A Different Way of Looking at The Beatitudes By Dennis Owen


Our Commander-and-Chief said, “I am the way” (John 14:6). But every generation asks, “How do we ‘show up’ for the battle? What constitutes the way to get our ‘rocks ready’?” From earliest times, Christians have included the Beatitudes as one way to prepare for the battle and experiencing victory. Rather than seeing the Beatitudes as a collection of wise saying, Christians view them as a “way” of life that leads us increasingly into Christlikeness. I share this view, even though it is difficult to describe it. But for now, think of it as a battle that takes us ever closer into the mind, heart, and work of Christ. The Beatitudes are a kind of “battle” in our minds that enable us to rise into increasing Christlikeness, with this invitational pattern…. (Matthew 5:3-12)

(1) The Battle of Surrender (v. 3)—everything begins with abandonment.

(2) The Battle of Lament (v. 4)—before God, we always ‘mourn’ our sins.

(3) The Battle of Guidance (v. 5)—God direct the steps of the ‘meek.’

(4) The Battle of Holiness (v. 6)—understood as ‘hunger and thirst for righteousness.

(5) The Battle of Compassion (v. 7)—living as God’s ‘merciful’ people.

(6) The Battle of Singularity (v. 8)—’purity of heart is to will one thing” (Kierkegaard)

(7) The Battle of Reconciliation (v. 9)—being God’s ‘peacemakers’ in a warring world.

(8) The Battle of Suffering (v. 10)—’persecuted for righteousness’ sake.’

(9) The Battle of Joy (v. 11-12)—’rejoice’ even when it hurts; heaven is real.

I can only point you to these “battles” along the “way.” But taken together, they are one way to answer the question, “What does it mean to fight the good fight of faith?” And that is more than enough for now. Study them individually, but also collectively—and then “show up like David did, get your rocks ready.”

Lonely Days by Prophet G Craige Lewis


Photo of Prophet G. Craige Lewis

 

I must say that coming in contact with Prophet G. Craige Lewis’ ministry was one of the greatest blessings I received this year. I e-mail this Man and ask him permission to publish this “Daily Word” he send out. I hope that you, not only read this message, but also become familiar with this man’s ministry; it will be an eye opener for you. You can visit his site at http://www.exministries.com

 

John 15:14 ‘You are my friends if you obey me. I no longer call you servants,
because a master doesn’t confide in his servants. Now you are my friends,
since I have told you everything the Father told me.’ NLT 

Lonely days are no fun. We all have them. Whether married, single, or divorced, you will have some lonely days. But it seems that some people have more lonely days than others. It seems that those with higher callings on their lives are usually people that struggle with loneliness. It’s almost like God sets them apart or calls them out of past friendships and relationships, and then keeps them alone to himself for a long period to work things out of them. Many of us were so dependent on a man or woman in our lives that we totally ignore God and cannot connect with him like we need to for our callings sake. So what does God do? Take everyone away from us so we can be with him alone. But where does the loneliness come from?

Loneliness comes when you have developed a need for others. I know many will not agree with this, but if you have spent your life living for others, depending on people to validate you, chasing friends and friendships, always needing people around to make you feel wanted or needed, then when you are suddenly alone, you feel very lonely. But if you suffered with any of these issues, loneliness is what you need! Not forever, but at least for a while. You see, Jesus wants to be that friend you are searching for. Don’t you know that God put a desire for himself in your life? Your purpose lies in him, so you must know him to know YOU! Your reason for being lies in him, so you must know him to know why you are you! And when you spend your life chasing friends, using people to find yourself, all you end up doing is having a bunch of one sided relationships, or failed relationships because you are searching for answers in the wrong places. And loneliness becomes a plague to you! But being alone is really an asset. Jesus said in the word that he is your friend and he will not leave you comfortless. He is there and he has all that God has told him about you! Read John chapter 14 and 15 and you will see that his concern is you. He wants you to be his friend and find yourself in him! So the next time you are feeling lonely or all alone, rejoice. Because he is working the false friendships and relationships out of you and working on something much better. Your friendship with him. Because if he calls you friend, it means that he has shared your purpose with you.

Suggested Reading:  John 14, 15, 16

http://www.exministries.com
©2010 G. Craige Works All Rights Reserved 

Suggested Reading:  John 14, 15, 16

http://www.exministries.com
©2010 G. Craige Works All Rights Reserved

The Assurance of a Young Man by my son Angelo


Oh Angelo, I knew you before I created your planet; your every failure, struggle, temptation, thought and victory.  Still today I am by you, in you, and around you. I was there, ensuring your coming into this world. I watched you, and protected you, even to this day. When you began to fall, I watched, waiting for the day of your return; and you came. I love you my son, so much, more than your words can ever describe. Every stone set beneath your feet, every animal and plant that you ate, every atom that you touched, I destined. I have been sitting by your bed side every night, watching everything, speaking to you, willing you to listen and answer. I protected you from everything that can kill you. And so you rise in the morning, and I made you a sky to remember me, and a sun to inspire you. I provide you with shelter and safety. I watch you as you choose what to dress, and I love it when you take my advice. You then clean yourself. When you walk out the door, I remind you that I have many warriors fighting for Me, protecting your family. Still today, they are alive and safe. They are healthy and strong, just as you are. You take the bus and I keep the traffic flowing safely. None of your peers have attempted any attack. The bus then drops you of at your school, and you continue on your day, as I walk by you in the hallways, and stand by your side as you sit. When you take those tests, I help you with the answers, and when you get tired, I give you strength. When temptation comes, I remind you who you are and who I Am. As you come home, I love it when you spend time with Me. I love it when you sing to Me. Angelo, I give you life, family, the fulfillment of needs. I Am the Answer to all you problems and concerns. I Am your Comforter, your Healer, your Inspirer, your Provider, your Protector, your Redeemer, your Savior, your Light, your Friend, your Mom. When you need Me I Am here, when you want Me I Am here; I will never forsake you, forget, you, stop loving you. You are Mine, I bought you at a price so that you can be free from the chains of evil; by blood I saved you. You were a slave to this world and all its death, impurities and lies. You were deceived, left to die, robbed, out casted; and yet I revealed the truth, picked you up from the side of the street, reimbursed you, brought you back home. Everything I do is for good, for I Am Good. My Will be done; I gave your people choice, and I Will that you will choose the logical path, for even you have discovered that My Way is the only way. With this, I also Will that the time will come when I will finally say, “YOU ARE WELCOME, good and faithful servant.”

YOU ARE WELCOME By: Ileana Jubilee Casiano


              How do you feel when you give someone something and they say thank you? You feel pretty good that your gift has blessed someone else. But, it’s not like I am just going to hear that and be like “ok have a blessed day.” Come on, that doesn’t make any sense, that is why three separate words were made in response to “thank you.” These words are “you are welcome.” I love to hear those words come out of people’s mouths with smiles on their faces.

            This very much relate to our relationship with the Lord. It’s like we have a system of the way we do things with God. It goes a little bit like this: We ask, we receive, we use what we asked for and then we ask again for something else. That’s not the way it’s supposed to go. It’s supposed to be like this: We ask, we receive, we thank God for our blessing and in return we show him how much we are grateful by pursuing, listening, loving, and praising him. That, my friends, is how we say thank you. In return, God has a way to say “You are welcome” and that is by continuing to bless you over and over again.

            I am not promising you that you will be given gold and riches all the time, because that is most likely not going to happen. God will bless you starting with things we take for granted, just to see if you treasure them. God has a way to see if you can handle the little things before he gives you the big things. Although you must be careful with how you ask for things; if your motives are wrong you most likely are not going to receive what you are asking for. This is plainly stated in James 4:3 “you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” So just make sure that when you ask you ask with a pure mind and heart or don’t ask at all.

 

            Also, be careful not to make asking the only thing that you talk to Jesus about.  If the only time you went to your friend was to ask for something, how do you think they would feel? If you are always asking how you can ever hear the Father say, “YOU’RE WELCOME.”

A Reflection on Thanksgiving from my Son Angelo


I thank God for the blue sky that I woke up to this morning; for every sky he blessed me with before. Rain does not make the day nasty, but alive. I thank God for the alarm clock that he provided, the bed he gave me, the privacy of a room he provided for me.  I thank God for the pillow and sheets that comfort me to the best of their ability. I thank God for the clothes that are at my disposal, for the shoes that protect my feet. I thank God for the morning that symbolizes another day. I wake up healthy, not hungry, not lost, not in pain physically. I thank God for the dreams he communicates to me, the warnings he presents to me. I have a bathroom and hygiene products, stuff that make me look forward to the life where such things won’t be necessary. I thank God because I can climb down the stairs, because I can read. I thank God for the bus driver that takes me to learn, and for her expertise in not getting in a crash. With you God, I am safe everywhere. I thank God for the order on the streets, and for the lack of chaos of faster transportation. I thank God because I walk to school, whether I feel like it or not. I thank God for the days of victory I have. The first bell rings, I thank God for politics, or chemistry, depending on the day. I thank God for great teachers, who love to teach, who enjoy sharing knowledge so that we as humans will not become inept. I thank God for the fact that this world is so homeostatic. I thank God for America, that though it is falling every second, it still gives me the freedom to worship, to praise, to acknowledge truth. I thank God for Algebra 2, which teaches people to see what cannot be seen. I thank God for chorus, that I have a gift. I thank God for English, for Spanish, for HOPE. I thank God because he called me, in the midst of my mess. I thank God because compared to those around me, I’m not stupid. I also thank God because he keeps me focused; he helps me when worldly logic tries to defy God’s logic. I thank you God for forgiveness, for without it, I would be dead in more ways than one. I thank God for the end of school, when I can come home. I thank God for victories. I thank God for a time to be alone, an opportunity to reflect and meditate on love, truth, guidance, wisdom and hope. I thank God for endurance, for the ability to do homework. I thank God for food. My brother and sister return from school safely, no worries. My dad returns home. I thank God for his job, for his endurance that God provides which benefits everyone my dad meets. I thank God for his victories. As the day closes, I thank God for my struggles, pain, and suffering. I thank Him for the temptation that He allows, and for the ones he doesn’t. I thank God because he makes me stronger, wiser, better, smarter, faster, and slower. I thank God for my room that I slumber in, and for the hope of a new beginning. I thank God because I wake up, looking at the sky.

Breaking down Thanks Giving By My Daughter Ileana


When you hear the word Thanksgiving, what are the first things that come to mind? Its might be along the lines of turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, beets, and so on, right? Yes, that’s what comes to mind because the true blessing of Thanksgiving has been sugarcoated and watered-down to nothing but a celebration of eating turkey and spending time with family. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with turkey and spending time with family, but the true meaning of this day, Thanksgiving, lies in the word itself. Now let’s break it down; when Thanksgiving comes we think about turkey, but put it this way, as if it were two separate words; Thanks and Giving. Now when you think about Thanks, two words come to mind, Thank you. So that tells you that you should be saying thank you and being grateful. Some questions that you might wonder now are “thank you for what?” and “Thank who?” First you should start-off thanking God for giving you life. Then, you should thank God for the little things that you and I take for granted every day. Thank him for food, water, shelter, health, and whatever else comes to mind. For instance I thank God daily for life, family, and freedom to praise him as I will. Now let’s think about the second word in this; giving. Now I understand that we as humans tend to be very selfish, but the Lord encourages us to give. In 2 Corinthians 8:4 Paul states that giving is a privilege. In other words, we should be giving frequently or very often, not be selfish and keep all we have to our self. In 2 Corinthians 9:7 it says “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” This means, when you give, don’t give with an attitude of “here you go get out of my face,” but “take this and have a blessed day.” So as you meditate on this, I pray you will never see Thanksgiving the same again. When you are praying, add this; I pray it will help you to understand your blessings. I was recently admitted into the basketball team at my school LMS and at the beginning of every practice we say this, it is known as “The Creed.”

 

THE CREED

THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF A NEW DAY, GOD HAS GIVEN US THIS DAY TO USE AS WE WILL, WE CAN WASTE IT OR USE IT FOR GOOD, FOR WHAT WE DO TODAY IS IMPORTANT, FOR WE HAVE EXCHANGED A DAY OF OUR LIVES FOR IT, WE WANT IT TO BE GOOD NOT BAD, GAINED NOT LOSS, SUCCESS NOT FAILURE, SO WE WILL NEVER REGRET THE PRICE WE PAID FOR IT.

(Ps: Notice God is always giving; He has already set our example.)

Learning from The Chilean Miners’ Rescue By Dennis Owen


“A Closer Look at the Arts of Listening to God”

The primary verse that I suggest we consider is Proverbs 8:32-36: “Now therefore, O sons, listen to Me, for blessed are they who keep My ways. Heed instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the man who listens to Me, watching daily at My gates, waiting at My doorposts. For he who finds Me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD. But he who sins against Me injures himself; all those who hate Me love death.” There are three key words which we must consider: (1) listen; (2) watching; and (3) waiting. The promise is in verse 35: (1) “When you find Me you find life!” (2) “You will obtain favor from the Lord.” But we must listen, watch, and wait to find the Lord. Psalm 84:1-12, especially Psalm 84:10, shows an example of a listening prayer experience from the life of David: “For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of My God, than dwell in the tents of wickedness. (I would rather be a doorkeeper.)” David knew the art of waiting at the threshold of the door of the house of God.

This is the art of listening, waiting and watching. But the primary verse I want to draw to your attention is Isaiah 50:4,5: “The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens me morning by morning. He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple. The Lord God has opened by ear; and I was not disobedient, nor did I turn back.” I have prayed these verses over my own life and asked that I be given a listening ear. But I have learned over the years that we do not each “hear” in the same manner. Certainly the fear of being open to the “wrong spirits” or being led astray by the enemy is a major obstacle to hearing God speaking. But if If you can respond to the following statements affirmatively, then rest assured that God is speaking to you:

1. What I heard helps me to respect (fear) the Lord and to depart from evil (Job 28:28).

2. The message increases my faith in or my knowledge and understanding of Scripture (Proverbs 4:7).

3. The actions that will result from following this will be full of spiritual fruits: purity, peace, gentleness, mercy, courtesy, good deeds, sincerity, and without hypocrisy (James 3:17).

4. What I heard strengthens me “with all might” so that I can keep going no matter what happens (Colossians 1:11).

5. It causes me to experience joyfulness and thanksgiving to the Father (Colossians 1:12).

As we waited in anticipation of the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners, Christians from around the entire globe practiced this ongoing activity of listening, waiting and watching. As we watched television we saw American technological assistance, Chilean courage, global prayers, and God’s grace! It was certainly a proud and joyous moment for all the world last night, especially the people of Chile! Let’s commit ourselves to these skills so that we will truly find Him and obtain favor from the Lord. Let us be alert and learn the lost arts of communion with our Lord through our prayer experience.

Love Without Strings By Graham Cooke


Sometimes, when we think we love someone, actually what we love most is what he or she gives us. If for any reason that changes, then our relationship could be adjusted to reflect our disappointment or even bewilderment. We are always changed by our experiences of being loved. What makes us mature in loving is when we see our contribution to others as the bigger part of love. We love because we want to be an expression of who Jesus is for us. We love without strings or thought of reward. Love gives permission to change and support the process. It does not wait on the sidelines until change is complete before it rejoins the relationship. Love is a willingness to share the journey and be part of the story. Life can be a comedy, a tragedy, usually a drama, always an adventure, and unfortunately, occasionally a soap opera. Real love always plays a leading role never a bit part.

We want excitement, not boring predictability, yet we often fail to understand that real love is mostly about how we overcome circumstances, not how we avoid them. Life is unforeseen, unpredictable, and made up of pleasure and pain. To navigate the twists and turns of our journey without using love as a compass and guide, means we will neither discover nor become the relational equivalent of True North. This is the most genuinely true alignment that can exist in the harmony between people.

Love does not accept a negative. It will challenge fear in an appropriate manner. Love stands up for love. The evidence of our lack of love is that we are afraid to be hurt or rejected. That can mean that we relate to people in the present so as to prevent ourselves from being hurt, as we once were in the past. That is dysfunctional and sad. We are governed by a present/past mindset that is protective in a completely wrong way. Perfect love casts out fear. The antidote to fear is to fully understand the power of love.

Love is not about opening yourself up to another. It is choosing to be your real self no matter what occurs. Love is about how we love, not who loves us. “I am what I love, not what loves me.” This has become one of the most powerful identity statements that I have ever made. It has produced a freedom that has revolutionized my relationships. Real love cannot be rejected, because it never seeks a return. Love is not an investment. It is the right thing to do. It is a part of our righteousness. That is, it is not just about doing the right thing, but more about being the right person. Be true to yourself and love others.

When the relationship of one person to another becomes toxic, love is still possible even if trust is negotiable. In real love, we always believe the best of someone. If their pattern of behavior does not change, eventually the lack of trust will bring us to a crossroads. It is no longer possible to believe the best, but we can believe that they have the potential to become better. Love relates to people’s potential rather than their actual nature.

Love overcomes our own hurts and wounds. How do we love someone when love is not returned? In exactly the same way as if it were! We love for the joy of loving. Love means that we don’t have to “fix” people. We simply resource them with how we see them, think about them, and value them. Doing something for someone else without the need for recognition or gratitude will benefit the giver as much as it will the recipient.

Love expressed, increases. Love does not control another’s destiny nor stifle their identity. We are learning to love openly and generously. Love that is founded on dependency can become toxic. We can suffocate people with our expectations and demands. We can over-protect like a security blanket that smothers people and allows them no freedom to discover life. Love releases people. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. It is not our responsibility to change people but to give love freely and without strings. We earn the right to give advice. Loving-kindness opens up the door of trust.

We are accepted in the Beloved. The Father has put us into the place of His truest love and utmost affection. He put us into Jesus. He loves us exactly as He loves Jesus, even though we are at this time very different in lots of ways. We are learning to be made in His image. In the process of learning, we are loved as though we have made it! Being in Christ is a paradox. We are in Jesus with all the benefits of being like Him while we are learning to become as He is.

With true love, the process is as good as the end result! God gives love not by measure, but in fullness. Therefore, if we are worthy of love to begin the process, the same love that empowered us to start will compel us to finish. There are no degrees in the love of Heaven. Love is love, God is love, and so are we.

By Graham Cooke

www.agapelifemininstriesinc.com

Three Common Mistakes When it Comes to Church as People By Dennis Owen


Although I have yet to meet a Christian who will not agree that the church is the people of God we generally make three common mistakes when it comes to church as people:

1)    We fail to recognize that to be the people of God is a communal identity

Mostly we operate more as a collection of individuals. But being a Christian means a change of identity. We become a child of our Heavenly Father, which has a very definite set of implications.  This part of identity we are often very good at talking about and working out. But we are called not to be individual persons of God.  God is always in the Bible calling us to be a part of the people of God.  We are called to belong to God’s people, family, church, community.

 2)    Our identity as church is solely based around the gathering

 Church is what happens when people Christians gather together and listen to the Word.  This is too narrow a view on church. It is not our identity.  Our primary identity is perhaps a worker, a father, a husband, a lawyer, etc, rather than as a member of God’s covenant people. What difference does this actually make?  Ask yourself how you decide where you will live?  Near to work, safe neighborhood for the kids, good job opportunities, near to a favorite leisure opportunity, people of a similar culture/economic strata?  How significant in the decision is your role as a member of God’s covenant community?  Or even more pointed of a particular local expression of the church? If your primary identity is church – then surely the first consideration ought to be – how would this move affect my local community; how can this move enhance my current ministry; to what ministry is God calling me now – where can I live in order to better facilitate this?  It is out of our identity that we make these kind of life decisions.  Our actions often betray our functional beliefs. For many of us church is an individual preference event that we attend (we can always find another if the event is no longer up to scratch) rather than a communal identity as the people of God on mission together.

 3)    Our structures do not support our theology – even if we agree that being the church is more than certain meetings, often our practice sends another message.

 The reality is that many churches may have their values and theology correct but their structures in fact work against their theology.  For many churches the people are kept so busy keeping the programs running and attending meetings that there is little time for community to be forged.  There is no time for eating together, playing together and sharing life together outside of the formal programs of the church.  So while there is some level of community formed it is often found to be lacking when life falls apart.  When people are unable to be a part of the programs of the church – they suddenly find they have no community outside of the formal structures. And if it is true that people within the church cannot find time to have another Christian couple round for dinner. What of their unbelieving neighbors?

dpowen1@hotmail.com

Dennis Owen

The Character of God and American Politics by Jody Hines Royals


I think I would have to say that God is Independent. He sent His Son who came to earth and didn’t follow any set pattern; in fact, He set His own pattern and said “Follow me.” He had liberal views in that we should reach out and tangibly care for those we see in need, but conservatively states in Proverbs that “a lazy man shall NOT eat.” Jesus challenges us to be thinkers and certainly not man pleasers. Liberals tend to be “man pleasers” in order to get the majority vote…they never want to point out that murder through abortion is WRONG as it is still murder…they never want to point a finger stating that a parent is being too selfish by chasing their own self-centered desires running the roads instead of staying home and raising their children to be responsible contributing members of society as they age instead of placing the blame on ADHD…ADHD is really an acronym for “Absence of Discipline Heeds Destruction.” Jesus would scold the conservative so centered on “providing materially” for his family instead of providing quality time and devotion to his family and would remind him that God is the provider of ALL we have or own and that it can all be taken in an instant…man has no control over his wealth or health.