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Grace from a Young Age by Andrew Westphal

Sunday, June 21, 2015

 

I want to share with you something that I have never written before. The story is about me, when I was about 10 years old.

Attached to our enormous kitchen was an even more amazing little room we could dine in. But instead of dining back there, my mom chose to do her wonderful china restoration. It was there she would do her brilliant renovations of incredible artwork. Whether it was putting something back together or repainting, it was very cool to watch.

But to a 10 year old, that always seemed like an amazing desk for my artwork. However, early on my mom told me, “Andrew, don’t you get up there and start painting!” That was it. The law had been laid down. It was devastating to me. “But mom, I could make my own unbelievable project!” But instead she would simply say, “Take it to your room. These were too important.”

One evening came around and my parents had something to go to together. All I knew was I was on a mission this night. I’m going in! I made my way into the kitchen, walked to the back, and sat down at her restoration table. I took out a little paint, a little tool brush and a small white ceramic tile to create the world’s most incredible picture.

I cannot remember what I drew, or how long I stayed there. What I do remember is that I ended up bored out of my mind, and I left my belongings behind. Later that night my parents came home, and it didn’t take long for my mom’s voice to ring out. “Andrew!” I came into the kitchen and she said, “Did you paint?” “No,” I said. I looked upon the table and then I heard my dad ask the same thing, “Are you sure you didn’t do this?” Again I simply said, “No.” What broke me was what my dad said next, “Well if he didn’t do this, I’m calling the cops. Someone broke in and played with your paints.”

After I heard that I made my way back to my room. I was afraid of not only mom and dad, but the police too! I was sobbing on my pillow in bed, and I finally called out to my mom. She eventually walked in there and I told her the entire story. “It was me, mom. I’m so sorry. Please don’t call the cops.”

My mom held me and said she knew what I did from the beginning. But what I did is lying, and it is wrong. It’s not acceptable. She told me to consider what I had done even more. I asked her later that evening what more I would be punished with and she simply said, you’ve learned your lesson.

What an amazing story of grace demonstrated to me. One cannot earn grace. It is given to those who are humbled. For James 4:6 says, “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”

I could have been rude to both my parents and received something far worse! I didn’t, and I am so thankful for that. That night taught me a whole lot.

Can you think of a day or a night like this in your life? 

Additional Resources
Grace from a Young Age- Bible Study Guide 
Eli's Advice to Samuel-Sermon by Curtis Pope 
I'm Happy Today - Hymn from Annual Singing with Tim Stevens

Did you enjoy this article? Please help us reach others. Share it using the social media links on the left side of the page. If you're not on social media, we also have a PDF version that is great to print or email.

If you want to know more, contact us and let us help. Better yet, visit us. You will find a group of Christians intent on doing exactly what the bible says. No less and no more. You will find truth uncompromised

A Youthful Perspective

I Have Seen God's Grace

By Emily Holt

The concept of Grace is hard to understand no matter what your age.  I am 15 years old and this is how I see Grace.

There are many people in my life that are very important to me.  Some of these people are my great grandparents and grandparents.  Each of them play an important role in helping me be a better person emotionally, physically and, most importantly, spiritually.  Each of my grandparents or great grandparents that are living now, have had an illness or medical situation where they could have died.  By the grace of God, I can live this life together with them for longer, despite their past illness or medical problems.

One of my favorite songs we sing at church is called “Lord I Lift Your Name on High”.  The chorus goes: “You came from heaven to earth to show us the way, from the earth to the cross. My debts are paid, from the grave to the sky.  Lord I lift your name on High.”

This song to me is a reminder of what a blessing Jesus is.  When I think of the word Grace, I automatically think of Jesus.  Jesus came to earth, he died, and he was raised to never die again.  Through Jesus’ sacrifice on that cruel cross, our sins have been paid for.  We did not do anything to deserve this.  God had every reason to NOT send Jesus to save us.  God did this for us because His love for us so strong (Romans 5:8). 

This is true grace that affects us the rest of our lives by giving our lives a purpose.  Titus 2:11 says “for the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people”.  The grace of God is something we can take for granted at times.  It is something we do not realize is happening in our life every single day.  If we look around, we can see God’s grace everywhere around us.  How have you seen God’s grace in your own life?

 

Better than Justice, Better than Mercy by Travis Renfrow

Sunday, June 14, 2015


Back in 1942 Superman was billed as the defender of “truth, justice and the American way.” But these days, America is proud to be a land of second chances. For almost anyone, almost anything is forgivable. We forgive athletes when they cheat by taking performance enhancing drugs. We forgive celebrities for their run-ins with the law. We even forgive heads of state whose indiscretions cause our entire country to blush with embarrassment. We don’t always demand justice.

I remember years ago a man closing a church service with a prayer wherein he asked God for justice for each of us. In eighteen years at home congregation, it’s the only prayer I can recall where I withheld my “Amen.” Even though I was a Christian and I felt secure in my salvation, I couldn’t ask God for justice. I knew then as I know now, justice for me means I have to pay a penalty.

I am a sinner.  Romans 3:23 says, “All sin and fall short of the glory of God,” so I know that I’m included with the guilty. I also know what the penalty is for sin, because Romans 6:23 makes that plain when it says, “The wages of sin is death.” If I ask God for justice, then I ought to receive death. So I don’t pray for justice; I pray for mercy.

It’s within God’s divine right to grant or deny me mercy. But it’s God’s divine nature that wants to grant me pardon. Through the mercy of a patient God, we’re delivered from the punishment we surely deserve. But there’s more. There is grace.

If mercy is the love that spares us the punishment we deserve, grace is the gift of love that is much more than we deserve. Bible scholars ascribe several different definitions to the word grace, but all revolve around the idea of kindness or generosity.

Though we can’t compare to God’s mercy or grace, consider this scenario: a con man has come to town and ripped off your poor grandmother. He deceived her and robbed her of every dollar she had. Then he blew it. There is nothing left. Although he’s now sorry and apologizes to your grandmother, he has no way to repay her. While you still seethe in anger, your grandmother inexplicably forgives him. In fact, she’s so moved by his sincere apology she offers to take him in and care for him indefinitely.

Not everyone would understand what your grandmother had done, but those who know grace and mercy would praise her. Now imagine this: the con man was you. Though your grandmother had been nothing but kind to you your whole life, you selfishly ripped her off. But she still loved you through it all. She still forgave you because she wanted to. She would still take you into her home and care for you. She just needed you to ask for forgiveness and to do right.

God waits for all of us to ask for forgiveness and to do right. Scriptures teach us that there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine who need no repentance (Luke 14:7.) That’s the love of God that waits for me, that waits for you, that waits for us all. If you don’t know God’s grace you don’t know what you’re missing. Let us help.

Additional Resources
Better than Justice, Better than Mercy- Bible Study Guide 
That You May Have Life...- Sermon by Curtis Pope 
Faithful Love - Hymn from Annual Singing with Tim Stevens

Did you enjoy this article? Please help us reach others. Share it using the social media links on the left side of the page. If you're not on social media, we also have a PDF version that is great to print or email.

If you want to know more, contact us and let us help. Better yet, visit us. You will find a group of Christians intent on doing exactly what the bible says. No less and no more. You will find truth uncompromised

A Youthful Perspective

Grace is a Choice

By Lindsey Embry

A guy runs me over in the school hallway and doesn’t help me pick up my books. My brother left his shoes in the floor and I tripped over them…again. My friend asks to borrow $5 and I know that if I give it to her there is a 78% chance I’ll never see it again. My parents ask me what I’m doing tomorrow for the ninth time. I have some choices to make. I could seek a just revenge and tell the teacher about the hallway, demand my $5 back, tell my parents about the shoes, or write a passive aggressive note. OR I could give them all something they don’t deserve. I have the choice to give them grace in the form of forgiveness and patience.
God had a choice to make too. I mess up all the time. I disobey Him and do what I want. But unlike me, He always chooses grace. No matter how bad I mess up, God has promised that if I turn back to Him, He will be faithful to forgive me. 1 John 1:9 promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I can’t ever do enough to be good enough for God. Fixing my sin is not as simple as picking up some books or returning $5, but through Christ it I can accomplish it. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God.”

Defining Grace, It's Not So Easy by Matt Finley

Sunday, June 07, 2015

 

Justice is getting what you deserve, mercy is not getting what you deserve, and grace is getting what you don’t deserve. 

 

Justice and mercy are common ideas easy for American society to understand, because our country is foundationally built upon these two concepts.  The subject of grace is far more difficult to grasp because it is counter-cultural.  Showing grace has the aspect of “everything to lose and nothing to gain”.  Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.  It’s far more difficult to understand grace unless you understand God and His Son.  Let us examine the source, the cost, and the purpose of grace. 

 

The sourceJohn 1:14, 17 – “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” God makes it known to His people that He is gracious by physically showing them grace – delivering them from Egyptian slavery (Exodus 14), raining bread from heaven when the Israelites were hungry (Exodus 16), providing water from a rock (Exodus 17) just to name a few.  Until the time of Christ entering into the world, God has shown grace to His people in physical manifestations, however, they didn’t get it.  It took His own Son to become flesh, the creator becoming the creature for His people to see the completeness of grace, or getting what you don’t deserve.   

 

The cost. 1 Peter 3:18 – “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit…” Grace is not cheap.  It took the most drastic measure to purchase grace.  God has abundantly overpaid for His people.  It took sinlessness to take on the sins of the world to provide us with grace.  What was the motivation behind getting what we don’t deserve?  “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved…” (Ephesians 2:4-5) 

 

The purpose. Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  The gift of salvation was the purpose of sending the source of grace to this earth and take on the just penalty for the sins of man – death.  There’s nothing we can do to earn grace. It is a gift given to us from God, through access of the blood graciously given on our behalf by His Son.   

 

It’s so hard for me to understand why God would give so much, when I provide him with so little.  But it’s the love of God desiring to save His people.  This must compel us to obey Him and give him our allegiance, in what fragile way we can. 

 

Joel 2:13 – “Rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” 

 

Additional Resources
Defining Grace- Bible Study Guide 
God's Concern for Us- Sermon by Curtis Pope 
Thank You Lord - Hymn from Annual Singing with Tim Stevens

Did you enjoy this article? Please help us reach others. Share it using the social media links on the left side of the page. If you're not on social media, we also have a PDF version that is great to print or email.

If you want to know more, contact us and let us help. Better yet, visit us. You will find a group of Christians intent on doing exactly what the bible says. No less and no more. You will find truth uncompromised.

Learning Peace in Pediatrics by Matt Finley

Sunday, May 31, 2015

 

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard you hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” – Philippians 4:7 

 

For the past few weeks, my Physician Assistant training has placed me in Pediatrics.  It has been a rewarding experience learning about kids and how to effectively treat their illnesses.  There are three simple truths I have learned 

 

1) Never take a kid from their mother’s arms in the examination room if you want to check their ears for an ear infection. 

2) There is nothing more peaceful than entering a Labor and Delivery nursery and seeing five swaddled, newborns sleeping. 

3) The mother’s role in nurturing and raising children is foundational to their growth, development, and peace. 

 

This intimate relationship between the mother and the child is evident upon delivery of the child into the world.  As the umbilical cord is cut, which has sustained the newborn’s life for 40+ weeks, the child takes his first breath by himself without any help from the mother.  Whisking the child away into the arms of the Pediatrician, the child begins to breathe on their own, screaming and turning red due to the trauma of entering into the world.  After the examination by the Pediatrician, the child is swaddled, returned to the mother, and something fascinating occurs: the child is calmed and peace returns just by being in the arms and hearing the consolations of the mother.  This unique relationship is quickly understood and will be evident throughout the child’s life.  Whether it be feeding, changing poopy diapers, or consoling a child after a bicycle wreck, the mother is the primary source of peace.  How do we return to this type of peace? 

 

Trusting in the Lord leads to perfect peace.  “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” – Isaiah 26:3-4.  Trust is closely related to peace.  If you have complete trust that the parachute will open, then you will have peace (and terror) and jump out of the airplane, knowing that the parachute will engage.  Trusting in the “everlasting rock”, which is God, leads to perfect peace. 

 

Our Father is the only one who can provide this peace.  This unique relationship, where perfect peace resides, a peace that surpasses any comprehension, continues on with our Father, through His Son, Jesus Christ.  It will protect us, sustain us, and guard us from all cares that this broken world throws at us.  Apart from Christ there is no real peace.  You may think that you have peace through financial stability or family success, but these will fade and do not surpass understanding like the peace of God (Phil. 4:7).  Our relationship with God, through Christ brings us to peace. 

 

We must have a relationship with God in order to have peace of mind. “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.  For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” – Psalm 84:10-11. Our God is not looking for perfection.  He is looking for those who can humbly come to Him, acknowledge their sins, and obey his commands by putting on Jesus through baptism (Romans 6:1-7).  He wants that intimate relationship that only He can provide; like a mother to a newborn.  Do you have this incredible peace of mind?  What can you change to have access to an indescribable peace?

Additional Resources
Learning Peace in Pediatrics- Bible Study Guide 
The Problem of Suffering- Sermon by Curtis Pope 
Till the Storm Passes By - Hymn from Annual Singing with Tim Stevens

Did you enjoy this article? Please help us reach others. Share it using the social media links on the left side of the page. If you're not on social media, we also have a PDF version that is great to print or email.

If you want to know more, contact us and let us help. Better yet, visit us. You will find a group of Christians intent on doing exactly what the bible says. No less and no more. You will find truth uncompromised.

A Youthful Perspective

Find Your Peace

By Makenzie Belcher

Peace to me is something we all need to strive to have. It may be hard, but it is very important. Sometimes our lives get so busy that it may feel like everything is so chaotic. Pretty much  the total opposite of peaceful. It may seem that everywhere we look, there is not an ounce of peace to be found. But really there is. Just take a look in your bible. That is where you can find your peace. There are tons of references to Peace in the bible. But one of my favorites is Philippians 4:7- "And the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." This shows how important Peace really is and what it can do for you!

A form of Peace I have in my life is being home. When I'm with my family, I really am peaceful. I don't have anything to worry about. I am away from things of the world, and with people who love me for who I am, and want the best for me. It just makes me feel safe-and that is a major part of peace. When you have peace, you are stress free, and do not worry. You have a sense of security. One of the many great things in the bible is the description of what Heaven will be like, you can find this is in Revelation 21:11-27. Heaven is going to be so wonderful! Words cannot describe how amazing it will be. It's beyond human comprehension. "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more - or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist." Revelation 21:4 These verses give me Peace of Mind. To know that we will never have to go through painful things anymore when we get to Heaven, is wonderful! It's great to know that there is something else waiting for us after this life. It's not going to be completely over. God spent his time creating the best possible place for us to live eternally. We all have that to look forward to if we live our lives the right way.

Right now It is important to find our Peace. We really do need it. If you are constantly worrying all the time, and can't seem to find a peaceful place, read your bible, or talk to someone. I guarantee you will soon find it. Psalms 91:4 "He shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you shall take refuge; his truth shall be your shield."

Seeking Peace Without God by Andrew Westphal

Sunday, May 24, 2015

 

In Isaiah 9:17 it says, “…everyone is godless…”

I'm writing about these three words because they put every one of us in the same boat – in need of God because we are imperfect.

Have you ever considered what it means to be god-less? The suffix less means, "without." If I say something is worthless, I am saying it is without worth. If you told yourself it would be harmless for you to spend some time with the elderly, you would be saying that spending time with the elderly would be "without harm" to you or them. 

Many of us are peaceless. We are without peace because we pursue peace in this world, but truly get what the world offers, nothing. This is God’s point in Isaiah 7 to king Ahaz of Judah. God said to the king, “Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint…” (Is. 7:4). God said that He would protect Judah if Ahaz trusted Him.

But Ahaz says, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test” (Is. 7:12). Sadly, God wanted his trust. Instead, Ahaz sent word to the largest nation there was for help, Assyria. For this decision God determined Ahaz’s outcome was death – not peace. But the point is this: Who did Ahaz trust in? He trusted in something other than God!

Do you have peace? Many say yes for various reasons. But what would happen if this source of peace were taken away from you? If your father was your stronghold, what happens when he passes away?

I don't want a peace that comes without God. I've read too many stories in the Bible about what happens to those who live life without Him. I don't want to squeeze Him out of my schedule; I don't want Him to be an after-thought in everything I do and every plan I make. That only leads to cold, dark, lonely and fearful days which we know leads to death. There's no peace, happiness, security or refuge in that life. I don't want to be godless; I want to be full of God.

I want God to be always with me - in this life and not just the next. I want His conscience to pour into mine. I want to have, at minimum, a millionth-of-an-ounce of His wisdom to guide my way. I don't want to arrive in heaven one day and meet my Maker as if I’m meeting Him for the first time. I want to know Him as fully as I possibly can in this life.

Living without God is not living at all. It’s vain. Solomon was the wisest man to ever live. He spent many years searching for worth, fulfillment and peace in the things of this world. In the end, he reasoned that all is vanity without God.

Praise to God for His love for us that makes all this possible through His Son who died for this relationship.


What about you? Do you feel the need for peace? Consider these two verses: Phil. 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” And Rom. 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

It is only through Jesus that we can have peace.  So I suppose the real question we should ask is this, do you have Jesus?

Additional Resources
Seeking Peace Without God- Bible Study Guide 
God's Concern for Us- Sermon by Curtis Pope 
Lamb of God - Hymn from Annual Singing with Tim Stevens

Did you enjoy this article? Please help us reach others. Share it using the social media links on the left side of the page. If you're not on social media, we also have a PDF version that is great to print or email.

If you want to know more, contact us and let us help. Better yet, visit us. You will find a group of Christians intent on doing exactly what the bible says. No less and no more. You will find truth uncompromised.

A Youthful Perspective

Peace Through Friendship

By Byron Wood

We all know that it’s that time of year where everyone is stressing over finals and trying to get into college, or making life decisions like who to date or getting your driver’s license. It’s during these times that we are looking for some way to relieve all of this stress.  We are able to find this relief through our relationship with God.   You might be thinking, “That’s good and all, but I can’t physically talk to God in this life.” While it is true God doesn’t speak directly to us anymore, a great source of peace He provides for me in my life is my Christian friends.  When I am with them, I don’t have to worry about being pressured to do something I don’t want to do.   

I really like Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, because to me, it shows the exact reason why we need to have good Christian friends.  When we do fall, they are there to help pick us up.  My best friend is a Christian, and she has helped me so many times when I have been tempted by the world or just need someone to talk to.  If I need a friend, I know she has the same goals as me or if I just need someone to have a little bible study.   I know she is always there for me and has my best interest in mind.   

Another way I find peace is by knowing God is always with me.  (Matthew 11:28-30; Deuteronomy 31:6) From these verses, we see that God will never leave us He will always be there when we need help.

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