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Wednesday, December 17, 2008
In our home, we recently viewed the movie "The Nativity", which is a wonderful reminder of just how amazing the birth of the Savior was. In one scene, the actor portraying Joseph takes the newly born King from Mary's hands, just moments after His birth, laughing and rejoicing as he holds Him high in the air. What a picture of the joy we should all feel as we celebrate that birth!
During these days of hectic activity - remember to celebrate the Child... the King... the Savior.
Here are a couple of activities to remember this week:
Wednesday Evening - Prayer meeting - we'll look at Psalm 23 this week, and then we'll pray for each other. Meet at the church at 6:30 PM.
Saturday Evening - Dress rehearsal for the Christmas cantata. Meet at the church at 6:00 PM.
Sunday Morning - The service will consist primarily of our Christmas cantata - "Wonderful Name". We'll meet as usual for Sunday School at 9:30 AM, and then enjoy the cantata during our morning worship hour at 10:30 AM. Invite somebody to come with you as we celebrate that "Wonderful Name" together.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Saturday - 6:00 PM - Christmas Caroling - We will meet at the church at 6:00 and head out to share some Christmas joy with some of our shutins. Then we'll return to the church for cookies and hot chocolate!
Sunday - 12:00 PM - Christmas Cantata Practice - Please be faithful if you are a part of this program, as we are drawing close to the finish line now. Every practice is important.
Friday, December 5, 2008
"And the Lord shewed me four carpenters." (Zechariah 1:20)
Many years ago, the great English pastor Charles H. Spurgeon, penned his "Morning and Evening" devotional guide. That work is now in the public domain, and you can find copies of it everywhere. Although the language is dated, it is a wonderful devotional to use in your daily Bible reading. I found today's entry encouraging for a number of reasons. See if you do, too:
In the vision described in this chapter, the prophet saw four terrible horns. They were pushing this way and that way, dashing down the strongest and the mightiest; and the prophet asked, "What are these?" The answer was, "These are the horns which have scattered Israel." He saw before him a representation of those powers which had oppressed the church of God. There were four horns; for the church is attacked from all quarters. Well might the prophet have felt dismayed; but on a sudden there appeared before him four carpenters. He asked, "What shall these do?" These are the men whom God hath found to break those horns in pieces. God will always find men for His work, and He will find them at the right time. The prophet did not see the carpenters first, when there was nothing to do, but first the "horns," and then the "carpenters." Moreover, the Lord finds enough men. He did not find three carpenters, but four; there were four horns, and there must be four workmen. God finds the right men; not four men with pens to write; not four architects to draw plans; but four carpenters to do rough work. Rest assured, you who tremble for the ark of God, that when the "horns" grow troublesome, the "carpenters" will be found. You need not fret concerning the weakness of the church of God at any moment; there may be growing up in obscurity the valiant reformer who will shake the nations: Chrysostoms may come forth from our Ragged Schools, and Augustines from the thickest darkness of London's poverty. The Lord knows where to find His servants. He hath in ambush a multitude of mighty men, and at His word they shall start up to the battle; "for the battle is the Lord's," and He shall get to Himself the victory. Let us abide faithful to Christ, and He, in the right time, will raise up for us a defence, whether it be in the day of our personal need, or in the season of peril to His Church.
By the way, if you'd like to read more of Spurgeon's Morning and Evening, you can find it HERE.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. (Psalm 9:10 KJV)
I share it with you in hopes that you, too, might be encouraged by the absolute faithfulness of our God. He will never ever let you down.
Here are some opportunities at Friendship Bible Church this week:
Wednesday Evening Prayer meeting - I encourage all who have tried this meeting to join us this Wednesday evening for an open and candid discussion about taking it in a new direction. The Lord has been blessing us with a few more attendees and it is important that we structure the meeting in a way that is helpful and valuable. Join us for that discussion this Wednesday at 6:30 pm in the sanctuary. Of course, we will also pray for one another, as we do every Wednesday.
Saturday is Haven of Rest service day, and you are invited to join us at the Haven and help in setting up, serving, and cleaning up. Meet at the Haven of Rest at 10:00. We will be done before noon.
Sunday is the Lord's Day and all God's people are to be in church, so we look forward to your being with us. But in addition to our normal Sunday School and Worship Services, this Sunday's activities also include our Secret Sisters' Christmas Tea immediately following morning worship. In order to accomodate this event, the regularly scheduled Christmas Cantata practice has been moved to 4:00 PM.
We'll see you in church!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
This week we celebrate Thanksgiving here in America, a time of year when many find themselves feeling like there's nothing to be thankful for... their problems and trials make them wonder if God even cares.
But this morning I read a passage which spoke to me in a new way. Nobody had more troubles than poor old Job. Once in the midst of his trials he let loose with this glorious hymn of praise:
But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. (Job 23:10)Wonderful words indeed. But this morning I noticed, seemingly for the first time, the words that proceed it. Find your Bible and read Job 23:8-9, for therein Job mentions that he can't find God. He looks left and right and before and behind and up and down, but he can't find God. THEN, he says, "Regardless of whether I know where He is, or what He's doing, He knows where I am and what I'm doing, and everything will be ok."
If you're going through a trial, and don't know what God's doing, take comfort in Job's words of wisdom - God knows.
On another note - there are some important announcements for this week:
Wednesday - Prayer Meeting is cancelled this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Spend time with family and friends!
Thursday - Happiest of thanksgivings!
Friday - Roping of the Greens. Those who signed up for this should be receiving phone calls to schedule your time slot.
Saturday - 4:00 PM - Hanging of the Greens. Help us decorate the building for Christmas.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
On Wednesday, you can join us for Prayer Meeting - 6:30 PM at the church.
On Thursday, we will be touring the Haven of Rest rescue mission in Akron. If you would like to travel with a group, we'll meet at the church, leaving for Akron at 5:15 PM. If it is more convenient, just meet us at the Haven of Rest Missions Building (175 E. Market Street) at 6:00 PM. If you have not yet seen this ministry, it is well worth your time to do so.
Sunday, November 23rd, is Celebration Sunday! Special music will be provided by the Howes Family, and a celebration dinner will be enjoyed by all immediately following the service. YOU APPRECIATE WHAT YOU CELEBRATE! Let's celebrate all God is doing in our lives at FBC!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
"Turning your clock back on Sunday may be good for your heart. Swedish researchers looked at 20 years of records and discovered that the number of dipped on the Monday after clocks were set back an hour, possibly because people got an extra hour of sleep." (By STEPHANIE NANO, Associated Press Writer)
Less heart attacks - there's a nice result of setting those clocks back! But what about being more rested and prepared for a morning worshipping our Lord on the Lord's Day? Who would have thought that the simple act of turning our clocks back in the fall could reap both physical and spiritual benefits?
Turn that clock back Saturday night. We'll see you in church Sunday morning, rested, refreshed, and heart attack free!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
In the parable of the barren fig tree, found in Luke 13:1-9, Jesus compares you and I to a fig tree planted in God's vineyard. Think about that image for a minute, and you'll no doubt see some interesting truth:
- It indicates He has made every preparation for our salvation. By planting the tree in His vineyard He gives it every chance of success - shelter, cultivation, irrigation, fertilization, etc. And He has done the same for you and I. We had nothing to offer that could earn our salvation, and so He took care of that for us. Jesus Christ is the ultimate provision - He paid for the sin we could not pay for - Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)
- It also indicates that He expects us to bear fruit! As you read the parable you see the fruit He wants is repentance - turning from sin and turning to Him.
- Wednesday prayer meeting - tonight at 6:30.
- Haven of Rest service day - Saturday at 10:00. Meet at the Haven of Rest in Akron and join us as we set up tables and serve a meal to those in need.
- Judgment House - Saturday evening - we will meet at the church at 8:30 and travel together to Hope Community Church in Hudson.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
The news is filled with doomsday reports these days, whether real or drummed up for political advantage. Regardless of what you read, remember that the Lord is still in control. And because of that, we can lie down in peace, and sleep.
May God's people be reminded of that truth, today.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Jesus describes becoming a Christian as a new birth. (see John 3:3-5). Picture yourself as an apple tree, but you would really like to bear peaches. You can be pruned, or someone can attach peaches with wire to your branches. But apples will keep coming. If you want peaches, you have to dig up the apple tree and plant a peach tree.Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3). And Paul pointed out that once we experience that new birth, everything becomes new! "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)
New roots are needed for new fruit. All we do is modify the same tree when we make resolutions and commitments to pray more, go to church more consistently, or resolve to stop bad behavior. The root needs to be pulled up. A new tree is needed.
Have you been born again... made new in Christ? Or are you trying to turn your apples into peaches on your own?
- Haven of Rest - Service Day. This is a monthly opportunity to help others in a physical and real way. If you have never tried this, I encourage you to do so this weekend.
- Voice of the Martyrs Conference. The pastor will be taking any who are interested to this conference about the persecuted Christians in our world.
Both of these events are on Saturday, October 4. Please call the church or pastor for additional details.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Friday, August 1, 2008
Philip Yancey, in his book entitled "Prayer, Does it make any difference?" writes:
As a journalist, too, I know the value of a name. I once secured an interview with Bill Clinton during his first term as president. I was instructed to attend a political rally at a local junior high school and afterwards to hand the letter with his signature to one of the Secret Service agents. After the rally I stood with a pack of other journalists behind a police rope. Most of them were holding microphones and yelling questions: "Mr. President, Mr. President, do you have anything to say about..."Don't neglect to take advantage of that opportunity today!
Clinton smiled and waved, ignoring the questions, then climbed into the limousine. I shouldered to the front of the pack to find a Secret Service agent. When he saw the name at the bottom of the letter, he lifted the rope and escorted me to the limousine, leaving the other journalists to wonder, "Hey, what's he got that we don't have?" I had the president's name on a letter, and for that reason alone his staff treated me deferentially.
We use another person's name if that person has some clout with whomever we're petitioning. Given the proper name, credit mysteriously becomes available and limousine doors fly open. When it comes to prayer, Jesus promises, we have the right to use his own name in approaching the Father. We have access to his authority, his reputation, his leverage. My leverage with the White House ended ninety minutes later. We have the extravagant right to use the name of Jesus in perpetuity, for whatever we ask.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
But the work of Christ's church goes on! Let us not forget the Lord in the midst of summertime activities. Here are a couple of opportunities to pause and serve the Savior this week:
Wednesday at 6:30 - midweek prayer meeting. This is not a preaching service, but a prayer service. We do open the Bible for a brief discussion, but it lasts no more than 10 minutes. This service is entirely dedicated to prayer - we pray for one another. The great prophet Samuel reminded us of the importance or praying for one another when he said, As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. (1 Samuel 12:23 NIV) Will you join us in prayer?
Saturday at 10:00 am - we will be serving at the Haven of Rest in Akron.
Sunday at 10:30 am - we will have a baby dedication at the conclusion of our morning worship service.
May I leave you with an interesting thought for the day? Billy Graham said, "Jesus invited us not to a picnic but to a pilgrimage; not to a frolic but to a fight."
Good thing for us to remember today! The cause of Jesus Christ is serious business. May we be pilgrims and soldiers for His cause today.
Friday, July 25, 2008
1.) The second round of the Pastor's Masters golf tournament. We'll meet at Paradise Lakes at 1:00.
2.) The first worship service of Friendship Bible Church! We'll be continuing our study in the Parables of Jesus. Will you join us?
Friday, July 18, 2008
Bible - because we are a Bible based church. We accept the Bible as God's perfect Word, His revelation to mankind, inerrant and infallible. We strive in everything to assimilate its truths into our minds and live out its truths in our lives. It is our only rule and our only guide.
New - because Jesus makes all things new. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.
Hope - because we have no hope apart from Christ, but in Christ we have ALL hope! "And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you." (Psalm 39:7 NLT) "... the Lord will be the hope of his people." (Joel 3:16) "God has chosen to make known the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27 NIV) "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3 NIV)
Our world needs hope. Randolph needs hope. You and I need hope. In Jesus we find the only source of hope. "... Jesus Christ, which is our hope." (1 Timothy 1:1)
Will you pray about this potential name for RCC?
Thursday, July 17, 2008
"Bible" is a vital component of all three names, for only the Bible has the power to change lives. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Denominations don't change lives. Churches don't even change lives. Only when we allow the Word of God to work in our hearts, does change occur. We are a Bible based church.
"Friendship" is a word that has meaning to everybody. Saved and unsaved alike need and want friendship. A goal of the renaming committee was to cull through the list of suggested names and concentrate on those that would have meaning to the unchurched... to the ones outside who know nothing about church and Christianity. "Friendship" is such a word. From the youngest child to the most seasoned octogenarian, all yearn for friendship.
There is a reason why the television program "Friends" achieved such popularity, in spite of its immorality and worldliness. People want friendship. Going back a few years further, the comedy "Cheers" makes a similar point. The theme song for that program had a line in it that said, "You want to go where everybody knows your name."
Friendship. The world wants it. And we understand that there is no friendship more important than friendship with God and with His people. "And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend." (Exodus 33:11) "Abraham believed God... and he was called the Friend of God." (James 2:23) Jesus said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends." (John 15:13-14)
Will you pray about this potential name for RCC?
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Open Door Bible ChurchFor the remaining 3 days in this week leading up to that final vote, I'd like to share a few thoughts about each potential name. Today, let's consider a few reasons why Open Door Bible Church might be a good choice in a name.
Friendship Bible Church
New Hope Bible Church
All three potential names contain the word Bible, for a good reason. We are becoming a non-denominational church, but we are in no way abandoning Randolph Christian Church's long-held belief that the Bible is our only rule for faith and practice. This church was founded on the Bible and must always be a Bible-based church. The original declaration affirmed that the church recognized "the Holy Scriptures to be their only guide" - a stand we cling to today, 180 years later.
An "open door" pictures hospitality, welcome, inclusiveness, belonging. It conveys a thought of invitation.
In the New Testament, the term was used to convey the thought of opportunity. To the church at Philadelphia, Jesus said, "I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name." (Revelation 3:8) Again, in 2 Corinthians 2:12, we see Paul referring to opportunity with the term "open door" - "Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord..." And in Acts 14:27, we read "And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles." Here an open door describes the opportunity God gives for salvation.
Clearly, God has given us an open door to serve Him here. And He wants our church to have an open door to our community.
Will you pray about this potential new name for RCC?
Monday, July 14, 2008
Other things of note for the week:
Monday - Ladies Bible Study is cancelled for this week, and will resume next week.
Wednesday at 6:30 pm - Midweek prayer meeting. This week we will be specifically praying about the church reorganization and new church name. Will you pray with us?
Saturday at 7:00 pm - Campfire Fellowship at the Johnson home. Bring a lawn chair and a dish to pass. Burgers and hotdogs and drinks will be provided. Join us around the campfire!
Sunday, immediately following the worship service - annual business meeting.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Have you ever considered prayer that way? Preparation for life's battles? Training of your spiritual muscles for the decathlon of life?
Prayer is a vital and wonderful discipline of the Christian life, and one which we all need to work on constantly. Will you join us for our midweek prayer meeting tonight? We'll work on learning that discipline together... together we'll prepare for what might be ahead.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
This Saturday we were scheduled to serve at the Haven of Rest, but I have cancelled that for this month due to the holiday weekend. Those who normally serve the Savior in this way - enjoy your holiday with your family! We'll resume our monthly service at the Haven of Rest in August.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The Apostle Paul warned repeatedly of dangers we might face in our Christian walk. And many were offended or turned off to his message by those warnings, so much so that at one point he asked the question, "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" (Galatians 4:16)
I thank the Lord for good friends who will warn me of danger. And I thank the Lord for good Christian brothers and sisters who love me enough, and have enough courage, to warn me of spiritual danger.
The next time somebody points out an area of your life that the Bible warns is dangerous, or sinful, or foolish, try to remember that they act as a true friend. They are not your enemy, and their warning is welcome.
Monday, June 23, 2008
- Friendship Bible Church
- Open Door Bible Church
- New Hope Bible Church
The final decision will be made in our annual business meeting where, barring any last minute submissions, the new name for Randolph Christian Church will become one of the above.
Please pray for the Lord's will as we continue this process! And please get those last minute suggestions for the new name in. Name suggestions are being accepted through June 30th.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here I am! Send me." (Isaiah 6:8)
An old Yiddish Proverb says, "If you don't want to do something, one excuse is as good as another." One school teacher received an apt example of that when a note arrived from the mother of an absent student. "Please excuse Jennifer for missing school," said the note. "We forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch, and when we found it Monday, we thought it was Sunday."
Another teacher was handed a note that read: "Please excuse Lisa for being absent. She was sick and I had her shot."
When it comes to working for Christ, no excuse will do. Don't say: I don't have time, I don't have what it takes, I'm not the right person, That's not my gift, I'll do it later, I'm too shy, I don't know how, I think someone else would be better. I'm not good enough. I'm not old enough.
Jesus once told a parable about those who "with one accord began to make excuses" (Luke 14:18).
Instead, just prayerfully kneel before the Lord and say: Here am I! Send me.
He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else. (Benjamin Franklin)
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Why is this happening to me?
Have you ever found yourself in a difficult time, and found yourself uttering those words? If not, you probably will someday. Being a Christian does not shield us from problems, trials, or tests. On the contrary, it sometimes seems to increase their frequency!
But Paul reminds us in this verse that such problems are not without purpose. When we graduate from the school of tribulation, we are equipped to help others when they enter the same hallowed halls. When we look back on how God helped us through, we can comfort others who are still in the midst of the trial.
When you've come through the hard time (and you will), thank God for His care and deliverance, and then seek opportunities to comfort others who are going through it.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Wednesday, 6:30 PM - Prayer Meeting
Saturday, 7:00 PM - Campfire Fellowship (bring a dish to pass, something to sit on, and a mellow summertime mood... roast a hotdog over the fire... join us in singing a few campfire songs, and just enjoy the summer evening.)
Friday, June 13, 2008
For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:14)
From October 3, 1954 'til September 17, 1960, father knew best. On 203 television episodes of Father Knows Best, Jim Anderson was the go-to guy for his family. Whether an episode's crisis revolved around Jim's wife, Margaret, or the three children—"Princess," "Bud," and "Kitten"—Jim was the man with a plan, week after week. Viewers knew that, within the space of a half hour, the most faithful and consistent father in America would always come through.
Christians also have a Father who knows best. And He knows best because He knows us so well. It should be an amazing source of comfort to every believer that they are known and loved intimately by the God who created them. "Episode after episode" in our lives, God is there to provide solutions and support in the way that He knows is best. The solutions may not come in a half hour like they did in the original TV show, but they will come—even if the solution is "No" or "Wait." God's answers are not given primarily for our comfort but for our conformity to Christ (Romans 8:29).
If you have a question or a crisis, take it to the Father who knows you best. You can trust His response, whatever it is.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
The apostle uses the perfect tense and says, "who saved us." Believers in Christ Jesus are saved. They are not looked upon as people who are in a hopeful state and may ultimately be saved, but they are already saved. Salvation is not a blessing to be enjoyed upon our dying bed and to be sung of in a future state above, but a matter to be obtained, received, promised, and enjoyed now. (Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening)Are you enjoying the realization that you are saved now? For the Christian, we can enjoy it as a present possession, not as just something we hope for. When we confess Christ as Savior, we become His not someday, but NOW.
Think of the security that brings! Think of the joy! Think of the peace! We need never fear, for we are saved now.
If you are a believer, rejoice in that truth today. If you have never come to know Christ as your Savior, and wonder what it's all about, you can have the same assurance. Let us share Christ with you!
Monday, June 9, 2008
Here are some of the opportunities we have to serve Christ this week at RCC:
Monday at 6:30 pm - Ladies Bible study.
Wednesday at 6:30 pm - Prayer Meeting.
Saturday at 9:30 am - Door to door visitation.
Remember to keep an eye on the church calendar, so you won't miss out!
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Last Sunday, the renaming team met for the first time to discuss various names that have been suggested for the church. Please pray for this team throughout the week!
Wednesday - remember that prayer meeting is canceled this week. We should resume this service next week.
Saturday - you have an opportunity to help us as we feed the disadvantaged at the Haven of Rest in Akron. If you wish to serve in this capacity, please meet at the Haven of Rest at 10:00 AM.
Sunday - in addition to the normal worship service on the Lord's Day, we will also have our first installment of the Pastor's Masters golf tournament.
We hope you will take advantage of the opportunities for fellowship, worship, and service, that are available at RCC!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss the qualities we are seeking in a new name for the church, and the process we will use in determining that name. Several names have been suggested so far, and we will pray about and discuss those suggestions, as well.
This meeting is open to all active members of RCC.
My mind went back to the television program I had watched the night before. A variety of things were stated on that program as absolute facts. And yet no evidence was presented to back them up... no sources were cited... just statements as of fact. And because they came from television, which is the gospel to most people today, they were probably accepted.
Christians have the only source of truth - God's Word - the Bible. And it challenges us to question everything about it. Jesus challenged His audience to "Search the scriptures." (John 5:29). And the Berean Christians were commended for doing just that - validating everything they were taught and heard with the truth of the Bible before believing it: "they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." (Acts 17:11 NKJV)
Question everything, my friend... whether it's from the radio, from TV, or from your preacher. Verify it! Go to the only source of truth and compare what you've heard. Only then can you be guaranteed that what you hear is true.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Hilarious. If we read Acts 19, we learn that there was a massive riot in the city of Ephesus. Yelling, pushing, shouting, shoving... the whole city was involved in the melee. And then we read in verse 32 that most of the people didn't even know why they were rioting!
Nothing's changed much in the last 2000 years, has it? People are still prone to mob rule, and will gladly follow their group even when they don't know why. American politics, and America's news media, are two groups that have learned to profit from this trend. May I encourage you today to know why you follow the group!
There is a group activity where knowing "why we are there" is of vital importance. I speak, of course, of the local church. When you come to church, do you know why you are there? Hint - it's not about you! Many people attend church for a while to see what's in it for them. But such an attitude usually leads to disappointment. In the church, it's all about serving and worshipping our Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave Himself for us. When we're with this group, we're in it for Him! And when we get that straight, He never lets us down. He meets our every need.
Put yourself first, and you'll always wonder "what am I doing here?" Put Him first, and you'll know exactly what you're doing here.
Why are you here?
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Have you ever studied the kings of Judah and Israel? There are many practical lessons to learn from such a study, and I highly recommend it. In my daily Bible reading, I came across today's verse, and was arrested by the phrase, "God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart."
Does God ever leave us? Does He ever step back and leave us "out there" to fend for ourselves? If this verse is true (and every verse of the Bible is), then God did just that to King Hezekiah.
It is helpful to remember that we walk by faith and not by sight. Anybody can say they have faith and serve God when things are going well. But what about when things go poorly? What about when it seems like God has hung us out to dry? What about when we no longer feel His presence? Do we keep serving Him? Just how strong is our faith, if it fails when things don't go our way?
Perhaps you feel like God has left you. Perhaps He is testing you, "that he might know all that is in your heart." Stay faithful, for all tests end, and when yours does, you'll see that He never left you after all. He was there all the time.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
In Sunday's message, we lamented together on the fact that so many people today think "telling somebody off" is a talent. "Boy I really told him," is often stated as an accomplishment.
But in reality, such is never an accomplishment for a Christian, is it? Such is actually sin. We are not to live as contestants on the Jerry Springer show, but rather as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our speech is to be "always with grace." (Colossians 4:6)
Perhaps if we consider our Proverb in another translation, it will be even clearer: Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling. (Proverbs 20:3 NLT)
I'm praying the Lord will help me with my speech patterns today. Do you need to join me in that prayer?
Thursday, May 15, 2008
- Don't forget our door-to-door visitation program. We have a goal of knocking on every door in Randolph. We'll be meeting at the church this Saturday, May 17th at 9:30, and going out in teams. Will you join us? ... I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and fromhouse to house... (Acts 20:20)
- And remember this coming Lord's Day we will honor our graduate.
- Monday, May 19th is "Burgers and Big Macs" for the men of the church - meet at the Rootstown MacDonalds, and bring your Bibles!
Here is a thought from last night's midweek prayer meeting. In 2 Chronicles 13, we read the history of Abijah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam, king of Israel. Abijah feared and served God. Jeroboam was an idolator who led the nation of Israel horribly astray. In 2 Chronicles 13, we read of a battle between the two. Israel had twice as many soldiers as Judah, and it looked pretty bleak. Not only that, but Jeroboam sneakily sent half his army around behind Judah when they weren't looking and ambushed them. It is at that point when God's word says they "cried unto the LORD."
Life tends to ambush us sometimes. But there is never a time when a child of God is in an impossible situation. Judah did the seemingly impossible that day, and won the battle, because God was on their side. And as a Christian, you have the same advantage today - no matter how insurmountable the odds may seem. Nobody and nothing can ambush our God.
Thus the children of Israel were brought under at that time, and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied upon the LORD God of their fathers. (2 Chronicles 13:18)
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
You've seen the famous photograph of then president John F. Kennedy, standing in the Oval Office with his back to the camera, leaning over the desk. As I recall, the caption of the photograph was "The Loneliest Job In The World."
As a Christian, we are never alone, no matter how lonely we may feel, or how much the problems and burdens of life may press in.
Elisha, that great Old Testament prophet showed this to his servant Gehazi in dramatic fashion one day. The enemies of God had encircled Elisha and Gehazi, intending to capture them and drag them away. Gehazi was alarmed and cried out to Elisha in fear. But Elisha prayed that God would open the eyes of Gehazi, and when He did, Gehazi saw that the angels of God were surrounding the enemies of God.
A Christian is never alone. A Christian is never left without resources. A Christian is never without the protection of the armies of God.
Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. (2 Kings 6:16)
Elisha and the prophets were building a bigger meeting house. One of the workers had borrowed an axe, and in the midst of the work, lost the axe head in the water. Elisha asked him to point out where he had lost it, and tossed a stick into the water at that precise spot, and the axe head floated up and was retrieved.
An interesting miracle from the Old Testament, and also an important lesson for all of us.
Have you lost something in your relationship with God? How's your joy? Is it what it once was? How's your zeal to share your faith with others? How's your interest in the Word of God, or the worship of God? How's your love for your brothers and sisters?
The lesson of the axe head is that when we lose something in our walk with God, the first step in reclaiming it is to go back where we lost it - back to the very place where it sunk beneath the water, and get it back. If you are wondering what happened to your walk with God - if it is just not what it used to be, will you go back to the place where it was? Go back, and get it back.
I'll never forget Erma. I was visiting her in the hospital after she had lost a leg to amputation. Expecting depression and sorrow, I was surprised by her happiness and joy. In the midst of her tribulation, she bubbled over with the joy of the Lord.
Jesus never promised us that the Christian life would be easy. Actually, He pretty much indicated the opposite. But one thing the Bible does promise us as believers is that no matter what we may experience in the Christian life, it will be accompanied by joy that only the Christian can have.
Are you having fun yet? Are you experiencing the joy that comes with serving Jesus? If not, perhaps you need to pray, as David did, "restore unto me the joy of my salvation." (Psalm 51:12)
Or better yet, maybe you need to know the Savior who alone can give you that joy.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Jeffrey mulled over the pastor's sermon from Sunday. The subject was fasting, and Jeffrey had been convinced of the value of this spiritual discipline, and he was determined to put it into practice. "I will fast today," he announced to his wife the next morning. He left his packed lunch in the refrigerator and headed toward his workplace.
"I'm dying for some coffee," thought Jeffrey, as the MacDonald's restaurant loomed ahead. I'll just get a cup - that shouldn't violate my fast.
Minutes later, Jeffrey was heading down the highway with his coffee - and an Egg MacMuffin and hashbrowns.
As he munched his breakfast and considered the failure of his attempt at fasting, the Lord spoke Romans 13:14 to his heart. It was as if he could hear the Lord speaking to him and saying, "You know, if you had not pulled into the drive through, you would not have broken your fast. It's just not possible to eat an Egg MacMuffin if you don't go where they are selling them."
Let's learn from Jeffrey, today. Whatever appetite we need to avoid today, the best way to avoid it is to not go where it's being sold.
Since our Nation's founding, Americans have turned to prayer for inspiration, strength, and guidance. In times of trial, we ask God for wisdom, courage, direction, and comfort. We offer thanks for the countless blessings God has provided. And we thank God for sanctifying every human life by creating each of us in His image. As we observe this National Day of Prayer, we call upon the Almighty to continue to bless America and her people.
We will be cancelling our normal Wednesday prayer meeting and holding it on Thursday this week, in order to honor the National Day of Prayer. The church will be open for prayer between 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM should you wish to spend a few minutes praying for our community and nation on this important day.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
But as I think about those 2 nice days of riding, I'm reminded of a lesson I learned.
This time of year, in NE Ohio, potholes rule the road. And navigating through the minefield of potholes takes a firm hand and steady nerves when you're seated atop only 2 wheels. You have to constantly keep your eye on the small stretch of road directly in front of you. If you're not careful, you become focused on that small stretch of rubble and debris, and forget to watch further down the road.
How often do we believers find our gaze diverted from the Lord Jesus Christ by the rubbish and debris that our enemy constantly throws in the road? We have to deal with the potholes, but the trick is to learn to keep our eyes focused on the Lord as we do so. "... let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith..." (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Don't be distracted by the potholes today. Keep your focus down the road - on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Fade to black...
Scene 2 - Tiger Woods is on the 18th green, preparing to hit a monster drive with the only club he has left - a putter.
The announcer intones, "Ability - 25%; Adaptability - 75%."
Have you ever felt like you were truly on top of your game, only to have your golf bag fall into the water and be eaten by an alligator? Have you ever felt like God was expecting you to drive off the tee with a putter? Has life disappointed you, and you wonder why? At such times, God may be teaching you the importance of adaptability - the importance of letting Him work in your life in His way, and in His time.
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Are you open to God's working in your life? However He chooses?
Thursday, April 3, 2008
The Bible has the answer - there are no good people!
It is not possible to understand how much God loves you and I until we first understand how very messed up we are! "There is none righteous, no, not one!" (Romans 3:10) No matter how outwardly "good" a person may appear, we are all inwardly sinners in desperate need of a Savior. As one of my favorite preachers is fond of saying, "The best of men are men at best."
And that makes the willingness of the Savior to die for our sins so much more amazing.
Oh how He loves you and me.
Oh how He loves you and me!
He gave His life.
What more could He give?
Oh how He loves you.
Oh how He loves me.
Oh how He loves you and me!
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
When the children of Israel were beginning their possession of the promised land, God made this statement to them. It has always seemed a bit odd, to me. Why would God drive out their enemies slowly? Why not all at once?
It struck me the other morning as I read this passage that it is a good illustration of how He works in our lives. When a person trusts Christ, they do not become sinlessly perfect overnight. As a matter of fact, one of the great let downs the new believer sometimes feels is the realization that he / she is still just as rotten to the core as before salvation! Even the great Apostle Paul wrestled with his inner sinfulness and cried out in desperation at the thought "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me?" (Romans 7:24)
When those kind of feelings well up in you, remember how God has chosen to work in our lives. Little by little... day by day... here a little and there a little. Although the Christian may not notice drastic changes overnight, as you look back over the path you and God have trod together, you'll see it littered with the enemies He has defeated. And you'll see He did it little by little.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Consider the commercial I saw the other morning as I was preparing for work. It was entirely based on the word "with" and pointed out how simply adding the word "with" to a sentence can completely change everything - it adds an element of relationship to the thought.
"I'm with her." "I'm with the band." "He's with me." "She's with child."
If you think about it, "with" is one of the truly wonderful words in the English language - and the basis of one of the most profound thoughts about Jesus Christ ever imagined. "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." (Matthew 1:23)
When Jesus came to be with us, it changed everything. He lived, He died, He rose again, just so you and I could be with Him.
Are you with Him?
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Of course, it may not look like it. Ice covered the roads on my morning commute. Snow is still mounded high in areas, and mud and water abound. The thermometer still hovers near freezing.
But it's SPRING!
Just the thought of it brightens the spirit and encourages the mind. Thoughts turn from the seemingly incessant dreariness that was February and March, and toward green, and sun, and breezes, and flowers. It's SPRING!
It's interesting, isn't it, how just knowing something is true brings encouragement, even when we can't see the reality of it. Our spiritual journey is like that. "We walk by faith, not by sight." There are times we wonder if the troubles and difficulties and stresses of life will ever end (kinda like February in NE Ohio), but the Bible (which is an objective source of information) promises that spring will come. "There remaineth therefore a rest for the people of God."
Breathe in the spring air, and rejoice in the promise it brings!
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Due to the blizzard we are experiencing, we will not hold services tomorrow, 3/9/2008. Stay warm and inside if you can, and spend a few minutes praising God and reading His Word tomorrow morning - He is good!
Thursday, February 21, 2008
"It ought to be just about time," I thought, as I noticed the clock showed 10:00. I had been watching the lunar eclipse for the last hour, and knew it should be reaching its peak now. Stepping outside, though, I was struck not by the moon itself, or the interesting image of the eclipse. Rather I was struck by the darkness. The blazing light of the full moon was truly "eclipsed", and the darkness was almost palpable as I stood looking at the darkened moon.
As I understand it, an eclipse is caused by the earth coming between the sun and the moon. And when the world gets in the way, the light of the moon is blocked... and the darkness can be felt.
Jesus said we Christians are to be the light of the world, and that our light should shine in darkness and point the world to the Savior. Is your light shining brightly in the night of this world? Or is the world dimming your witness?
Monday, February 18, 2008
Cringing inwardly, I heard my Christian brother's voice rise in both tempo and tone as the conversation turned to politics. Not a fan of our current leader, he let loose with a string of comments that left no doubt of his vitriol. I tuned him out for a moment and hearkened back to a conversation at my kitchen table years earlier. But back then I was the one saying unkind and negative things about a president. Blushing with shame I told my friend of that incident in my life, and how the Lord had convicted me about it with this verse Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people. (Exodus 22:28). I also mentioned that according to the Bible, God is the One who puts men or women in positions of power, including the oval office: Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. (Romans 13:1)
Hearing this, my friend at first was argumentative, bringing forth that favorite of American heresies "I don't think that's what that means... that's not what it means to me!" So I dropped it and we went on to other topics...
... until about 30 minutes later when my friend, who had been getting quieter and quieter said, "What was that verse in Romans you mentioned? "Romans 13:1," I replied, and watched as he walked to his bookshelf and pulled down his well-worn Bible. Soon he was deep in contemplation as he thought about what the Bible says in that verse.
What a picture of Berean Christianity! He heard what was said, but then went to the Bible to make sure it was true.
Are you that honest with Scripture... that open to its teaching... that willing to let it change your actions and thoughts? May God make us all Berean Christians!
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Doesn't that just drive you nuts? For the next few miles I stared at the back of that slow poke as we crept along at walking speed. It was a Kia Sportage. That is burned into the backs of my retinas from having stared at it so long.
But as I was fighting the impulse to glare at the person, or shake my fist, or honk my horn, I was reminded of Psalm 37:23, which says "The steps of a man are ordered by the Lord." I pondered that for a bit and remembered that that includes not only the direction of the steps, but also the speed.
Perhaps God was protecting me from something down the road. Or perhaps He just wanted me to slow down for a while. Regardless of why, He was directing my steps. And He directs yours. Let's trust Him today to guide us where He wants us to go, and at just the speed He wants us to travel.
Friday, February 8, 2008
One of the unexplained events in the book of Acts is why young John Mark deserted Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:13). Could it have been because of their trials on the island of Cypress? A sorcerer named Elymas tried to prevent Paul and Barnabas from preaching to the Roman official. Maybe John Mark wondered if their mission was truly in the will of God.
It's natural to think that obedience leads to tranquility. But just the opposite is often true: Obedience to God can result in trials. Storms often come because we have been obedient, not disobedient. That was certainly true of those in the New Testament. The four Gospels and Acts recount one attack and obstacle after another upon those who were wholly committed to fulfilling God's calling. Every follower of Jesus should get this matter settled up front: The deeper we go into the kingdom of God, the more likely we are to be resisted.
If you are obeying God and in a storm at the same time, you are following in the footsteps of the heroes of the faith.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Wow... sounds impressive. The ad goes on to describe how one uses this palm sized electronic marvel: "Step 1 - Place your finger in the pulse sensor. Step 2 - Synchronize your breathing to the Breathwave display on the machine. Step 3 - In a few minutes, your mind will feel calm and relaxed." Amazing! All this for just $300.00! (Plus shipping, of course.)
Would it surprise you to know that you don't need such a device? You probably already have a stress eraser. It's called the Bible. And nothing can relieve the problems of life quite like a few minutes within its pages. "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them." (Psalm 119:165)
Try this today, when stress threatens to overwhelm:
Step 1 - Place your finger in your Bible.
Step 2 - Open it and synchronize your mind with the words of God.
Step 3 - Enjoy the peace that passes all understanding.
Monday, February 4, 2008
In yesterday's worship service, we learned that prayer for the salvation of all men is a matter of first importance in our local church. I will therefore that first of all... prayers... be made for all men. (1 Timothy 2:1) Do you have a friend, neighbor, co-worker on your heart today? Do you have somebody you believe does not know the Savior, and for whose eternal soul you fear? Pray today, and everyday, for their salvation. It is a matter of first importance.
But there is another matter we must pray about. On two separate occasions in the last week I have heard people say that while they were trying to serve God faithfully, they felt the oppression of Satan trying to stop them. Just as Paul said in the verse above, "Satan hindered us."
That should drive us to our knees, for prayer is a weapon that can defeat this great enemy. It should also encourage us and renew our resolve. Satan fights when the church is storming the gates of hell. As one person said, "Dogs don't bark at parked cars."
The dog is barking at Randolph Christian Church, because the car is out of park, and the pedal is to the floor! Satan wants to hinder us. Will you pray today that he will not succeed?
Friday, February 1, 2008
Saturday morning at 10:00, we have the opportunity to live out Jesus' words when He said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." We will be serving meals to the needy at the Haven of Rest in Akron. You can join us - just meet at the Haven of Rest at 10:00.
Sunday morning, in the adult Sunday School class, we'll continue our discussion of the end times, concentrating on how what we've learned about Christ's second coming should change our daily lives. Come prepared for a lively discussion!
And then, Sunday morning after the worship service, the organizational meeting for the Secret Sisters will be held in Fellowship Hall. Bring your information forms, and your appetites - soup and salad! While that meeting is going on, those waiting on wives may travel to the pastor's house for pizza and pop. We wouldn't let you guys go hungry!
Monday, January 28, 2008
In our "politically correct" society, we are expected to offend nobody, regardless of their views or sensibilities. And to the Christian, it is a good reminder, anyway, for we are instructed to "Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God." (1 Corinthians 10:32) Most believers understand that we are to live gentle unoffensive lives in this world, for that is pleasing to our God.
But this morning I came across Psalm 139 in my morning devotions, and was startled by those last two verses. I'm using the New Living Translation in my morning devotions currently, and in that translation verse 24 reads, "Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life."
Do you have the same concern against offending the Lord that you have against offending mere people in our society? The psalmist reminds us - let's do nothing today that would offend our wonderful Lord.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
He must have remembered them the rest of his life. He must have seen their faces in his dreams; heard their cries in the night. He had watched many of them tortured, beaten, raped, and killed. He had watched them wrenched from their homes and sold into horrible lives of slavery and despair.
And then Jesus found Him, and saved Him.
Years later he would write the most beloved hymn of all time - Amazing Grace.
Why could John Newton, a wicked man who had been so involved in the slave trade, write such a wonderful tribute to the grace of God? I believe it was because he never forgot from what God had saved him. He remembered his sin... his lostness... the depths into which God had reached. He knew he deserved none of it, and that made it all the more amazing.
If you are lost, and uncertain of heaven, know this - God can save anybody - even you.
If you are saved, do you remember?
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105)
I had an opportunity to use one of those new-fangled GPS personal navigation devices recently. They are for use in your car, when traveling. You input a destination and it directs you there using a map on its display screen, as well as spoken instructions. "Turn left... take the exit right, then take the motorway... right turn ahead... you have reached your destination." It's really fascinating technology that you should try the next time you travel.
I noticed one particularly wonderful aspect to the technology, though - you simply cannot get lost! If you deviate in any way from the instructions it is providing, it will recalculate the path to your destination. It will get you there, no matter how many wrong turns you take. You can just drive, and trust the GPS to help you make it home.
You have a GPS, you know, for the Christian life. It's called the Bible. Just like the modern tool, it will get you home, no matter how many wrong turns you might take along the way. It will never fail you, never lead you down a wrong path, and always always always point the way toward home.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
But I give myself to prayer. (Psalm 109:4)
Charles Spurgeon wrote these words many years ago in his devotional "Morning and Evening":
Lying tongues were busy against the reputation of David, but he did not defend himself; he moved the case into a higher court and pleaded before the great King Himself. Prayer is the safest method of replying to words of hatred. The psalmist prayed in no coldhearted manner; he gave himself to the exercise—threw his whole soul and heart into it—straining every sinew and muscle, as Jacob did when wrestling with the angel.
A good reminder, that! When you need something from God, pray about it... not just a casual request, but pour yourself into it... give yourself to prayer. Work at it.
On another day, David would demonstrate his knowledge of the other side of the equation - when we pray, God hears and God answers. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. (Psalm 34:6).
Do you need something from God? Pray about it. And when you've done that, pray some more.
When things aren't going as smoothly as you'd like in your Christian life, how do you respond? When you need something from God, and have asked Him for it, and it seems He does not hear - how do you respond? When you see the injustices of the world on others, and realize you are helpless to do much about it, how do you respond? When frustration wells within you because of your own weakness and sinfulness, how do you respond?
David was a great king, but he was also a man. He struggled with the same issues you and I do everyday. And he learned the secret of patiently and quietly waiting on God for the solution. God alone was his protection, and God alone was the source of his salvation.
I encourage you to read Psalm 62 this morning. If you would like to see it in the New Living Translation, which is the one I quoted above, you can see that here.
May we all learn, like David, to wait quietly for God to work in our lives.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Nehemiah was another great leader. You can read about him in the book named for him in your Old Testament. He led the people of God in a difficult time, and stood firm even when surrounded by enemies.
In one particular instance, he was advised to flee into the temple to avoid being killed by the enemies of God. His response showed true faith and rock-like leadership:
"Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!" (Nehemiah 6:11)
- The next time the troubles of life crowd in on you, and you feel like fleeing - remember Nehemiah.
- The next time the world feels like it's going to crush the life out of you - remember Nehemiah.
- The next time you face disappointment or despair in your Christian walk - remember Nehemiah.
In other words, "Paralyze resistance with persistence."
Thursday, January 3, 2008
The morning routine was messed up today. Usually Chloe (my Bassett Hound) follows me down the steps and excitedly waits to go outside while I quickly get the morning coffee brewing. After she returns to the house, she eats her breakfast, and then returns to her bed upstairs while I enjoy my Bible reading time.
I was well into that Bible reading time this morning when I realized she had never followed me down the steps. Cogitating on this a while, I reflected on the fact that this was becoming more common as she ages. She doesn't want to get out of that bed. I had a good friend once who had a similar problem. He was southern, with a slow drawl in his speech. I asked him once why he had not made it to a particularly important event, and he drawled, "Ah love ma bay-id."
Chloe does, too.
I do, too.
But the work of God is important, and so we need to get out of that bay-id and work while He lets us do it. Let's get the sleep we need, but let's never let sleep become an excuse for ignoring the things of God.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
A good friend told this story, which serves as a powerful reminder that we need to be busy for God during 2008, for we don't know how much time is left before the Lord returns!
During a period of rainy weather, a London city missionary became discouraged through inclemency of the weather and the hardheartedness of the people. One evening he wandered through his district in a very despondent mood, and stepped into a hallway to rest and gain shelter from the rain. Through an open doorway he saw a seamstress at her work by candlelight. So busily was she working that he had trouble following the fast flying needle with his eye. She stopped a moment to rest, but then, casting a look at her candle, she murmured, "I must hasten, for my candle is burning low, and I have no other," and busily applied herself to her work. The missionary said: "These words entered my heart as a warning from above. In a moment my despondence was gone, and I said, 'I too, must hasten and work while it is day; the night comes apace when no man can work.' "
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
God is good. And we thank Him for His blessings.
As you start out 2008, may I suggest a resolution to include on your list? May I challenge you to try and read through the New Testament in 2008? The whole Bible would be even better, but let's start with something that is readily accomplished. Consider some math:
The New Testament contains 260 chapters. Therefore, reading at the rate of one chapter a day will take 260 days to complete the entire NT (105 days less than one year).
At that rate, you could miss a day here and there, and still complete your goal of reading through the whole New Testament by the end of the year. One chapter a day will take most readers less than 10 minutes each day.
Let's do it! Let's make 2008 the year of the Bible in our lives. Let's commit to reading it daily, and watch in awe as we see how God uses it to make us more like our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.