Tuesday, September 30, 2008
“Everyone Accountable for Someone”
Submitted by Linda Gerich
Key text: Genesis 4
I remember as a young girl in middle school choir, learning the song, “No man is an island, No man stands alone….Each man’s joy is joy to me, Each man’s grief is my own….”
God has created us to feel a connection, one to another. Even before birth, each one of us depended on our mother taking care of herself physically – eating the right foods, taking her prenatal vitamins, and visiting her doctor regularly. Think of how we grew up, depending on our parents for practically everything. We depended on our siblings and friends for our social and emotional development. Teachers, neighbors, our church and community – all have had a part in shaping us and fulfilling basic needs that we have.
It is humbling to think that, not only do I need others, but others need me! And, I am thankful to have people in my life who not only share my joys and sorrows, but would lovingly rebuke me if I was living in sinful disobedience to God.
In Genesis 4, Cain allowed his jealous anger to degenerate into outright murder. After he killed his brother, Abel, the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother, Abel?” Cain replied, “I don’t know! Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Lord saw fit to punish Cain severely for this attitude and behavior.
Whenever the needs of others seem overwhelming, remember this: We can’t do everything, but we can all do something! Whether it’s just being there for a friend who has lost a loved one, or praying for people overseas, we can all use our connections with other people to be Jesus’ hands and feet.
God meant for us to be in community with others. We do need each other. Am I my brother’s keeper? YES!
Monday, September 29, 2008
“The Shepherd’s Heart”
Submitted by Tim Young
Key text: 1 Peter 5:2-4
As a child, we raised sheep on our farm. I’d help with the daily feeding and watering of the sheep, and watch over those that were sick, or injured. Also, I’d keep track of those that had wandered off from the herd heading towards a patch of grass or wanting to wander aimlessly in the pasture.
Mom and Dad taught me you have to build trust amongst the herd, so they respond to you later. Your interaction and daily presence gave them the assurance you were not a threat to them, but a provider. Someone they could trust, looking out for their best interests.
I was taught one sheep was no more important than another. One that wandered away was of the utmost importance to make sure that lone sheep was brought back to the flock. There were always predators roaming around waiting to single one out. The loss of even one sheep was devastating to not only the herd, but to our family, because that represented loss of income, and loss of generations of breeding stock.
Interaction helped you to pick out the different personalities or tendencies of each sheep. Sometimes having to shoo away the more dominant ones, so the more passive ones got something to eat or drink. Also, finding the one or two that have the leadership qualities (I know it sounds weird!); the leader of the flock would bring them in from the pasture for the night, or steer them away from danger.
Are you building a relationship and trust among the flock you lead? Is one person more important than another? Are you constantly worried about predators separating the herd? Is there someone who has strayed from the herd, waiting for you to go out into the pasture, gather them in your arms and bring them back safely? Do you know a black sheep who longs to follow The Great Shepherd?
Sunday, September 28, 2008
“Ablaze with a Passion for the Church”
Submitted by Heath Davis
Key text: Ephesians 5:25-27
The body of Jesus walks with a limp. He stumbled on the road to Golgotha beaten and broken by the hands of men. Not much has changed in 2000 years. Today the Body of Christ, the Church, still walks with a dehibilitating gate. His Body still struggles and staggers weak and broken in the eyes of men.
Weak bodies are always an easy target of criticism. Any organism full of deformities and imperfections is assumed to be less than what we desire. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve pointed at Jesus’ Body and scorned His handicaps. I’m disgusted at His deformities. I loathe His limp. Until I look in the mirror and am reminded that I am the reason Christ still walks with a limp. And, so are you.
One of the verses of Scripture that has provoked me deeply is Paul’s mysterious words in Colossians 1:24. He writes, “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you and I fill up in my flesh what is lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, which is the Church.”
Instead of pointing a finger and poking fun at the feeble and frail body of Jesus, Paul realizes that his own life is not divorced from the life of the Body. He concludes that his own blood, sweat, and tears on behalf of the Body are somehow helping to rehabilitate this body that limps along. Instead of criticizing the Church, Paul is willing to receive blows on her behalf, realizing that the weight of his own suffering is in some mysterious way being used by God to strengthen Jesus Body and to present it to God, whole and without blemish.
Yes, His Body still limps along. It IS frail, it IS feeble. But, let us never forget whose body this is. This is Jesus Christ’s body. We are His ears, eyes, hands and lips and his feet that limp along. We may not have a perfect figure, but we are His own. We are the body of Christ!
Let’s be like Paul. A man able to respond to a church still lacking, by believing that IF I give my all, Jesus will use my life towards the greater good of His Body. Today I am hoping that just as Jesus gave His Body for my life, that I would be able to give my life for His Body.
May you embrace His limp.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
“Love for the Lost and Broken”
Submitted by Mark O. Wilson
Key test: Luke 19:10
Here’s a challenge for you. Throughout this week, make a special effort to look at each person you meet through “love-colored glasses.” In other words, as you come in contact with individuals, pray that you will see them through the eyes of Christ.
If we view others through the eyes of Jesus, we will realize how precious and priceless they are.
Lost and broken people matter to God. They matter so much that Jesus came to this earth and died on a cross for them. If they matter this much to Jesus, then they certainly ought to matter to us.
If we have the love of God in our hearts, then we have no choice but to love deeply from the heart. We can’t be picky about who we love. Our Lord loves everybody – and we are called to do the same.
Sadly, many broken people feel alienated and judged by church people. Instead of feeling love flowing from us, they feel condemnation. My prayer is that our neighbors and friends will describe us as the most loving people they know.
God depends on you and me to pass on His love. Every Christian has a debt to discharge that he can repay in no other way.
One of the greatest ways to love broken and hurting people is to remember them by name in prayer. You can provide blessing, encouragement, strength, and hope to your friends by lifting them up in prayer before the Lord.
Of course, it’s good to follow up and put feet to your prayers as well. Let us love with our actions as well as our words.
Love is nothing until you give it away, and tennis is the only place where love means nothing!
Friday, September 26, 2008
“Ablaze with a Passion for People”
Submitted by Eunice LaCoy
Key text: Luke 14:21,23
“You have not drunk deeply of Christ if you do not share His tears over the unsaved who are blindly hastening to an eternity forever separated from the love of God”.
As I read these words, I cannot but think of my father – he is the very embodiment of “passion for people’s souls”. He is by profession a doctor, but the true passion of his life is for people’s eternal salvation. Every person he ever spends any time with, the people he meets at the YMCA, all of his large extended family, the UPS man, the bug exterminator, the clerk at the hardware store, his seatmate on every plane trip - everyone he gets a chance to talk to, knows that he cares deeply about the state of their soul. He wants everyone to know the love of Jesus. He wants them to experience a relationship with God. He never pretends to be perfect, but he is so appreciative of the mercy and forgiveness of God in his own life, that he wants everyone else to know it also. He wants them to know the delight of the hope of eternal life. He goes to yard sales, and flea markets, and buys Bibles to give to the people he talks with. He gives so much of his income to mission work that he was audited three times by the IRS – they couldn’t believe anyone would give so much of their earthly goods to the work of the church. His dream was always to spend his retirement in mission work, but his health won’t allow that.
My own life was touched with this passion in many ways, but one time in particular stands out. I will never forget the day when my own soul was engaged in the battle of surrendering to Christ, and he knelt beside me, with tears streaming down his face, as he begged me to open my heart to God’s love, forgiveness, and the wonder of a relationship with Him…
Heavenly Father, give to me this passion for people in my own life. Please use me in each person’s life that I come in contact with…. Might every moment of my life bring others close to You…
Further reading: Matthew 28: 19-20
Thursday, September 25, 2008
This week in our daily meditations and Sunday/Monday services we are posturing our hearts towards "Your Love".
The doctrine of the trinity teaches that at the core God is a self-sufficient community of loving persons (Father, Son and Spirit). Within this divine community, we discover a vast, unmeasured, boundless love that cannot fully realized or appreciated by mortal man. God IS love. And, sometimes we simply need to re-imagine what this actually implies about this Triune God that we worship and serve.
So, as we enter into the second week of Ablaze, my desire for you is that you would take time in prayer and meditation to re-imagine the love sourced within the trinity.
"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God".
An old hymn whose lyrics engage the mind and heart to imagine this love. http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/o/t/othedeep.htm
“How Love Infects Us”
Submitted by Joan D. Correll
Key text: Matthew 25:40
Most changes in our lives take place when we are in crisis. As a young missionary wife God began to shine the light of the Holy Spirit on my heart and mind and I was found wanting. I would have done just about anything for the pain to go away. His light revealed an attitude of pride, selfishness, stubbornness, and hatred and fear. I didn’t like what I saw.
I remember the day I bowed before Him and asked Jesus to plant within my heart the seeds of love. I asked Him to teach me how to love as He loved. I sought His mind through study of the Word, and the more I read the more I realized that unless I was always connected to Him I wouldn’t be able to do it.
Some of the truths that I came to see and understand are:
He is the Vine…it is through and from Him we receive
our life. We can’t love if we aren’t connected to the Vine.
It’s His love flowing through me I came to long for.
Scriptures say, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” When you experience the mind of Christ you forgive…you lift up the fallen…you don’t condemn…you perform acts of kindness….you don’t see color, race, or condition you only see someone just like yourself for whom Jesus died…you challenge and confront with a humble spirit wanting only the best for the other. You learn to listen – to really listen – to hear the depth of the heart of someone. You let them know they matter, and when they see they matter to you then they begin to understand how much they matter to the Father.
Many, many years ago God gave me a special verse. It’s from the book of Samuel and from the King James Version. I Sam 2:5 - It’s a strange verse, but when I read it the first time I knew it was a message for me. “They that were full have hired themselves out for Bread and they that were hungry have ceased.” That has been my desire in God’s kingdom….to be bread to those who are hungry.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
“Ablaze with a Passion for Christ”
Submitted by Jeremy Mavis
Key text: Philippians 3:8
I got this idea from a book I’ve been reading…
Christianity is like a waking up one day and finding yourself on an oval race track with the rest of humanity. For some reason you realize you are on the starting line, but no one can figure out what they are supposed to do. So, everyone begins to lay out blankets by the starting line, break out the thermos and coffee, and begin to laugh and play and enjoy themselves.
Somewhere along the way, someone is wandering down the track and crosses the 100-yard line. They discover that this is the point of salvation. This person assumes correctly that everyone else needs to cross this 100-yard line because this is what humanity was made for—salvation. So she heads back to the starting line and begins “preaching” to people that the purpose of life on this track is to run the 100-yard dash! She convinces some, others make it to the 90-yard line, and still others only go so far as the 20-yard line. Some don’t move at all. Pretty soon, the “Christians” that crossed the 100-yard line break out their thermos and coffee and begin to laugh and play and enjoy themselves because they think they have done what they were made to do—they’ve crossed the 100-yard line!
However, one day, someone in the 100-yard line club takes a look at the continuation of the track and begins to wonder to himself what is around the bend further on down the track. So he takes a stroll around the corner. Soon he realizes that there is even a fuller life than just crossing the 100 yard line and a deeper experience that goes with it. As he makes his way around the loop he crosses the starting line again and then the 100-yard line club. As he passes he preaches to them to get moving. Human life is about a continual journey and a constant relationship not merely a 100-yard salvation dash. He emphasizes a marathon path instead of a sprint and relax one.
Realizing your need for Christ in salvation is important, vital actually. However, far too many Christians park themselves in a church and rest easy in their “fire insurance” contract, or their “get-out-of-hell-free-card.” Being a follower of Jesus, one whose heart that is ablaze with passion for Him, requires a commitment towards a journey in Christ-likeness fostered through a continual relationship with Jesus. Such a commitment looks more like a marathon than a dash. I encourage you today to take a gander of the kind of life waiting just around the bend. . .
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
“Love—The Secret of Your Leadership”
Submitted by Ben Drown
Key text: I John 4:10
Love is the “mark” of the believer. Watch carefully – without hearts filled with love we have no power to receive from God or give to others.
One of the most familiar scenarios that I deal with in counseling with Christians is – hearts that are hurt or hardened with unforgiveness. I hear, “I can’t forgive” or “I won’t forgive” or “I’ve been hurt too badly, too often . . .”
St. John writes in 1 John 4:20-21 “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him, that he who loves God must love his brother also.”
Jesus said, “. . . as I have loved you, you also love one another.” (John 13:34b) Jesus died on the cross to give us forgiveness of our sins. Since we have received forgiveness, we must be people willing to offer it as well.
One of the most loving things we can do to restore fellowship with our brother and to maintain fellowship in the body of Christ is to “forgive one another even as Christ has forgiven you!”
Monday, September 22, 2008
“Confronting the Powers”
Submitted by Tom Correll
Key text: Ephesians 6:13
The apostle Paul described our struggle as Jesus followers using the language of war. Arrayed in strongholds against us are the “rulers, authorities and powers of this dark world – spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”. He instructs us to arm ourselves with protective and offensive equipment, each symbolic of disciplines that will “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”.
The sword is a weapon of war, designed to inflict pain and death on opponents. In the spiritual war the Lord provides a sword as well. (Eph 6:17) This weapon is “of the Spirit” – meaning “belonging to the Spirit”. It is the sword Jesus used when battling Satan in the wilderness.
Paul clearly states that this sword is the Word of God. There are three Greek words used to describe the Word of God: Jesus is called the logos of God, the Scriptures are called the biblios of God, and the sword is called the hrema of God. So we have Jesus the living Word of God, the Bible the written Word of God, and the sword of the Spirit – the spoken Word.
When Jesus spoke the Scriptures to Satan, He used the Sword of the Spirit. It is of utmost importance that we speak the Scriptures to our adversary Satan and to the principalities and powers.
In the record of John’s vision we read that the brethren overcame the devil by three things: (1) the blood of the Lamb – that is the legal ground and authority for resisting the enemy, (2) the (spoken) word of their testimony – that is our identification with Christ’s triumph on the Cross, and (3) because they loved not their lives unto the death – the term for lives here is soul or self life, indicating their self-denial.
In the conflict, God’s promise is that we will have the power in Christ to be overcomers. His instruction to us is to ”stand our ground”, and faithfully “to stand”, and to “stand firm” – unscathed by the worst the spiritual powers may bring.
Pray that God will move powerfully in his classes: Church Leadership (Mon - Wed) and Spiritual Formation (Wed - Fri.)
Pray that the students will be refreshed and renewed in spirit. Pray that they will be open to God's deepening. Pray that this will be a point of transformation, rather than merely an academic exercise.
Pray that the "Ablaze for God" flame will spread from these students to their churches in several states around the nation.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
“Renewing Our Power”
Submitted by Ben Drown
Key Text: Ephesians 5:18
Paul wrote to the Ephesians about their lives as Believers. In order to fully feel what he is talking about we need to understand the situation. In simple words: they lived in a city that was totally immersed in pagan religion with all its idolatry & immorality. The government controlled and demanded adherence to a form of pagan worship and had little tolerance for any dissent. To be a Christian in this culture was to have your life in danger.
The Apostles had received the infilling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. They went into all the world to preach the Gospel – including Ephesus. They expended much spiritual energy in this city and needed refueling!! It took all great spiritual power just to survive the demands of this pagan city. So Paul’s words in his letter to the church in Ephesus are apt. . . “be filled with the Spirit.”
The Ephesians were not called to “just get by” or merely survive. Nor are we! Like the Ephesians, we too can feel the pressure of the world around us increasing. What’s a body to do???
Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ challenges us with the literal translation of Eph. 5:18. “Be ye being filled with the Spirit.” This statement suggests a “continuous action”.
A continuous prayer for us today: “With Thy Spirit, fill me.”
Come -- even if you haven't signed up -- you can still come. Follow the prompting in your heart.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
"We Need Power to Extend the Kingdom of God”
Submitted by Mark O. Wilson
Key text: 1 Corinthians 4:20
“The Kingdom of God” is a major Bible theme proclaimed by the Old Testament prophets and mentioned repeatedly by Jesus Christ himself.
From creation (Genesis) to the cross (Gospels), continuing through the community of faith (today) – God’s Kingdom IS wherever He reigns (Thy Kingdom come). It is an ever-expanding Kingdom, which will ultimately rule over the whole world. Some day, all wrong will be set right and the crooked will be made straight (on earth as it is in heaven.)
Until then, we are called to bring the Kingdom wherever we go.
“The Kingdom of God. is a divine act, not a human accomplishment, not even the accomplishment of dedicated Christians. The power of the Kingdom is operative in and through God’s representatives. But the power is not THEIR power – it is the power of God.”
“Our best efforts of themselves do not build or advance the Kingdom. Christian effort is not sufficient. Even the best endeavor of the Spirit-filled is totally inadequate.” Nothing less than the Holy Spirit guiding, empowering and using our best efforts can extend Christ’s reign in any heart or any group.
The Kingdom of God is built through people who have the power of the Lord upon them. “This Kingdom must be built, advanced and manifest on the level of the divine empowerment of the human. It must be God working through us.”
How important is it to you to have the power of Christ remaining upon you? How is the Kingdom advancing through you? What have you experienced of this holy power?
Friday, September 19, 2008
Submitted by Kristin Kingsolver
Key text: Luke 24:48, 49
Receiving the power of Christ is about allowing the Holy Spirit to touch our entire being and opening ourselves up completely to Him. We need to be fully devoted and hungry for Christ’s empowering of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We are told in Luke 24:48-49, “You are witnesses…but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
We must make sure that we have received His power, before we can share His power with others. Not only do we need to make sure that we are right in our relationship with God, but we also need to have an understanding and knowledge of what it means to receive the power of Christ.
Imagine a surgeon who wants to perform surgery, but has never gone to med school and has no experience. Obviously, we are not going to go to such a surgeon! In the same way, a Christian must have both first-hand knowledge and experience with the life transforming power of the Spirit before attempting to impart it to others.
Are you at the spot in your Christian walk where you believe in Christ, but do not have a clear understanding of what it means to be clothed with the power of the Holy Spirit?
I suggest you start by opening up your heart and life to Christ asking His Spirit to begin a work in and through you. God does not force Himself upon us, but He does his work when our hearts are humble and willing.
As we open up our heart to His transforming power we will find that the change will move from the inside out. Over time we will move to a place where we can impart what we’ve experienced to other lives as well.
We encourage you to come, bring friends, and join us this Sunday in worship. See you then!
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Submitted by Tim Young
Key text: Ezra 8:22
There is something in the immense power of Hurricanes like Gustav or Katrina, (which I witnessed firsthand through cleanup and rebuilding) that strangely reminds me of my Dad.
Maybe this happens to most kids when they’re little, but I thought my Dad was the strongest man alive. Not that he was a body builder with muscles that were grotesquely huge. Rather, Dad knew how to use leverage and harness force to produce the power he possessed. And, his strength gave our family a sense of security and protection. I just knew that with Dad around I would be safe, provided for and secure.
Even as I grew up and into adulthood, I saw Dad as a man who could move mountains. Was he perfect? Nope. As we both got older, Dad was no longer capable of moving mountains. And, I came to realize he possessed a different kind of power. The power of influence. As I look back today I’m reminded that the power he left behind was in his wise counsel, his experience and his love.
Now that Dad is gone, the first thing that comes to mind is not a weak man lying in a fetal position in a nursing home ravaged by disease, but a man as strong as a ox in more ways than one!
We as Christians are empowered to be people of influence, capable of moving mountains. God has placed His hand on us to be the kind of person that other people come to, for strength, for discernment, and most important--- for love.
To keep God’s hand upon us, we need to make sure that we are staying in His will by reading daily His Word, by keeping in constant communication with Him in prayer, and by having the eyes and hearts of Jesus for those who have not yet felt God’s hand upon them.
If you haven’t felt God’s hand upon you yet, I encourage you to seek Him. But be ready, because the kind of power He distributes will make you as strong as a ox, not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. You will indeed move mountains and leave in your wake the power of godly influence!
We encourage you to stop by anytime and spend a while with the Lord. Prayer guides will be available. Also, prayer requests may be left at the church -- and those praying will remember them (This is called intercession -- praying for others.)
There are still a few slots available for our "around the clock" prayer. It's not too late for you to sign up for an hour (a specific time in the week -- one hour per week for the duration of our Ablaze for God series.) Just call the church office 715-634-4613, and we will gladly include you!
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Submitted by Loretta Sunderland
Key text: 2 Peter 1:3
So many times I have sought the Lords face with this question: “God, can I do BIG things for Your kingdom?” That’s all I want; is to do BIG things for His kingdom. Have any of you ever felt this in your spirit? It’s okay, you know, to have this longing, for it’s a God-given longing placed within our soul by the Holy Spirit. However, in my desire to do BIG things how many times have I tried to accomplish them in my own human power? Too many times! This summer while attending youth camp, God reminded me that everything I need for life and godliness has already been given. Peter says “His divine power” (this dynamic, explosive power of the Holy Spirit) “has given us everything we need for life and godliness."
Let’s remember that Jesus came to give us life, life more abundant, with everything accomplished at the cross. As we surrender our all to God this desire in our hearts, for MORE of Him, is presently accessible.
As I ponder what has already been given to me, these words of Elizabeth Browning strike a chord:
“Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common
bush afire with God, but only he who sees takes
off his shoes; the rest sit around it and
pluck blackberries. . .”
Today ask and seek for that which God has already made available to you.
-- Wesley Duewel, Ablaze for God, p. 78
. . . perhaps the greatest lack in most Christian leadership and ministry is this divine bestowal, the Spirit's empowerment. . . . Perhaps the greatest, and most revolutionary change that could happen to your leadership would be for you to receive and continually experience the divine dimension. Once you receive it and experience the difference it makes, you will not want to minister without it.
-- Duewel, Ablaze, p. 79
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
There are 168 hours in a week, and we are signing people up to commit to praying during a specific hour on a weekly basis. (See Psalm 16:8)
I (Pastor Mark) passed the sign-up sheet around in the services on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, in the first two services, the sheet didn't get very far before the service ended.
We passed it earlier in the third service, and thus, I'm glad to report -- two thirds of the Prayer Times have been filled!
111 prayer hours have been taken. We have 57 to go.
If you have not signed up, I wonder if you would call the church office 715-634-4613 or e-mail us at email@example.com so you can participate! We will also have the sign up available at the welcome center this Sunday morning.
Currently, the open time slots are:
Sunday: 9:00 a.m., noon, 1:00 p.m.
Monday: 2:00 a.m., noon, 3:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m.
Tuesday: 2:00 a.m., 3:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday: 1:00 a.m., 2:00 a.m. 10:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m.
Thursday: 1:00 a.m., 2:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6 & 11:00 p.m.
Friday: 1,2, 7, 8, 9, 10 & 11:00 a.m., noon, 1, 3, 4, 6, & 7:00 p.m.
Saturday: 1,2,3,4, 10 & 11 a.m., noon, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 11:00 p.m.
Let's work together to fill them all and saturate every moment of these special days with fervent and focused praying.
Submitted by Heath Davis
Key text: Psalm 28:8
“We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz!” Growing up my mom had this deep seated desire to indoctrinate my sister and I with the Wizard of Oz. Each year watching this classic movie became ritual in the Davis household as we ate pop-corn and admired munchkins. Little did I realize, behind red slippers, yellow bricks and wicked witches The Wizard of Oz offered us a glimpse at a puzzling philosophical question. “Where does ultimate power and authority reside?” Dorothy and friends put their hopes in a road that would lead to the great wizard whose absolute sovereignty would right all wrongs and get Dorothy back home to Kansas. But, what they discovered beyond the veil of power was not an omnipotent wizard but an insecure, helpless little man. Toto and the gang had sniffed out a fraud!
How true of our own lives. Like the wizard we spend many of our days convincing ourselves and others that we are in control. Behind the protective curtains of our well managed world, we tend to believe that we pull are pulling the levers in the control room of life. Past victories and present success often solidify the illusion that we are powerful people.
Then disaster hits. In less than a minute the curtain of our seeming self-made world is torn in two revealing our own interior helplessness. Like the great Oz, when push comes to shove we quickly find ourselves strangely powerless.
Powerlessness is a difficult place to dwell. We feel weak, insecure and helpless. Ironically, human powerlessness is exactly where God wishes to lead us. You see there is a elementary spiritual truth in the Bible that teaches until we admit our own frailty we cannot truly depend upon divine strength. The apostle Paul affirms this truth. “God’s power”, he once stated, “is made perfect in human weakness”. Are you in a place of powerlessness? Is there a specific circumstance that appears to be beyond your ability to manage or control? If so, today you are in a great place for God’s power to be manifested in your life.
May our own powerlessness lead us on a road towards the Omnipotent One in whom all power and authority reside. “It’s not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the LORD Almighty”.
Monday, September 15, 2008
We hear many comments today about "God showing up". The fact is that our Great Lord showed up 2000 years ago in a way that simply staggers the imagination. The King took on flesh and dwelt among us! He lived with us and died for us. . .but He didn't stop there.
Jesus reminded his followers that He would not leave them as orphans. He gave a gift for which the prophets themselves dreamed. . .the gift of His Holy Spirit. God establishing permanent residence within our own spirit. Oh, what a gift. Jesus' last words were true. "Lo, I am with you always". No, he doesn't have to show up. In actuality, God is much closer than we think.
Our longing for God to show up today reveals the inner distance we often feel between His world and our own. But, it is not He who has distanced Himself. It is you and me.
God's dwelling is among us. His divine presence literally permeates the landscape of our lives. His kingdom is among us. The great need of our spiritual lives is not one of presence. Rather, the great need is for sight. We must be remedied from our interior blindness. We must open our eyes afresh and anew to His kind of world.
The Ablaze for God series is ultimately about recognizing God's presence among us. It's about opening the eyes of our heart and realizing that this is a God-permeated, God-saturated world. It's about embracing His presence and His person as the most meaningful and most-real reality in our lives. It's about emptying ourselves to be filled by and through Him completely.
He is presently willing. May we choose to see that His Presence already within your reach today.
“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how
I wish it were already kindled”
A word from Pastor Mark:
Welcome to the “Ablaze for God” journey. In the next 50 days, we are going to seek a fresh outpouring of God’s presence on our lives and in our congregation.
Together, we will experience significant spiritual breakthroughs. We will find our hearts refreshed and renewed. We will examine our lives, and make things right. God is going to show up in a powerful way.
Our daily devotionals, the Sunday morning messages, and Monday night gatherings will be based on a mighty book, Ablaze for God, written by Dr. Wesley Duewel.
I consider it a favorite classic in my library. Over the years, this little book has provided spiritual strength and inspiration for me. Although written primarily for ministers, I heartily recommend Ablaze for God for any follower of Jesus who desires to be “on fire” and rise above the ordinary.
You can obtain a copy of the book at God’s Country Christian Bookstore. Here, we provide devotionals for the next 50 days. Written by members of our own congregation, they express the heart of what we sense God is calling us to be as church.
Please pray that God will do a mighty work among us. Pray that God will prepare your heart to receive ALL He wants to give you. Don’t let busy living, burdens, or annoyances hinder you from receiving God’s best!
Ask God to set your heart aflame with love and spiritual passion. Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit. Watch! Dive in! Join us on the adventure! Something good is going to happen.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
1. First command -- "Let there be light" -- and there was light. God's radiant light. (Gen 1)
2. Abraham -- God appeared as a blazing torch (Gen 15)
3. Moses -- the burning bush (Ex. 3)
4. Children of Israel -- Pillar of Cloud and Pillar of Fire (Ex. 13)
5. Mt. Sinai -- smoke, lightening, fire (Ex. 19 & 24)
6. Priests ordered to never let the holy flame go out (Lev. 6:12)
7. Elijah -- called down fire from heaven (1 Kings 18)
8. Isaiah -- in temple glory of Lord filled it -- smoke, fire (Isa 6)
9. John the Baptist said Jesus would baptize with Holy Spirit and with fire (Luke 3:16)
10. In the upper room, filled with Holy Spirit, flames of fire came upon their heads (Acts 2)
11. Our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29)
Friday, September 12, 2008
In all my years of ministry, I have never more eagerly anticipated the coming weeks than now! God is up to something wonderful. Let's join Him!
Thank you to all who participated in the unusual prayer services last Sunday. Literally hundreds of prayers went up before the Lord. Together, we sought His face. I know this was pleasing to Him. We've had several reports of significant spiritual breakthroughs as a direct result of what we did on Sunday. I'm certainly glad we followed the prompting.
This Sunday, we are officially launching the Ablaze for God series. I ask you to pause right now and pray for our church. Pray that we will all sense the presence of God in fullness, and that our hearts will turn towards Him. Pray that needs will be met, new commitments will be made, hearts will be set right and lives will be transformed. God moves in answer to prayer! He moves US!
Our Ablaze for God Series will include the Following:
1) Sunday Mornings: We will cover the major themes from a powerful little book called Ablaze for God, by Dr. Wesley Duewel. (available at God's Country Christian Bookstore)
The themes are:
* Your Life Aflame
* Your Power
* Your Love
* Your Accountability
* Your Prayer
* Your Anointing
* Your Integrity
* Your Infilling
Please make it your aim to attend all these services, if at all possible. If you are unable to attend due to travel or illness, we encourage you to get the cd of the message, or you might be able to listen to it online via our church website: http://www.haywardwesleyan.org/ (Under Resources, then Sermons -- still working on the technology)
2) Monday Evenings:
Sept. 22 - Nov 3, we will meet at the church from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. There will be deeper teaching on the theme from the weekend, as well as small group discussion. This is a great way to discover what small groups are about. I encourage you to make every effort to attend these meetings.
3) Daily Devotionals:
Starting Monday, Sept. 15, we will provide daily "Your Life Ablaze" devotionals, written by members of our congregation. The devotional booklets are hot off the press and will be available at church this Sunday. You can also pick up a copy at the welcome center or church office any time. We will post the daily devotional here on our Ablaze for God blog:
4) Ablaze for God blog:
Speaking of the Ablaze for God blog, besides the daily devotionals, there will be other inspiring posts to help you in the spiritual quest. I encourage you to bookmark it, and visit every day.
5) Prayer Effort:
Recognizing the importance of prayer in an endeavor like this, we are calling our congregation to a special season of focused prayer.
* Prayer Vigil:
We will launch our special prayer effort with a 24 hour prayer vigil, starting midnight, Friday, Sept. 19 and continuing through midnight, Saturday, Sept. 20. You are invited to come to the sanctuary any time during those hours and join your heart in prayer with the others who have gathered.
* 168 Prayer:
Coming out of the prayer vigil, we are planning to have someone praying 24 hours a day, 7 days a week throughout the entire Ablaze for God series. There are 168 hours in a week -- so we are looking for 168 "prayer warriors" who are willing to devote an hour a week to this mighty cause. We will provide guides and resources to help you in your praying.
Sign up at church this Sunday, or call the church office: 634-4613. Together, let's saturate these next few weeks with our prayers! See Psalm 16:8!
* Weekly Prayers:
As the Holy Spirit orchestrates, some will gather for prayer at various times throughout the week. Watch the church bulletin and the Ablaze for God blog for a listing of the available prayer gatherings.
It is exciting to see what God is doing. Don't miss the blessing.
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him." I Cor. 2:9
So, dear Hayward Wesleyan Church family, we are calling on you to pray! Let's not just talk about prayer -- let's enter into it.
We are going to enter a special season of prayer during the Ablaze for God series. This is a time to be more intentional and focused in our praying:
1) Prayer Vigil, Sept. 19-20:
We will hold a Prayer Vigil at the church from midnight (Friday night), Sept. 19 - to midnight (Saturday night), Sept. 20. The sanctuary will be open for prayer. We encourage you to stop by any time during that 24 hour period to join in the prayer.
2) 168 Prayer:
Coming out of the prayer vigil, we plan to have someone praying 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the Ablaze for God series. As there are 168 hours in a week, we are looking for 168 people who will commit one hour a week to pray -- for special needs and spiritual renewal for our own hearts, our families, our congregation, our community, our nation, and our world. Sign up at the Welcome Center, contacting the church office (715-634-4613.)
Helpful material will be available to assist and guide you in this important prayer effort.
When God wants to do a mighty work, He sets his people to praying!
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Sunday, September 7, 2008
This doesn’t mean that I approve or even condone everything they do, but rather that I concentrate on how I handle my actions and reactions.
More and more the fact comes into focus that they, and not I, are responsible to God for their actions, but I am responsible for the changes that need to be made in me.
-- Evelyn Christianson
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Our church is launching a special series called "Ablaze for God" It's a time to focus on prayer, renewal and deepening our spiritual commitment to the Lord, based loosely on a powerful little book by Dr. Wesley Duewel entitled, "Ablaze for God."
Themes include: Your Life Aflame, Your Power, Your Love, Your Prayer, Your Accountability, Your Anointing, Your Integrity and Your Infilling.
- Starting September 14, this special series will continue through the first week of November
- This will, of course, be our emphasis on Sunday mornings.
- On Monday evenings, we will gather again for a deeper teaching on the same subject. (Sort of like a spiritual Monday Night Football!)
- Also on Mondays, at the conclusion of the teaching, we will break into small groups to discuss the theme of the day. This is a great place to ask questions, share your insights, or to merely listen in.
- There will be a daily devotional, launching September 15. We will have it in booklet form at the church -- but you can also read the 50 devotionals at the Ablaze for God Blog. (I created it a few days ago, just for this special purpose.)
- We will have a special prayer focus during these days -- and I encourage our friends, far and near to join us in prayer as we seek the heart of God.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
We are going to have a very unusual service this week. . . with the entire morning devoted to prayer. We won't have three identical worship services. We won't have two sets of worship songs and a sermon. We won't have any announcements.
Instead, we're just going to pray together. I believe God wants to do something special for us.
Come, seek the Lord with me. This will be a powerful experience if you come with your cup right side up!
"Call on me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things."
"If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
-- II Chronicles 7:14
"Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place."
--II Chronicles 7:15
"Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything, give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you." I Thessalonians 5:16-18
"Ask and it shall be given unto you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened unto you." Matthew 7:7