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FaithInspires.Org Launches New Faith and Fighting Peer Pressure Free Online Mini-Course.

( Katy, Texas) FaithInspires.Org the internationally known Christian news and information blog, has expanded its ministry by launching its first online mini-course. The course Faith and Fighting Peer Pressure is the first of what is hoped to be many by the ministry. Faith and Fighting Peer Pressure is built around a video derived from FaithInspires Founder Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield’s award winning article What Compass Guides Your Thinking. The video is done in “white board “ style complete with background music and a computer generated voice-over. Completing the course are study questions written by Crutchfield, and additional readings selected by him. The whole mini-course can be finished in less than half an hour. It is hosted by TED.com, a well respected source of short online courses. It can be accessed online at http://tinyurl.com/FIPeerPressure.

Speaking about the course, and FaithInspires’ new initiative to create online courses Crutchfield said,

“The Christian Church has never been just about Sunday, or just about buildings. It has always been about bringing the Good News of the Cross to people in as many ways as possible. For our ministry to grow, we need to reach those to whom tablets and smart phones are the primary way of communicating and gathering information. These new e-courses are an important part of our strategy to do just that !.”

Thinking of the challenges involved in the new effort Crutchfield continued, “ This effort is our ministry stepping out in faith. We do not currently have the money, facilities or volunteers to do this. We are relying on God through his people to provide what is necessary to do this.”

Those who feel moved to contribute to this effort can do so by going to their website, www.FaithInspires.Org and clicking on the Donate to FaithInspires link at the top of the right hand column. Rev. Crutchfield can also be reached by email at ra_crutchfield@yahoo.com.

 

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Faith Vs. Proof

By Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield Founder & Editor FaithInspires.Org

As modern people we are inclined to believe only that which we can see, feel, and taste. We place great trust in logic or the scientific method. What then of faith with which we can do none of the above ? Faith cannot exist in the presence of proof, they are mutually exclusive concepts. So you see faith in the spiritual sense runs counter to our modern way of thinking.

Look first of all at what is says quite plainly at 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we live by faith, not by sight.” Here scripture tells us directly that faith is not something which can be seen. However it also tells us that we are to guide our lives according to our faith in that which cannot be seen.

Hebrews 11:1 says much the same thing, ” Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” So Hebrews tells us that faith is in fact itself evidence ! How can this be ? For further clarification look at the words of Romans 8:24, ” For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?” The intangible nature of faith is also seen in the works of St. Augustine who said,” Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.” Our faith gives us hope, despite the fact our faith cannot be seen. Faith is what gives us hope even when the “facts,” or circumstances are against us.

Part of the reason that faith cannot be proven by earthly methods, is that it can accomplish so much more than our feeble minds can grasp. We see this in the words of Andrew Murray, “Faith expects from God what is beyond all expectation.” Faith coming from God is greater than the things of this world. So it follows that the things of this world would be insufficient to define it, or prove its existence. This perspective is shared by Alister McGrath long time president of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. McGrath wrote “Faith is not something that goes against the evidence, it goes beyond it. The evidence is saying to us, ‘There is another country. There is something beyond mere reason’.” So in McGrath’s view faith cannot be defined or proven through logic and reason, because faith is so far beyond their power.

Faith is then not based on any of the things we would normally view as “proof.” They are based on our trust in God, and the unique nature of who he is. The great Christian thinker A.W. Tozer made the same point this way, “True faith rests upon the character of God and asks no further proof than the moral perfections of the One who cannot lie. It is enough that God has said it”. So faith is about trust not proof !

Faith is also not without its rewards. Consider Christ’s own words on the subject. “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” John 20:29 (KJV)

Faith from God, and in God is the force which allows us to exceed what “ the world” can conceive. Because the world cannot fully grasp faith it cannot fully prove it. However the strong, mature Christian through prayer, and immersion in scripture gains the ability to tap into its power. Faith comes not from evidence found in this world, but trust in Christ !

Faith, and Fear: From Those Who Have been There.

Earlier this week there was a horrific terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Ca. Understandably and predictably these has created a sense of fear in many people around the country, including Christians. One way people who like me who write and teach on Christian scripture make sure we are on track is to compare our thinking with respected leaders from the past.

Given this week’s events I thought it might be fruitful to examine what three leaders from the past, who had much to fear had to say on the subject. Corrie Ten Boom was a survivor of Nazi Concentration camps. Not only was she herself imprisoned as a member of the Dutch underground helped many others to safety. In one of her quotes she says, “ Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear. “ So fear among other things breeds worry, and worry makes our thinking inefficient. The last thing we need in a crisis is to loose our ability to think straight.

Watchman Nee spent the last 20 years of his life in prison, persecuted for his faith by the Chinese communists. Nee tells us, “ The sight of any trouble strikes terror into the heart of those who do not have faith, but those who trust Him say, “Here comes my food!” So here from someone who has face incomprehensible fear repeatedly over many years, that faith is our answer to the fear this world wishes to put in our hearts ! We also must as people of Christian faith stand together consider this also from Boom, “When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles. When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy.” Its easy to see, that if we let the fear of this world separate us, the devil wins !

But what else might we as Christians do when fear strikes at our hearts ? Back to Nee, and Boom’s thought from a moment ago. Consider what Nee says here, “An unpeaceful mind cannot operate normally. Hence the Apostle teaches us to “have no anxiety about anything” (Phil. 4:6). Deliver all anxious thoughts to God as soon as they arise. Let the peace of God maintain your heart and mind (v. 7). “ Similar to Boom, Nee tells us that “ An unpeaceful mind cannot operate normally.” So what does he tell us to do about it ? He refers us to Phil. 4:6, which teaches us in part “ Deliver all anxious thoughts to God as soon as they arise.” So obviously prayer must be a vital part of our response. And in spite of what some have argued recently, we have here first hand testimony that prayer works ! This is reinforced by the words of Emil Kapaun who said “ No sincere prayer is ever wasted.” Father Kapaun was a Catholic chaplain during the Korean War. Interestingly he won the Medal of Honor mostly for what he did AFTER becoming a prisoner of war. Father Kapaun certainly knew fear !

So while fear is a very natural, normal reaction to certain circumstances it is easy to see that it can distort our thinking and lead us away from God. It is only by turning instead toward him through our prayer that we can gain any measure of mental or spiritual clarity and then safety. Our ability to do this also hinges on our ability to band together as Christians when things get tough or scary. God after all gives us one another for a reason. So that we might reinforce each other’s faith. Fear and Faith like light and dark cannot coexist. When fear knocks at the door, embrace faith !

By Faith with Frank Shelton: Episode 2

AVOID A JUNK FOOD SALVATION

Salvation is so much more than being able to check a box on a form. Its not about being able to say “I love Jesus, of course I’m saved.” Salvation in its true sincere form is a transformational experience. Your life will be changed forever and these changes have a purpose. Salvation is the first step in preparing you for the future God has always intended for you. In this respect salvation is not entirely an individual event. Salvation is a first step in preparation for service to God and the people around you. God works through his people, so if you are unable or unwilling to allow God to work through you then you are not the only one who suffers. The salvation experience should open your heart and mind to of your acceptance of God working in you, and through you. Salvation occurs through the grace of God, by way of your acknowledgment that Christ died for you on the cross. There is now way to earn your way into Heaven. But as you are saved and after you and everyone else should see dramatic changes in how you face the world. Changes that come from being immersed in the Holy Spirit and God’s word !

Our behavior is the most obvious sign of our spiritual condition. Salvation is not a blank check ! Being saved, and under God’s grace does not mean we can do anything we want because God forgave our sins. Paul makes this point to the Christians in Corinth when he says “ “Everything is permitted, but everything isn’t beneficial. Everything is permitted, but everything doesn’t build others up. No one should look out for their own advantage, but they should look out for each other.” 1 Corinthians 9:23-24 (CEB)

Does anybody not believe that God could safe every person one Earth with a snap of his fingers ? Of course he could. But this would not be the point. Don’t you think that God could force us to follow his way if he wanted to. Of course he could ! But this would miss the point. God wants thinking willing followers not an army of brainless robots. For salvation to do what it is meant to do we must willingly accept Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. For God’s Word to do what it is supposed to do we must voluntarily follow the understanding of it the Holy Spirit gives us.

Anything less is a “junk food” kind of salvation. Junk food may taste good, its convenient, and it fills you up or at least makes you feel full. Junk Food can also be expensive, and over time lead to obesity, heart problems etc. A junk food salvation works the same way. We may say we are a Christian. We may even go to church, read Christian magazines etc. But like with junk food, if we do not allow salvation to open our minds and hearts to the Holy Spirit then our salvation is only a convenient but dangerous substitute for the real thing. If we do not allow God to enter our lives and make dramatic life changes to our world, then we are in reality not saved at all. So pray that your hear and mind will be opened to that which God has reserved for you. Commit yourself to not only reading God’s word, but integrating it into your daily life. Not only will you reap the rewards, but so will the world around you.

Faith and Health Connection Announces Ambassador Course

03.365 (02.08.2009) Faith

03.365 (02.08.2009) Faith (Photo credit: hannahclark)

Course equips participants to facilitate Pathway 2 Wholeness Bible Study

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Feb. 20, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ — Faith and Health Connection announces their new Faith and Health Ambassador Course, a program designed to teach participants about the link between faith and health.  This 11-week program is taught through live weekly webinars, in conjunction with an online community with weekly forum discussions.  New sessions begin on April 16 at 7 p.m. and April 17 at 2 p.m.

Dale Fletcher, Executive Director of Faith and Health Connection said, “Most wellness programs attempt to help a person become healthier by changing their behaviors or environments — things that are on the ‘outside.’  This initiative focuses on matters of the spirit, heart and mind, which are on the ‘inside’ of a person.  When God has more of our heart, our behaviors will generally follow.”

In order for Christ followers to most effectively serve in God’s kingdom, they need to be healthy.  This training will teach participants to become more whole — spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically by helping them:

  • Learn how beliefs, thoughts and behaviors affect health
  • Identify symptoms of poorly managed stress
  • Understand roots of unhealthy and addictive behaviors
  • Understand key biblical principles for whole person health
  • Understand key dynamics of weight management, nutrition and physical activity
  • Create an action plan for their spiritual growth

In addition to helping participants experience change in their own lives, the course will also equip them to be advocates for the link between Christian faith and health, particularly by facilitating a Pathway 2 Wholeness Bible Study at their church or in their community.

The Pathway 2 Wholeness Bible Study consists of ten weekly sessions and includes small group discussions and weekly readings.  The study is aimed at creating spiritual transformation through a right relationship with God, a healthy relationship with oneself and loving relationships with others.

“The ultimate goal of these initiatives is that God is better known and more glorified by the increased fruit in the lives of the participants who have been transformed,” said Fletcher.

“The ultimate goal of these initiatives is that God is better known and more glorified by the increased fruit in the lives of the participants who have been transformed,” said Fletcher.

To apply for the course, interested participants may complete an application at this website — Faith and Health Ambassador Course. A pastor or person in leadership at each participant’s organization is also asked to complete a recommendation form.

Faith and Health Connection is a nonprofit ministry that teaches others how to apply biblical principles and results of medical research to achieve whole person health.  For more information, visit www.faithandhealthconnection.org.

Sermon Notes:Faith 101

Compassion

Compassion (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

The following are Pastor Robert Crutchfield’s sermon notes from Today’s service at Compassion Church of Katy.

 

What is faith ? Why do we need it ? How do we make it grow ? These are the questions for our message this week. There are many things about God, and about Christ that are hard for us as humans to totally comprehend. Faith is essential to our spiritual life because faith is what makes it possible to accept things as fact even when we don’t completely understand them.

 

The word faith comes from the Greek word pistis which has as its primary meaning “trust or confidence.”

 

The Department of Defense through the Office of Naval Research is currently working with scientists at places like Drexel University, and the University of Georgia on robotic versions of eels, jellyfish and bluegill sunfish. They can’t even start on making them independent, because after much effort they have not yet even mastered how these fish move through the water ! Understanding God and that which he has done is near impossible even with the full-time effort of some of our best scholars !

 

Where does our faith come from and how does it grow ? Lets look at what Romans 10: 17 has to say,

 

So, faith comes by listening, But its listening by means of Christ’s message.”

 

So Faith comes, and grows by hearing God’s word. By constantly being reminded of the truth of his promises. For a closer view of faith’s power lets read the story told in,

 

Mathew 18-25

 

While Jesus was speaking to them, a ruler came and knelt in front of him, saying “ My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” So Jesus and his disciples got up and went with him. Then a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years came up behind Jesus and touched them hem of his clothes. She thought, If I only touch his robe I will be healed.

 

When Jesus turned and saw her he said “ Be encouraged, daughter. Your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that time on.

 

When Jesus went into the ruler’s house, he saw the flute players and the distressed crowd. He said “ Go away, because the the little girl isn’t dead but is asleep”; but they laughed at him. After he had sent the crowd away , Jesus went in and touched her hand and the little girl rose up.

 

Why do we need faith ? Because faith is a powerful force. It can dispel our disbelief, it can strengthen us. It will even defeat death !

 

A little faith goes a long way too ! You don’t need a lifetime of faith for it to work. You don’t need more faith than the next guy, or stronger faith than who ever. Lets close with the words of ,

 

Mathew 17:20

 

…” I assure you that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Go from here to there,’ and it will go. There will be nothing you can’t do.

 

Faith gives us confidence both in God and our own ability to weather life’s storms. Like prayer it is one of our most powerful spiritual tools.

Faith Without Works Is Dead

Bay window in Christ Church Hall

Bay window in Christ Church Hall (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

James 2:14-17(NIV) “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

This is one of those verses which raise many questions. Is James chapter 2 telling us  that salvation is not just a gift from the grace of God ? No because only the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ,not our meager “works” has the power to save.

Neither is it saying that salvation must or can be earned through our works.

Consider the same verses from the new Common English Bible (CEB)

“My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it ? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it ? Imagine a brother or sister who is naked, and never has enough food to eat. What if one of you said ” Go in Peace ! Stay warm ! Have a nice meal !”  What good is it if you don’t actually give them what their body needs ? In the same way, faith is dead when it doesn’t result in faithful activity.”

So what Paul is saying to James, and to us is only true faith not mere repeating what people want to hear has the power to save. He also is saying that true faith bears fruit, where there is true faith there is proof, and that proof is in our actions.

Consider now what Mathew Henry the great bible commentator says,

This place of scripture plainly shows that an opinion, or assent to the Gospel, is not faith. There is no way to show we really believe in Christ, but by being diligent in good works, from Gospel motives, and for Gospel purposes.

It also goes along with what I’ve been saying for years, about love being a verb. Love is not what you say but what you do. Just as I try to prove my love for my wife in dozens of ways every day, It is my love of God that propels me to serve people in his name, and for his purposes. It is not enough to tell my wife that I love her, although I tell her often, it is important to us BOTH that I SHOW her. In the same way you should be able to look at my actions and know that I love God, by how and why I serve the people around me.

What James Chapter 2 is telling us is without action behind our faith, it may be there but it is hollow and empty, and lacks the life changing power that it should have. I’ve done a lot of work with disasters. I remember working in a shelter after Tropical Storm Allison struck Houston. One of the shelter residents approached me and asked if there was anything they could do to help. The rain was still falling yet she had an emotional leap from victim, to wanting to be one of those who were helping. What Paul is looking for in these verses is the same kind of  “leap.”  Having first been victims of “the world” and having survived the devils temptations, which lead to our salvation. We are now called to God’s s Army of people making life changing differences in his name in the lives of others.

So pursue not the simple, easy, faith so many these days think good enough. Seek instead the vibrant, overflowing faith God always intended you to have. Pray that he will show you on a daily basis, what to do so that all might know your faith through your service.

Receive the doubter, but not the doubts

English: Capel Tegid y Bala Here is Thomas Cha...

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Romans 14:1

Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

 

We have all heard the phrase “preaching to the choir.” In many ways doing so is very tempting. preaching to and teaching those that already believe in God is easier than doing so to those of weak faith, or none at all. But we are NOT called to reach only those who are easily swayed. Our call is to war against disbelief, to reach those who take work to reach.

This verse calls on us not to avoid those whose faith is weak. Instead we are instructed to spend time with them. One goal of this is to give our own christian example time to minister to them. How we speak to them, and interact with them should be THE  strongest argument that will bolster their faith.

Romans 14:1 doesn’t leave off there. If  you will notice the last half of the verse includes a warning. We should be on watch that their doubts are not allowed to erode our faith. Guarding our faith is often difficult, but an untested faith is no faith at all !  We should walk among those whose faith is weaker than ours, and put the strength of our faith on display for them and all others to see. We should constantly prepare our faith for such encounters through prayer, and our study of the word of God.

So we get two huge lessons from one small verse. Avoid not those whose faith is weak or absent. At the same time we must strengthen and protect our own faith,  so that the doubts of those around us will not weaken our own belief.