All Posts (79)

Sort by

The Last Word

10510061459?profile=RESIZE_584x

 

 

 

  See, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me,

            to repay all according to their deeds.

               I am the Alpha and the Omega,

   the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 

                       Revelation 22:12, 13 NLT

 

 

 

 

I am the Omega, the Last—the Immortal, Ever-present, Unchanging God.

My Kingdom is coming—sin’s night will not restrain salvation’s dawn.

My promises will materialize—heaven’s perfect peace will last forever.

I will write the end of earth’s story and the beginning of eternity’s—

     a never-ending story of unimaginable love.

Until then, Light beyond light illumines the winding road home.

 



Omniscient—My truth outweighs the trivial.

     I am the Counselor, wisely guiding you through life’s perplexing maze.    

     Exercise uncommon sense to trust Me, and I will teach you how to live.

     I reward humility with the incomparable perfection of My counsel.

 



Merciful—My tenderness out-loves the transgression.

     I am the Wonderful One, helping you persevere in moral struggles.

     My grace helps you succeed; My mercy helps you recover from defeat.

     I reward repentance with the infinite pardon of My compassion.

 



Eternal—My tomorrow outlasts the temporary.

     I am the Everlasting Father, stabilizing you in life’s changing situations.   

     Focus on the Bright Morning Star—you’ll see My face when night is over.

     I reward hope with the inevitable promise of My coming.

 



Gracious—My tranquility outshines the turmoil.

     I am the Prince of Peace, quieting you in the chaos of life’s trouble.

     Do not wring your hands—fold them in prayer and I will care for you.

     I reward prayer with the incomprehensible peace of my calm.

 



Almighty—My triumph outdoes the trembling.

     I am the Mighty God, energizing you for battles with the evil one.

     I reward trust with the inspiring pleasure of My company.

     I spoke the first word—and darkness was dispelled by light.

     I will have the last word—and guilt will be conquered by grace.

 

                                 

                           © Pastor Johnny R. Almond

                  Day 366, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Read more…

The Way to the Truth of Life

10490939100?profile=RESIZE_584x   

 

 

                       I am the way, the truth, and the life.

          No one can come to the Father except through me.

                                     John 14:6 NLT

  

 

 

Sallman Head of Christ 

 

 

 

 

I am the only Road that leads to the destination of glory.

     Convicted of sin, do a repentant U-turn and travel the King’s Highway.     

     Challenged by righteousness, set out to be like your Sinless Savior.

     Convinced of judgment, make a conscious effort to prepare yourself.

     My death on the cross paved the highway to the Father’s future.

     My blood on your soul marks you as a child of God He will not disown.      

     Follow the Way—and be confident of reaching heaven.

 

I am the only Reality that defines goodness.

     Lied to by the dark prince, turn a deaf ear to his brainwashing.

     Led by the Spirit of truth, listen well and learn life’s greatest lessons.

     Loved by the One knowing you best, stay near and enjoy My company.

     My light liberates you to sing for joy in the Father’s freedom.

     My Spirit in your mind teaches you truth you would not learn otherwise.

     Learn the Truth—and be changed for good from the inside out.

 

I am the only Redeemer who distributes grace.

     Attacked by the evil one, do not forget that he is a hateful killjoy.

     Attracted by the Holy Spirit, surrender and know life in all its fullness.

     Approved by the Father, revel in His love and rest assured of heaven.

     My promise guarantees the bright tomorrow of the Father’s festival.

     My melody in your heart instructs you in faith’s dance of joy.

     Celebrate the Life—and be cheerful in all circumstances.

 

I am the Way to the Truth of Life.

     Your search for heaven, significance, and vitality ends in My heart.

 

10490940671?profile=RESIZE_180x180

 

 

© Pastor Johnny R. Almond

Day 323, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Read more…

Wearing God's Name

In Antioch the disciples were first given the name of “Christians.”

                                Acts 10:26 NTME

10475098098?profile=RESIZE_400x

 

 

Wear My Name humbly.

     You did not choose Me—I chose to charm you to My heart.

     Stay out of dark, dingy places—walk as a child of the Light.

     Remember who you belong to—conduct yourself as one of Christ’s.

 

 

 

Wear My Name freely.

     I save you from evil’s power, removing hellacious handcuffs—rejoice.

     Let My Holy Spirit cascade through your inner being—dance for joy.

     You are My subject in time and eternity—live royally, like your King.

 


Wear My Name confidently.

     By faith you will reach the tearless, painless, deathless, sinless place.

     Trust Me, and rest assured My promises will all come true.

     You are named for One who is Truth—never doubt My Word.

 


Wear My Name honorably.

     Do not try to get your name up in lights—I am the Light of the world.

     You are part of My kingdom of priests—heaven’s nobility on earth.

     You are My ambassador to the world—represent Me well.

 


Wear My Name joyfully.

     Satan destroys influence, kills joy, and steals enthusiasm—watch out.

     My Presence comforts, guides, instructs, and defends you—be glad.

     A frown is a poor advertisement for Christianity—whistle in the dark.

 


Wear My Name comfortably.

     I direct traffic patterns of constellations—I also orchestrate your life.

     I hold the universe together—and I understand and stand under you.

     I cheer your soul when you are down—remember you are Mine and relax.

 


Wear My Name optimistically.

     Mention of My Name will bring the universe to its knees—count on it.

     My promises brighten the future—march forward with head held high.

     Because You wear My Name, I remember yours—look forward to glory.
 

  

                                        © Pastor Johnny R. Almond                               
                            Day 328, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Read more…

Jesus took my rebellion and independence and restored to me daily fellowship with God.

All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him (Isaiah 53:6).

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one (John 17:22).

  • My lack and need: rebellion, independence
  • Jesus’ gift: restored fellowship
  • Kingdom reality established: I have fellowship with God, Eden restored, walks in the garden in the cool of the day.
  • Kingdom emotions experienced: I feel loved, accepted, warmed, and inspired.

https://www.clsoionline.com/

Read more…

GUEST POST: How to Ask Good Questions in Discipleship

question-mark-1872665_1920.jpg?profile=RESIZE_710x

 

Jesus is our model for disciple making.  In the following article, Matt Dabbs, an experienced disciple maker and church planter, shares what he has learned about a crucial component of discipling people, and that is, asking questions. 

We often think of discipleship—which is the state of being a disciple—as something that leans heavily on bible education.  But Jesus shows us that there is so much more, especially the way he asked good questions.
          – Bobby Harrington

In John 5:6 Jesus asked a paralyzed man, “Do you want to get well?”

The answer doesn’t take a masters degree to figure out. Of course a paralyzed person wants to get well. However, there is more to this question than that. Does this man want to take on a life that is required of him when he is able and has full agency? More will be expected of him on the other side of healing. The truth is, some people would rather stay with what they already know than get better. Health can be far scarier than paralysis for some. It is important that he owns the answer to Jesus’ question before Jesus heals him.

Or, how about Matthew 8:26 where in the middle of a raging storm Jesus asks his disciples, “Why are you so afraid?”

Again, the answer is obvious… or maybe it isn’t. The sentence right before the question is, “You of little faith.” They are with Jesus. They don’t need to be afraid. However, fear is a natural human emotion that is understandable in those kinds of circumstances. Instead of saying, “Don’t be afraid,” he asks them ‘why’ they are afraid, and it is important that they wrestle with their own answer to Jesus’ question. They might not all have the same answer!

Both the paralyzed man and the disciples in the boat have something in common. They are both learning and growing in their faith and Jesus is working with them.

Like Jesus, when we disciple people, we need to use questions. Unfortunately, this doesn’t come natural to many of us. Try this–the next time you meet with someone (or a group) you are discipling, take a mental note of how many times you use declarative sentences versus interrogative sentences (periods vs. question marks). The next time you meet with this same group, try to convert some of your statements into questions.

So much of our teaching can be done most effectively when we let people wrestle with things rather than by simply telling them things. When you feel like telling someone who you are discipling something, make sure you aren’t short-circuiting their learning process. Stop for a moment and consider if what you are trying to teach them might best be learned by converting your statement into a question–then work through their answer with them.

When all of our instruction ends in periods rather than question marks, we can create disciples who are far too dependent upon us for the answers. The reality is that it can feel good to have people depend on you for answers and wisdom, but if the goal is for them to learn, then it isn’t about what makes you feel good as their guide, but rather, what it takes to grow them closer to Jesus. We can also feel like we aren’t a successful teacher if the person you are discipling doesn’t get it right away. We can buffer that anxiety a bit when we ‘tell’ rather than ‘ask,’ because it is much harder to determine if those being discipled get what we have taught when we tell rather than when we ask.

Here are ten questions to add to your disciple-making repertoire:

  • What is the Holy Spirit trying to teach you in this moment?
  • How do you navigate this decision in a way that upholds your integrity?
  • How can I really help you? (Matt 20:32)
  • What do you need most from God right now?
  • What is keeping you from doing what you know you are supposed to do (obedience)?
  • What good thing is God doing in your life today that we can celebrate together?
  • What is on your mind/what are you thinking in your heart? (Luke 5:22)
  • What is one thing you are going to do with what you just learned?
  • Who is someone with whom you can share what you learned?
  • What is God doing in your life right now?

These are a few questions that can work in concert with your learning to convert your statements into questions. This allows the person you are discipling to have some investment in and ownership of the conversation and the process they are walking through. Questions allow people to turn from passive recipients of a disciple-making process to active and engaged participants. The level of growth and maturity you can see through shifting from declaratives to interrogatives can be huge!

For King Jesus,

Matt Dabbs

 

 = = = = 

This article is one segment of "Mini-Course" 101: ReimagineDISCIPLESHIP...

Read more…

God's Love and Grace are Eternal

God’s Love and Grace Are Eternal

 Furthermore, God’s love and grace toward us are not conditional or temporary. It was not love from our side that saved us, but love from His (1 John 4:10). He loved us with an eternal love (Jer. 31:3). His grace was toward us in eternity past, before the world began (2 Tim. 1:9). When Christ loves us, He loves us to the uttermost (John 13:1). No sin, failure, or weakness on our part can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:35-39).

https://www.clsoionline.com/

Read more…

The Refreshing Christ

10454793483?profile=RESIZE_710x

They washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.

They stand in front of the throne of God, serving him day and night in his Temple.

He who sits on the throne will live among them and shelter them.

They will never again be hungry or thirsty.

The Lamb who stands in front of the throne will be their Shepherd.    

He will lead them to springs of life-giving water.

God will wipe away all their tears.

                                                                                                    Revelation 7:14-17 NLT

 

 

Christ’s deliverance refreshes our soul.

Guilt can only be removed by the blood of the innocent Lamb.

When our heart is purified, we can have a spring in our step again.

God’s pardon makes us holy.

Jesus is our salvation—performing the miracle of complete forgiveness.

 

Christ’s dynamic refreshes our strength.

Falling to our knees, He helps us get on our feet again so we can        

     soar above mediocrity, outrun evil, and continue beyond faintheartedness. 

God’s power is our help.

Jesus is our strength—blessing our mission with capable fulfillment.

 

Christ’s defense refreshes our serenity.

Sealed by the Holy Spirit, we’re marked as belonging to God’s family forever.

Surrounded by his love, we enjoy safe refuge in life’s storms.

God’s peace is our hiding place.

Jesus is our shelter—granting us mercy in faith’s comforting fortress.

 

Christ’s delight refreshes our song.

Satan is a kill-joy, a spoiler of reputation, and a thief after our enthusiasm.

God’s love is a deeper well, God’s life better water, God’s laughter higher joy.

God’s pleasure is our happiness.

Jesus is our satisfaction—inspiring music in our soul like a cascading fountain.

 

Christ’s direction refreshes our search.

He walks before us into tomorrow—right beside us, every step of the journey. 

God’s Providence is our hope. 

Jesus is our Shepherd—leading us to the bright mystery of the celestial future.

 

Christ’s destiny refreshes our struggle.

Tears of regret will be over when we’re totally redeemed—sins all forgiven.

Tears of pain will be over when we’re finally relieved—suffering forever gone.

Tears of bereavement will be over when death dies—shadows of grief history.

God’s Presence is our heartbeat.

Jesus’ smile will reward us when we meet him in face-to-face celebration.

  

10454792869?profile=RESIZE_180x180

 

 

 © Pastor Johnny R. Almond

Read more…

Healing

Healing

  • Joy reigns where this Word is proclaimed (Acts 8:4-8)
  • But if we cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God is come unto you, (Mt. 12:28, and 11:20)
  • I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the miraculous works that I am doing (John 14:12-13)

The connection between healing and salvation is a characteristic feature of the Gospel tradition. Miracles of healing are, as it were, symbolic demonstrations of God’s forgiveness in action.

https://www.clsoionline.com/

Read more…
#ItSeemsToMe...forgiveness is a command because it is the only path to healing.
 
10448643471?profile=RESIZE_400x
 
Comment by Susan Goldbeg 
National Georgraphic 03.2021
 
 
Martin Schoeller has been taking photographs, close-up portraits, of two groups of people.
 
Elderly survivors of the holocaust.
180 men and two women who have been "freed from death row after being found innocent of their crimes for which they were sentenced to die.
 
He's found that the two groups have something important in common.
 
He told me: "They are able to forgive."
There are so many reasons that you can be hateful and mad at people, but you have to have the ability to forgive. Otherwise it just eats you up...The people who can't don't make it."
Read more…

CAN WE LOVE ENOUGH?

CAN WE LOVE ENOUGH?

We don’t muster it up. We can’t! I mean, we’d never try to work really hard and muster up enough power in our hands to go heal blind eyes. We know that’s outside of what we can do in and of ourselves. However, I feel like quite often we are tempted to try and “muster up” love for people, to try in our own selves to love enough to release a blessing to them. But we can’t muster up compassion any more than we can strive to work a power miracle of healing.

It’s outside of us. It’s done to us. It comes upon and moves up through us. Only after we’ve been moved upon, are we then moved to action and the miracle is released. So to live like Jesus means we are moved by compassion, and everything we do for ministry is out of that God Emotion.

https://www.clsoionline.com/

Read more…

GUEST POST: #REIMAGINE...Systems to Move Forward

 

 8 Systems you will find essential moving forward

New blog post from Bob Logan

TAEz4djbg175sfqh7mgfiY0y07hzIN9SIrAnB6epPtj72Zt5Kgz9TJTBYRIs_-VkrSeE5R5dgpqhgxgMr1VY3AjL7edm0T-xRj-uyIuEZtGs0GjjBFtGNaukVRWM0Uf-0hPMNTRNiLIEv09sfqgjyTVWUsP9Kw=s0-d-e1-ft#<a href=

 
 
 
 

Where do you go from here? It’s been a rough couple of years for everyone, and that’s certainly also true of the church. You have been thinking for some time about the new normal—about moving forward on mission to share the love of Christ with a weary world. But where to start? What needs to be dropped? What essentials are needed moving forward? How might they need to be tweaked in order to not just survive but to thrive in the coming years? 

kScwyG6NrLOUPfdBn8ux14DlKg9LkA79b-_KIOK4EuUGd27l7WVU9hvxFa3S_sNAoXhCesJMJweNhLKF9UvA6E7PVtdER_uFsVMTbDBEo4_LV2C1z50oExbmwn3b8iRQrrgfc7jx4Xs=s0-d-e1-ft#<a href=

Moving forward, you will need these 8 Essential Systems

These 8 systems are essential to a thriving ministry. You likely already have them in place. However, the methodology with which they are implemented may need some rethinking in order to thrive in the post pandemic world. As you read through, think about how the system is related to moving your mission forward, how it is currently organized in your ministry, and how effective it is in its current state.

1. How you empower leadership

You need a leadership structure that empowers others. If there was any doubt that a top-down leadership structure where the professionals do the work of the ministry wasn’t a good idea, that ministry approach has now been thoroughly debunked. When the congregation is separated from the lead pastor, we now see and experience the absolute importance of lay leaders. One pastor cannot effectively shepherd 300 people. The ratio needs to be about 1:10. Even Jesus only did 1:12.

A highly relational, high touch, high contact kind of leadership really helps people grow in their faith in personal, meaningful ways. Find ways to make your leadership structure as flat and as grassroots as possible if you want to be ready to reach the world as it emerges from Covid. Moving forward, consider how you can empower others through: 

  • Modeling 
  • Vision-casting 
  • Mobilizing and equipping 
  • Coaching 
  • Multiplying 

2. How you help people develop their spiritual gifts and empower their use

You need relentless focus on developing and ministering out of spiritual gifts. Everybody needs to be doing the ministry, not just the paid staff. Fortunately, this is how the Holy Spirit set things up in the first place at Pentecost: by giving spiritual gifts to every man, woman, and child with faith in Jesus. I have written quite extensively on my blog recently about developing spiritual gifts in people. It’s more essential than ever in today’s world.

Consider: if the main ministry of the church is producing an online service for viewing, who is reached? Possibly someone new may tune in and watch it, which is wonderful. But what about if every single person in that congregation made use of their spiritual gifts every week in some small way. Who might be reached then? You see the difference, and it’s stark. Imagine your church’s impact if you provided a way for everyone to: 

  • Understand spiritual gifts 
  • Discover their own spiritual gifts 
  • Confirm their giftedness through practice 
  • Become a part of a ministry-wise gifts mobilization system 

3. How you help people experience God everyday

You need to consider the practice and presence of a passionate spirituality in daily lives of each person in your congregation. Connection with God can certainly come from watching or participating in a worship service, but it needs to go beyond simple church attendance.

How can we help people experience God as part of their everyday lives? Most people have no church-based activity 5 to 6 days out of the week. What about those days? How can they experience the presence of God? That’s especially important in times of social isolation, fear, and hopelessness… which is where many of us have found ourselves lately. We each one of us need ways to anchor ourselves in Christ, ways that work for us uniquely. That means: 

  • Finding ways to love God with your whole, heart, mind, soul and strength
  • Developing a personal passion for God through a variety of spiritual disciplines or practices
  • Worshipping God alongside others in sometimes creative ways
  • Embracing the mission God is calling us toward, both individually and corporately 

4. How you help people do what God has called them do to

You would do well to revisit and re-examine the actual structures built into our congregations. Consider… during covid, which structures collapsed? Which structures did you need to rely on even more? Which needed to be revamped completely? This area of basic structures in the church is one we need to reexamine periodically anyway, but at the same time one we are most likely to forget about.

Structures matter. Ineffective structures that no longer accomplish their intended purpose can actually serve to prevent and restrict ministry. They become blockages. Structures are the ‘hows.’ How do you determine vision for the new year? Or how do you safeguard church finances? What is your decision-making process? How do you handle conflicts? Make a list of the often-unspoken systems in your church, and then evaluate them in the following ways. Does this structure: 

  • Support the church’s values, vision and mission? 
  • Accomplish the intended results? 
  • Promote ministry more than hindering it? 
  • Have a positive effect on the people and the culture of the church? 
  • Make use of a wide variety of people’s giftedness? 
  • Contribute to reproducibility? 

5. How you worship God together

You need to rethink corporate worship. That is the area we have most visibly needed to change during the pandemic, and it’s worth considering what worked well and what didn’t. Obviously, many services went online. Varying attempts, with varying success, were made to make the online experience interactive.

Moving forward, as we can in many cases meet in person again, what new practices would be helpful to take with us? What other pre-pandemic practices can we re-embrace? Areas to especially consider are participation and interactivity, music and singing, and communion. We can also consider worship as part of our weekday lives, and worship in smaller group settings. The era of experimentation is upon us. Everything we evaluate and try can be measured against the following categories: 

  • alive to the presence of God
  • cultural appropriateness
  • worship modeled by leaders
  • a clear theme and response goal
  • effective transitions and flow
  • maximum participation
  • meaningfulness to both regular attendees and newcomers

6. How you meet everyone’s needs

You really do need holistic small groups. Small groups have become more important than ever before. In many times of difficulty and persecution, the church has found refuge in small groups of people meeting together. We do not actually need a full corporate worship service to be the church; everything we need is found in a small group of people. God has provided spiritual gifts to be used, a means of corporate prayer, community support and encouragement, and a forum for reading and discussing the scriptures.

Consider what happened when the pandemic began: those who were already part of a small group often found themselves drawn closer to that group of people for support, being a part of text threads, sharing and praying together virtually, connected to some kind of support system bigger than themselves or just their own household. Those who were not a part of a small group may have watched church services online, or they may not have. And often no one noticed they had left the church until after in-person services began again. It’s time for a full reexamination of the essential role small groups of people play in the life of faith and worship. Moving forward, be sure to consider the following elements: 

  • integrating small groups into the rest of the church 
  • implementing a functional small group ministry
  • training and coaching leaders
  • starting and multiplying groups
  • including children and youth 

7. How you connect with the community

You need to engage with your wider community in fresh ways. If the church is only focused inward, it has lost its mission and even its reason for being. If we are not helping the world, reaching the world, and serving the world, why are we here? For decades I have been preaching that we as believers need to come outside the walls of the church and meet people on their own turf, where they are comfortable, out in the world of work, home, and recreation. This is the public sphere, the great marketplace and town square of our times. Today, if we reach out at all, we have no choice but to do it in the public sphere.

The whole concept of “inviting people to church” has fallen by the wayside in the last couple of years. The ways the church has been decentralized during the pandemic are many… and that reality presents opportunities. Look for those opportunities. How can we serve? What needs can we meet? Not only spiritual, but emotional emotional, and physical as well? How can we communicate the gospel relationally? Who needs to experience God’s love? How can the church facilitate that experience? It’s time to find new ways to reach out… ways that: 

  • communicate the gospel in a culturally relevant manner
  • serve to meet real needs of the community 
  • empower others in the congregation to reach out 
  • assimilate newcomers into the life of the church
  • establishing new Christians in loving obedience

8. How you connect to each other

You need healthy relational connection. How connected are we relationally as a congregation? Pre-pandemic we would often track attendance at events, socials, worship services, or small groups as a means of tracking relational connection. But how accurate is that as a measurement? How else might we assess true relational connection? To what degree do people feel part of the community, noticed, cared for, and reached out to by others? What was your system like for keeping track of your people during the pandemic? How would you know if someone was struggling? Did you rely on self-reporting? Or did others who were connected relationally take notice first?

How well the church fosters healthy relational connection is a telling litmus test for the health of the church. The love we have for one another is to function as a practical demonstration of the love God has for us. Moving forward, the relational connection at your church must address these elements: 

  • Close relationships rooted in honesty 
  • People who are a part of each other’s daily lives 
  • An intentional spurring on of one another toward love and good deeds 
  • A cultivation of authentic Christian community 
  • The development of health interpersonal relationships 
  • Reflecting God’s love to the surrounding world 

Moving forward

Spend some time this week thinking through each of these areas as they relate to your congregation. What is currently working well? Which areas are not functioning well? What have you learned from the pandemic about this area? Moving forward, what do you want to see change? How might you take the first steps in doing that?

Resources

The Leadership Difference– If you are running up against barriers that aren’t specifically theological but are more about how to lead people and get along with them as you work together, this is the book for you.

Leadership Skills Guides- Develop your people into leaders by meeting them where they are at and helping them take the next appropriate step. This download covers 37 skills across 6 topics and includes a leader guide and a participant guide and is meant to be worked through in a nonlinear fashion.

Leadership Multiplication Pathway- This series is a power system to identify your purpose, focus your ministry, become an effective leader, and multiply your mission. This is great to walk through with a coach!

Photo by Steven Lelham on Unsplash

The post 8 Systems you will find essential moving forward appeared first on Logan Leadership.

Copyright © 2022 Robert E. Logan, All rights reserved.

 

Read more…

The Revealing Christ

 

10401832277?profile=RESIZE_584x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                           Warner Sallman  Head of Christ  

 

                                     This is a revelation of Jesus Christ.

                                When I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.

                                  He laid his right hand on me and said,

                              “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last.

            I am the living one who died. Look, I am alive forever and ever!

                                And I hold the keys of death and the grave.”

                                         Revelation 1:1, 17, 18 NLT                                                                                                                              

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 


Envision the Almighty—able to do anything He pleases, unrivaled in power.

Ponder the Holy One—unable to do anything wrong, untarnished in purity.

Revere the just God—sure to make everything right, unstoppable in plan.

Picture the loving God—dying for all on a cross, unmatched in passion.

 

God’s wisdom is beyond our ability to decipher—infinitely profound.

God’s awareness of us is beyond our comprehension—intimately personal. 

God’s message of ultimate truth is beyond our intellect—infallibly perfect.

God’s heart of mercy is beyond our vilest transgression—incredibly poignant. 

 

Jesus Christ is God’s Holy Alphabet—A to Z, First to Last, all God has to say to us.

Eons ago, He spoke the first word and radiant light dispelled sin’s darkness.

At the end of time, He will have the last word and eternal life will conquer death.

 

God is the only One in the cosmos who will always be who He has always been.

Generations have made God’s heart their Home, and God made their hearts his.   

Before Jesus sculpted mountains or whispered stars into being, He cared for us.

Before we were born, He knew our name and drew the blueprint of our life.

He loves us today no less than He did yesterday—His love for us will never fail. 

 

Standing in awe of Jesus, we never lose the wonder of who He is.

     When we come to Christ, we find purpose for our life.

          But first, we must get over our self.

                Falling on our knees, we discover meaning. 

 

Paying attention to God’s’ Word, we put our hand over your mouth and listen.

     When we come to Christ, we learn timeless truths.

          But first, we must understand we can’t figure everything out alone.

                Hushing, we get to know God.

 

Adoring Christ, we do more than meditate; we worship him with all our being.

     When we come to Christ, we experience joy too wonderful for words.

          But first, we must become dissatisfied with the world’s empty promises.

                Following his orders, we really come alive.   

 

Giving Jesus undivided allegiance, we surrender our will to the King of hearts.

     When we come to Christ, we find rest.

          But first, we must become restless in our spirit and desperate for him. 

                Falling at his feet, He makes himself real to us.   

 

10401831876?profile=RESIZE_180x180

 

     © Pastor Johnny R. Almond

    Gentle Whispers from Eternity

Read more…

GUEST POST: Risking Love for Neighbors, Strangers, Enemies

10401596287?profile=RESIZE_710xA Conversation With Catherine McNiel

Author Of Fearing Bravely: Risking Love For Our Neighbors, Strangers, And Enemies

 


Q: Explain the title of your book. We may not get over all of our fear, but we can live and love bravely. 

While He was on earth, Jesus was teaching His followers to not be afraid, even while He was being pursued to death. Something about living through Jesus’ death and resurrection helped His disciples see that God’s love was powerful enough to not give in to fear. They lived in a time which could have been very fear inducing, but they knew the power of God. Jesus is inviting us to do dangerous and scary things, in His name, for the sake of neighbors and strangers. 

 


Q: You use the phrase “discipled by fear” in your book. How can we be discipled by truth instead of fear? 

We often lack awareness of how heavily our culture is forming us each day. Through the media we consume and the messages we repeat, we can be shaped into people who are afraid. So, the first step is to gain awareness of how we are being shaped by the voices we let into our lives. Then we need to be so immersed in the words of Jesus that the Holy Spirit can prompt us to test what we are hearing against God’s truth. 

Q: Each section of the book includes suggestions of art and music to reinforce your themes. Why was this part of your application in the book? 

The creative aspect provides another angle to influence our hearts and minds. They can give us practice using a different “muscle” to focus on God’s love instead of giving in to fear. The practical steps in each section are best done in community. We need to work together to change our mindset and live in love. God invites us to create a new kind of community and world, to reflect His love. 

Q: You go beyond neighbors and strangers, to call us to love our enemies. You acknowledge that this is a hard teaching of Jesus. How do we move toward love of enemies? 

First of all, we can’t dispute that Jesus included this in His teaching. So, we can skip the debates about whether or not it is okay to hate certain people. Jesus doesn’t give us any loopholes. And it isn’t easy if we are honest. The solution is to flood ourselves with light. If I am filling my mind with God’s lovingkindness, which is abundant toward me, then I have more capacity to love. I can’t love from my own triggered, wounded place. The root of my love has to be God’s love, which actually can overcome fear, hate, and evil.

Lovingkindness Exercise: 

During a time of quiet prayer, remember the loving, nurturing heart of God—the same lovingkindness the Bible teaches and Jesus embodies. Imagine a space filled with this love, then picture yourself in it. 

Once you have grown comfortable in this spacious place of love, bring to mind others that you love. Begin widening the space to include them. Then, recall people you don’t know well, or have neutral feelings about, and allow the space of God’s grace and love to cover them too. 

Finally, bring to mind enemies, one at a time. Don’t begin this process with the person who has harmed you the most; choose instead someone who frustrates or annoys you. Then, bit by bit, day by day, expand this circle a bit further in your mind. If the process becomes too traumatic, seek the help of a pastor, spiritual director, or therapist. 

God’s love already covers us all, but practicing these prayers day after day allows God to renew our minds and change our hearts. 

Want More from Fearing Bravely?

Loving like Jesus is important for any social circle: family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, strangers, etc. Fearing Bravely, by Catherine McNiel helps to name the obstacles that keep us from loving this way and take the next steps to remove them. Click the link below to download your FREE PDF sample of this book. DOWNLOAD HERE

Adapted from Fearing Bravely. Copyright © 2022. Used by permission of NavPress represented by Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Read more…

#ReimagineCHRISTIANITY...Start with Good Friday

10394357668?profile=RESIZE_584xGOD SO LOVED THE WORLD," John writes, "that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." That is to say that God so loved the world that he gave his only son even to this obscene horror; so loved the world that in some ultimately indescribable way and at some ultimately immeasurable cost he gave the world himself. Out of this terrible death, John says, came eternal life not just in the sense of resurrection to life after death but in the sense of life so precious even this side of death that to live it is to stand with one foot already in eternity. To participate in the sacrificial life and death of Jesus Christ is to live already in his kingdom. This is the essence of the Christian message, the heart of the Good News, and it is why the cross has become the chief Christian symbol. A cross of all things—a guillotine, a gallows—but the cross at the same time as the crossroads of eternity and time, as the place where such a mighty heart was broken that the healing power of God himself could flow through it into a sick and broken world.

It was for this reason that of all the possible words they could have used to describe the day of his death, the word they settled on was "good." Good Friday. 

-Originally published in The Faces of Jesus

Read more…

#Easter

What's the best question to ask about #easter? #easter2022 #eastersunday #easterbunny #eastereggs #easterbasket
 
"Is it true?" makes sense to persons who already believe the biblical story.
 
"Is it right?" might be a better place to start for persons who are not certain if it is true.
 
#ItSeemsToMe...
 
by Phil Mgilioratti @ The Reimagine.Network
 
 
"True" indicates the claims of the Bible about Jesus of Nazareth correspond to reality; the story is correct.
 
"Right" indicates the claims of the Bible seem "in accordance with what is just, good, or straight;" In other words, it sounds plausible.
 
Rather than asking me to first believe the story really happened in history, ask me to consider the reasonability of the basic tenants of the story:
  • If a just and righteous God exists, is it reasonable God would do something to rescue humanity of our brokenness, the scourge of evil, the finality of death?
  • Even though all religions ask for human sacrifice to God (infant sacrifice, good works, vow of poverty, etc.), is it plausible for God to decide to make the sacrifice? ("Here is the way God loved the world—God gave his only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life." John 3:16)
  • If God is the initiator of and subject making the sacrifice, is it credible to consider the claim "that God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world" (2 Corinthians 5:19) when Jesus was crucified?
  • Could Jesus of Nazareth be human but also inhabited by God at the same time? Could that be a one-of-a-kind expression of personhood, beyond simply being inspired by God or appointed to speak on God's behalf (such as a prophet)?
  • If God created humanity with a plan for life after death, is it reasonable for the resurrection of Christ to be real; the foreshadowing of the eternal (endless, limitless) life?
 
I believe the story of the Gospels is true (accurate and authoritative) but it is not true because I believe it. It is reliable because it is straight, right-in-line, with a rational explanation of what we would expect to take place based on a reasonable description of how God might act on behalf of the world God created.
 
People may choose to reject the biblical descriptions but not because it could not have taken place.
 
I think I will #SayALittlePrayer...
Read more…

Rest Assured

 Rest Assured

10344583667?profile=RESIZE_400x



                 Were not our hearts greatly moved and burning within us
while He was talking with us on the road as He opened and explained to us
                                 the sense of the Scriptures?

                          Luke 24:32 THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE


Saddened by emptiness?
     Obey Me, and I will make Myself real to you.
     Trade a long face for a smile—be a good advertisement for the gospel.
     I am your Source of Music—sing out for the entire world to hear.

Entombed by loneliness?
     You are never alone—I walk alongside you on every road you travel.
     When perplexing cares crowd your heart, I console and cheer you.
     I am your Greatest Friend—you have not lost Me, so dance for joy.

Afraid of death?
     Hear My reassuring voice and overcome Satan-coaxed anxiety.
     Death Valley terror disappears as you realize shadows mean Light.
     I am your Life—I will defeat all enemies, so count on ultimate victory.

Losing hope?
     Open the eyes of your heart and envision My promised bright future.
     Wait patiently for My new world to materialize—be brave-hearted.
     I am your Center of Gravity—hide in Me and unflinchingly trust.

Perplexed by despair?
     Guilt, death, hopelessness, angst, and gloom burden your heart.
     Grace, vitality, hope, faith, mercy, and freedom bless your heart.
     I am your Redeemer—hang on for dear life—all is well.

Walk life’s road with Me—and I will change dejection to delight,
     skepticism to optimism, despair to hope, restlessness to tranquility,
     depression to ecstasy, self-pity to praise, and doubt to worship.
     I am your God—rest assured. 

                                      

                                   (c) Pastor Johnny R. Almond
                          Day 319, Gentle Whispers from Eternity 

Read more…

GUEST POST: #ReimaginePRAYER...Pray for a Business in Your Community

John Piper, theologian, pastor, and author, tells how George Muller, the prayer legend of the 19th century, said that for years he tried to pray without starting in the Bible in the morning. Inevitably, his mind wandered. He said his prayers were weak and powerless. 

 

Then he added the habit of using the Bible in prayer, and turned the Book into a prayer manual as he read, and for 40 years he was able to stay focused and powerful in prayer. 

 

Piper then notes, “I have seen that those whose prayers are most saturated with Scripture are generally most fervent and most effective in prayer. And where the mind isn't brimming with the Bible, the heart is not generally brimming with prayer.“ 

 

Our first Wednesday email of the month has a focus to help facilitate prayer that you can use for your business, community, city, and country. 

 

1. Begin with Thanksgiving and Gratitude to the Lord for being our Protector (Psalm 100:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Psalm 18:2; Psalm 127:1).

 

2. Pray that Jesus will revive His believers and His church to His Beauty, Love, and Supremacy (2 Chronicles 7:13-15; Psalm 85:6; Habakkuk 3:2-3a; Acts 2:37-41).

 

3. Pray for unity between believers in every sphere of culture. Pray that walls of theology, doctrine and practice will come down. Pray for offenses to be forgiven. Pray for love to grow and flow in us and through us making us one with Christ (John 17:21-23; Psalm 133:1-3; Acts 4:24).

 

4. Pray for those that are unbelievers, or believe but have wandered away, or have been offended by Christians, to be visited again by the love of God whether through dreams, visions, friendship, or something they see, hear or read (Acts 26:18; Romans 10:1; Galatians 4:19; 2 Peter 3:9).

 

5. Pray for relationships. Pray that Jesus will heal, restore, and strengthen every God-designed friendship, partnership, and family (Romans 15:5-7; Malachi 4:5-6; Joshua 24:15).

 

6. Pray for your local, state and national government that they will honor God and be given wisdom and serve with integrity, justice and mercy (1 Timothy 2:1-2; Romans 13:1; Micah 6:8).

 

7. Ask God to bless your city as you pray for its peace, welfare, and prosperity (Proverbs 11:11; Jeremiah 29:7,11; Acts 3:26). 

 

May the Lord bless you as you partner with Jesus to be a house of prayer for all nations. 

 

Your prayer partner in Christ’s love,

 

Bob Perry 

Workplace Prayer A Ministry of A.C.T. P.O. Box 1649 Brentwood, TN 37024 United States

Read more…

GUEST POST: Thirving Churches Are Intentional Churches 

3WJySdWiMZqo5JBqOUJO-pgsf3ovu7w1iPMe97UFsK3STxWX8i9W1O1LYGjNwBiY2AMNQZNvmMdSoeyu3t7oqml6Tznbj9EXylmo9nikj9infQ7NXbScnjze5l69UqA-xUYCBfg3UJJd672V6ElTDmBrCGpvgA=s0-d-e1-ft#<a href=

INTENTIONAL CHURCHES ARE THRIVING CHURCHES
Keith Doornbos
 
A U.S. presidential candidate in the last election cycle replied to most questions with, “I have a plan for that.”  When asked about ministry and mission few churches can reply, “We have a plan for that.”  Churches with plans (e.g., intentional churches), however, tend to be thriving churches.  To be more precise, those thriving churches would prefer to say it this way, “God has a plan, and we are working, every day, to bring our plans into alignment with His.”
 
THRIVING CHURCHES ARE PARTICULARLY INTENTIONAL ABOUT THESE THINGS:
 
INTENTIONAL ABOUT CALLING
Thriving churches know why they exist.  They are clear about God’s mission in the world and have developed a clear, shared and compelling vision. This vision names how they will live out God’s mission in their neck of the woods.  Their mission/vision is understood and owned by all.
 
INTENTIONAL ABOUT LANGUAGE
Thriving churches use the language of hospitality.  One thriving church pastor begins every service with these words, “We are a Christian church and because we are a Christian church everyone is welcome here.”  Language is never “us vs. them” but “us together on a journey.”
 
INTENTIONAL ABOUT BRIDGE BUILDING
Our society is becoming disconnected from faith and faith family.  Most have a limited faith memory and a limited experience in Christian community.  Thriving churches build bridges to the disconnected by regularly walking across that bridge to meet, serve, connect and invite.
 
INTENTIONAL ABOUT ON-LINE MINISTRIES
On-line ministries, including live-streaming, informative podcasts, life resources, and discipleship training, are central to most thriving churches.  They are the new front door (the first connection for seekers) and new side door (the way for congregants to stay connected).
 
INTENTIONAL ABOUT ON-BOARDING
In thriving churches, when someone steps into the building for the first time, visits a streaming worship service or participates in a bridge building event, it is as if they’ve stepped onto a moving sidewalk that intentionally onboards them into faith and faith family.
 
INTENTIONAL ABOUT MATURITY
Thriving churches are intentional about helping members grow.  They help them develop the daily disciplines of Scripture and prayer.  They also provide practical training for a deeper life in Christ, and they insist that everyone live deeply into a life marked by the fruit of the Spirit.
 
INTENTIONAL ABOUT HOPE
Paul wrote, “Hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” Thriving churches nurture hope.  No matter the challenge in front of them, they believe God is greater than the challenge and will provide a way through.

______________________________

Join us on
Thursday, April 7, 11am (ET) on Zoom for the next
Church Now Conversation
with Ed Stetzer
Engaging a changing community and world.
 
 
Copyright © 2022 Center for Church Renewal, alll rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
224 W 30th Street, Holland, MI  49423

keithd@churchrenew.org

http://www.churchrenew.org

 

Read more…

Victory Parade

10261164059?profile=RESIZE_400x

 

Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey.
Most of the crowd spread their coats on the road ahead of Jesus,
and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
He was in the center of the procession, and the crowd all around him were shouting,
“Praise God for the Son of David! Bless the one who comes in the name of the LORD!
Praise God in highest heaven!” The entire city of Jerusalem was stirred as he entered.

Matthew 21:5, 8-10
 

We walk prayerfully on the parade route God has mapped out for us.
     Jesus is the Way to the Truth of Life—free, real, rich, full, eternal life.
     The evil one would steal enthusiasm, kill joy, and destroy influence—
          Christ yearns to guide us to a genuinely significant and fulfilling life.
     The Humble King practiced downward mobility to save us.
          Walking in His steps, we have His frame of mind and serve others.
     We are a beautiful work of art God envisioned long before our birth—
          yielding to Spirit brushstrokes on the canvas of our circumstances,
          we are displayed for angels and saints to admire in heaven’s gallery.

We dance joyfully with praise that lasts—celebrating blessings God gives.
     To avoid a fickle heart, we do not call Jesus king one day and desert Him the next.
     To keep our Savior in the center of our life’s procession, we bow to nothing else.
     We are privileged to give our Most Honored Guest a royal welcome every sunrise.
     If we would keep joy alive in our heart every mile of the journey,
          we must not let cheap thrills compete with the ecstasy of His Presence.
     No matter how rough the road, we can always find reasons for thanks.

We march in Christ's triumphal procession leading to a promised bright future.
     Jesus is our Personal Friend, never letting us down or running away.
     He is our Pardoning Savior, forgiving our sins and setting us free.
     He is the Powerful God, helping us accomplish all He asks of us.
     He is the Perfect Lamb, redeeming us from sin’s penalty and power.
     He is the Drumbeat of hope, fighting for us until the battle’s over.
     He is Alpha and Omega, speaking the first word and having the last.
     He is the Prophesied Messiah, winning the last war and defeating evil.
     One day we will wave palm branches along golden streets—
          until then, we can celebrate victories He gives on the roads we travel today.
 

                                                

                                          (c) Pastor Johnny R. Almond 
                                  Day 310, Gentle Whispers from Eternity 

Read more…