask God to bring things to mind... "For the church, the leadership at EF has a sense that God is on the verge of taking us into something different. He will continue to have us “nurture into ministry.” He will continue to use this place as a place for healing, but the sense is there is something new. So we continue to press in for God’s plan and God’s timing." One of the challenges that EF faces is the balance of caring for the body inside the


18 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews building and those outside the walls. The body of Christ is a puzzle, and each attendee is a piece of that puzzle. This particular body will never complete its puzzle until every one uses his or her piece. God’s plan for the believer is community. It is never to just come to church and go home. Each one of us has a crucial part to play. For some, that part may be outside the church walls, for others, inside the church walls, but it is all part of the same puzzle. The leadership’s responsibility is to help people discover where their puzzle piece fits. Another aspect of EF is that they bring in guest speakers a few times a year. Mike says that people need to hear a different perspective or vocabulary than the one he presents. Often times it may be that the different slant will be the very thing that allows the Holy Spirit to bring revelation to that given teaching. EF has also had Rachel Scott in to lead worship on several occasions. As important as the vision statement is, the overriding idea for EF is to be Holy Spiritled even in their services. The leadership comes prepared with a plan (a loose agenda), but they try to be sensitive to God changing the plan even in the midst of the service. Many times, the Spirit has interrupted the service and changed directions. For some, it is uncomfortable because most of us have not had that kind of exposure in our church backgrounds. There is nothing wrong with planning; however, if God wants to move them in a different direction, EF wants to go where He is going. A Bible teacher in the early 1900's, G. Campbell Morgan, once said, “a Christian statesmen is one who sees what God is doing and gets everything else out of the way.”

EF is not at all what Mike thought it would be. God began to bring in many who were burned out or hurt in past spiritual experiences, and He began to bring healing that was spiritual, emotional and physical. When the leadership recognized this, it was essential to set aside some of what they initially thought they should do. HOW IT STARTED Mike’s background is that he served under Pastor Elmer Murdoch for 12 years and in 1996, he sensed the Lord leading him to leave ministry, to teach him some things that he could not learn while in ministry. While working "in the marketplace," he heard God say, “The next thing you do will be in fulltime ministry.” That was in April 1999. In July of that year, he was approached by a denomination about starting a church. He had been teaching a Bible study and involved with a group of worshipers. When he and the denominational representative approached the group, they said, "start a church!" So with much prayer in September of 1999, Emmanuel Fellowship began. Mike and his wife, Sharon, have been married for 43 years. He says, “It has been quite the learning experience. Learning to live with a spouse is a challenge, especially for us guys." So, his wife is one of his main hobbies (along with reading, traveling and golf). Sharon is the wife of his youth, of his middle age, and now the golden years. Mike and Sharon met in a church. She grew up in a solid Christian home, and Mike did not. Thankfully, his parents came to Christ shortly after he did. He got involved with church when a friend on their high school baseball team asked him to go with him. At 16, Mike committed his life to Christ and at 17 told the youth pastor of the church that he


Nurturing the Church from the inside out | 19 was going to marry Sharon--before they ever dated. Mike says, with a gleam in his eye, that "Sharon is an amazing woman to put up with me all these years. God has blessed us with a wonderful marriage, even though it did not start that way." Within the first year of marriage, Mike was drafted and eventually wound up in Vietnam. "One thing marriage does, it shows us how self-centered we are. I was no different." While in Vietnam, Sharon sent him the Living Bible, and while reading through it, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 jumped out. The light switch went on, and Mike realized that was not the love he and Sharon had for each other. They agreed by letter that they needed to change their relationship, and the Lord Jesus was the only one who could do so. Marriage takes a lifetime; it takes understanding, grace, forgiveness and an unselfish love. They realized that all of these are provided by Jesus, not by their own works. Marriage is an investment. ADVICE TO HUSBANDS & WIVES Pastor Mike offers some advice for married couples. To the husband there are seven things that God requires. Ephesians 5 lists five of those, and 1 Peter 3:7 lists the last two. 1) Ephesians 5:23 - The husband is head of the home, the initiator spiritually, emotionally (in listening to her and affirming her emotions), and physically (providing, protecting, etc.). There is absolutely nothing here about authoritarian leadership. 2) Ephesians 5:25 - The husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her (a servant leader, as in

Philippians 2:3-4). 3) and 4) Ephesians 5:28-29 - Love your wife as your own bodies—to nurture and cherish. "Nurture" would be to help her be all that God intends her to be. "Nurture" in the dictionary means to help grow to maturity. In the Christian realm, we help them to be all that God intends for them. "Cherish" is to treat her as a treasure from the Lord, your most prized possession next to Christ Jesus. 5) Ephesians 5:31 - Leave and cleave. This is not just leaving physically, but leaving those unhealthy patterns and practices that we may have witnessed growing up, leaving our singleness and cleaving which is a incredibly tight, super-glued together bond. 6) 1 Peter 3:7 - Be considerate (live with understanding) as you live with your wife. Get to know how they think, what they need. I must confess this is the most challenging of the 7, because they hear differently, they think differently, they emote differently, and yet God says live with understanding. That is why marriage is intended for a lifetime. 7)1 Peter 3:7 - Treat your wife with respect (to a woman, 99% of the time, respect means to listen to her, value her input, seek her opinion). There have been times when I did not heed my wife’s advice (intuition) and have made some terrible decisions that cost me thousands of dollars because it made sense on paper. So, men, God puts the burden on us. Clearly, the American male is not living by what God requires. I like to call this God’s Diagnostic Marriage Check. When things are not working, it can be traced back to one of these things. Now the wives.

(continued on page 54)


Education Mountain

by Angela Ramos

20 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews

A Passion for Prayer Today, we introduce you to Becky Crossen, a former prayer leader at Omaha Dream Center, and now a missionary in South Korea! God has called Becky to a passion for prayer. Indeed, Becky is what one might call a prayer warrior. Recently, she has begun to pray against human trafficking.

looked on maps. The next region she was led to pray over was the Muslim region.

Becky grew up in Indiana but lived in Omaha for seven years. By trade, Becky is a teacher. Last year was her first year teaching, but she says it was a "rough year." In many ways, it is clear that God closed doors in Becky's life to lead her into the mission field. Her first year of teaching was not only rough, it also culminated in her contract not being renewed. Further, she applied for countless other jobs, with no success. Around this same time, Becky found herself laid up for six weeks, recovering from shoulder surgery.

Becky took employment in a retail store. However, her employment was taking away from the time God wanted of her. Following the Lord's leading, she took a step of faith and put in her two-week's notice.

The forced break allowed Becky more time to spend with God. She spent much of the six weeks in prayer. Though there were times she did not want to, she dutifully prayed. Her devotion to God took precedence. Through this, God brought her healing from the events of the previous year. God led Becky to pray for specific areas of the world, the first being Somalia. God showed her the different places as she

As her recovery progressed, Becky began attending 4:30 Prayer at the Omaha Dream Center, and it gave her a whole new perspective on who she was.

Becky had been spending an hour in prayer each day but had not found anyone else interested in addressing the issue of human trafficking. She went to speak with Pastor Cainos at the Omaha Dream Center. The two had attended Grace University together. She clearly admires Pastor Cainos. "He is very joyful; you can see it all over him," says Becky. "It's because of his prayer life." The Lord told Pastor Cainos He would be sending him someone who was called to join his prayer team and intercede for the issue of human trafficking. Becky was that someone. Pastor Cainos invited Becky to participate in the prayer movement, which covers the morning hours. Becky led prayer once a week until she was able to leave for South Korea, where she now teaches English and


A Passion for Prayer | 21 does missionary work. Listening to Becky, it is very clear that God meant what He said about not giving us a "spirit of fear" (2 Timothy 1:7). Where most of us would tremble at the thought of heading to South Korea given the events currently taking place there, Becky exhibited no qualms whatsoever. At the time of this interview, she asked only for prayer for preparations. She says she is confident the Lord has blessed her relocation and will provide. Thus, her prayer was simply that the Lord would allow her to be completely prepared--financially, physically, spiritually, etc. Becky received confirmation concerning her work in South Korea last summer, when she attended Exodus Cry, a prayer retreat in Kansas City. The enemy certainly tried hard to keep her from attending the event; she was having car trouble, and did not have the finances to attend, but God made a way. The Omaha Dream Center agreed to pay for the trip, so her only expense was gas money, and she would borrow her mother's car. Again, the enemy went to work: her mother's car would not start. Becky called numerous people seeking prayer for the situation. Finally, she reached Pastor Cainos, and he and his wife prayed for her. Becky's brother, who is a mechanic, was able to get the car to start. However, after arriving in Kansas City, just before leaving for the conference, the car became stuck in fourwheel drive. Becky drove through the cold and snow, unable to go above 30 mph. Far behind schedule, Becky pulled into the driveway of her father's cousin. Again, she called for prayer partners. All she got were answering machines. So, she pleaded with God on her own, saying "God, nobody else

can help me; You can help me." God guided her to the instruction manual. She was able to get the car out of four-wheel drive and made it to the conference, despite these and many other problems. When Becky went inside, the speaker was relaying how there was recently a breakthrough concerning human trafficking legislation in the "horn of Africa," where Somalia is located. They also had breakthrough in the Middle East, where the Muslim nations are located. Next, the speaker explained, they had been praying over the Midwest here in the United States. "I can't explain to you how much that blew my mind," Becky says, still sounding rather astonished. Following this, the fourth place mentioned that the group had prayed over was South Korea. There was her confirmation! "God is really working," she explains. "It's not about my prayers, it's about focusing on Him," and about "being diligent." She relays the story of Abraham in Genesis 18:20-33, when Abraham spoke with God concerning the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, and ultimately Lot's life was spared. "He wants to act; He is sovereign." So, Becky asks, how are you going to pray today? Will you be like Abraham? Becky says she will continue to pray about human trafficking. Her drive for this is very strong. As she points out, Christians are called to do such things. Looking to Isaiah 1:17, one reads the command to seek justice, relieve the oppressed, defend orphans, and plead for widows. "I don't believe there is anyone out there that is not called to do something about the issue of human trafficking," says Becky. "It is slavery." Victims of human trafficking


22 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews are oppressed, raped, beaten, and used. She explains, "God's heart is for the weak, needy, and oppressed. He is calling us to do something." She believes that everyone who calls him or herself a follower of Christ and strives to be like Him is called to help those in need--perhaps not only in terms of actively helping, but also simply by praying. She went on to explain that oppressed people are all around us, although we may not be aware of it. "Through prayer, you can do something," Becky encourages us. God will make us aware if we ask Him to. There may be individuals in need of ministering or counseling, or perhaps we can take action by raising awareness, thus impacting legislation. In addition to being true and undefiled, Christians are called to do something to intervene. "A lot of people turn away," Becky explains. Perhaps it is too much. Perhaps it is too heavy and they feel they cannot bear to learn any more. "But, we can't afford not to [learn more]," she continues, "and their lives can't afford for you not to." Becky received Christ into her heart at age six. "I'm just lost without Jesus," she says. "He has been my Rock." Since then, she explains, He has never left her nor forsaken her. He has been her guide. The way Becky puts it, Jesus is not only her Savior, but also her life and her plan. Here again, the evidence of this young woman's bravery is patent. She details how she "felt a great weight of evil upon her heart" because there is "so much darkness, so much evil" in the areas she prays for, yet she continues to battle against it. In the midst of heavy spiritual attacks, God

showed her that the "weight of glory is greater," despite the "great weight of the evil." Her faith in God is very strong. "The powers of darkness do not want you to do this," Becky points out. "They are getting a lot, the men who traffick these girls." When God places something like this upon your heart and you begin to pray, it is a dark world; but one does not have to be afraid, because "the glory is greater." She says it does not matter what happens to her; what matters is how God wants to use her. She explains that there are children at risk everywhere, whether in Cambodia (where parents are selling their own children, many as young as six years old), the United States, or your neighborhood. "You are going to have an impact on those children's lives." If God has called you to action, the Omaha Dream Center can help you get plugged in. The Omaha Dream Center is a very small church plant with a big focus on prayer. Outreach is also very important to those at the Omaha Dream Center. The church seeks to be a place where many can be equipped and sent out for action, a place where people can use their gifts in the most effective way. "We want to get them to a place where they can minister to others daily," says Becky, describing the church. Besides praying for people all over the world, equipping others is also a huge part of the Omaha Dream Center's mission. If you are one of those people who is sitting in a pew every Sunday, but you want to do something more, perhaps you would consider attending a prayer service at the Omaha Dream Center. They meet from 4:30 am to about 6:30 or 7:30 am each morning. "Omaha can be a united front," Becky says. Christians can work together against trafficking. She points out that the devil and


A Passion for Prayer | 23 demons have a very united front in many aspects of this issue. She describes how there appears to be a sort of network, some connections throughout the world. Through this, they are able to get people into trafficking, and keep them in trafficking. Thus, it is important for Christians to unite as well. "Everybody's doing their own things," Becky explains. However, together, the various organizations can work on starting a shelter or perhaps raise money for victims. The way we defeat this enemy at the core is through prayer, Becky suggests. For this reason, it is important to mobilize people.

Omaha Dream Center at (402) 686-4482. You may also email Becky at reb.crossen@gmail.com.

As she reflects back on where the Lord brought her from, Becky is thankful that He is using her in His plan. "Praise Him," she says, and challenges us to see the heart of God. This may require some sacrifice, whether it be giving up television or perhaps a favorite activity, but there is no greater treasure. God knows where you are; He wants you to seek His heart. Words cannot express what it is like when one seeks God with his or her whole heart. Becky acknowledges that is where her passion springs from. If you make time to be with Him, says Becky, He will come. Whether through going to prayer meetings or reading your Bible, you will have greater joy, peace, pleasure, than you have ever had in your life. It will be the "greatest thing you've ever done!" For information on the Omaha Dream Center, check out their Facebook page under "Omaha Dream Center." They are currently working on their website (www.omahadreamcenter.com), but you may contact someone directly either through a message on Facebook, or by calling the

Becky Crossen


24 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews

Father and Son - Pastor Elmer Murdoch (right) and Pastor Lincoln Murdoch (left)

A Gift that Keeps Giving: Understanding the Concept of Generational Blessings


A Gift that Keeps Giving | 25

Together, these two men offer a clear picture of the concept of generational blessing. "No man takes this calling himself. This is a sovereign choice of God. We simply must follow," says Pastor Elmer Murdoch. He points out that he is actually fourth in the line of this generational blessing and credits his wife for imparting this blessing also. His line blessing amazingly includes his greataunt who was a missionary to India, his grandfather who was a Baptist preacher, his father who was a conservative Presbyterian/ Congregational preacher, his son Lincoln as mentioned above, his two grandsons preparing for ministry, and finally, one grandaughter who will marry a man in Christian ministry. To explain how the connection between so many generations of one family is indicative of such blessings, let us first gain an understanding of what is meant by a generational blessing. Although the Bible does not use the phrase "generational blessing" specifically, several examples are

Looking first at Genesis 12:1-3, one sees that Abram--as he was called before he received his blessing--was told that God would make him a "great nation." God's blessing to Abram was to make a "great name" for him. According to the passage, however, this was not the whole of the blessing. God also extended the blessing beyond Abram himself. As the scripture continues, God promised to "bless those that bless" Abram, and indeed to make Abram a blessing to others. Specifically, God promised that in Abram, "all families of the earth" would be blessed.

by Angela Ramos

Elmer Murdoch and his son, Lincoln, have both taken on the task of "tending the sheep," if you will. Lincoln Murdoch credits his upbringing for his strong relationship with the Lord. The elder Murdoch indeed appears to have had a great influence on his son, now pastor of All Nations Church in Omaha, Nebraska. Both gentlemen have made it their mission not only to maintain a strong focus on their own relationship with Christ, but to assist others with their walk as well.

clearly provided. In searching the scriptures, one finds these examples revolve primarily around Abraham and his descendants.

The matter of Abram's name is seen again when God visits Abram as He prepares to finally bestow the promised blessing upon him. God tells Abram that his descendants will be numerous, and a son soon will be born to him by Saraiah. From then on, Abram is known by that new name, Abraham, signifying he is a "father of many nations." Saraiah is to be called Sarah, as the mother of nations (Genesis 17:1-5, 15-19). In a second example, Abraham again is told his descendants would be multiplied. God also promises those descendants will be above their enemies. Abraham is told that through his descendants, "all the nations of the earth will be blessed." God explains that the blessing comes because Abraham obeyed God's voice (Genesis 22:15-18). Thus, in addition to the name, we have Abraham receiving two things from God: Abraham's descendants will be multiplied into a great nation, both in number and in might. This is the blessing bestowed by God onto Abraham.

Family Mountain

In a recent video series for Salt Magazine, we conducted interviews with two very spiritually-minded men. Not only are the similarities striking, they are to be expected. As it happens, these two men are father and son.


26 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews Turning then to Genesis 25:5, we see that Abraham gave "all that he had to Isaac." However, as we will see, what Abraham is actually passing on is that which God gave him in the blessing (Gen 26:12, 16). This is reaffirmed when God also proclaims the blessing to Isaac; again, God goes beyond Isaac himself, saying that in Isaac "all nations" of the earth would be blessed. (That phrase sounds familiar, doesn't it?) In blessing Isaac, God clearly tells him the blessing is being given because his father Abraham obeyed God's voice and commands. Originally, it was Abraham's blessing (Genesis 26:1-5). The blessing is thus passed down. If we look further, in Gen 27:28-29, we see quite clearly how the generational blessing comes about. Here, Isaac is passing the blessing on to Jacob, whom he believes is Esau. Isaac, specifically, bestows on Jacob first the sufficiency that often came with blessing, such as abundance of food and other sustenance. Next, Isaac bestows greatness and might such as he himself received through Abraham, telling Jacob people will serve him and nations will bow down to him, including his brethren. Finally, Isaac tells Jacob those who bless him will be blessed, just as was bestowed upon Isaac. Thus, the blessing again is transferred from father to son. It is important to note that once Esau arrives, the blessing has already been bestowed and is final (Gen. 27:37). Isaac cannot give the same blessing to Esau. As we know, it is the line of Jacob, later called Israel, whom will become "God's people." This is the generational blessing. A theme of obedience also can be found in the examples of generational blessing, as we have discussed. Indeed, in the passages explaining how the Israelites are included in the blessing of Abraham, Moses tells the

children of Israel, "if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them‌the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers" (Deuteronomy 7:12, KJV). The children of Israel, as we know, are in the family line of Abraham. Now, let us apply the concept of generational blessing to a more contemporary model. First, we consider Elmer Murdoch. As we can deduce, Elmer is a child of God. Further, as Jesus has adopted us to Himself, and as Gentiles are grafted in, we realize the blessing can apply to all who have received Christ as Lord. First, there must be obedience to God's commands. We must carry out the will of God. Elmer Murdoch indeed has met this requirement in a number of ways. Elmer Murdoch first attended seminary, and later began a career as a pastor. After pastoring in three different states, Elmer Murdoch came to Omaha, Nebraska, to the Gospel Tabernacle, now called Christ Community Church. In addition to this, Pastor Murdoch ran a radio ministry for seven years and hosted a Christian television program called "Step Up to Life." The Step Up to Life ministry by itself is the result of a life's work for Pastor Murdoch. Dating all the way back to 1954, the idea had its beginnings as a sermon he preached. Ultimately, in 1971, "Step Up to Life" was first printed as a tract. However, Pastor Elmer Murdoch did not stop there. After 20 years with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, Pastor Murdoch founded Trinity Church (now Lifegate). Following 22 years of service as a pastor at Trinity, Elmer Murdoch set about expanding "Step Up to Life" even further. Today, Pastor Murdoch continues to write, teach,


A Gift that Keeps Giving | 27 preach, and conduct speaking engagements along with his duties as Director of Step Up to Life Ministries. Elmer Murdoch has truly answered his call and allowed the Lord to order his steps. Lincoln Murdoch has taken the baton, if you will, and is continuing in the legacy his father established. In addition to all of this, one sees yet another indication that Pastor Murdoch has obeyed God's voice. As one considers his son Lincoln, it is clear that Pastor Murdoch hearkened to the command to "train up a child in the way he should go." Indeed, Lincoln Murdoch ultimately did not depart from those teachings. As we read, blessings come to those of the body of Christ who obediently follow God's will and commands. Further, the blessings Pastor Murdoch has amassed have been passed on to his child, thus making the blessing generational. In the case of this family, there is one more example, however. One also may recall that as part of the Lord's blessing on Abraham, the scriptures inform us that Abraham and his descendants would be a blessing to others. Indeed, this would be descriptive of the Murdochs, as well. Elmer and Lincoln Murdoch have not simply planted and pastored churches, but essentially spent their lives in service to others. In numerous ways, the two pastors have been a blessing to many. The Bible tells us we can know a person by their fruits. When it comes to Elmer Murdoch, those fruits are easy to see, and the apple has not fallen far from the tree. In following such a model, we may be able to one day bestow generational blessings of our own. The first, most obvious step is simply to trust God. This is what enables an individual to willingly obey God's voice and commands. As we allow God to guide us in our walk and avail ourselves to God,

blessings follow. We are yielding to God's will ahead of our own. In so doing, we undoubtedly find ourselves where God wants us to be. As we know, God loves us-He wants to bless us. We are intended to have abundant life. Although trials will come, God has promised to be with us. His plan for us is far greater than one we could accomplish on our own. Following God's direction naturally provides an immediate blessing. As we continue to live for Christ, or rather to let Christ to live through us, we ultimately receive the type of blessing one passes down to the next generation. Our salvation comes through Christ. Through obedience to God, we leave a legacy for our children, and our children's children.


28 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews

Elmer Murdoch

Helping Others

Step Up To Life

Pastor Elmer Murdoch was born in Vermont and raised in Rhode Island. After completing his college and seminary studies, Elmer served as pastor at churches in Massachusetts, Ohio, and Illinois, where he succeeded Dr. A. W. Tozer. Over time,

In Christ

Pastor Murdoch came to realize he needed to change the message he was preaching. He became aware that many come forth for salvation, yet they do not manifest the transformation that comes with a life in


Christ. He began to differentiate between what he calls "mental faith" and "saving faith." Faith rooted in intellect, it appeared, did not lead to a changed life. Pastor Murdoch knew he needed to preach more on repentance. True repentance manifests as true change. He continued this manner of preaching, pastoring several churches, and ultimately settling in Nebraska. Pastor Murdoch found success with this style of preaching, first at the Omaha Gospel Tabernacle--now called Christ Community Church--and then in his radio ministry. Pastor Murdoch operated his radio ministry for seven years. After serving 20 years with Christian and Missionary Alliance, Elmer went on to found Trinity Church Interdenominational, now known as Lifegate. During Pastor Murdoch’s service, Trinity's congregation grew from 40 to 3,000 members. A school was also added, with a total of more than 600 students. After 22 years at Trinity, Pastor Murdoch turned his focus to "Step Up to Life." Elmer Murdoch understood that a person should be transformed and achieve a saving faith. This view is what laid the foundation

The beginnings of this ministry date all the way back to February, 1954, when Pastor Murdoch preached a sermon he called, "Steps Leading to Salvation." After the service, the Pastor distributed copies of his notes to parishioners. Years later, in 1971, Pastor Murdoch was able to put the Biblical principles of his Step Up to Life concept into print, as an evangelistic booklet. A primary purpose of the booklet is to allow readers to realize the difference between conversion and a commitment to Christ. This difference has eternal implications. The booklet begins by pointing out that the cares of this world may distract us, even while God is trying to get our attention. Next, some specific character traits of God are presented, to help the individual realize the importance of God in our lives. Truly, we need to put God first. As Step Up to Life reminds us, God knows far more than we do, and can lead us to that which is best for us. God is perfectly holy. He is both righteous and merciful, and will both judge and forgive sins. As Step Up to Life shows, Christ is the Way to that forgiveness. We are created to follow Christ. God wants to

Religion Mountain

for Step Up to Life. Step Up to Life Ministries is a non-profit outreach program, staffed by volunteers. The proceeds generated are put right back into the program. Indeed, Pastor Murdoch has once again achieved success as he continues to lead others to true repentance and saving faith. The concept even evolved into a television program Pastor Murdoch also titled "Step Up to Life." In addition to his duties as director of Step Up to Life, Pastor Murdoch writes, teaches, and preaches at various churches and conferences.

by Angela Ramos

Helping Others Step Up to Life In Christ | 29


30 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews life. Pastor Murdoch refers to this as "saving faith." Components of the Sinner's Prayer are then listed for the reader desiring to receive Christ as Lord. At this point-where many tracts end--Step Up to Life continues on. This is perhaps one of the most pivotal differences between Step Up to Life and general Bible tracts. forgive us, and to save us. The Step Up to Life booklet helps readers see where they are on the path and then walks them through the steps that lead to Christ. One may be in a state of unconcern, concern, conviction, or repentance, as the booklet phrases it. Unconcern signifies that, despite God's love for us, one is not concerned at all with the things of God. Concern, on the other hand, indicates one does have some awareness of spiritual matters and is seeking answers. The next step is conviction. For those on this level, it is explained that conviction is a result of the Holy Spirit revealing to us our sin and shame. In this portion, the Ten Commandments are used to help readers see their inability to be truly righteous of their own volition. All of us sin and fall short. Next, Step Up to Life thoroughly explains the concept and importance of true repentance. Turning the page, one is provided the very means for such repentance. Here, one reads of the need for putting Christ ahead of all other aspects of

The final pages of Step Up to Life provide new Christians with the instruction necessary to become firmly rooted in their growing faith. The cares of life that originally distracted the individual from seeking God now become "weeds" that may choke out one's newfound faith. Rather than leave the reader floundering on what to do next, Step Up to Life strengthens confidence in salvation and provides guidance for real transformation. It is explained that God puts His Holy Spirit inside us so we can know we truly are children of God. This is what separates seeds growing by the wayside from those in good soil. One cannot simply pray for forgiveness and then step right back into sin. True repentance must include a desire to become a new creation. Step Up to Life addresses this issue, thus filling the void left by other Bible tracts. Four key points are covered in the final pages of the booklet to bridge the gap between receiving Christ and remaining in Him. First, readers learn that their new life


Helping Others Step Up to Life In Christ | 31 includes a desire to know the Bible, promoting learning and growth. Second, there should be a desire to be obedient to Christ, following His commands as an act of love for Him. Next, it is explained that one should despise sin. There should be no enjoyment in partaking in one's old ways. The individual's reaction to such things may be likened to the conviction that was felt prior to repentance, and indeed, one should confess sins that may occur after receiving Christ as Lord. The final point relates to evangelism. As the booklet explains, a person who has come to know God will then come to desire the same for others. There is a drive to reach the lost and prevent them from remaining so. These four points are vital in the life of a new Christian, and are what sets Step Up to Life apart from most Bible tracts.

well. Pastor Murdoch created a companion teaching guide on video. Children’s editions are available in both English and Spanish. Step Up to Life is also vital in places such as the underground churches of China and North Korea. Elmer Murdoch likens an individual's relationship with Christ to marriage, and indeed we are the Bride of Christ. Through patience and endurance, one strives ultimately to dwell with the Lord. As we know, many will say "Lord, Lord" (Matthew 7:21-23), but to enter, one must be prepared. Jesus demonstrated this through the parable of the bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13). Elmer has made it his mission to help others as they attempt to endure to such an end. With the Lord's help, as well as through the seeds he has planted, Elmer Murdoch continues to move forward in that mission.

Since the booklet was first printed, it has For more info: www.stepuptolife.com been translated into more 47 different languages, even in braille, and is used by a variety of denominations and Christian Elmer Murdoch and his wife Nancy in front of the SUTL office organizations. Step Up to Life also has been distributed in more than 25 countries. In addition to the U.S., Step Up to Life has circulation in Romania, Canada, China, Ethiopia, France, Ghana, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, Nigeria, Norway, Russia, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Columbia, Argentina, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Germany, Macedonia, Italy, India, North and South Korea, and the Philippines. Special tracts also have been designed for special purposes, and to cater to specific demographics. For example, Step Up to Life is available in a sporty version for distribution at the World Series. Numerous other versions exist as


Religion Mountain

by Angela Ramos

32 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews

Lincoln Murdoch and his wife Jen pictured above

Lincoln Murdoch: A Pastor for All Nations Pastor Lincoln Murdoch was raised in Omaha, Nebraska. Pastor Murdoch has been married for 35 years and is the father of two: a daughter, age 24, and a son, age 30. In 2000, he moved his family to Phoenix, Arizona to work for the Antioch Network. While there, he later established All Nations Church Phoenix. Today, Lincoln Murdoch is

pastor of yet another church he established, namely the All Nations Church Omaha. As the son of Pastor Elmer Murdoch, Lincoln credits his upbringing for his relationship with Christ. When Lincoln was about 22 years old, he says, he "raised the white flag" and began a personal


A Pastor for All Nations? | 33 relationship with the Lord. Thus, the spiritual foundation laid by his parents came to fruition for Pastor Lincoln while he was yet a young adult. That is when he "surrendered to Christ and His lordship," Lincoln explains. The Lord "took over" and he has since known the "reality of Christ" in his life daily. Today, Pastor Lincoln Murdoch provides a clear demonstration of what it means to be "the hands and feet" of Jesus. In 2009, he and his wife surrendered yet again. Feeling the Lord's urging to return to Omaha, Pastor Murdoch secured things at All Nations Church Phoenix by finding a leader to step in and take on his duties. They then moved back to Omaha and founded All Nations Church Omaha. All Nations Church Omaha currently meets at Millard South High School. However, plans to purchase a building are in the works. Pastor Murdoch is quite literally on a mission for God. In planning the direction for All Nations, Lincoln says he began with the "end in mind." In the book of Revelation, Pastor Murdoch found his mission. As one reads, before the throne were people of every nation, and tribe, and kindred, and tongue (Revelation 7:9). This idea has been a guiding philosophy for Lincoln as he continues to shape All Nations. As he puts it, All Nations is "not your grandfather's church on the corner." While All Nations absolutely is a

local church committed to meeting the needs of its members, it is also part of a global network committed to equipping and evangelizing people of all nations. Pastor Murdoch is driven by what he feels is a commission. He seeks not only to reach individuals, but to reach them in such a way that he will "make disciples who make disciples who make disciples." This is what he believes a New Testament church should be. Indeed, Jesus commanded us to go into "all the world and make disciples" (Matthew 28:19). Pastor Murdoch acknowledges the challenges of doing so in a time when the culture largely has shifted toward liberalism, and away from God. However, as we know, God works all things together for the good of those who follow Him. Pastor Murdoch has risen up as one committed, despite the obstacles, to growing the body of Christ. Just as individual Christians are called to focus on the bigger picture, so too a church does not exist in a vacuum. To truly lead others to Christ, the church must be part of something bigger. Once a month, All Nations church holds what they call "Celebration Sunday" to thank God for what He is doing both locally and globally. In addition to family and church activities, Lincoln enjoys athletics and has participated


34 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews SELF - DISCIPLINE

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. I Corinthians 9:24-25

Pastor Lincoln Murdoch running a triatholon


A Pastor for All Nations? | 35

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2a

Pastor Lincoln Murdoch running for Jesus

in numerous triathlons over the past 20 years. From this perspective, Pastor Murdoch naturally describes Christianity as being somewhat of a race--a race toward salvation. Pastor Murdoch has even written a book to help others in that race. The book is entitled See You at the Finish!: 8 Principles of Spiritual Endurance. As he explains in his book, one must prepare and then persevere until he or she "crosses the line." Endurance is vital. This is the patience of the saints, as the Bible describes it. One must press on toward the prize. The Lord is faithful to carry us through if we keep our eyes on Him, says Pastor Murdoch, "come hell or high water." Pastor Murdoch believes in preparing his charges to go out and reach others as well. Keeping in mind that people of every nation will one day dwell with the Lord, Pastor Murdoch has set about evangelizing people of all walks, and equipping them to reach

the unreached. To further this goal, Lincoln partners with an unrelated group aptly named All Nations Family. After training locally, participants attend a six-month program through All Nations Family, called CPX. Following this, one may begin mission work in places like South Africa. Pastor Murdoch also partners with several other ministries, such as Christ for the City International and Fresh Start. According to Pastor Murdoch, his role is not simply to stand behind a pulpit once a week, but rather to "love, serve, care for, and help [others] move forward" on what he calls their "spiritual journey." His hope is that, no matter where one is on their walk, they will one day "cross the line" and know Christ in a real and spiritual way. When asked about the future of his ministry, Lincoln clearly has no qualms. His outlook extends to decades from today. "The final chapter has already been written," Pastor


36 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews Murdoch confidently reminds us. He knows God has brought All Nations to this point. He foresees continued cultural change as well as rapid political change. Pastor Lincoln recognizes that there may come a day when churches will be unable to gather in a public school building, but he intends to press on in his mission. The gap between the church and the secular world widens by the month, he explains. Churches must be able to adapt. That said, the Gospel never changes. The goal is to build bridges to society without losing sight of the purpose for doing so.

Blog" where you'll find sound advice and amusing stories from his athletic career, and spiritual wisdom with a sporty twist. Find it at: www.runner4g.blogspot.com. Information on Pastor Murdoch's book is available by emailing him directly at: runner4g@aol.com or is available at Amazon.com.

"It's challenging," Pastor Murdoch points out, but God provides wisdom. Just as in a foreign country, one must learn how American culture works, and then seek to be relevant to the culture. In this way, churches remain effective in changing times. While society encourages us to focus on ourselves and things to make us happy, we know the opposite is true. Bringing honor and glory to Him is the reason we were created. One day, Jesus will return and we will see Him faceto-face. Pastor Murdoch works to assist others as they strive to endure until Christ returns. In this way, he is concerned not only with the end times and his own future, but also with that of others. If you are interested in attending services with All Nations, they meet Sunday mornings at 10:00 a.m. at Millard South High School, 14905 Q Street. All Nations also operates IMPACT, a ministry for men. For further information, you can find them on-line at: www.ancomaha.org www.facebook.com/ANCOMAHA Pastor Murdoch also has an interesting blog page called "Lincoln Murdoch's Triathlon

Pastor Lincoln Murdoch winning 8th in the world for his age group in Australia


Capture Every Thought | 37

Cavanaugh's Corner

to be perceived as a positive, there must be at least six positive statements to every criticism. A five to one ratio is neutral and anything lower is considered a negative relationship.

2 Cor 10:5 - Fascinating concept, isn’t it? The Apostle Paul states, “and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (NIV). What would that be like to take captive your every thought and make it obedient to Christ? It would be amazing; it would be life transforming. I am reminded of the famous quote, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so shall he be” (James Allen, As a Man Thinketh). There is no question that our thought life determines much of whom we are, how we relate to one another, and even how we relate to God. In my coaching sessions with individuals, we often talk about thought life. They frequently share that they have very positive thoughts toward others including their spouses, children, friends, and coworkers. The interesting part is they seldom express those positive thoughts verbally. The other persons are completely unaware of how the individual thinks of them because it has been so seldom expressed verbally. In reality, many people withhold positive thoughts toward others but are not nearly so hesitant to express criticisms. This creates an unhealthy balance of positive affirmations to criticisms. Research has shown that in order for a human relationship

As you think about each of your significant relationships in your life, how is your ratio of affirmations to criticisms? Are you in the healthy range of six up to twelve affirmations to one criticism?

Education Mountain

Joseph Cavanaugh III

So I ask the question, “What if we were to capture every positive thought toward others and verbalize those thoughts?” The most common response I hear is, “I would, but I just don’t know how to put those thoughts into words.” And that was a contributing motivation for writing The Language of Blessing.

by Joseph Cavanaugh III

"Capture Every Thought"


The Bride of Christ

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Precious Gift for the Precious Son of God by Velma Sanders

Picture provided by Apple Studios

“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready!” (Revelation 19:7) INTRODUCTION

Certainly, we have all seen things in life and nature that cause our emotions to swell in awe and wonder. We have observed scenes so beautiful that we can sense glory and the finger and stamp of the Almighty God upon it. Oh, What Wonders! The rising of the sun, “Rejoicing as a strong man to run a race.” The crashing of the waves, “As if they are being ushered out of the womb.” The majesty of the clouds, “Stretched forth as garments in the sky!” The whole earth is full of the splendid glories of God! But, nothing compares to the sight of a bride! She is a living wonder! Her glory is witnessed all over the world; in every nation and in every

tribe. Often, the very sight of her brings forth a spontaneous and glorious syllable of exclamation from her observers. There are many brides who have been themselves that vision of wonder and splendor. Oh, yes, it is the beauty of the bride adorned for her husband! When Solomon saw the beauty of his bride, he asked, “Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?” (Song of Solomon 6:10) It is for the groom that she has spent countless hours dreaming, planning and preparing. She has not gone through all of the preparations merely for herself or guests. The intensity of her efforts is solely for him; the one she loves. If there were no groom, all else would be in vain. But, because there is both bride and groom, happy hearts and expressions of jubilance spring forth!


The Bride of Christ | 39

To some, the words “The Bride of Christ” are full of meaning. They are sure and certain words. But, to others, Christian and nonChristian alike, the words are foreign and very strange. They ask, “What do you mean by the Bride of Christ?” Who is His Bride? When was the wedding?” “Where was it held?” Most certainly, the answers to those questions are found only in the Word of God; the Bible. There is indeed a degree of mysteriousness to human marriage and even more so to the spiritual marriage of Christ and the Church. It is stated in Ephesians 5:31 and 32: “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Although we cannot know the fullness of these words, God, by His Spirit does make known to us allotted portions. From the opening book of Genesis, the Bible begins revealing and unfolding the great mystery of the Bride of Christ.

MARRIAGE

The first marriage was between Adam and Eve; the most famous and influential couple who has ever lived. “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet (fit) for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found a help meet (fit) for him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

by Velma Sanders

“Let us be glad and In this coming rejoice, and give honor together, at a to him; for the marriage wedding, a of the Lamb is come, marriage of a and his wife hath made man and a herself ready!” woman, as husband and (Revelation 19:7) wife, we see that which has occurred from the beginning of human history. A stretched forth shining ray of glory; a reflection of that which is spiritual and of that which is some day destined to happen between God, the Son, and His Bride, the Church!

THE BIBLE BEGINS and ENDS WITH

And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” (Genesis 2:18 – 25) Marriage is the first earthly institution, and, therefore, the oldest institution created by God. This is where human history began, in the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve joined together, by God, as husband and wife. And, from these opening words until the end of the Bible a thread of marriage is woven throughout, until its final book and chapters. Revelation 21:9. “And there came unto me one of the seven angels who had the seven vials (bowls) full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come here, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” And, then in, Revelation 22:17, it is stated, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come.” The first marriage of Adam and Eve was a human earthly marriage. That which it

Religion Mountain

“The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the Lord.” (Jeremiah 33:11)


40 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews foreshadowed was something spiritual, invisible and heavenly. It heralded forth a future marriage between Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church; both initiated, created and ordained by God, the Father. THE BRIDE OF CHRIST

There is a body of people that have heard the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have repented of their sins and have placed faith in His sacrificial work on Calvary’s cross. These people, individually and collectively, form the Body of Christ and they are, also, the Bride of Christ. The imagery and execution of earthly marriage is applied to Christ and this Body of Believers; the Church. Now, the church has two aspects to it: • There is the physical, visible body of professing believers collectively called “the church.” These local churches are usually joined by membership and have their own particular denominations and doctrines. To a large measure within the local churches exists the true Church; the Body of Christ. • There is the spiritual and invisible; the true Church. The only way to be in the true Church is by being born again. As Jesus told Nicodemus, in John 3:3–7. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” The new birth is the only way of entrance into the true Church and it is the only way to become a member of the Body of Christ; the Bride of Christ. It is comprised of both men and women; children and adults; people of every race and every class. To be a member of the true Church

is a privilege of grace and an honor beyond imagination that transcends gender and class. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) The Church has many names. A few of them are: The Flock of God; The Household of God; The Temple of God; New Jerusalem; The Body of Christ; Golden Candlesticks, and The Bride of Christ. Each of these names reflects a particular brilliance of God, and is a witness as to who the Church is and what the Church is ultimately destined to become. (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17; 12:27; Ephesians 2:19; 1 Peter 5:2; Revelation 1:20; 21:2) Marriage is one of many figures used in Scripture to emphasize the relationship of God to men. This illustration is used in both the Old Testament and New Testament to picture love, intimacy, privilege, and responsibility. In the Old Testament, Israel is described as the wife of the Lord, though now disowned because of disobedience. Nevertheless, eventually, upon repentance, Israel will be restored. This relationship is not to be confounded with that of the Church of Christ. In the mystery of the divine Trinity both are true. (Reference: New Scofield Study Bible) In natural human earthly marriage, the two are to become one flesh. “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31) In the spiritual marriage of Christ and the Church, the two become one spirit. “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17) Clearer vision of the Bride of Christ is revealed in the New Testament. But, she is foreshadowed often times in the Old Testament. For example, we see glimpses of the relationship between Christ and His Bride in the following marriages:


The Bride of Christ | 41 • Adam and Eve • Isaac and Rebekah • King Solomon and the Shulamite • Boaz and Ruth • Hosea and Gomer As the Old Testament opens with a marriage, so, also, early in the first book of the New Testament, Matthew, marriage is mentioned a significant number of times. The Gospel writer, John, has something to say, too, in regards to weddings, marriage, Christ and the Church. • Jesus’ first miracle, of turning water into wine, was performed at a wedding ceremony. (John 2:1–11) • Jesus’ ministry was introduced by John the Baptist who was a friend of the bridegroom. (John 3:29) • Jesus calls himself the bridegroom. (Matthew 9:15) • Jesus teaches about the king who made a marriage for his son. (Matthew 22:1–14) • Jesus’ parable of those who went to meet the bridegroom. (Matthew 25:1–13) In the New Testament epistles, the theme of Christ and the Church continues: Romans 7:1–4. “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so

that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” Ephesians 5:25–32. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we Photo provided by Apple Studios are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” The New Scofield Reference Bible says that this passage of Scripture (Ephesians 5:25–32) shows Christ’s labor of love on behalf of the Church is threefold: Past, Present and Future: • PAST – In love, He gave Himself to redeem the Church (verse 25): “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” • PRESENT – In love, He is sanctifying the church (verse 26): “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.”


42 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews • FUTURE – For the reward of His sacrifice and labor of love He will present the Church to Himself in flawless perfection (verse 27): “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” THE BRIDE, PRECIOUS GIFT FOR THE PRECIOUS SON OF GOD

Before the foundations of the world, God had purposed that His Son would have a people that were bound to Him by love. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him, in love.” (Ephesians 1:4) God, the Father has perfect and eternal love for His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. He is: One with the Father; The Delight of the Father; and in the Bosom of the Father. Twice it is recorded in Scripture that God publicly proclaimed, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” And, as a reward God has given to His Son a Bride, the Church, and so much more. (Matthew 3:17; 17:5) CHRIST’S LOVE FOR HIS BRIDE, THE CHURCH

Jesus’ love for His Bride, the Church is perfect, passionate and everlasting. It is expressed in many, many ways. Jesus Christ’s love for His Bride began before the foundations of the world. He came into the world to cleanse, redeem and deliver His Bride from sin, the devil and eternal death. Having loved her, He paid the ultimate price for her: His own blood. His sacrifice paid in full the price for sin, and God raised Him from the dead. Jesus loves His Bride so much that He sent the Holy Spirit to be her helper until that day when we shall see Him face-to-face. Jesus is interceding for His Bride; walking in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks and continually cleansing and sanctifying her through His Word; that He might present her unto Himself a glorious church.

Living, He loved me; Dying, He saved me Buried, He carried my sins far away. Rising, He justified freely forever One day He’s coming, Oh, glorious day Oh, glorious day! (Songwriters: Michael Bleecker, Mark Hall) THE BRIDE’S LOVE OF JESUS

Although the Bride’s love for Jesus is sometimes weak and faltering, she loves Him nonetheless. It is her heart’s desire to please Him. She has heard His voice and listens for it still; seeking diligently to respond to Him daily, immediately and wholeheartedly. She knows of His love for her. She is bound to Him with cords of thanksgiving and praise. Anticipating His arrival for her, she prepares, as the earthly bride, to meet Him face-to-face someday. In this Day of Grace, the Church Age, the Bride of Christ is still being formed. For, those of us who know Him as the Beloved, we are inviting others to come and share in the glory of the Bride of Christ. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst Come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17) THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB

“And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.” (Revelation19:9) The Bride of Christ, collectively, is on its way to the Marriage (Supper) of the Lamb; the consummation of the marriage of Christ and the Church, His Bride. During this current Day of Salvation and Church Age, Believers are individually betrothed to Christ at the moment of salvation. Someday, the Lord Jesus will collectively gather all of the members of His Church and the Marriage of the


Lamb will occur. This is indeed a mystery and Scripture has not revealed many details concerning this glorious event. But, we know that it will be the grandest wedding of all! Revelation 21:2. “And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Revelation 21:9. “And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.” Today, the betrothed Bride of Christ waits with great anticipation for the day when we will be united with our Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, Our Love and Our Lord!

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©2013 “God’s Word, Alive!” Permission is granted for noncommercial (free) distribution provided this notice appears. “God’s Word, Alive!” P.O. Box 34215; Omaha, NE 68134 www.Godswordalive.org Photography provided by AppleStudios.com


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Walk Through The Word Bill Barbe, a local believer in Omaha, shares some inspirational themes from his one-year walk through the Bible. by Bill Barbee

Bill Barbe

I hope that this article fills you with hope, faith, purpose, love, and encouragement. I also hope that it will pursue you to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ and begin following Him every day of your life. For me, having the Lord in my life has changed me for the better because without him, life just did not make sense.

Religion Mountain

At the end of 2011, I made a goal for myself to read the Bible in one year. After I had read the Scriptures from each day's lessons, I would say a prayer to the Lord and apply the verses that I read each day to my life. At first, I did not notice any changes in my life, but I still kept reading the Bible every day. One night, about four or five months later, the Lord had filled my heart with His Spirit, and I felt a sense of completeness. Another change that I had noticed was when I found myself filling my spare time with God’s Word rather than playing video games. His word was being planted into my heart and was far more fulfilling. I could remember most of the scriptures that I had read and recite them from memory. By the time I had finished the Bible, I felt I realized what truly matters in life: God, faith, family, friends, church, and relationships. No matter who you are or

what you are facing in life, always know that God is always there to listen to you, and He is always there to help you. I encourage you to take the journey that will change your life forever. Don't let the situations, stress, and tasks of everyday life keep you from experiencing the everlasting love that the Father has for you. Here are some verses that greatly impacted me.

Old Testament: Psalm 118:8: It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans. Deuteronomy 31:6 1 Samuel 12:24, 16:7 Psalm 37:4 Psalm 51:9-12 Proverbs 4:5, 23, 8:33, 17:17, 27:17, Proverbs 3:1-9, 15:32-33, 19:20 Ecclesiastes 4:10 Jeremiah 17:7, 29:11-13 Ezekiel 11:19-20, 36:25-27 Nehemiah 8:10

New Testament: Matthew 22:37-39: Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”


Salt - Flavor your world | 45 Matthew 5:8, 6:24, 24:44 Luke 12:15, 15:7 John 3:16-17, 6:35, 8:12, 13:34-35, 14:6-7, 15:4-5 Acts 2:28 Romans 3:23 1 Corinthians 8:3, 11:1, 13:4-8,13, 15:33, 16:13-14 2 Corinthians 5:17, 13:11 Galatians 2:20, 5:13-14, 16-17, 19-26, 6:2, 6-10

Romans 12:2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:9-10: Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love.Honor one another above yourselves. Ephesians 2:8-10, 4:26-27, 29, 31-32, 5:1-2 6:10-11 Philippians 2:3-4, 4:4-7, 4:13 Colossians 3:2,5,8-10,12-15,17,23-24 4:5-6 1 Thessalonians 5:11,14-24 1 Timothy 6:6-10 Titus 2:7-8 Hebrews 10:23-25, 11:1,6 12:6,11,14-15 James 1:2-5,17, 19-23, 3:17, 4:7-8,10

5:16

1 Peter 4:8-9 1 John 1:7,9 4:7-8,11-12, 18-19

Matthew 5:16: In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.


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Family Mountain

by Linda Robinson

REFLECTIONS

Linda Robinson

When I was growing up as a teenager, after school sometimes, my mom would hear me make a negative statement about something. She would always tell me that for every negative comment there needed to be ten positive statements to replace it. I love that motto, and I have tried to build my life around it. I have tried to build my life on these principles given to me by my mother. Throughout the years, whether it be my little two-year-old daughter coming in the house from playing in the flower beds in the yard to show me her pet worm, cradled in her hand, or whether it was my young son that liked it when I fixed his scraped knee or arm that came from riding his bike into the briar bushes, I often reflect on the teachings of my mother, and you might recognize her teachings about trying to keep the positive things in focus, as her teachings came directly from Philippians Chapter 4, verses 4-8 (NIV): Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me— put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. When my children were little, I tried to make a happy home, make nice treats of chocolate chip cookies, and make happy memories. These are the things I learned in our household as I grew up and as I tried to become the practical, loving mother that tried to show kindness to my family and to others. No matter how you show your kindness to others, keep these happy thoughts shared in Philippians in your heart and in your mind, and you will become a much more positive person, offering joy to those around you.


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48 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews

by Mary Kay Petersen Hennings

Heaven Sent Me Home By A Miracle - A True Story

Mary Kay Petersen Hennings shares the true and amazing account of an experience that changed her life forever.

Religion Mountain

Angels, fourteen of them… following the lead. Silent awesomeness. Not the way I always pictured them in my head, or in the paintings I've seen. No white-feather wings and white robes. They are outlined angels, colored in, with tiny, pinpoint dots… dots of every color from my gigantic box of childhood crayons. With colors that don't exist. Just pinpoint, vibrant dots. Like tiny stars in the sky. They stop, turn to face me. Their hands rise up to pray, palms together. Silently. I never question where I am. I just… know. I never wonder how I got here, or why. I just... know. I look down. I am on a rose colored path, and at the end of the path, the angels. Angels… angels between me… and Heaven. To my right, I notice a white curtain. It

parts, and behind it is my uncle. My uncle! He passed away a few years ago, in his eighties. But he looks… 30? His spotted skin, eyeglasses, hearing aid… gone. His injuries from a tractor accident many years ago… gone. He stands straight and tall. His hair, dark and wavy. The only "wrinkles" I see, are those that appear by his eyes, whenever he would smile at me when I was a little girl… and right now, smiling at me. He is wearing something white… so white, that it glows. It seems strange that I don't run to hug him… strange that he doesn't call me to him. The only thing I am curious about--"Where are your wings?" He gives me his crinkled smile and replies, "I don't have them right now. I'm here to tell you, that you have to go back. You have a Mission." Mission? I am disappointed. I don't want to leave this rose colored path. I want to go


Heaven Sent Me Home By A Miracle | 49 past the angels, to Heaven's Gate. My uncle interrupts my thoughts. "What's that in your hand?" I look down and see papers. Papers outlining my funeral arrangements. He tells me to rip them up. I'm not going to need them. Suddenly, stars, planets, the Earth… rushing before my eyes. "Good. I wanted to make sure you were awake. I wanted you to understand what I'm saying." Huh? "You almost died." What? "You flatlined. You died," said a doctor. Where am I? What happened? Who are all these people? Doctors, nurses? Why am I here? My mind… blurry… fuzzy… confused. Medical staff in and out, never-ending. Go away! Leave me alone. Needles, oxygen, heart monitors… more needles. Make it stop! I don't want to be here! I want to go back. Back to where? Who am I? I'm dreaming all this. My nightmare. I have to wake up! NOW!!! I move my one working hand, yanking everything out. The tubes, the monitors, the things that make all those beeping noises. Why am I beeping? I push myself to the end of the bed… and I'm on the floor. This hurts. Something isn't right. But it's just a dream, a very, very bad dream. I'll just lie here. And I'm cold. All the tubes I yanked out? They pulled off my gown. Why am I in a gown? I'll wake up, very soon. Who are all these people? Why is the nurse

yelling? Some guy is putting on my clothes… a gown. Why am I wearing a gown? I don't know what's happening, but I know that I am embarrassed to have a man dressing me and lifting me up onto the bed. I'm reattached to everything… tubes... monitors… the beeping thing. But something new tied around my wrist. The nurses see the questions in my eyes. It's an AT RISK bracelet. Why? They think I'm going to run away? Something more injected into me. I fall asleep. Noises… talking… confusion and anger. My eyes open. Where am I? Who am I? Why is everyone sad? So many people, coming up to me, holding flowers. Flowers all over this room. I see a TV attached to the wall. SPECIAL REPORT UPDATE… January... 2011? Arizona? Gabby? I'm Gabby? Shot? Is that why my head hurts so much? I died? No! I'm not dead! I want to tell them--I'm not dead! I try to sit up, trying to get out of my… coffin? But I can't move. I can't talk! I'm scared! Someone comes over and puts another needle in me. That doesn't hurt. My arm can't feel anything. I'm not so scared, now. I'm not dead. Gabby is still alive, too. And, I know I'm not Gabby. But who am I? I keep seeing so many faces, getting close, hands that take mine. They look happy. Why? I'm not happy. I want to go back to that place that I try so hard to remember. But it's fuzzy, like everything else in my head. Someone pulls me up and I'm sitting on the edge of the bed. I follow their commands of standing up and move to the chair. Someone holds me. Someone has a belt around me. No, it's a leash. I refuse to go… anywhere.


50 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews "I think she's had enough for today," that someone says, and leaves. But I'm never alone. Different people hold my hand, tickle my foot, asking me to repeat words. I can see the word in my head, but the word won't come out. Whatever does come out, is a sound I don't recognize. It's someone else. I'm not here. I don't know anything about this place. Someone by my side… Denny… I know him. My husband! He writes STROKE on a board. What's a stroke? Never heard of it. Two others are next to me. My kids! But, they don't look like my kids! My kids are little! They're supposed to be in school! I want my kids! I want my babies! I want my Jennifer and Jeff! But, they are adults. How can they be so… old?

around your spine. We tried to ease your heart back into the proper position, but it wasn't possible. Your two-hour surgery turned into almost six hours. The heart was not cooperating. Suddenly, your heart stopped… you flatlined, and bubbles started going to the brain. That caused your first stroke." Is this what the other doctor was trying to tell me when I came out of the coma? I "almost died"… that I DID die, for a little while?

Someone comes in to feed me. I'm not hungry. But they make me. I'm glad they did. I feel a little better. That makes the doctors and nurses very happy. I'm not happy. I cry a lot. I have no control.

My mind is confused and fuzzy as he keeps talking. But, I do realize that I survived something rather impossible. How? Why? My doctor, and the dozens of others he contacted during my surgery, didn't, as they say, "call it." I know I must have have had the best team caring for me. A tiny part of me feels guilty for causing so much trouble. I don't feel I'm worth it. And that tiny flicker of something I can't remember, makes me want to return to… what?

I know this guy coming over to me. He's the doctor who told me I almost died, well, did die, for a while. He sees the questions in my eyes and is going to tell me what happened. I'm not sure I want to know. But, I listen.

I am tired of listening. I want to go back to sleep. I still can't sit up by myself, or roll over, or do much of anything. I'm still plugged up to machines, so I have no choice but to hear more of what happened.

"You were brought to the hospital on January 5, 2011. You were going to have surgery on your heart. Your aorta was ready to burst. If it had, you would have died. You remember the TV actor who died a few years ago? His aorta burst. You had maybe a couple more months before yours would have done the same thing," said the doctor.

The doctor rambles on, "The bubbles kept going to your brain, but suddenly stopped. That was wonderful, because your brain, and your life, could not handle any more bubbles. We got your heart to beat again. We decided to just let your heart remain around your spine. We closed you up, and got you out of the operating room. We told your family that you were going to be OK. We got the heart fixed, and the stroke was a small one."

He continued, "When we got your chest opened, it was way more serious than anyone expected. Yes, the aorta was very thin, but your heart had wrapped itself

So why am I unable to move? Why am I in


Heaven Sent Me Home By A Miracle | 51 such bad shape? He went on. "The next morning, when your family was visiting you, you hadn't opened up your eyes. That was expected, because of the meds we gave you to help you sleep longer. But, in front of your daughter, you began twitching. We took you down for another CT scan. It showed you had a second stroke. We decided to keep you in a coma for the weekend, then on Monday, no more meds, and we'd see if you woke to consciousness." I'm glad I wasn't aware of this. It scares me to even listen! "We didn't get to the Monday goal, because on Sunday, you developed pneumonia. We had to block any visitors, except immediate family. We suctioned out your lungs. You had a lot of fluid, so it was good we caught it early." Things didn't get better, I am told. So on Monday, when I didn't respond to anything, my kids were told that there was a possibility that I would never wake up... only a 2% chance. And, if I did, a 50% chance of being blind, deaf, and mute. Blind, deaf, and mute? It'd be like lying in a coffin, not able to see or hear what happened to me. I would think I was buried alive... my own personal Hell. The doctor is finished talking and leaves. So much to think about, comprehend, accept. Am I always going to be like this? I'm still

hooked to tubes, unable to move, depending on everyone to do everything for me. I've always been a very modest person, so it makes me cry in shame whenever two or three people come in to clean me up or change my sheets. I decide I have to overcome this, and let them do their job. I find it strange that my kids were told that I probably wouldn't live, or be in a forever coma. What about my husband, Denny? Denny has always been a believer and a loving and supportive husband. How does he fit into this miracle? I am afraid to ask. He has trouble expressing his emotions. He's the kind whose "actions speak louder than words." He tells me there was very little hope. He knew all about the blind/deaf/mute honesty from the medical team. On the eighth day of my coma, three days after the hope was gone, the doctors told him he needed to go home and finally get some sleep. Lying in his bed, looking at my empty pillow, Denny faced the reality… and got up and sank to the floor. His anguish was unbearable. He cried out to God to please wake up his wife. To heal me. He prayed for anything… anything at all. He said he'd even accept if I were paralyzed, or bedridden. He just wanted me to open my eyes and look at him, and hear him say that he loved me. That's all. Crying out to God released his emotions. He got up from the floor, got into bed, and slept the entire night with a peace he had lost long ago. Oh, yes… the Bible verses about faith--the size of a mustard seed--moving mountains. The next day, the ninth day of my coma,


52 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews Denny goes to back to the hospital. A nurse excitedly greets him at my door and tells him to go over to the windows. Why? Just do it, she says. He obeys… and sees my eyes following him! I don't remember any of this, but the hospital staff is rejoicing in the beginning of my miracle. Family members are called to come to the hospital. Prayers… many, many prayers... have been answered. I now begin to understand my nightmare of being in a coffin, people standing over me. But now, I'm not terrified... thinking I was dead. A different fear surrounds me. What is left of my life? I don't have much time to think about it. I'm being dismissed from the critical area. People put many, many flowers and plants on a cart and leave with them. Nurses come and hug me goodbye. I think the drugs I am given are very powerful, because I don't remember going to another hospital, but somehow I get there by an ambulance. I wake up… I guess it's the next morning. I'm horrified once again by someone cleaning me up. All these meds make me ill. Therapy will have to begin the next day. Morning already? I'm told I have to sit up. I do, but the pain from having my chest opened last week is unbearable. Morphine is my friend. Two people lift me into a wheelchair. I'm still attached to tubes, oxygen, and a bag filled with… pee?! I have bruises from needles and IVs. I'm wheeled down the hall to a room with huge windows. Snow is everywhere outside. Must be winter? My wheelchair is pushed up to the table. About a dozen patients are sitting there, too. I don't belong here! They are all so old! Doctors and nurses come around the table and give pills to swallow. Some are

given injections. Some are sleeping… dead? They possibly could be, because I keep telling myself it's just a nightmare. I'll wake up soon! I see the others have pee bags attached to them, too. They have bruises from needles. They have unwashed hair that sticks up. And, they have gowns that don't cover everything. They don't seem to mind, but I definitely do. Breakfast is placed before me. I'm actually hungry, but I don't have the energy or strength to eat. A nurse sits down next to me and feeds me. She takes notes on how much I eat, how well I swallow, if I choke. Others choke… they throw up in baskets by the table... I'm not hungry anymore. A medic wheels me back to my room. I'm separated by a curtain to my roommate. I don't know who she is, but she cries and yells a lot. But, I'm quiet. I don't have a voice. Instead, I just cry… and I can't stop. The following day, someone comes in to test my hearing and speech. I kind of flunked the test. But, that's OK, they say. In time… I blow into a tube to register my breathing. High Five! My pneumonia didn't affect my lungs. But, I realize my eyes aren't very good. I have, or HAD, 20/20 vision. Now, I can't see very well. I'll have to tell Denny to find my old eyeglasses at home and bring them to me. I cry again… blurry eyesight, hard of hearing, not talking… but, better than the blind/deaf/mute possibilities. I look down at my left arm and leg. They just… hang. Why? Another doctor comes in. He asks me to


Heaven Sent Me Home By A Miracle | 53 talk… even if just a little bit. I can see the words in my head, but my voice can't say them. I try so, so hard. I finally whisper, "What happened to me?" And I hear the same, complicated story of my miracle of living. Doesn't feel like a miracle to me. The many hours of therapy begin… day after day. In Speech Class, I'm shown a picture and have to say what it is. A triangle! No, it's a pyramid, she says. What's a pyramid? I cry. She says three words and asks me to repeat them. I can't. I'm asked to name three animals that begin with the letter H. I can't think of one. What is my birthdate, my phone number, my address… I cry. I don't know the month, much less my age. I don't like this nurse, even though she's sweet and patient. She's talking to me and asking me questions, like I'm three years old. But then, I cry and squirm and get angry like a three year old. The afternoon sessions are physical rehab. At least my brain won't feel stupid here, but I feel pain in what they expect. I lie on a table while my limbs are stretched. I ride a stationary bike, but have to be strapped on so I won't fall off. And the hardest task of all? Being walked down the hallway. Yes, someone holds me up by a belt, but I'm so dizzy and feel like throwing up. That hallway seemed like a mile. I'm so discouraged. Yet, something keeps me going. Something pushes me forward. I don't feel angry, or mad, or the "why me" thing. What IS it? About a week later, IT happens. My parents and my sister are visiting me in my room. My voice suddenly blurts out, "I WENT TO HEAVEN!" They look shocked. I tell them about being on a rose colored path… the colorful angels… my uncle telling me it

wasn't my time, that I had to return home because I have a Mission. I tell of the stars… many, many stars, the clouds, the planets, looking down on Earth. Things are not the same now. I have the will, the desire, the determination to get better. God didn't want me to die. He had a Mission! I'm so excited about this incredible memory, that I can't shut up! Family, relatives, friends, nurses and doctors… they hear my story. I went to Heaven! It DOES exist! A close friend comes to visit me. She brings a gift. It's the new book about the little boy who died and went to Heaven, but then he woke up from his coma. I can only read a few paragraphs at a time… partly because my eyes can't focus very well or move to the next line. But, I tear up in joy and excitement, having the privilege to get a glimpse of Heaven. I know that I will accept what has happened to me, because I have a reason… a purpose… to live. And someday… I will meet Jesus!

Mary Kay Petersen Hennings


54 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews never stop ministering, even though it may not be in a paid position. He will continue to teach God’s Word as he desires to “finish strong,” imparting wisdom to younger generations. Part of his legacy to them will be three things. 1) I would let them know that I love them. 2) I would speak blessings over them. continued from page 19 There are only two things God requires. Both are in Ephesians 5. 1) Eph. 5:22 - Submit to your husbands as unto the Lord. I know that is hard—but notice it is "as unto the Lord"—when you submit, that makes your husband responsible to the Lord. I would never recommend a woman stay with an abusive husband. If you are in such a relationship, get help: call your pastor or counselor. Please understand, it is not a matter of superiority, but of Godordained assignment and accountability. 2) Eph. 5:33 - A woman must respect her husband. Respect for a man is that he needs to know from you that you are his biggest fan (cheerleader), no matter what. Marriage is a Divine set-up. We must depend on the Lord for all of those things. I simply cannot do those on my own strength. Forgiveness has to be at the front. Love does cover a multitude of sin. Christian marriages should be a glimpse of “heaven on earth.” The kind of relationship Jesus has with His bride. WHAT'S NEXT FOR PASTOR MIKE? First, Pastor Mike acknowledges that he is "not getting any younger" but says he will

3) I would encourage them to know who they are in Christ Jesus—that the very power that raised Jesus from the dead is living in them. Incredible!!! They are not alone. They will burn out trying to do God’s work on their own strength. Spend time with God and in the Word, and He will complete the work that He has begun. Ephesians 2:6 tells us that we are seated (right now) with Christ in the heavenly realms—not only future, but now. That tells me we need a heavenly perspective—that comes by the Holy Spirit speaking with the Holy Spirit in us. We tend to want a heavenly perspective with our earthly minds. That is not how it works. The very life of Christ in us; that must be lived out. If you are interested in visiting Emmanuel Fellowship, Sunday School starts at 9 am, and services begin at 10 am. Emmanuel Fellowship is located at 8345 Crown Point Ave., across from Northwest High School. Archived messages are also available online, and they stream live each week for those unable to attend. Find them on the web at: http://www.emmanuelfellowship.com Or, check them out on Facebook under Emmanuel Fellowship Omaha.


Fresh Start for all nations | 55

www.FreshStartForAllNations.org

Have you ever suffered a hurt, offense, or loss? Who hasn't? Fresh Start is a ministry I personally endorse. I know it works becuase I live a lifestyle of Fresh Start! - Allan Pettit, Salt Magazine founder Pastor Steve Peterson was kind enough to livestream a complete series on our website on healing multiple issues of the heart. Here are some of the messages: - Temptation and the Great Escape - Becoming Relationally Free - Extinguishing the Enemy's Arrows Empower your life by visiting our website today: www.thesaltmag.com Each message is divided into short segments under the "LIVE" section. Vertical Blessings!! Please sign up for this important annual fundraiser that makes spreading the fire of forgiveness possible on a global scale


56 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews

by Valma Sanders

MARRIAGE - GOD’S IDEA

Velma Sanders

What does the Bible say about marriage?

Family Mountain

Marriage was created by God - Genesis 2:18–24 Marriage is good - Genesis 1:26–31; Proverbs 18:22; Song of Solomon 2 Marriage is honorable - Hebrews 13:4 As its Creator, God sets the boundaries and makes the rules for marriage - Ephesians 5:22–33 Marriage is between one man and one woman, to each other - Matthew 19:4–6 Marriage, the answer to sexual immorality - 1 Corinthians 7:2, 8, 9 Marriage, where the two are to become one flesh - Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5 Marriage, God’s answer to “aloneness” - Genesis 2:18 Marriage requires mutual submission - 1 Corinthians 7:3–5; Ephesians 5:21 The Bible opens with a marriage - Genesis 2:18–25 The Bible ends with a marriage - Revelation 19:7–9

Marriage is the first earthly institution and, therefore, the oldest institution created by God. Marriage was created: For procreation (children) - Genesis 1:28; Genesis 3:20 For pleasure - Proverbs 5:18, 19; Isaiah 62:5


Marriage - God's Idea | 57

www.GodsWordAlive.org “Holding forth the Word of Life” Philippians 2:15, 16

Marriage reflects God’s wisdom and love for man - Genesis 2:18 Israel, the “Wife of God” - Jeremiah 3:14, 20; 31:32 The (true) Church, the “Bride of Christ” - Romans 7:4; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 21:9 Marriage is a type of Christ and the Church - Ephesians 5:22–32 Marriage is a mystery - Ephesians 5:32 The (true) Church is on its way to a marriage - Revelation 19:7, 8 The (true) Church is on its way to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb - Revelation 19:9 Not everyone is meant to be married - Matthew 19:10–12; 1 Corinthians 7:37, 38 Jesus’ first miracle was done at a wedding ceremony - John 2:1–11 Human marriages will not exist in heaven - Matthew 22:29, 30; Luke 20:34, 35

There are many enemies to and attacks upon marriage. Marriage was Created by God; Blessed by God; and, Meant to Last “Forever!” But, Sin Entered ...And, through Sin... Death (“Separation” came in many, many forms.)

©2013 “God’s Word, Alive!” Velma J. Sanders Permission is granted for non-commercial (free) distribution provided this notice appears. “God’s Word, Alive!” P.O. Box 34215; Omaha, NE 68134 www.Godswordalive.org


58 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews

Religion Mountain

by Angela Ramos

No Pain, No Glory


Front Room Entry of the Sports Barn


60 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews

Often, one hears the phrase "no pain, no gain," but for Mike Bliss, his view of sports is more aptly described as "no pain, no glory." Mike runs the SportsBarn, and he does it to glorify the Lord. The SportsBarn is a place where Mike can empower and encourage other men to walk into the destiny God has for them. Perhaps Mike is able to flip the saying around because God has flipped him around. "God flipped me upside down, in a good way," says Mike, "and it's just been a roller coaster ever since." But, Mike tells us, he "wouldn't trade it for the world." Mike first began feeling the Lord tug at his heart after hearing Coach Ron Brown speak at various events around the state of Nebraska. Mike isn't an athlete; however, he was intrigued. Ultimately, Mike heard a radio broadcast of Ron Brown speaking at the funeral of Brook Berringer, a Nebraska quarterback who died in a plane crash in 1996. Coach Brown began talking about how heaven is such a tremendous place that Brook would not leave it, even for the opportunity to come to earth to comfort those mourning for him. The Holy Spirit moved Mike during that speech. He recalls praying, "Lord, if this is true, I give my life to You." Mike had been in Omaha for about four years at that time. "Ron Brown is a true Nebraska state treasure," says Mike. Mike, who is from Chicago, met his wife Lisa while in southern California. The two then moved to South Carolina for a time, before moving to Nebraska in late 1992. They, and their two sons, now live in Bennington, Nebraska, where the SportsBarn is located. Mike enjoys his work selling spinal implants for a medical device company, and

considers it a blessing to see how surgeons use the gifts God has given them to help those with severe back problems be healed. However, he also enjoys sports a great deal. Mike is involved in sports with his 15 year old son, Zachary, and enjoys golfing with his son Jacob, age 18. Mike's love for sports also is evident when one walks into the SportsBarn. As you look around the barn, it seems quite fitting that a coach is who God used to first draw Mike to Himself. Sports memorabilia lines the walls; the seats are arranged like a stadium; and of course, there are always plenty of snacks on hand, in true tail-gate fashion. When Mike opened the new addition to the SportsBarn in 2008, he wrote to Coach Brown and invited him to come and speak. That day, a crowd of 170 men and young men turned out, but the strongest presence in the room was that of the Holy Spirit. "God is bringing the body of Christ together," says Mike. "We're not designed to do life on our own." Indeed, you won't find Mike sitting alone on the sidelines. Mike is absolutely interested in reaching out to others. He literally beams with a genuine love for people. And Mike starts at the line of scrimmage, if you will. Just as the line of scrimmage is where the play begins, the ball is snapped, and the quarterback takes the ball and runs with it, so too Mike is there to help others get the ball rolling in terms of their spiritual walk. Mike feels a great deal of joy putting Bibles into the hands of others. "My heart is to get people into God's Word." He sometimes gives Bibles away, but feels it is better if a person pays at least a little something for their Bible. "When someone invests in a Bible, they have skin in the game. It is a wonderful privilege to watch God grow and stretch them as they


SportsBarn: No Pain, No Glory | 61

Morning men's fellowship, message, and worship at the SportsBarn

Attention: Men of All Ages Come Fellowship at the SportsBarn 5:50 am to 6:10 am - Prayer and Worship 6:15 am to 7:15 am - Bible Study


62 | thesaltmag.com | click "LIVE" to view extended ministry interviews put their roots down into His Truth." Mike especially loves handing out the One Year Bible by Tyndale Publishing because it gives people an easy way to read on a daily basis. Some of Mike's favorite Bible verses are John 3:3, which says one must be born again, and 1 Samuel 16:7, which tells us that the Lord looks on the heart. "I have seen a lot of things in my life; don’t let anyone discourage you," says Mike. "It's not about having the best car or house, it's about the heart. Nothing is more important than giving your life up to Jesus Christ," Mike says. "God speaks to us and reveals himself to us through His Word." Every Friday morning at the SportsBarn, men of all ages, all walks of life, and at all points in their spiritual journey meet for prayer and bible study. From about 5:50 am to 6:10 am, the men gather to pray. Bible study spans from 6:15 am to 7:15 am, and covers relevant topics such as marriage, raising children, work, and issues such as addiction and how God’s grace is sufficient for all men. Those who gather range from high school age, to men over 70; from business men to men from the Open Door Mission; from spiritual seekers to godly men full of spiritual wisdom. Mike, as the facilitator for the group, is somewhat like a coach. He has a strong desire to help other men, and to lead them. Mike did not start to really read the Bible until he was in his 40's, he explains. He attended church in his youth and in the early years of his marriage, so he had a solid foundation and was poised to take off when God opened his spiritual eyes and ears to His Truth. Mike had many experiences, positive and negative, growing up in the Chicago area. He is blown away time and again as God has used his past life experiences to help others. "God has each

one of us here for a reason. He is working through us, if we let Him." As Mike explains, "When you get into God's Word, He will begin to speak to you, and soon you will be running to It. The Bible is a love letter and our life handbook," says Mike. Mike is also a member of the board for FreedMen Nebraska (www.freedmennebraska.org ). "It's a massive blessing," says Mike, "to watch men and young men desiring to know God in a more intimate way and living out the gospel of Jesus Christ through the issues of the day…it's a powerful thing, uniting men from the whole state of Nebraska. God really has His hand on this ministry." Even when Mike is not at the SportsBarn or a Freedmen event, he can still be found witnessing to others. "I love to hand out little tools," he says, referring to gospel tracts. One of his favorites is called, "What if I'm Pretending?" The tract discusses how one can know if they are just going to church, or have really surrendered their life to Christ. "Reading the Bible on a daily basis is really something that'll change your life," says Mike, "at least give it a try. God gave us that Bible; He tells us in Hebrews 4:12 that it's alive and active." Mike says he has learned many lessons from the Bible, which he calls the GPS of life. "There are so many blessings in there," says Mike. Another very important scripture Mike mentions is from Hebrews 9:27. "There is a heaven," he says, "there is a hell, and we all have a choice to make." Mike's love for God and His Word are very clear. One can see Mike at the back of the line of scrimmage, as he reiterates the importance of reading the Bible. "Even if you think 'this sounds crazy,' just give it a try for 60 days. Please read! From now until you stand


SportsBarn: No Pain, No Glory | 63 before the Lord, invest and study--you will be blown away!" Mike correctly advises. "Having the Lord with you, in your life is a powerful thing." This year marks the fifth anniversary of the SportsBarn. Mike hopes to grow his ministry to be able to share with teens and college students about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and pornography. "2 Timothy 2:22 says we have to flee." Contrary to what culture tells us, Mike has found that a person can absolutely have fun in life without those things. If we are willing to let Him, Mike says, "the Lord can take our weakness and past pain and use it for His glory." Mike is praying that God will raise up people to help with a SportsBarn website. He prays he will find "someone who's excited about this opportunity to reach others and make Christ known." Of course, Mike also prays for the SportsBarn financially, so he can continue to give out Bibles and reach into the lives of men in Nebraska. If you are interested in visiting the SportsBarn, Mike says, "we'd love to have you come out. You will be out of here by 7:15, unless you choose to stay and socialize." If you would like to receive daily scripture emails or invites to events at the SportsBarn, please contact Mike via email at: michaeljosephbliss@gmail.com. To find the online study tools for the One Year Bible, go to www.oneyearbibleblog.com. You can also purchase the One Year Bible online at: http://www.christianbook.com/nlt-premiumslimline-bible-anniversarysoftcover/9781414312446/pd/31244X? item_code=WW&netp_id=175279&event= ESRCG&view=details

Mike Bliss of the SportsBarn


The salt mag issue 3  

The Salt Mag Issue 3. Discover how to be the true bride, capture every thought, and make a generational impact. Real-life stories and helpfu...

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