What We Can Learn for Our Souls from this Year’s Soy Bean Crop

Soy beans 1Monday is for Challenge

Here’s a great post from memory delight that all my farmer friends in Iroquois County will appreciate. My comments and challenge follow.

Neil Orchard was talking with a farmer about his soy bean and corn crops.

Rain had been abundant, and the results were evident.

So his comment surprised him: “My crops are especially vulnerable. Even a short drought could have a devastating effect.”

“Why?” Orchard asked.

He explained that while we see the frequent rains as a benefit, during that time the plants are not required to push roots deeper in search of water.

The roots remain near the surface. A drought would find the plants unprepared and quickly kill them.

Some Christians receive abundant “rains” of worship, fellowship, and teaching.

Yet when stress enters their lives, many suddenly abandon God or think him unfaithful.

Their roots have never pushed much below the surface.

Remember this, only roots grown deep into Jesus Christ help us endure times of drought in our lives.

So don’t neglect the power of memorizing and meditating Scriptures every single day.

Scripture memorization is a discipline that will help your roots to push below the surface.

Click here on a “smarter” way to begin.

Click here to begin memorizing His words today!

Trinity Church, let’s grow deep in the word of Christ. Let’s emerse ourselves in the word of God so that the Spirit of of God transforms us and makes us a people who “proclaims the excellenecies of our God.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)

For All My Friends Who Struggle With Depression

DepressionHere is an outstanding article and perspective on depression from the ministry, wisdom and experience of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Thirty years of pastoral ministry have given me an education that this issue is not going away easily. Here is real help for the heart that struggles.  Thank you to Christian Communicators Worldwide and Susan Verstraete for the link below.

Mingling Groans of Pain and Songs of Hope : Charles Haddon Spurgeon on Depression

Begging-Ambassadors: The Christian Identity

Monday Discussion

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ,
as though God were entreating through us;
we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf,  
that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
(2 Cor. 5:20-21, NASB)

Worship on Pentecost 2014Six baptisms today. Five twenty-somethings, one thirty-something. Four young men between 20 and 29. All professing new faith in Christ and a desire to follow Christ for the whole of their lives. And then, glory upon glory, a young woman, who attended worship for the first time last week, trusted Christ this week in the picnic that followed the baptism. What a great celebration of Pentecost!

What a privilege we have to be ambassadors for the king of Kings. This story captures both the privilege and power of an ambassadors position but also the source of our boldness. He is the King. We are his ambassadors. Begging-ambassadors with boldness.

The ambassador is clothed with all the authority of the king who sends him. On one occasion the king of Syria, Antiochus Epiphanes, invaded Egypt. Rome desired to stop him and sent an envoy called Popillius to tell him to abandon his projected invasion. Popillius caught up with Antiochus on the borders of Egypt and they talked of this and that for they had known each other in Rome. Popillius had not the vestige of an army with him, not even a guard. Finally Antiochus asked him why he had come. Quietly Popillius told him that he had come to tell him that The Lone Female among Those Baptized (2014)Rome wished him to abandon the invasion and go home. “I will consider it,” said Antiochus. Popillius smiled a little grimly; he took his staff and drew a circle in the earth round Antiochus. “Consider it,” he said, “and come to your decision before you leave that circle.” Antiochus thought for a few seconds and then said: “Very well. I will go home.” Popillius himself had not the slightest force available—but behind him was all the power of Rome.[1]

Jesus is our King. He has all authority in heaven and earth (Mt. 28:18). He commands us. We tell the world his message. We are his ambassadors. Let’s go with boldness and tell the greatest news ever announced. Let’s beg people, to be reconciled to God.

[1]The Letter to the Hebrews. 2000, c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily Study Bible series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

Two Year Anniversary of My Last Book (But hopefully not my last)

Marty at Outside Preaching EventTwo years ago Picking a President: Or Any other Elected Official was released. Still thankful for the work of Phil Gioja in putting together the book trailer. If you are looking for a . . .

  • a devotional commentary on the book of Proverbs
  • a study on leadership from Proverbs
  • a help in thinking about the Christian response to the state of the nation
  • a new book for your small group discussion group

this book might be just the thing you are looking for.  Enjoy.

Oh God, Make My Heart Run to You

Make me run. Make me run with passion. Make me run the race with endurance. Make my life declare that it will not be conquered.  Make me like this young woman.  Make my life pursue you with such reckless abandon that the world notices, even if for only a brief moment, that you are magnificent and worth everything.

Price Drop on “Picking a President”

Bookmark for Picking a PresidentIts official.

The Kindle price on my book Picking a President: Or Any Other Elected Official has dropped by half from $3.99 to $1.99.  I have wanted to do this for sometime and finally got through to the publisher with a way to do it.  Take advantage now.

If you already purchased a paperback version, this is your opportunity to have the book on your computer or your Kindle or Android device. Put it on your phone and then you can share it with friends. Tell your friends that they can get it for half the usual Kindle price and 70% off the paperback price in this e-book format. 

  • If we want a better government, we have to elect better people.
  • If we want better people, we have to nominate and support better candidates.
  • If we want better candidates for nomination, we have to become better people ourselves.

This book is all about how we get there from here.

To get the new price, go to Amazon.com and type in the name of the book or my name or just click on this LINK.

It might take as long as 30 days for the new price to show up at Barnes and Noble and CrossBooks.com.

Tell your friends.

The Passion and Direction of Repentance

Monday is for Discussion

Image of Repentance“Repentance, in all of its biblical fulness, is a passionate word, a dramatic word. It speaks to the notion of changing direction, radically changing direction—but it is more than that. It is a passionate word not only with regard to direction but because it includes the idea of sorrow, regret, perhaps ever tears about the previous direction. Repentance biblically is a turning to God that recognizes the wickedness of what is turned from and the holiness of the One to whom we turn.”

—excerpt from yesterday’s message on Luke 3:1-22

Question:

Do we preach the gospel and pray for this response or teach what repentance is and call people to repent?

Avoiding Pontiac Michigan in Your Community

Monday is for Discussion

Everything You've GotWe saw it happen in Pontiac Michigan last week. (See yesterday’s post here.)

Could it happen in your neighborhood?

What are you going to do about it?  This week?

Tell somebody your plan. Come back and share it in the comments section. Let the people you tell and the Chosenrebel.me readers hold you accountable for your plan.

Kingdom Life, Church Hopping and Grace (Guest Post by Pam Bush)

Kingdom Life, Church Hopping and Grace

Hands in Community ImageYears ago I heard a short radio spot on John 13:35: By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”, the point being that authentic relationships among believers are the greatest evangelistic tool of all.   I would also add, they are the greatest tools for maturing in faith. 

It’s vital to build a firm foundation in God’s Word if you want to be a disciple. God’s worldview is the only one that matters. The way this worldview is fleshed out by disciples is in the community of the church, painting a picture of kingdom life. In my 40-plus years as a believer, I’ve seen some great examples of supernatural community.

But sadly, I’ve seen other examples of believers who walk away from community when things aren’t to their liking, just like those in the world who have neither the Spirit of Christ nor the hope of the gospel. Pick a reason:

  • the style of music doesn’t minister to me,
  • people here are hypocrites,
  • the preaching is shallow/above my head,
  • the children’s/teen’s program doesn’t meet the needs of my children,
  • the church isn’t doing enough/is doing too much to help the poor,
  • we are spending too much/not enough on missions, etc. 

One of the most common reasons I’ve heard is, “God told me to leave this church”. This step is usually taken without much, if any, counsel from godly and wise brothers and sisters. I confess, this is the one that irritates me most because who can argue with God telling someone something? It shuts down any possibility of coming together to talk it out. But it also denies the usefulness of the community, Body of Christ itself.

Hands in Community 2To remain in community and bear with one another, forgive one another, not hold grudges, not sow seeds of discord, etc. is a mark of maturing faith. The impulse to shrug your shoulders and say ‘this isn’t worth it to me’ or ‘I don’t have time for this’ isn’t the Lord’s heart for his church. 

A Proposal

What if we chose to commit to our church in much the same way a wedding vow is made? I, Pam, take you First Presbyterian Church, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.” The choice to give committed love for one another releases the power of the Holy Spirit, building a supernatural church and a powerful witness to the world. It is what the world longs to see and be part of.

Jesus, in his final prayer before his passion, prayed for the oneness of his church. His heart ached for his followers to commit to live in authentic oneness. He knew that the church’s survival depended on the effective witness of a church that was an earthly reflection of the oneness he enjoyed with his Father and the Holy Spirit. This is his call to every church, to place a high value on protecting, cherishing, building, and sustaining the community of faith. 

The author, Pam Bush is the Director of Congregational Life at First Presbyterian Church, Reading, PA and one of the women I admire most in all the world. 

Terrifying Glory and Surprising Significance

Monday Discussion

ShepherdsThe angel comes not to ambassadors, or kings, or presidents, or media moguls, or celebrities, not to intellectuals, or priests, or professors but to shepherds, by many accounts, members of one of the lowest rungs of society in the ancient world.

Shepherds.

Think about the scene. 

It’s dark. They are tired. They are thirsty, maybe hungry. They are dirty. And they smell. That’s the life of a shepherd.

The day’s dust is thick on them.

Suddenly, there is a terrifying glory in the sky and an angel speaking to them (Luke 2:10-14, ESV).

Shepherds 210 And the angel said to them,

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 

14  “Glory to God in the highest, 
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 

  • Moments before they were in the dark, suddenly they are bathed in glory.
  • Moments before they were talking about sheep, now they are talking about angels.
  • Moments before they thought they were insignificant, now they are retelling the most significant news ever announced.

And now it is our chance to think about that news.

The angel comes not to ambassadors, or kings, or presidents, or prime ministers, or media moguls, or celebrities … not to intellectuals, or priests, or professors but the shepherds.

The humility of the surroundings and the “insignificance” of the people, and the lack of pomp and pageantry, all serve to point us to the news being announced. The emphasis is on what God is doing. The emphasis is on the action of God in orchestrating all of history to pivot on the events announced on that solitary holy night.

People of God, be strengthened by this thought:

God delights to use the small things of life.

He delights to use the powerless,

the weak,

the despised,

the broken,

the tired,

the overlooked,

the forgotten,

the hurting,

the dismissed

to accomplish his greatest joys for the world.

Not just at Christmas, but all year long, we, no matter where we are in the list, we can tell the world that news.

Be like the shepherds, run to Jesus, tell the news. (Luke 2:15, 17)
Be like Mary, treasure and ponder the story. (vs. 19)
Be like the angels, proclaim the news loudly. (vs. 10, 14)
Be like the shepherds again, worship the King. (vs. 20)

Merry Christmas!