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Easter Reflections 2017

I began Easter by posting the following message to FaithInspires’ Facebook page, and to my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

” Today we celebrate the fact that Christ went to Calvary, also known as Golgotha (Hill of Skulls.) He went there to be executed in the most demeaning, inhumane way the Romans had at their disposal, crucifixion ! As the Son of God he could have avoided it all without an once of effort. Yet he willingly submitted to what was about to happen.

He did so for a very good reason. He did so so that EACH one of us could be freed from death, and from our sins. For only the Son of God could die for each person who lived, or would ever live.He was born, lived a sinless life only to spill his own blood for each person. To claim his victory and eternal life we need only to claim his sacrifice and believe in it.

What would seem like a sad tragic day is actually a happy one of great victory ! The cost of Easter has nothing to do with the price of candy. The price of Easter is beyond calculation and was paid for each of us on that far away hill, long ago. Happy Easter !”

 

After what seemed like a very successful Easter Sunday service I returned and posted this, about what I am sure will become a treasured Easter memory.

” I just got back from preaching Easter service at the nursing home. One of my regulars from among the residents got a rare treat, which played out in a way which blessed me mightily.

His daughter who lives out of town came to get him because the family had gathered locally for Easter. She actually apologized to me because with the preparations involved in getting him ready to go out etc. he was going to miss my service. She made a point of telling me how much she enjoyed my service and sermons when she was in town.

I actually got to speak for a moment with the resident as they were leaving. The man was practically in tears at missing my service and literally kissed my hand. I told him that he should go and enjoy his family because they are precious gifts from God.

I know many appreciate my ministry and preaching. But I was touched by the appreciation this man and his family made a point of showing me today. I wish more people understood how much a word or small gesture of appreciation means to those of us in pastoral ministry. Especially those of us who are bi-vocational. Sometimes a simple act such as this one is all that keeps us going when we want to just give up.

This frail, old nursing home resident, and his family gave me a gift of kindness today that will endure as one of my favorite Easter memories.”

 

It has for me been a mostly quiet Easter. I have had the opportunity to get some much needed rest and relaxation. However Christ and his sacrifice have been very much in my thoughts as they are most days. Having the opportunity to  contemplate what our savior did for us on Calvary is a blessing in itself.

International Award winning Christian Writer/Blogger Issues Statement Strongly Condemning Egyptian Church Bombings.

Katy, Texas) In response to ISIS’s claim of responsibility for the bombing of two Egyptian churches, Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield, Founder of FaithInspires.Org and an international award winning writer and blogger issued the following statement.

“ In attacking two churches on Palm Sunday, the Islamic State did not just attack two churches, but attacked the ideals that all people of faith share. They have shown us again that they have no respect for human life, or any faith but their own. Their actions are a disgrace to their faith or any other, and cannot be condoned for any reason or at any level. “

Crutchfield turned his attention to compassion for the victims adding, “ I begin by thanking God for the mercy he showed Coptic Pope Tawadros II, and all those who were spared from the attack. My heart is crying for those who were killed and injured. I encourage fervent prayer for those killed and their families, the injured, and those who were called to assist them all.”

The statement was issued through the FaithInspires.Org website, and released to the media Sunday afternoon following the attacks.

Crutchfield is the founder of FaithInspires.Org an internationally known Christian news and information blog. He was winner of the Author of the Month Award at Scriggler. Com in October of 2016. He also won the Article of the month title there both in October and December of 2016. He also is a Christian Growth and Healing Expert at Selfgrowth.com. He and his work have been seen in GoogleNews, MotivateAmazeBeGreat.com, Katy Christian Magazine, and elsewhere.

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.

 

Christian Writer/Blogger Captures Third International Writing Award

(Katy, Texas) Christian writer and blogger Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield learned yesterday that he has won Article of the Month for December in Scriggler.com’s international writing competition. It was barely two months ago that he won Article of the Month, and Author of the Month in the same competition. This latest victory gives him three international writing awards in as many months.

Crutchfield won in December with his article, What Compass Guides Your Thinking ? In it he discusses the conflict that people often face between popular culture, peer pressure etc. and spiritual teachings. In the article he makes the point that just as with computers, if you don’t like your output ( life direction etc.,) You must change your input. ( Cultural influences, Spiritual influences etc.) His article came in first out of 217 other entrants. Commenting on his latest win he said “ Its always nice to see your efforts recognized. This is a reader’s choice type of reward so I am very grateful to the readers at Scriggler.com for it. At the same time its true value to me lies in using it as an opportunity to bring our ministry to the attention of a constantly widening audience.” The article drew so much support that Crutchfield came in fourth out of 336 total entrants for December’s Author of the Month title. By contrast when he won Author of the Month in October he had three articles entered. All three finished in the top ten that month, two of them in the top five.

Crutchfield is founder of FaithInspires.Org a Christian news and information blog read all over the world. FaithInspires.Org was recently ranked 33rd out of 971 member blogs by the Fellowship of Christian Bloggers. He is also a Christian growth and healing expert at Self-Growth.com the world’s leading self-help website. In addition he is Pastor at Compassion Church of Katy in Katy, Texas outside Houston. Crutchfield founded that small congregation and preaches locally almost every week. He previously served as chaplain of the Katy Fire and EMS Department.

Christian Blogger Dominates International Writing Competition.

(Katy, Texas) The monthly competition at Scriggler.com for October closed yesterday. When it did, noted Christian Blogger Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield emerged as winner of both Author of the Month, and Article of the Month titles. In all 439 people were eligible for October’s Author of the Month. Award. Contestants were allowed to enter any combination of poems, short stories, and opinion articles. Entrants came from several countries around the world. Each writer’s top three publications are used to rank them. The Author of the Month Award goes to the writer whose top 3 publications prove most popular with the site’s readers. Including his first place winning article, How Not to Buy Electronics, Crutchfield finished with 3 articles in the top 10 and two in the top 5.

Talking about the win Crutchfield said, “ First of all I want to thank God, and my fans for all their support. This award was determined by those visiting the site and reading the different publications. Without them their would be no victory.” He went on to say, “With this victory I have proven that I can write not only quality Christian content, but content on a wide range of topics. However writing to me is ministry. I look forward to seeing how this win will open doors for my ministry, and broaden my ability to serve Christ.”

Crutchfield is founder of FaithInspires.Org, a Christian news and information blog read in over 195 countries last year.he still edits that blog on a regular basis. He is also founder of Compassion Church of Katy, a small congregation in Katy, Texas outside Houston. He also founded and runs the National First Responder Prayer Team group on Facebook. He is also a Christian growth and healing expert at SelfGrowth.Com, the world’s leading self help website. He and his work have been seen in Google News, ChristianHeadlines.Com, MotivateAmazeBeGreat.com, Katy Christian Magazine, and many others.

The Day Christ Cleared the Lights for Me.

By Rev. Robert A.Crutchfield, Founder & Editor FaithInsipres.Org

In many cities modern traffic lights have what is called preemption equipment installed. Fire Engines, Police Cars, Ambulances etc. have transmitters on them that trip this equipment. The point is to turn all the lights green for the first responders so they can get where they need to be as quickly and as safely as possible. They “ Clear the lights.” The obstacles presented by traffic and red lights are kept from their path.

On Tuesday, July 12th 2016 I had an experience that showed me all too clearly that my savior Jesus Christ is like having my own set of preemption equipment. I had a heart attack. Shortly after waking up, I felt pain in my chest. I had suffered indigestion, bronchitis etc. so it wasn’t the first time my chest had bothered me. But Jesus spoke to me and made me understand this time it was different. From this point on many things could have gone wrong,many obstacles could have gotten in my way.

The type of heart attack I had kills one in four people in minutes. If I had blown it off as some weird case of indigestion, or waited to “see how it goes,” I would be dead now. But I didn’t, Christ Cleared the Lights ! I might not have had the presence of mind to call 911. Christ Cleared the Lights ! The ambulances could have been on other calls,but they weren’t. Christ Cleared the Lights ! The Hospital ER bays could have been full, the Cath Lab could have been busy, The doctors and nurses already tending to some other urgent case. Obstacle after obstacle between me and what I needed fell away. Christ Cleared the Lights ! Like the first responders and their preemption equipment, I was sped along. Christ cleared all the lights !

Many would say that it was just a string of happy coincidences. Others that it always happens so well. Sadly for others it doesn’t always turn out so well, and that’s an awful lot of coincidences. Some would think because I give Jesus Christ so much credit I must be ungrateful to the doctors, nurses, medics, clergy, and family members who united around me to make sure I was so well cared for. Nothing could be more ridiculous ! I have thanked God for each one of them many times in my prayers over the past week, and I do so again here, now. However I am left with the sense that Jesus Christ is the one who made sure they were all where I needed them when I needed them. And it was he who Cleared the Lights to get us all where we needed to be.

Chances are you are not having a heart attack so what does this mean to you ? Easy, we are all facing challenges in our lives. We all have obstacles between us and where we need to be. More importantly as Christians, we all if we choose to call on him have our own sort of “preemption equipment” to move the obstacles of this world aside. We have a comforter, and healer when we need one. Like 911 that Tuesday,he’s waiting on us to call to spring into action. He is Jesus Christ ! He is waiting to Clear the Lights for you just like he did for me !

Preaching as an Act of Listening

By Robert A. Crutchfield, Founder and Editor FaithInspires.Org

Most of the time when we think of preaching, we think of speaking and of course it is. I also am blessed to have been gifted by God with a strong speaking voice, and  a quick mind which greatly enables that gift. What amazes me is how much listening can go into great preaching.

When I preach it rarely turns out exactly the way I wrote it. As I am preaching the Holy Spirit nearly always adds to what I have to say. Its not unusual for me to step out of the pulpit thinking, ” Boy I wish I had thought of that parable, or verse or illustration when I was writing today’s sermon !”

Several people have even commented that they can see much of  a prophetic nature to my sermons. They could be  right. What I do now that we probably all should more often seek the Holy Spirit as the co-author of our messages. How do I know that it is the Holy Spirit at work at such times ? Simply, that nothing short of the spirit of God would work so hard, and so directly to advance HIS purposes.

So how do we add this power to our sermons ? Unfortunately I don’t think this can be completely taught. There is very much a metaphysical aspect  to this kind of preaching. Prayer of course is as always a good start. Prayer that the Holy Spirit fills us to overflowing, especially when we are preaching. Prayer that our minds will be open to the Spirit’s leading when it is there. Prayer that we will properly interpret what God is trying to tell us through his spirit.

Perhaps most importantly we have to open our hearts and our earthbound minds to the possibility of preaching this way. We also as in inquiring many other skills must be willing to practice this type of preaching before attempting it in front of  a”live” congregation. It also is  a type of preaching which requires a great deal of trust in God. So it requires a degree of Christian maturity that allows a preacher to let go of himself and his abilities, and truly turn his message over to God. Then again if we are truly preaching as we should isn’t it actually God’s message to begin with ?

 

FaithInspires.Org Founder Reacts to the Death of Nancy Reagan

Pastor Robert A. Crutchfield founder of FaithInspires.Org an internationally known Christian News and Information blog released the following statement on the death of Nancy Reagan, ” First we lost Justice Scalia, now this morning we learned that Nancy Reagan passed away from congestive heart failure. In less than a month Christian Americans, Conservative Americans, and our nation’s cultural heritage lost a huge portion of our hearts. Even many among those who disagreed with her husband’s politics respected Nancy Reagan as a woman of class and dignity. As an actress she gave us many hours of entertainment. As First Lady she made us proud. May God’s comfort and strength be with her family, and many friends as they travel through their grief. My thoughts, prayers, and condolences go out to them all.”

Reaction to the Death of Supreme Court Justice Scalia

First of all I want to offer our prayers and condolences to his Wife Maureen and his family, as well as to the members of the court and all who knew him. May God’s comfort and strength be with them as they travel through their grief. Justice Scalia was one of the great human treasures of late 20th and early 21st century America. He will be missed, but not as easily forgotten. May Almighty God grant civility and wisdom to those considering his replacement. In this and in all things may God let his will be known, and may this nation pray fervently to see it.-Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield, Founder and Editor FaithInspires.Org.

 

Here are what some others are saying tonight,

 

From Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council,

“I join the nation in mourning the passing of Justice Scalia, a man who had a deep love for our nation, the Constitution, and as the father of nine children, was passionate about the institutions of marriage and family.

“He leaves behind a distinguished legacy that will have a lasting impact.  His deep commitment to ‎the Constitution was unmatched, especially in an era when judges have legislated from the bench and twisted the nation’s charter document to justify their ideological agendas.

Justice Scalia believed the Constitution had an objective meaning that could be understood and applied, and that as a nation we need to abide by it carefully for the sake of liberty, order, and justice.

“We offer our prayers and condolences to his family.  He will be greatly missed.

“The Supreme Court has now become the centerpiece in this presidential election. There has not been an election-year nomination in generations and the Senate must not break that trend now.  With the election only 269 days away, the people should decide what president should fill this seat,” concluded Perkins.

 

The Second Amendment Foundation released this statement,

Antonin Scalia was a brilliant legal scholar who not only understood the Constitution, he brought clarity to possibly the most important issue of our time,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “I had the honor and privilege to have met Justice Scalia and found him to be a man of strong ethics and intellect, and great character.

Justice Scalia was a fierce defender of the Constitution and he adhered to its original meanings,” he continued. “I found him to be a warm, charming and humorous man with great wit who deeply loved this country and had an unshakeable belief in the rule of law.”

Gottlieb acknowledged that there is already speculation about how this will affect the philosophical balance on the high court.

“It is important now that the Senate not act with haste to fill Scalia’s shoes,” he observed. “The Court must not be allowed to swing away from supporting Second Amendment rights, which is why we urge the Senate Judiciary to act judiciously, and not take up this important issue until a new president is in office. We cannot allow the important work of Antonin Scalia to be undone by a court thrown out of balance by the appointment of a successor who would be his philosophical opposite.

“For now,” Gottlieb concluded, “our condolences go to Justice Scalia’s family, his colleagues and the Supreme Court staff who have suffered a huge loss.”

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez who serves as President of the Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference reacted this way, “Justice Antonin Scalia stood as a champion of life, religious liberty and limited government. The son of Italian immigrants, his life journey speaks to the power embedded when one reconciles faith with education. His presence on the court represented a firewall against judicial activism. His life should serve as both a reminder and a clarion call for us to be both vigilant and committed in defending our God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Americans United for Life President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest called news of the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia “a tragic loss for our country. Americans mourn the passing of a man with deep integrity and unparalleled intellectual force, who valued the Constitution over the whims of popular culture.”

She continued: “Known for his great wit and wisdom, Justice Scalia continually reminded us that the rule of law and protections enshrined in the Constitution are essential. His contribution to our country has been immeasurable.  His respect for life in law, calling himself a ‘textualist,‘ allowed him to decide on the tough cases more easily:  he once said to reporters, ‘Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion.'”

Yoest added, “His loss is tragic, and we hope that when it comes time for the Senate to vote on his replacement, that a worthy successor who can pick up his banner can be found after the election.”

Justice Antonin Scalia was a long-standing and consistent voice on the Court for allowing the American people, through the democratic process, to protect human beings from abortion or assisted suicide.  He was one of the strongest critics on the Court of the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, as unconstitutional and illegitimate.  And he voted with the majority of the Court in 1997 against a constitutional right to assisted suicide.  In both cases, he affirmed that the Constitution leaves these issues to the people to formulate public policies through their elected representatives.

Janet Mefferd who is a nationally syndicated Christian radio talk show host offered this to her Twitter followers,” How it feels to lose Scalia: There’s a hole in Hoover Dam, & the one guy with his finger in that hole just died. And breach is now certain.

Meanwhile on Facebook the Tea Party Favorite, and Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz sent the following to his supporters, “Today our Nation mourns the loss of one of the greatest Justices in history – Justice Antonin Scalia. A champion of our liberties and a stalwart defender of the Constitution, he will go down as one of the few Justices who single-handedly changed the course of legal history.

As liberals and conservatives alike would agree, through his powerful and persuasive opinions, Justice Scalia fundamentally changed how courts interpret the Constitution and statutes, returning the focus to the original meaning of the text after decades of judicial activism. And he authored some of the most important decisions ever, including District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized our fundamental right under the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms. He was an unrelenting defender of religious liberty, free speech, federalism, the constitutional separation of powers, and private property rights. All liberty-loving Americans should be in mourning.

Justice Scalia’s three decades on the Court was one of President Reagan’s most consequential legacies. Our prayers are with his beloved wife Maureen, their nine children, and their precious grandchildren.”

 

 

 

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 !