By Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. “ Isaiah 53:6
We are all imperfect people living in an imperfect world. Add to that the many distractions of our popular culture, and it is no surprise that we stray from God’s path now and then. As I often tell people, its a good thing God always allows for a”do over.” This is made even clearer in Mathew 18:12-14,
“How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” God will always leave open a path from where we are, through Christ, back to him and his way.
Think about this in terms of the classic story of the prodigal son. The prodigal son as you may remember demanded his inheritance immediately. He then left his father’s house and went on his own way. He had a great time, and squandered his inheritance in the process. His money all gone he could only survive by becoming a servant to others. He concluded if he were to be a servant, he may as well be one in his father’s house. So he returned home, and told his father he would gladly be a servant, if only he could be allowed to return. Did the father agree to this ? Not at all ! He immediately ordered his servants to clothe his son in HIS finest robe, and that a ring be put on his finger. He even ordered that his finest calf be butchered and prepared for the feast celebrating his son’s return. Our heavenly Father sees us as his prodigal son when we stray from him, and waits to celebrate our return.
Now lets look at the 23rd Psalm, and think about what it has to say to us in terms of what we are studying. “ The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”
The reason a Shepard worries so much when a sheep goes astray, is he can only protect it if it is under his direct authority. The way this relates to us as Christians is that we cannot stray from God’s way, without straying from his protection. God gave man alone the gift of free will. But the advantages of submitting to his authority do not go with us if we leave him. But if we stray, his heart aches waiting and hoping we will return. If we return, sincerely repenting for anything we may have done to offend him he will happily welcome us home.
But does this mean that we can do anything we want, tell God we are sorry, and its all good ? Not quite.
Consider what the Apostle Paul had to say in Romans 6:1-3, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” To truly return to God our repentance must be sincere. Part of that sincerity is to make changes in our life to bring us closer in line with his way.
But the point of it all remains this. If we truly want to return to God and his way, he will always make a place for us !
WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — The wall of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) in Washington D.C. says IN GOD WE TRUST, but apparently God is not welcome in the building.
After being granted the use of the Congressional Auditorium in the CVC for an event on February 25, a group of Pastors planning a meeting dedicated to racial reconciliation was told on Friday – five days before the event – that unless they eliminated “AN APPEAL TO HEAVEN” from the theme, the use would be revoked. Congressional Oversight Committee Staff required that the theme be changed to “A Discussion of [or Appeal for] Legislation.”
The host of the meeting, Bishop E.W. Jackson, says, “We never misled anyone about the theme. Congressman Bob Goodlatte secured the auditorium for us, and he knew what the theme was. The event was created as a positive and unifying response to the incidents in Ferguson and Staten Island which sparked protests and riots around the country.”
“Given the ugly rhetoric by the likes of Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan, we thought they would welcome our call for unity, healing and reconciliation,” says Mr. Jackson. “But instead we faced suspicion and resistance.”
The Pastors were told that Congressional Oversight Committee senior staff were “monitoring” their promotional material, and would not allow the ministers to use the room unless “Appeal To Heaven” were replaced with a legislative theme.
“When you tell us we have to change the nature of our meeting or be kicked out, you have already kicked us out,” said the Bishop. “We will not compromise the purpose of the event, so we had to move it. Many government officials have forgotten that government exists to serve the will of the people, not the other way around.”
REKINDLE THE DREAM will still be held at 7 PM on the original date – February 25th. The new location is the Hilton Washington at 1919 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20009. RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 757-374-6444.
E.W. Jackson is Bishop of THE CALLED Church, Marine Corps Veteran, 2013 Republican Nominee for Lt. Governor of Virginia, President of STAND [www.standamerica.us] and Senior Fellow for Family Research Council.
HOUSTON, Feb. 18, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ — Digital Bible Society doesn’t plan to stop until the whole world knows — sharing the good news, that is.
Photo: Founder Ken Bitgood
Ken Bitgood, the CEO and founder of Digital Bible Society, and his team have a vision for every person in the world to have the word of God in their hearts and in mobile devices of their choice before the year 2020.
With headquarters in Conroe, Texas, (30 miles north of Houston), DBS is a clearinghouse for digital resources for missionaries and mission organizations, pastors and churches, and individuals who are seeking to distribute Christian, biblical content in different languages, using tiny chips called a Micro SD chip.
“DBS is a Bible society for the 21st century,” said Carl Dobrowolski, DBS director for publisher relations & rights, based in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“Very few are doing what DBS is doing, and that is distributing biblical resources for our brothers and sisters in closed countries and where the Word of God has not been given full course.”
Along with DBS, other missions-minded ministries make up a Digital Bible Alliance who have freely committed to giving material in numerous languages to the libraries of DBS, such as Bible League of Canada, Open Doors International and The Voice of the Martyrs.
With proper compression, DBS can add not only dozens of Bibles and reference books, but hundreds of hours of video and thousands of hours of audio to a single chip, according to Ken Bitgood.
“Ken is the Christian Steve Jobs,” Dobrowolski said. “He has the same mesmerizing ability, but not to bring attention to himself, but to marshal the distribution of digital content for the good of the church and to glory of God. He, along with DBS, is a leader in the exciting digital frontier.”
DBS distributes thousands of high-quality packages to missionaries working in countries that are closed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It also is successfully leveraging the power of digital to provide multiple translations and biblical resources, including the New International Version® (NIV®), on its website Inscript.org and will deliver DBS branded Bible apps, opening up an additional channel to further its mission.
“Our team strives together to make digital libraries available for those who otherwise would never have a Bible in their own language,” Bitgood said.
In many closed-access countries, Christians are tortured, imprisoned and murdered.
“Possessing a Bible, saying the words God or Jesus and meeting together are all offenses punishable by death,” Bitgood said. “Missionaries are encouraged to pass on packages to anyone they know working with the people group in the region. The interesting thing about this chip is that it is not only easy to carry, but that it has the capacity to hold more than 50 times more material than a CD disk.”
Since January 2013, DBS has assisted in the creation and distribution of hundreds of millions of digital Bible and Christian resources in over 450,000 digital libraries that can be copied.
“These digital libraries have been delivered to those who need them most and many of them are being copied at a rate that only Heaven knows,” Bitgood said.
With the new headquarters planning a grand opening in March, Bitgood’s vision is becoming even more real.
“I’m ready to let everyone know we’re here,” Bitgood said.
To learn more about Digital Bible Society, visit www.dbs.org
By Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield
Robert Bakke has done things most of us only dream about. He ran a multimillion dollar company by the time he was 24. He went on to become a Nascar driver, a jet pilot, and a black belt in Karate. He has seen success from a variety of perspectives that few people get to experience. So when he speaks about success, and prayer as the root of success he speaks in creditability.
In his book Prayer at Full Throttle, he offers a six part plan to unleash the power of the reader’s prayer life. It is a book that I read in two sittings because the truth is what he says in it is so clear, and makes so much sense I couldn’t cram it into my head fast enough. This is a book on prayer for the everyday Christian. The language he used in writing this book feels much more like a conversation with a caring friend than a lesson from a teacher or mentor. It is a relatively short book, that reads quickly so there is little excuse for passing it by. You will however not want to rush through this book. It has too much to tell you.
He uses events from his own life a metaphors for what he is trying to tell this. This not only adds clarity , but creditability to what we read. For example in making several of his points he uses his relationship with his godson to help us examine our relationship with God as our Heavenly parent.
As you might gather from the title the core of this book is centered on the idea that prayer must involve more than words. Powerful, productive prayer must be made with confidence, and then mated with related action. Reading Bakke’s book, I am reminded of what a former pastor taught us many years ago. He would often tell us, “ God can’t bless what’s not there !” This is the same thought that Bakke is trying to get across to us.
Part of the message he is trying to get across is prayer if it is to be powerful it must not stand on its own. Prayer should be coupled with related action, and is in large part dependent on our relationship with God. In fact Prayer at Full Throttle teaches us that if our prayers aren’t giving us the results we expect, perhaps we should take a closer look at our relationship with God before we declare our prayers have no effect.
This is not a book that every Christian should add to their bookshelf, This is a book every Christian should add to their life !
THIS REVIEW WAS BASED ON A FREE “MEDIA” COPY PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Feb. 5, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ — Reach Beyond’s “Bucket Brigade” campaign, which provides life-sustaining food and supplies to families in quarantine or isolated areas, is helping break the insidious cycle of Ebola infection in parts of Sierra Leone, where the disease still rages.
Photo: “Bucket Brigade” volunteers in Sierra Leone assemble food and valuable supplies that can sustain a family of five in isolation or quarantine during the Ebola epidemic, thereby reducing exposure and transmission of the virus.
The effort is coordinated with the Believers Broadcasting Network (BBN), a radio ministry launched by Ransford Wright in West Africa, to help break the transmission of the disease and provide for those who are in isolation by bringing supplies to 2,500 people by March 31.
There is still no cure for Ebola, so prevention and early care are key. Families and at-risk groups in quarantined areas have no access to food, clean water or disinfectants – all necessary to fighting the disease and preventing malnutrition.
“These simple items may be the difference between life and death for thousands of people in Sierra Leone,” said Wayne Pederson, president, Reach Beyond. “Every bucket delivered is given in Jesus’ name, sharing His love at a time when those in the most ravaged areas are desperate for physical help and spiritual hope.”
Pederson said every $100 gives a five-member family life-sustaining food and supplies to survive for up to four weeks in isolation. Every bucket provides physical help and spiritual hope to those in need. The buckets contain food, soap, gloves, bleach and other vital supplies.
The World Health Organization has reported there have been 22,000 cases and 8,800 Ebola deaths in West Africa. The virus has sickened more than 800 health workers and killed more than 400 – a massive total for a region that has few hospitals, doctors and nurses.
“The Bucket Brigade is one of the best ways to try to get out in front of the Ebola virus. The outbreak has been unprecedented, and containment is the best way to stop the spread of the disease – it is invaluable to help bring this to an end,” said Sheila Leech, vice president of global healthcare.
Donations can be sent through the Bucket Brigade website www.reachbeyond.org/ebola, by calling 1-800-873-4859 or by mailing Reach Beyond at 1065 Garden of the Gods Rd., Colorado Springs, CO 80907-3405.
As an additional gift, those who donate of $35 or more will receive a free “Make Ebola Kick the Bucket” T-shirt.
The campaign also helps people spread the word through a special toolkit that includes images, icons, posters, badges and more. Churches and other organizations can create Facebook pages, church bulletin announcements and other items by going to the website and clicking the “Download the Tools” button.
For 83 years the passion of Reach Beyond (formerly HCJB Global) (www.reachbeyond.org) has been to make disciples of Christ. Using mass media, healthcare and education and working with partners around the world, Reach Beyond has ministries in more than 100 countries. Together with partners, the gospel is aired in more than 120 languages and dialects. Thousands of healthcare patients are meeting Jesus. Local believers are being trained as missionaries, pastors, broadcasters and healthcare providers.
HOUSTON, Jan. 30, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ — Bear Creek Church opened its doors on Sunday to 27,500 square feet of new ministry space for preschoolers, children and adults following eleven months of facility construction.
After reaching capacities in several areas, church members committed $4.1 million to the building campaign, allowing construction to begin on February 17, 2014. Bay-IBI Group and Sterling Structures provided architectural and construction services throughout the project.
With 16,000 square feet dedicated to a preschool and children’s wing that includes 15 new classrooms, both ministries now have the capabilities to grow by 50 percent and reach 250 new preschoolers and 200 new children.
A worship area for children has also been added to the new building, bringing this space into proximity with children’s classrooms and enhancing security. This area is nearly 5,000 square feet and will allow approximately 300 children to gather together at one time.
The adult ministry gained seven new classrooms spanning 6,500 square feet. This space allows 500 new adults to connect to a discipleship group within the church.
Alongside its expanded ministry space, Bear Creek also added 260 new parking spaces to accommodate guests and members.
“This new building allows us to present the gospel to our community in a much broader way,” said David Welch, lead pastor at Bear Creek Church. “With church construction in America reported to be down by 80 percent since 2002, we feel blessed that we have faithful members who are willing to commit and follow through with a giving-campaign on such a large scale. I can’t wait to see the greater things that God will accomplish through our expanded ministries.”
Bear Creek Church
Bear Creek Church’s mission is to make fully devoted, fully developing disciples of Christ. Located at the crossroads of West Houston, Katy and Cypress, Bear Creek Church strives to reach multiple communities and neighborhoods throughout the city. Pastor David Welch has served at Bear Creek Church since 2001, and his vision is for the church to be a gospel-centered environment where every person is moved to worship God passionately, grow together authentically, serve others sacrificially and share Christ everywhere. For more information, visit www.bearcreekchurch.tv.
Undivided Documentary Shares the Story of How One Church Turned Around a Failing School & The Lives of Their Students
Nationwide Release February 3, 2015 Affirms the Message ‘Every School and Student Matters’
PORTLAND, Ore., Jan. 29, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ — UNDIVIDED, the documentary, aims to inspire thousands of church and school partnerships with the release through iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay, VUDU, XBOX, and Playstation on Tuesday, February 3, 2015.
UNDIVIDED is the inspiring true story of how a faith-in-action church and a public high school forged an unlikely and against the odds friendship – initiating an incredible transformation for both the school and faith communities.
Their partnership exemplifies how when a church selflessly serves their community with sincerity and integrity it can change everything. This kind of sacrifice has the potential to become a source of hope that can change a generation.
Through intimate interviews with the principal, pastor, teachers, volunteers and students, this documentary reveals the story of SouthLake Church, as it begins serving Portland, Oregon’s Roosevelt High School.
Once thriving, the failing Roosevelt High School suffered from the effects of being in a neighborhood riddled with poverty and gang violence. It faced closure until a unique partnership with a suburban church brought transformation among its students, the school and the volunteers serving it.
Featured are the teachers, the cornerstone of the school, who encourage students to persevere, and support staff who sacrifice their time through school food and clothing drives and in-school daycare facility. The high school football team is coached by a stern, yet loving father figure, former NFL quarterback Neil Lomax.
Audiences will experience the bond between students, teachers, and church leaders. Even more rewarding is the emotional resilience of students who struggle daily to beat the cultural odds that are against them in hopes of making a better life for themselves.
UNDIVIDED is produced by Jeff Martin and Dan Merchant, the team behind “Lord Save Us From Your Followers,” and is the feature film directorial debut for Sam Martin (SAMM). The documentary was an official selection for the 2014 Justice Film Festival.
To highlight the relationship between school and church, the producers have created a campaign titled #EVERYSCHOOLMATTERS, hoping to unite 300,000 churches with 100,000 schools across the nation in long-term serving partnerships. Already, more than 16,000 individuals have joined the campaign online.
“For church/school partnerships to work, we have to eradicate the perception that they’re only for well-resourced churches helping under-resourced schools,” said Kristine Sommer, Program Director of BeUndivided. “The reality is that all schools have some need. #EVERYSCHOOLMATTERS is a campaign to end that perception and help activate churches to get involved with their local school.”
It began as part of Luis Palau’s Season of Service challenge to churches to make a difference in the community, and has now expanded with 500 local churches providing 26,000 volunteers around the country. The bridges built between vastly different communities serve as a prime example of the many ways that churches selflessly serving schools with sincerity and integrity can change a community.
“This is the story about unconditional love and how churches can not only be resources for schools and kids, but they help change a culture from ‘have not’ to ‘can do,'” said Kip Jacob, pastor of SouthLake Church. “The message is about service and the magnificent things people can do when they share their gifts and trust God with the results.”
The official trailer is available at www.undividedthemovie.com.
Presented by: Lightning Strikes Entertainment and Aspiration Media
Run time: 66 minutes
Release date: February 3, 2015
Available through: iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay, VUDU, XBOX, and Playstation
Director: Sam Martin Executive Producer: Jeff Martin Writer/Producer: Dan Merchant
Reach Beyond, American Idol Finalist Phil Stacey Releases Powerful Song Encouraging Christians to Share Faith in Jesus
The song is currently available on iTunes (itunes.apple.com/us/album/reach-beyond-single/id944122831) and other digital music services, including Spotify, Amazon, Google and several more.
Stacey was a top five finalist on American Idol in season six and has recorded three top 40 Christian and country music hits. “Reach Beyond” was written by Ty Stakes, executive director of the Asia Pacific Region for Reach Beyond, and composed, arranged and produced by Dove Award winner Chris August (www.chrisaugustmusic.com). The song’s message encourages Christians to recognize the price Jesus paid and the responsibility believers have to model Jesus and “reach beyond” to others.
“I was thrilled when Reach Beyond approached me about recording this song,” said Stacey. “My heart has always been in tune with global missions, and I hope the personal and potent message of this song inspires people to tell others about Jesus — whether it’s in their immediate communities or in a country thousands of miles from home.”
The lyrics challenge listeners to move beyond their comfort zones, remembering what Jesus has done in their own lives to bring them to Him:
No turning back now, I offer my life.
Help me follow Your example and be a living sacrifice.
Use my voice, Lord, oh, use my hands, speak the truth,
Touch the hurting, let the broken understand…
That because of Your love, You would reach out to me.
No one You’ve created is beyond Your reach!
“I’ve been privileged to devote my life’s work to reaching the lost with the gospel,” said Stakes. “The lyrics to ‘Reach Beyond’ are a personal reflection of what I’ve experienced and the importance of never giving up in our efforts to reach the lost. My prayer is that the words will remind people that our work is not done once we become Christians. In fact, it’s only beginning.”
One listener on iTunes, who gave the song five stars — the highest rating — said, “Loved it! An anointed song of mercy and love!”
To download “Reach Beyond” on iTunes, visit itunes.apple.com/us/album/reach-beyond-single/id944122831.
Additional information about Reach Beyond and its efforts to plant radio stations around the world is available at www.reachbeyond.org.
For 83 years the passion of Reach Beyond (formerly HCJB Global) (www.reachbeyond.org) has been to make disciples of Christ. Using mass media, healthcare and education and working with partners around the world, Reach Beyond has ministries in more than 100 countries. The gospel is aired in more than 120 languages and dialects. Thousands of healthcare patients are meeting Jesus. Local believers are being trained as missionaries, pastors, broadcasters and healthcare providers.