Spiritual Identity

Who are you?

Much like many of you, I have had to grapple with my Identity.  And having said that, everything in the question of “Who are you, or who am I?” boils back to one thing.

Self awareness. Or self identity

There are a few factors the effect self awareness and development of it

Family of origin (we are given a role)

Social context (determines behavior)

Fraternities (you are instructed how to act, and view the world)

Relationships (motivation or lack thereof)

Self – esteem (the nature of how you view or grade yourself)

Acceptance of others (things like appearance attitude and behavior)

Our self awareness or our identity dictates who we are, how we behave, and how we perceive the world. Much in the same way, our identity in Christ, is reflected in almost the exact reverse manner.

Where as with self awareness, we gauge where we start, with spiritual identity it is where we end up.

Social context is what determines how to act, and react. But the key word there, is context. It all matter what we are comparing it to.

Fraternities are replaced with the body of Christ, rather than a select group of people who determine who is in charge. And what person you need impress, it is all about impartiality, and that God views us all the same.

Relationship with Christ.

Self – esteem has the individual as the center, our identity in Christ has God as the center. And how he views us.

Acceptance of others (things like appearance attitude and behavior) Rather than acceptance, it is forgiveness of others.

 

While Gideon was threshing wheat, an angel spoke to him and addressed him as a mighty man of valor. Some people see this as humorous because Gideon was hiding from the enemy and Gideon’s response was that he came from a poor family and was not a hero.

Judges 6: 11 – 16

Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!”

Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”

Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”

So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”

And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”

Gideon is seems did not know his identity, despite an Angle of the Lord showing up and telling him so.

 

How do you see yourself? I think it’s true to say that most of us, if not all of us, have an internal picture of ourselves that dominates every aspect of our lives. Whether it’s our personalities, our capabilities, our aspirations and dreams – our self-image, if you like, it affects how we perceive ourselves and therefore how we perceive others see us, and how we begin to relate to others and effectively how they will relate to us. More than that, not only does our self-image affect our own well-being and how other people relate to us, but it affects how we view God – it shapes our understanding of the Almighty, and in fact how He sees us and what we think He feels about us.

some of the lyrics in the song “Priceless” by: For king and country seem to match what our Identity is in Christ.

Mirror, mirror
Mirror on the wall
Tellin’ those lies
Pointing out your flaws
That isn’t who you are
That isn’t who you are

It might be hard to hear
But let me tell you, dear
If you could see what I can see
I know you would believe
That isn’t who you are
There’s more to who you are

I see you dressed in white
Every wrong made right
I see a rose in bloom
At the sight of you
Oh, so priceless
Irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable
Darling, it’s beautiful
I see it all in you
Oh, so priceless

On the subject of priceless, I have a good old fashion object lesson. Please bear with me.

For Michelangelo, the piece David proved to be a defining moment in his artistic career. The story begins with a commission for a statue of David dating as far back as 1466. The original block was a highly prized piece of marble standing at least 17 feet tall, and a minimum of 5 feet wide. When the original artist began work on the marble block. It is said, he did not make much progress, only managing to mark out the shape of the legs, feet and drapery, his work on the project ceased for reasons that remain unclear. The project was resurrected some ten years later when another artist worked on the statue but his contract was terminated with no real progression being made.

The marble block, purchased from the famous quarries at Carrara, remained in the courtyard workshop of Florence Cathedral and lay neglected for the next twenty five years.

After the success of the Rome Pieta of 1499-1500 Michelangelo was recognized as a genius, a master of his craft. He was just 26 years old.

The Guild of Wool Merchants wanted to revive the abandoned project for David, Michelangelo was the artist who was offered, and accepted, this prestigious contract. Working with a second-hand piece of marble that had deteriorated during it’s years of exposure to the elements did not please the artist. It is said (with no real proof) that Michelangelo wanted to abandon the block, that was so badly deteriorated and get a new block. But even though the block was badly weathered, it was still very expensive, and very heavy. The Guild of Wool Merchants did state in Michelangelo’s contract that the stone was “badly roughed out”. The wording is perhaps intended to make it clear to the artist that the aged marble block (too expensive a commodity to waste) was to be used for the statue.

He began work on Monday September 13th 1501 and it would take him two years to turn the marble block into the iconic image that we know and admire today.

Here is something that blows me away. As far back as the year 1466. This piece of art was thought of. and two other artists had already tried and failed to bring it to fruition. And the artist who finished it, was not even born yet.

This can be looked at though our Identity as well. You may think that you are badly weathered and damaged. Neglected even. But you are too precious a commodity to just throw away. Your artist has big plans for you, and you truly are a masterpiece.

Brian Stokes Mitchell, wrote a fantastic song called Through Heavens eyes, and it was featured in the animated movie “The Prince of Egypt”. It illustrates a large point I want to make.

A single thread in a tapestry, Through its color brightly shine.

Can never see its purpose, In the pattern of the grand design.

And the stone that sits on the very top, of the mountain’s mighty face

Does it think it’s more important Than the stones that form the base?

So how can you see what your life is worth Or where your value lies?

You can never see through the eyes of man. You must look at your life through heaven’s eyes.

A lake of gold in the desert sand, Is less than a cool fresh spring.

And to one lost sheep, a shepherd boy Is greater than the richest king.

If a man lose everything he owns, Has he truly lost his worth?

Or is it the beginning Of a new and brighter birth?

So how do you measure the worth of a man In wealth or strength or size?

In how much he gained or how much he gave?

The answer will come to him who tries To look at his life through heaven’s eyes.

And that’s why we share all we have with you Though there’s little to be found.

When all you’ve got is nothing There’s a lot to go around.

No life can escape being blown about By the winds of change and chance.

And though you never know all the steps You must learn to join the dance.

 

Genesis 1: 26:

At the very beginning of the creation story, before man fell into sin,

God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over all the earth”.

Now right away there, God is creating mankind, male and female, in His image; and He creates them in His own identity. Now that means a whole lot of things that I don’t have time to go into, but one thing we do know is: God breathed into the clay that He made from the ground, into the body, the physical form of Adam, He breathed into Him His ‘ruach’, His breath, and Adam became a living soul. So there is a spiritual entity in all of us that connects us to God, it’s called a human spirit.

 

Psalm 139 1 – 18

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Verse 7, Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

Verse 13, For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Verse 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

I want to ask you tonight, whether you’re a Christian or not: what is the mask that you wear? What is the image and the identity that you put on in the morning?

How do you see yourself? I think it’s true to say that most of us, if not all of us, have an internal picture of ourselves that dominates every aspect of our lives. Whether it’s our personalities, our capabilities, our aspirations and dreams – our self-image, if you like, it affects how we perceive ourselves and therefore how we perceive others see us, and how we begin to relate to others and effectively how they will relate to us. More than that, not only does our self-image affect our own well-being and how other people relate to us, but it affects how we view God – it shapes our understanding of the Almighty, and in fact how He sees us and what we think He feels about us.

The age old question…Why?

I often wonder about the complexity of the will and plan of God. The sovereign plan of God cannot be stopped. And in His all knowing state, there is nothing that will escape his view or grasp. Allow me to explain,

During the summer of 2006 I was diagnosed with Progressive myoclonus epilepsy. (for more information on that disorder, I wrote a separate post on it a while back) The doctor told me at the age of 21 my life was effectively half over.  And God spoke to me. Without any prior attempts to hear his voice. He told me to go to Elim Bible Institute. The Bible college that my father attended, and my older brother before me. And I said “No!”

That next year, specifically in November of 2007, I was enrolled at the Finger Lakes Community College in my home town of Canandaigua. I was pursuing my Communications degree, as I wanted to be a writer with the local newspaper. And what degree is complete without a mathematics course. So I found a course that met the requirements, that did not involve complex equations. It was called Math theory. It involved differing theories about vertexes, and paths that are followed. I lot of things I remember little of. For one glaring reason.

I never finished my course. Nor my studies. I “upset” the wife of a cop. And her husband arrested me on charges of aggravated harassment. And he must have been a crumby police officer because when he arrived at my home and put me in handcuffs, he did not recite what my rights were, and the judge threw out the case, based on the fact, there was no evidence of said charges.

I don’t know what ever happened to him, or his wife. And that is not the point. The point I want to make, is that I was expelled form that college. And my communicates degree was suddenly not going to happen.

God spoke to me again. “Go the Elim.” And having been ripped out of my first choice, and with many things that prevented any other path of action, I reluctantly applied. I was enrolled the following September 2008. I received the bulk of my biblical education there. Progressive myoclonus epilepsy was removed from me within three weeks of being on campus.

It was during my senior year 2010, that I was introduced to Marie, my future wife. In December of 2011 we moved to Florida. My son was born a year after we were married. (almost to the day) Though Marie’s contacts, she went to church with a man by name of Jeremy Empie. And she went to school with a girl by name of Katie Callow. Those two got married, moved to Iowa and started a church called Bethesda house. I’m sure you know where this is going.

In February 2017, we moved to Iowa and partnered with them as we launched the church.

Back to the beginning. I often wonder about the complexity of the will and plan of God. The sovereign plan of God cannot be stopped. Through the actions of what I will just call misguided. I ignored the command of God the Father. Upset the wrong woman, and though a long drawn out ordeal, went to Elim, and effectively started life over.

God be praised.

And the complexity of God’s plan has me wondering, If I had listened the first time, I would have attended Elim in 2006 and finished the three year program in 2009. Come 2010, when Marie attended We would not have met. She would have came in, just months after I went out. And never would have known her, and as such, my boy would not have been born, I wouldn’t have moved to Florida, and I never would have known the Empie’s, or been with Bethesda house. So in reality, I need to thank that woman that sicked her husband on me. Everything can be traced back to that.

Thank you Lord for hardships. They teach us lessons, they give us patience. And what Satan uses for evil, the Lord can use it for good.

This is Pastor Amos, reminding you that trials can be good for you. The song “Blessed be Your name” comes to mind.

Examining My Flaws

There has been something that I have always wanted to do. A high honor in my mind. And there was a mid-range probability that it would finally come to fruition this coming September. But as It seems, my pride is getting in the way. Yes, it is important to spread the Gospel of Jesus. Furthering His Kingdom is priority.

But the Holy Spirit has made it known to me that I was not seeking this honor for the Kingdom. I was seeking it for myself. For my own personal wants. And until I can answer the invitation, I will never be able to ask for the request.

“One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.” (Proverbs 29:23)

There was that song by Audio Adrenaline. Get down. I shared it sometime ago.

Lavishly our lives are wasted,
Humbleness is left untasted.
You can’t live your life to please yourself, yeah.
That’s a tip from my mistakes,
Exactly what it doesn’t take.
To win, you’ve got to come in last place.
To live your life you’ve got to lose it,
And all the losers get a crown

All I need’s another day
Where I can’t seem to get away.
From the many things that drag me down.
I’m sure you’ve had a day like me,
Where nothing seems to set you free.
From the burdens you can’t carry all alone.

In your weakness He is stronger.
In your darkness He shines through.
When you’re crying He’s your comfort.
When you’re all alone He’s carrying you.

And it is with these thoughts that I will be releasing my grip on the steering wheel. I will ride shotgun, as Jesus takes the driver’s seat.

So it is with a heavy heart that I come to grips with my shortcomings and my flaws, I would venture a guess and say there are not a whole lot of people how enjoy looking at their imperfections.

Will you not wait?

Will you not wait? Will you not tarry?

Did our King not tell us, of this world to be wary?

The instruction they gave, and the words they spoke,

To us the utmost importance, to others a joke.

We have seen His hand move, and experienced His power,

Will you not listen to His word, this very hour?

The curing of the sick, and the healing of the blind,

You feel the gentle tapping, on the door to your mind.

You feel it working, yet you ignore

And you will never be as miserable as you did before.

The thoughts in your brain, feelings coursing through your veins,

And it is only though that power, that will break the chains.

You are afraid to let Him in, to this life you call your own,

The calling of the Father, can melt your heart of stone.

So grant Him a chance, and push back the attack.

If you feel no change, Satan will gladly take you back.

Honor, where honor is due.

Today is June 20th, 2018.

It is today that I have felt led to give honor, where honor is due. There was a man that was apparently a rather big deal. His name was David Camp.

Pastor Amos & Marie Cotter Honor, where honor is due.

I never met the man. But I have heard nothing but stellar things about him. During the summer of 2010, I was working as a landscaper (not grounds keeper) for Elim Bible Institute as a means of financing my tuition.

There was one day that sticks out. It was hot. I was working in the flower beds out side of the chapel on campus. The wife of the college president had just stepped outside with a few of her friends. Her phone rang. And her happy face disappeared. And she was soon crying. She burst forth in a mighty prayer. Claiming the blood of Jesus for someone who obviously was in bad shape.

June 16th was the day and the accident happened about 1:23 pm. A truck turned in front of him and he swerved to avoid it and an oncoming car carrying a pregnant woman. He hit a tree and incurred a traumatic head injury.

He was being treated at a hospital in the intensive care unit. A facebook page was created, it was used to spread the word, and be involved with recovery. It was plainly called “Pray for David Camp”. In the coming days, it grew at a staggering rate. At first it was a few dozen people, but as the story grew, and the situation turned, things escalated. When I joined the page, the number was already at 5,000.

The next morning it jumped to 7,000. I saw the status reports from his family and friends. And I was seeing progress being made. I did not know this man, but I could see the outpouring of love from so many people. And it stirred within me. I forwarded the page to all my Facebook friends numbering close to 200, and they all accepted it. I was fully convinced that David was going to pull through. And I thought to my self, if and when he does, I could say I was part of something big. When he recovered, I wanted to hear that man’s testimony.

Fathers day, 2010 (June 20th),

David was called home. And no, I am not talking about a discharge from the hospital. And even today, I feel that same familiar sorrow. The heartbreak. The sense of loss. Never before had I been so impacted by a stranger’s death. I remember a quote that his father posted that day.

“This is not the father’s day present I was expecting.”

It has been eight years to the day. And it is this that I want to share with you dear readers. Just because the story didn’t end the way we would have wanted it, there is joy and praise that has been garnered out of this. I believe Boromir said it best,

“Yes there is weakness, there is frailty. But there is courage also, and honor to be found in men.”

And it is this honor I want to recognize.

I contacted David’s parents, asking for permission to write this. Not only did they give me their blessing, they shared with me all the good that has come out of this. I have some quotes from them.

“It’s wonderful to hear your words to us during this anniversary time of David‘s passing. It is difficult but with God’s grace he continues to give us beauty for our ashes. We are blessed to know that you would like to share your heart and experiences that surround our son David. We know that it will continue to bring glory to God. … We have heard testimonies of salvation’s, people being called into ministry And other amazing ways God has multiplied the grain of wheat falling to the ground. Even our own lives have been impacted in ways we could never have imagined! [We] have been traveling to Africa these past four years and God has opened up an amazing ministry called David’s KidZ international. It is a sponsorship program that children participate in to go to school and receive care and meals.” – John and Kristen Camp

“I remember his great love of life and for people. When he passed and in the years following I have found myself listing him among those who passed without receiving the promise. I [would] claim the verses at the end of Hebrews 11 for his family.  “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:39 – 40) What a legacy they have praying for his recovery, and him receiving heaven as an answer.” – Cindy Scott

I didn’t know him super well but I knew he had a heart of gold. He truly cared about people. I remember after his death, his family found a list of things he had written down saying he wouldn’t compromise. He would apparently read it over himself every day. Since then, I wrote them down and I keep them at my desk at work so I can always remember what I should never compromise. – Pam Kauffman

I will not compromise By David Camp

Pastor Amos & Marie Cotter Honor, where honor is due.

My Integrity                                            God’s standards of morality – Righteousness

My reputation as a Chirstian       The spiritual gifts God has given me

The trust I have earned                   The Holy Spirit’s presence in me

The call of God on my life                God’s will in me

I will not compromise For Sin         My standards

My virginity until marriage             The life God has called me to live

 

“He truly cared, he is one of those people who you know means what they say and genuinely cares. He is extremely kind hearted and fun loving and make you feel like you were life long friends after only five minutes.” – Andrew Rinaldi

“I didn’t know him well, but he was always smiling and always kind. Extremely talented. Just a really chill and really cool guy. Honestly, wish I could have known him better.” – Beki Birtcher

Study on 1 Corinthians: Chapter 1

I have been told I am rather ambitious. Pastor Jeremy has deemed it fit that I lead the Bible studies during the week. and I will be posting my notes here, as I think some of my dear readers may gain from it. I used a variety of tools and web sites to formulate this study. One being usefulbible.com. As well as many books on the subject. In addition, I have included my own research.

1:1 – About Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians

So Paul sent the Book of 1 Corinthians as a letter to the church in Corinth. Its purpose was to give advice on the matters that the church leaders had asked about.

1:2-3 – The nature of God’s church

So, at the start of his letter, Paul called them: ‘the church of God’. That means ‘the people whom God has separated for himself’. He also called them ‘the saints’, in other words, ‘the holy people’. Paul used the word‘saints’ to describe all Christians. ‘Holy’ means that a person belongs to God. Paul also said that God had ‘sanctified’ them. That means that God had made them holy.

Paul emphasized their connection with other Christians, both in Corinth and elsewhere. Some groups in Corinth were acting as if they were the only real Christians. (*1)

1:4-9 – Paul’s prayer

We will see that the first Christians in Corinth were doing many wrong things. Many of them did not love each other, and they did not respect their leaders. But still, Paul was kind to them and he wrote to them in a gentle manner. He knew that they had not been Christians for a long time. Most of them had not chosen on purpose to have those wrong attitudes.

So in Paul’s prayer for them, he expresses his thanks to God. God had been very kind to them, and he had done wonderful things in their lives. Most Christians in Corinth were not wealthy (1:26), but they lacked nothing in their relationship with God. God had made them able to speak for him. God had given them the knowledge that they needed. God had given them his Holy Spirit, and there was evidence of that fact in their lives.

1:10-13 – Arguments about who leads the church

All the Christians in Corinth met together as one church, but there were different groups in that church Those different groups were constantly arguing with each other. (*2)

One group said that Paul was their leader. It was true that Paul had been the first leader of the church at Corinth. But Paul did not want to be the leader of a group that argued with other Christians! Paul was not trying to make himself important; he considered himself God’s servant.

Another group were loyal to Apollos. Apollos led the church after Paul left Corinth. You can read about this extraordinary man in Acts 18:24-28. Apollos’s work at Corinth was very successful. But at that time, Apollos had not even met Paul. The two men probably had different opinions about many subjects. (*3)

A third group would only accept the authority of the first Christian church in Jerusalem. That was where Cephas, usually called Peter, served God.

The last group probably thought that churches should not have any human leaders. Paul did not agree with that idea . (*4)

Paul reminded the people in all these groups that Christians belong to Christ. It was Christ who died to save them. God appoints many different kinds of people to be the leaders of his church.

But perhaps ‘leaders’ is the wrong word, because really they work as God’s servants.

Christians who constantly argue need to become more mature in their relationship with God. Then they will not still want to argue about their opinions. Instead, they will desire to love and to serve other people.

1:14-17 – Why Paul did not carry out many baptisms

Because Paul was very busy, he only had time to carry out a few baptisms. Crispus was a leader of the Synagogue in Corinth (Acts 18:8). A Synagogue is a building where people meet to pray. Gaius was probably a wealthy and generous man; Paul mentions him in Romans 16:23. Stephanas was the first person in Corinth who became a Christian (16:15). Perhaps Paul had time for his baptism because not so many people wanted to speak to Paul then. (*6)

1:18 – The cross is the power of God to save

Really, there are only two groups of people in the world. What separates the two groups is their reaction to Christ’s death on the cross.

God’s people believe that God has saved them by means of Christ’s death. They even call it ‘the Gospel’, which means ‘the good news’. Like everyone else, they were guilty of many wrong and evil deeds, and they did not deserve God’s kindness. (*7)

But on the cross, Christ suffered the punishment for their evil deeds. The result is that God is saving them from the power of evil deeds (Romans 6:23), from the devil (Hebrews 2:14), and from death (15:54-57).

But for other people, Christ’s death is not good news. It is clear evidence that they too must die. And it reminds them that they cannot avoid God’s punishment for their evil deeds. Of course they do not want anyone to tell them about Christ’s death. It seems foolish even to mention such a shameful matter. The Son of God died in an awful manner, as criminals die.

Such people do not see how powerfully God was acting to save his people. And they do not realize that God wants to save them, too. God does not want to punish anyone for their evil deeds. (*8)

But he can only save people who believe his message (John 3:16). And nobody can believe a message that they have never heard (Romans 10:12-14).

So it is essential for Christians to speak about Christ’s death. Of course many people will consider that message foolish. But some people will believe, and by means of that message, God will save them.

1:19-21 – The limit of human intelligence

The Bible is not against science. In fact, the Bible encourages people to study our world carefully (for example, Job chapter 39; Ecclesiastes 1:13. However, the Bible does insist that human intelligence, like everything else in the world, has a limit (Psalm 119:96) (*9)

We see that limit whenever intelligent people cannot believe in God. All their education has failed even to show them that God exists. They may be very wise, but in this most important matter, they are no better than fools. (*10)

1:22-24 – How Christ’s death shows God’s wisdom and power

The Jews are the people who came from the families of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Paul speaks about them in particular because God had made special promises to their nation. God did that because he wanted to use them to tell people in every nation about himself (Genesis 12:3; Isaiah 49:6).

The Greeks are really the people from Greece. However, Paul uses the word to refer to people from all the other nations too. We can see that from 1 Corinthians 1:23, where Paul uses the word for ‘nations’ instead of ‘Greeks’. Paul uses the word ‘Greeks’ only because he was writing to people in Greece.

In Greece especially, people considered wisdom and special knowledge to be very important (Acts 17:18-21). They believed that these things came from the gods. And they had many gods (Acts 17:22-23). They thought that they would know the thoughts of their gods by their study of wisdom.

The Jews knew about the real God. They knew about the powerful things that he had done to rescue their nation in the past. Their nation was in a weak state. They wanted God to do powerful things like that to rescue them again.

But God alone has the right to choose how he will save people. He did not choose to save people by the sort of powerful act that many Jews wanted. He did not choose to impress people by his great wisdom, as people from other nations wanted. Instead, he sent his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross. That is how he saves people. Jesus suffered the punishment for their evil deeds.

That fact disappoints many people. But it does not disappoint the people whom God has saved. In the death of Christ, they can see both God’s wisdom and his power. And by the death of Christ, God can save both Jews and people from all the other nations.

1:25 – Evidence that God is wise and powerful

It is not difficult to prove that God is powerful. His act to create the heavens and the earth was more powerful than anything that people can even imagine.

In the same manner, we can easily prove that God is wise. When he created the heavens and the earth, he did it in a very skillful manner. It takes wisdom to get the details of any design right. A bomb is powerful, but it can only destroy things. The kind of power that can create new and wonderful things is evidence of God’s great wisdom (*11)

Christ’s death showed both God’s great power and his great wisdom. God acted in a way that most people did not expect. When people trust God, he saves them because of Christ’s death. (*12) (*13)

1:26-29 – Why God chooses people who are not important

That was why, in Corinth, God saved so many poor and weak people. He was giving honour to those people who really were humble in front of him. And so God showed clever people that their wisdom was not complete. He showed strong people that they were too weak to save themselves. He was giving wise and powerful people the opportunity to become humble. And if they did that, he could save them too, because of Christ’s death.

A proud person is not ready to ask God to save him. But when he sees God’s work in other people’s lives, perhaps he will be humble enough to ask for God’s help, too.

1:30-31 – True greatness

If you want to speak about true greatness, you certainly must not speak about yourself. It is only proud people who talk constantly about their own skills, strength and successes. They praise themselves when they should give honour to God. They depend on themselves when they need to trust in God. And those proud attitudes make God angry.

Instead, you should talk about the good things that God has done for you. And if you have invited Christ into your life, God has done many wonderful things for you. Paul mentions righteousness, sanctification and redemption; we will explain each of these words below. These things show the wisdom of God from which we can benefit because of Christ’s death.

Righteousness means complete goodness. Of course, Christians cannot pretend that they are completely good (*14)

Their goodness can only come from God, by means of the death of Christ. (*15)

Sanctification means that God has declared someone to be holy. Holy means that a person (or a thing) belongs to God. God has separated them for himself. Paul has already used similar words to describe Christians in 1 Corinthians 1:2. Christians are the people whom God has made holy, by means of the death of Christ.

Redemption means that God has paid the price to free his people. He saves them from the power of evil deeds, death, and the devil. The price that he paid was the death of Christ. (*16)

Paul declared that he would be proud about nothing except Christ’s death for him. (*17)

In other words, Paul refused to be proud about anything that he himself had done. Instead, he gave thanks to Christ. Only what Christ has done shows true greatness.

(*1) – 1 Cor 1:11-12

(*2) – 1 Cor 11:18

(*3) – 1 Cor 3:5

(*4) – Titus 1:5

(*5) – 1 Cor 12:28

(*6) – 1 Cor 3:5

(*7) – Romans 3:23

(*8) – 2 Peter 3:9

(*9) – 1 Cor 13:9

(*10) – Psalm 53:1

(*11) – Proverbs 8:1, 22-31

(*12) – 1 Cor 1:24

(*13) – Romans 1:16

(*14) – 1 John 1:8.

(*15) – Romans 4:22-25

(*16) – 1 Peter 1:18-19

(*17) – Galatians 6:14

Luminosity

There is a popular Christmas song entitled Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. In that song, the writer tells us not to go out in the storm since they have no place to go so he suggested everyone to stay at home and let the weather takes place. But today, it’s the opposite. We have a chant that every Christians should know whether the world outside is too dark, cold and lonely, we need to fill this world with the light that comes from Jesus as the true source of light of this world.

Matthew 5:14-16 is our text. From these verses, Jesus was able to give us our purpose so that as long as we live as follower of Christ we are called to SHINE.

Which brings me to my first point

  1. We are called to Spread it in the world. – v14a “You are the light of this world”

Jesus is the true source of light when He mentioned in John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The light that we need to spread and reflect to this dimming world is coming from Christ. He said that we will have the light of life. How can we have that life? By reflecting what is in Jesus by following Him.

  1. We Christians must spread this light of ours to others by our testimony.

Ephesians 5:8 says “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light”. We are called to live this calling to this dying world.

  1. We need to spread it through our trials

Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

Illustration about the moon. The moon can only be fully appreciated once everything else goes dark. The beauty of the radiance of the moon can be appreciated once it is full moon when you can only see its reflection from the sun. Same with us as Christian, whom shall we fear when we know we can reflect more God’s light to people.

  1. Spread it through our talk

Psalm 119:130 “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

1 John 1:5-6 “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.”

  1. We are called not to Hide – v14b, 15a “A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.”

So when Jesus told His disciples and now that we are told to be the same, He meant that this light should not be hidden. This light should be burning and not to be covered, it should be seen by others.

As Christians, our lives become a public figure ready for others to see and not to be privy on it. When we became the children of God, our lives began to be an open book ready to be read by others. Hiding our true identity is hated by God. Even in the Parable of the Talents, the 3rd person was satisfied to hide his talent and that is the cause of God’s wrath on him. Even in the Parable of the 10 virgins, Jesus wanted to say that our lights should be burning until He comes!

Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb in 1879. Twenty-two years later, in 1901, one of the newfangled gadgets was hung and turned on in the Livermore, Calif., Fire Department. It’s still there, and still on. The old bulb has almost never been turned off in 117  years.

By today’s standards it should have burned out 852 times by now. The bulb, hand-blown, with a thick carbon filament, was made, it is said, by the Shelby Electric Company, which did not become one of the giants of the nation, for an obvious reason. The Shelby Company made light bulbs to last, and nobody ever reordered.

The bulb is accorded an awesome respect by Fire Captain Kirby Slate and his men. In a time of planted and planned obsolescence, when gadgets are forever falling apart or burning out or breaking up, it’s reassuring to watch a dusty 117-year-old light bulb shine on and on and on.

What an assurance we have that our lights will be burning whenever we are with Jesus.

Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Treasure Island, when he was a boy, he would stand at his window during the winter nights. He would watch the public lamp posts as they were being lit. He found amazement in the act of doing so. He would say, “Look, there is a man poking holes in the darkness!”

Jesus used the analogy of using a town built on a hill because this is where Jesus wanted to see His children to be seen by others. Jesus wanted our lives not only to be seen by some of our families but rather by all our relatives, friends, communities and if possible the whole nation.

Ephesians 5:14 “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

And that moves me into my next point.

  1. We are called to Illuminate – v15b “Instead they put it on a stand, and gives light to everyone in the house.”

Another term for light up is to illuminate. This is where the unit of measurement of light intensity which is lumen came from. The more lumens the more the light intensity is being shone to an object. Now we know that we are not the true source of light but we are the product of God’s light being shone to us so that we are called to illuminate for others.

A father and his son were attending a wedding when the son suddenly asked a question.

Dad, why is the bride wearing white?

Because white is the color of happiness, and this is the happiest day of her life and she wants people to know it.

So, why does the groom wear black?

It doesn’t mean that when the groom wears black it means sadness, but it’s about color combination. That in a wedding there should be some contrast or a theme to be followed. But when you applied this to our lives, this theme that you have now in your life, God is the one who decides and whatever the color you may be wearing make sure the lights is still radiant and not unhealthy.

In the Bible there 2 kinds of meaning for the word “good”. In Greek the word “agathos” means “good quality” but the other term “khalos” means “attractive or beautiful or looking good”. Here on this verse, when Jesus said “that they may see your good deeds” He simply means that your light should be attractive, having an atmosphere of beauty or good looking light.

Colored light attracts people and we are lighted up to give colors to our life. And it is Jesus who causes us to give light as colorful as we can because we attract the light coming from Him.

Another purpose of light in us aside from attracting people to see us is that once they see this light they will glorify the Father. It is God who caused us to illuminate for others to be seen however this light must also goes to the origin of that light which is God. These people will see us not to glorify us but to exalt the Father in heaven.

It is the glory of the Father that has risen in us that’s what is it says in Isaiah 60:1-2 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth

and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.”

It is not our glory that they seen in us but it’s God’s so whenever these men see in us the good deeds we reflect it to see God’s glory in us. It causes us to be what 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Philippians 2:15 “so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky”

Luke 11:34-35 says “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. 35 See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.

We must bring good quality of light not just the intensity of it.

Now I have a point I promise, A lumen is the measurement of how intense or how bright an object is. One lumen is equal to a single lit candle.

The luminosity of the sun is 6.84 Octillion. That is 6.84 followed by 25 zeros!

Philippians 2:15 “so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”

The sun is rather bright. and shining to that magnitude would certainly catch someones attention.

The largest known star is UY Scuti. its radius is 738,420,000 miles. If placed at the center of the Solar System, its photosphere would at least engulf the orbit of Jupiter.  A hypothetical object travelling at the speed of light would take about eight hours to travel around UY Scuti at maximum, whereas it would take 14.5 seconds to circle the Sun.

However, UY Scuti is not the brightest star. that record is held by a star that is less than 2.5 % of UY Scuti’s size.

R136a1 (yes that is the name of the star) has a radius of 15 million miles. That makes is only about 30 times that size of the sun. and this comparatively small star has a brightness (no joke) almost 9 million times more luminous than the sun.

So take that 6.84 Octillion, times it by almost 9 million and then you have it. The luminosity of the brightest known star. This thing puts the sun to shame.

A city set on a hill cannot be hidden, nor do you light a candle and hid it under a basket. Instead it is elevated and gives light to all who are in the house. Therefore, let your light so shine before men that they might se your good works and glorify you father in heaven.

Conclusion:

What are the purposes of God when He called us out from darkness?

  1. To Spread light in the world
  2. He called us not to Hide
  3. To Illuminate others

We are all called to SHINE!

Psalm 33:1 “Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.

How to enjoy circumstances

Living in Pensacola Florida, there are many things that some would deem as poor living situations. Now before I get into that, I just want to point something out. My lovely wife, was born and raised there. her family was also in the city limits. It was all she knew. The hot sub-tropical climate made good for a long growing season. There is a stark difference between an orange, and a Florida orange. And then there is the award winning Pensacola Beach. And the positives seem to stop there.

In the span of five years, I shuffled around in that city for far too long.

In December of 2011, I flew in to Pensacola on a one way ticket. I spent the next 4 months securing employment, getting my own place, and beginning the steps for marriage. The first house I found for rent did the job. In April of 2012 I moved in, two months later I was married, and as such, my bride moved in too. It was a block house. Meaning, it was constructed out of cinderblocks. We called it the cell. During the summer, the house was cool. It trapped all the cold air. It was nice.

I am going to stop for a moment and explain something. In Florida, there are two seasons. Summer, and not-summer. Summer begins in late February, early March. One can expect to experience 90+ degree temperatures, coupled with humidity consistently above 70% for about 8 months. One can take a shower on Monday, and not dry off until Friday. The very air you breath is a poisonous fume. It is not until mid October when what the locals call a “cold snap” happens. And that is the first time since summer began the thermometer dips to less than 60 degrees at night.

Mid October comes around and there is a brief 3 week timeframe when the temperatures are comfortable, and the air is breathable.

When not-summer takes its place the temps are colder, between 40 and 55 degrees on a regular basis. There are instances when it reaches freezing, but those are very uncommon.

Back to the point.

Not-summer comes around, and the cell proves to be a cold hold. There were frequent times, when my yankee blood was unable to cope, and I lost feeling in my toes, fingers, ect. And it was around early November of 2012 when we found the black mold.

Black mold is toxic. And can produce a wide variety of severe to deadly symptoms. A shoe of mine had rolled too far under my dresser to easily grab, so I moved the dresser, to get it that way. I looked at the wall, and the mold was so wide spread, it looked like it had been painted that way. It was later found on our mattress, our clothes, and inside every room in that house. We got up and we got out.

We found a one bedroom apartment on the other side of town. It was less than I mile from the airport. My son was born while we stayed in that…place. We didn’t have any problems with the landlord, or our neighbors. I was working at a thrift store for minimum wage with less than 30 hours a week. We survived on less than 1000 every month for far too long. We didn’t stay in that apartment for very long. Because it is only meant for two people, and our infant son counted as a third.

Just after thanksgiving, we moved to a trailer. It was old. And cramped. But it had the necessities, and rent was free.

It was then that we were introduced to the tenants. Oh no… not more people. The roaches. We fought those things for over a year, and we never really made it work. In January of 2014, we couldn’t take the bugs anymore.

February 13th came, and we moved into a duplex with so pretty stingy landlords.

On Father’s day 2015, I was admitted for appendicitis. Now, a routine appendectomy is easy enough, but my appendix was wrapped around my colon. The doctors had never seen anything like it. I was out of work for a week. Then an abscess the size of a golf ball grew in its place. And that put me out another week. This absenteeism created a race to stay a head of the curve for the next 5 months. This cause two things. Number one, I lost my job the day before thanksgiving. And every month from July 2015 to  June 2016 we were a month late on rent.

December 2016. It looked bad. Christmas was coming. No job, meant no income. We were at one of our lowest points. And all through December, I tried to find something, anything. Nothing came. New years rolled around and I get a random call saying that a company wants me to work for them.

January 2016. I began my task as an assistant manager of a loan office. I stayed there for a exactly one year, barely surviving. There were times when we didn’t even so much as have a dollar to our name. we had to cancel our garbage removal services. And almost on a weekly basis, drive to gas station after gas station dropping of a few small bags at a time until all the garbage was gone.

In January 2017 we left our duplex, headed to south Florida and stayed with my wife’s “sister from another mister” for two weeks. Then we made the argues journey to southern Iowa. We arrived February 7th. Just 4 days later, Bethesda house was launched.

I mention all of that as back story. In the span of just over 5 years, I moved six times. I have experienced destitute times, and what I will call times of plenty. There has always been some hurdle that me and my wife have had to overcome. But we always have.

One cannot fully appreciate the good times, until after they have been through the bad times.

This is Pastor Amos, reminding you to keep it in Jesus.

A man of Patience

So I was reflecting on some of the many things that shaped me into the man I am today. And I have already done a post on people of influence. But my mind keeps circling back to one person in particular.

When I first met this person, I was very young. And even though I proved to be a troublemaker, and a general nuisance, this person still chose to mentor me. This person was very adamant about making sure I gave my all. And nothing short of my best was good enough. This guy taught me wisdom on more that a few occasions. I can still here echoes of his words when painting walls and even the mud room floor. When cycling through the budget, I can hear the words “Do you need that, or do you want it?” When I arrive at the conclusion it is a want, its priority changes.

We fought. We argued. And there were times when I didn’t much care to see or even so much as sense his presence. And this relationship I had with him certainly was rocky and at times rather unpleasant. But that is not to say I didn’t like him. I respect this man. Because I know…no matter what He only has my best interest in mind.

I remember an instance when I let my temper get the better part of me. I ended up breaking the window to my front door. (over something stupid) and having no real idea how to fix it myself, this guy got involved. And he was mad that I had done that, and that I needed him to help me fix it. But that same night he called me. He was calm, cool, and collected. He ended up giving me some silver certificates from the 1920’s.

It was that instance when I realized this guy really did care, and regardless of what situation I got myself into, he was going to be there.

There are many friends that I have made (and even lost) over the years. But this man has weathered the storms with me. Even though I think I alone am responsible for half the gray hairs on his head. And there are many other instances I am leaving out.

He has my respect and trust. It is this man that I have to thank for where I am now, and the wisdom that he imparted to me. And at this time I would like to recognize this man and thank him for all he has done for me.

Thank you dad.

Father, a symbol of family and most of the time pride.

encoragment and learning, come in and out with the tide.

One who shows you who you are, and gives lessons here and there.

One who teaches wisdom and morals, and always shows fatherly care.

He who works hard, and supports his kids and wife.

hard and long hours, taking most of his life.

toil and sometimes pain, with dicapline to dish out.

telling children to smile and never to pout.

being brave and selfless, denial of energy, money and time.

like a duck to the water and a poet to his rhyme.

taken on a journey, with many mountains to climb,

dad is a job, that is more than full time.

 

This is Pastor Amos, reminding you to listen to your parents. Thank your dad today if you can.

As always, Keep it in Jesus.

My apologies

Well dead readers, it has been some time. Please forgive me for not being consistent with my posts. When I went to Florida I knew there would be one week without any posts. While I was away, Pastor Jeremy decided it was in order to undertake a task that I will just call “operation reorganization”.

For those of you who have not met pastor Jeremy, he is a man with a passion for all things neat and tidy. He is a self-proclaimed perfectionist. And when he thought it best to move our churches sound booth from one side of the church sanctuary to the other, I thought it would take a few days.

Turns out that he constructed an entirely new sound booth, ran the better part of two miles worth of cables and cords into new conduits. And then there was the matter installing new light fixtures, and the list goes on. We have just now settled into a normal routine of what we were doing prior to “operation reorganization”.

Then there was the matter of fighting off infections, allergic reactions, and a week-long bout of gastrointestinal distress.

 

BUT WE ARE ALL GOOD NOW!!!

 

There will be some changes coming to this blog. As much as it pains me to say it, I will be discontinuing the pick of the week. There were people who advised me that mentioning instances of idiocy was a mean and un-pastoral thing to do. I would like to apologize if I said anything less then wholesome.

The Jehovah series is still active, and I will post a new installment on Monday, April 9th.

With the removal of pick of the week, I will be adding a new series called “pioneers”. And that will be revolving around a person or a small group of people who have begun something wildly successful with such humble beginnings.

Sorry again for the long delay.

Keep it in Jesus