encouraging others

February 12, 2018

We all have times where we are not very motivated or creative For most of us these pass over time. A great way to overcome these times is to focus on other people. Doing for others has proven to be a great way to get the positive energy going again.

There are a lot of ways to reach out to others but one way that can really benefit a person and give you the satisfaction of being someone who thinks about others rather than self… I call it being an ENCOURAGER.
An encourager can can help others by doing the following:
1- Call people. Show your interest by calling and talking to people, asking them about their
life and if there is any way you can help them.
2-Text, Email or facebook people- again showing that you care about them and their life.
3-Write a letter- (some of us still do that!) If you want to walk a person through a tough time, writing an letter, having a hard copy, so that they can refer to it can be helpful.
4-Complement others-notice looks, behavior, ideas that you appreciate, and tell them, complement them.
5-Pray for them- God hears our intercessory prayers. He cares about all of his creation. Let them know you are praying for then.
6-Give them your time- There is really no better gift than being there for them. Best way is face to face but any way you can connect with them and hear them is important.
7-Point them to scripture-I am not waving the Bible to people as a final solution to their problems. But you can show them scriptures that will help them understand Gods love and help for them.
8-Fill a need-Sometimes the best thing you can do is take care of something that the person really needs. Find out what burden you can take off of them.
9-Be forgiving- Jesus tells us time and time again to forgive others. Holding a grudge blocks any truly honest help you can give them.
10-Finally, be a good example- God says to shine our light in this world. How we act, how we love, how we handle life’s challenges, is an example for others to follow.

God bless you in your reaching out and being an encourager, Amen

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The 12th day of Christmas

January 2, 2018

We have celebrated the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, we know that His birth brought God into human existence. When that took place Jesus was celebrated by the Jews as the long awaited Messiah for which they had waited for generations.
We now follow the 12 days of Christmas which started with Jesus birth and ends on the 6th day of January .Also this is the day of the Feast of the Epiphany. The word Epiphany means to reveal. It is when the Wise Men came to honor the Christ Child who as the Son of God was revealed to have come to save both the Jews and the Gentiles.
This is also the celebration of the Baptism of Jesus. This is when the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove and God said, “this is my Son who I  love and whom I am well pleased”

Contrary to what some Christmas stories relate and some visuals of Mary, Joseph and the baby show, the Wise Men, the Magi saw a star in the west announcing the birth of the Messiah to the Gentiles . They started out following the star and arrived at the house where the parents had taken him. Researchers estimate that it took them 1 1/2 to 2 years to make the journey.

Until the arrival of the Magi, all the characters of the Christmas story are Jewish. Jesus himself is a Jew and his arrival which was foretold by Jewish prophets , was the fulfillment of the promises God had made to the chosen people , the Jews. But the Magi are not Jews and their coming to bring Him gifts and pay homage to Him was the first indication that Jesus’s message was universal. Jesus had come to preach the message to the whole world.

One of the most appealing Christmas stories is that of Amahal and the night of the visitors.The three Wise Men are on their way to Bethlehem and came to the home of a poor woman who had a little boy named Amahal. He was crippled and could not walk without a crutch. One evening their normal existence was interrupted by a loud knock on the door. The woman told Amahal to go see who was there. He came back and said “Momma, there is a king at the door.” She was upset at his response and told him to again go to the door. He came back a second time and said, “Momma, there are two kings at the door.” She said go back and find out who is there. He came back a third time and said ” Momma, there are three kings at the door. She finally went with him and saw that he was right. She invited them in but said we are poor and I have nothing to give you. Amahal sensing that his mother was embarrassed , said , I will give them my crutch.
The one thing that was indispensable to him, he was going to give it away.So he lifted it up and gave it to the Wise Men.
He gave what he had, gave it personally and gave it completely. Then a miracle happened. His mother noticed it first, he could walk! The giving away of his most valued treasure, was the very thing that freed him from having to use it.

This story gives us a glimpse of Christ’s desire for us.-to give what we have for God’s glory. What gifts do you bring to the King? Not only during this season but every day of your life? The Magi brought gifts of incredible value. God has placed gifts of incredible value inside each one of us. Our calling from God is to share whatever gifts we have to bring light to this sometimes dark world through our outreach and sharing of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Epiphany truly is a message of how God has blessed us and how we can in turn use those gifts to bless others. Amen

Dealing with todays world

December 23, 2017

I know this is the Christmas season and we are close to Christmas day and we should focus and shout for joy that our Savior came to earth to save us from our sins. But I want to help us understand what Christ taught us in getting along in this world.
I am using Dr. David Jeremiah to help us understand. I think it is important tor us to be renewed in being firm in our Christian commitment.
The first is to be Faithful-Honoring God and His world every day can be the best way to influence those of this world.. Philippians 2:15
Second is to be Gracious. Showing restraint and respect for authority even when it is in conflict with our values. -James 1:19
Third be Vigilant.Pray for Gods intervention in matters that seem beyond our control.
James 1:5
Fourth Be Steadfast Trust in God and have the faith that He is in control and will deliver the ultimate victory.Proverbs 3

Fifth be Strong Ask God to give us the strength and resolve to deliver Gods message in truth with grace, love and compassion. I Corinthians 16:13-14.
Sixth Be Consistent Changing our culture will not be a short term result but will take time.
Daniel was consistent and we should be too. Daniel 1:21

We should in our personal walk with Christ and in our bible and study groups review these
guides to making a difference in this sometimes dark world. We are called to make disciples of all the world baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. By following these guides our light will shine in the world and people will be attracted to us by our Christian behavior.

Yes we celebrate God in the flesh and we should celebrate Gods word that moves us in faith through today’s world. Merry Christmas!

How is your prayer life?

November 13, 2017

We are in the midst of a study put together by Dr. David Jeremiah It is a detailed look at the Lords Prayer. This has given me new insights in praying.

Charles Spurgeon the famous British preacher had an encounter with a young man that concerned the power of prayer. The man was on the street cussing a blue streak. Spurgeon went up to him and said “can you pray as well as you cuss?” The man laughed, but the preacher pulled out a valuable coin and told him he could have it if he never prayed. He took the coin but eventually he and his wife were bothered that prayer was so valuable that maybe there was something to it. Eventually they found Spurgeon and gave him back the coin and wanted to know more about this prayer thing. Eventually the two can to know Jesus and Spurgeon had two more converts!

The story raises some questions for us. Has prayer become such a taken for granted part of our Christian life that we forget the truly great worth that it is? Would you sell your privilege to pray, for a valuable coin? The one sin that hurts almost as much as all the other is the sin of not praying and communicating with God, the one who created you; the one who loves you; the one who wants you to have all that this life can give you. God has give us the Holy Spirit to giide and direct us on our life journey, But how can we get that guidance if we don’t speak to the Holy Spirit? We do that through prayer.

I want us to understand why prayer is important. Here are four reasons…1- we pray because Jesus prayed. Jesus was constantly in prayer-communicating with his father God.If he needed to pray don’t you think we should too? 2-The second reason we pray is that prayer makes a difference! When we pray , things start to happen. The bible is full of storues of men and women who prayed to God and their prayers were ansered. 3-The third reason we pray is that prayer is to our spiritual soul as breath is to our physical bodies. 4-The fourth reason is that God cannot answer prayers that haven’t been offered. In Bruse Wilkersons book The Prayer of Jabez he tells of a man who went to Heaven where he was escorted around to all the wonderful places to see. As they were touring the man asked about a big building that looked like a warehouse.  St. Peter said you really don’t want to know what is in there. Long story short, he finally convinced  Peter  to take him into the building. What he sees is rack after rack of white boxes tied with red ribbon. There seemed to be a name on each box and  the man asked Peter if there was a box with his name on it. Peter said yes and the man ran down the aisles seeing that the boxes were in alphabetical order. He quickly found a box with his name on it.He opens it up and gives a deep sigh. For in the box were all the blessings that God had wanted to give him but he never asked.

Examine your prayer life… being in communication with God feeds your spirit, guides your life and answers those requests that you do make. As you become more comfortable with praising God,  living in His Kingdom, you will be able to ask for the things you want. What is it they say about answered prayer…. it is either yes, no, or not now. I close with this quote:

“prayer is not a spare wheel  that you pull our  when you are in trouble,but is a steering wheel that directs the right path througout the journey”  Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Popular World Views

September 19, 2017

A worldview is a set of assumptions which may be true, partially true or totally false about the basics of our world.
Whether you know it or not, your worldview influences the decisions you make in life. Some beliefs you hold strongly and others you probably don’t think about often.
What are the big questions of life.?
1-What is real. Is the world experience real or just a figment of my imagination?
2-Are miracles real, or just a figment of my imagination?
3-Can I even know what is real?
4-Is there a God? Is there just one God or are there many God’s? Is God closer to us or distant? Is there even a God out there?
5- Where dd we come from? Did God create human beings, or did we just evolve from lower forms of life?
6- Did we have past lives we cannot remember?

Let us briefly review some of the more popular world views.
ATHEISM: Believes there is no god. Physical matter and energy are the only reality. Humans are a product of evolution. People can be either good or evil. They are flawed but can be corrected. We know right from wrong by our experience. At death we cease to exist.
PANTHEISM: God is all. God is real but the world is an illusion Humans are good internally but may be caught in outward illusion. The human core is the same essence as God. Right or wrong ins an illusion When we die we are reincarnated or absorbed into God.
DEISM; God us a distant creator. God is the maker of the real. We are the most complete creature of God’s making. People can be either good or evil and have all that is necessary
for choosing. They know right from wrong by experience. When we die there may be some afterlife.
POLYTHEISM: There are many gods. Humans are created by God.. Humans can be either good or evil. We can know right from wrong by reason and supernatural revelation When we die the soul goes to a place of the dead.
MONOTHEISM: There is only one God. We were created by God. We were originally good bu now bent. The flaw is serious but can be overcome with God’s help. We know right from wrong by God acting on the reason and supernatural revelation.When we die we are judged and either go to heaven or hell.
CHRISTIANITY: There is only one Triune God Humans are created by God as his signature masterpiece. Human beings were originally good but now bent. the flaw is fatal. Only God can fix it. God does not do evil. When we die it is judgement and either heaven or hell.

This is a “brief” outline of most of the different world views. If you say you are a Christian, do you have the worldview that reflects that. Same with any of the other “isms” if you believe any of those does your stance in life reflect that? It is my hope that you get a firm world view so you can be that spiritual person God designed you for. AMEN

A Wonderful Worship Experience

August 19, 2017

5 or 6 years ago a Baptist preacher contacted me about some members of the Ukrainian church wanting to reach out to other churches,.It seems that a member of our church had gotten acquainted with a Ukrainian man he worked with. In one of their conversations the man who I will identify Vladimir acknowledged that yes they did want an invitation. We said we would love to have them come not knowing who, how many and what they were going to do.

That Sunday this group of about 25, men women, teenage girls and boys came with an orchestra. They played several numbers and a couple of the young people did solo;s in song, violin, and flute. Then a couple of the older ladies stood up and told us the stories of their trials escaping their country to come to the United States.
We were mesmerized.
We then had an opportunity to talk to each one of them ( of course most spoke English) but for some of them it was difficult.

Recently we just heard that the Ukrainian Community had build a new church.We drove there and came upon a magnificent church with a huge parking lot. The front door said that services wee at 10:30, So one Sunday we went to the church. We were just about late and we pulled into the parking lot and there were no parking places to be had. We drove around and finally a man came out and wanted to help us.. We didn’t understand him and I said English and he said ok. I have a parking place for you he said, follow me. He led us right next to the building by the front door.

We followed him in he asked where we would like to sit, on the main floor or the balcony. We said the balcony so he took us up there and he found us seats. The balcony wasn’t completely full but the main sanctuary was. We said to ourselves , lets just enjoy the people and what was going on even tho the whole service was in Russian.

After a few minutes, a young man came and asked us if we would like an interpreter. We said yes and for the rest of the service he gave us the English version of what was  being said. They had a big choir that sang beautifully. Two other solos and two young ladies that read poems about their life in the US.

The first speaker introduced himself and said that he was from Seattle and it was his first time in this church. He gave a rousing sermon on listening for God. He used several scriptures to make his point. They were projected on two big screens both in English and in Russian. He talked for 20-25 minutes Another choir piece and the next speaker said he was from Oklahoma.

He talked for 20 minutes and his subject was being worshipful in the sanctuary and raising your children as Christians both in the church and at home. Another choir peace and then 20 minutes of announcements. The pastor then talked about missions and the youth bible class. starting that week, and why it would be helpful for the parents to have them in the class.

The last thing the pastor did was ask the missionaries and their families to come forward They honor different ones each week The congregation prayed for them and the service ended in the Lords Prayer.

Other observations. This was as wonderful a church service as I have been to in a long time.There were about 350 attending the service. All the women wore dresses and had head coverings. All the men had on nice slack and shirt. Same with the children. And children! There must have been 10 little babies, 70 5 to 12 year old’s. Another 50 teenagers. There was an abundance of 20,30,and 40 year old couples We asked how long the service was and the interpreter said about 2 hours. We arrived a little after the service has started at 10:30 and it was 12:30 when we left.

I am using this month’s blog to tell you all this because here is a church building that was less than a year old Active ministries , active participation and good bible teaching.
How much more welcoming could they have been? Our interpreter said that they usually have one or two guest preachers and the regular preacher will preach also. He said that
they are installing head phones so non Russian speaking guests can follow the worship.
In the meantime he and other young men help the guests.

A unique praise and worship time.. Thank you Ukrainian church!

Applicant

July 28, 2017

This is dedicated to all teachers, and school administrators.
After being interviewed by the school administration the eager teacher prospect said:
Let me see if I have this right. You want me to go into that room with all those kids, and fill their every waking moment with a love for learning, and I am supposed to instill a sense of pride in their ethnicity, modify their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse and even censor their t-shirt messages and dress habits. You want me to wage a war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, check their backpacks for weapons of mass destruction, and raise their self esteem. You want me to teach them patriotism, good citizenship, sportsmanship , fair play, how to register to vote, how to balance a checkbook, and how to apply for a job.

I am to check their heads for lice, maintain a safe environment , recognize signs of anti-social behavior , make sure all students pass the state exams, even those who don’t come to school regularly or complete any of their assignments. Plus , I am to make sure that all of the students with handicaps get an equal education regardless of the extent of their mental or physical handicap. I am to communicate regularly with the parents by letter, telephone, newsletter and report card.
All of this I am to do with just a piece of chalk, a computer, a few books, a bulletin board,a big smile AND on a starting salary that qualifies my family for food stamps!
You want me to do all of this and then you tell me………

I CANT PRAY?

Jesus shows us how to pray

July 18, 2017

When the disciples were with Jesus they asked Him how they should pray. He said this to them: “pray like this-Our father which art in heaven hallowed be thy name thy kingdom come thy will be done as in heaven so on earth. Give us day by day our daily bread and forgive us our sins as we forgive everyone who is indebted to us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” This is King James version from Luke
NIV and New Revised Standard from Luke says it this way.:
“Father hallowed be your name your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins as we forgive everyone who is indebted to us and do not bring us to a time of trial ”

If we go to Matthew Chapter 6, the translations begin to agree. Here is what they say:
Our Father which art in heaven Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive our debts as we have forgiven our debtors. and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil For thine is the kingdom the power and the glory for ever. Amen
Yes there are some differences even in the Matthew account of Jesus’ lesson on prayer. But Jesus has give us a pattern for prayer. First to praise him and “hallow” his name. We want to first recognize the righteousness and holiness of God. Second is to pray our priorities. That is to acknowledge the wonderful kingdom around us and to celebrate the reign of Christ. Third
is prayer for provision. That is the time to bring your petitions to God. Prayers for others and for guidance etc. Fourth is to acknowledge our debts ( or trespasses) and to forgive our debtors (those who trespass against us) Fifth is asking God for protection from temptation and evil. Sixth is again recognizing the power and glory of God.

We have probably learned this prayer as youngsters and say it every Sunday and maybe at funerals . But the problem is that it has become so routine that I question, are we praying it with our heart or just our mind. If we can internalize this prayer the pattern of all your prayers will be what Jesus gave us to follow.

I have just subscribed to a prayer study by Dr. David Jeremiah that is excellent. It is a 6-7 week study. I am anxious to delve deeper into this prayer and the pattern for us through a group study. If you might be interested , please contact me at my blog address or my email address ozarak1937@gmail.com

Medical Decisions

June 13, 2017

My blog this month is a departure from the normal theological perspective on the world. I have been stirred by the plight of people who have been going through health crisis.

Many people who are in this situation have never been in the position of having a battery of tests and listening to doctors tell them something that is foreign to them.– just so you know up front, I am a Hospice Chaplain. I see the people that come into this program that are told by their doctors that nothing further that medicine can do for them.

But lets look back when they went to their doctor with a problem that they could not figure out. Tests were run and consultations were held. Sometimes the results were not all together conclusive. The patient was told that we are going to watch what is happening and we are working on an aggressive treatment for your condition.

The patient is in a position to believe that maybe there is something to cure my condition. Unfortunately that is what they thought they heard. The doctor is just saying we will work at trying to control the symptoms. Many times the additional tests just confirm that the condition cannot be cured. (I stand with the doctors in doing this)

The problem is that the patient is not aware or informed of the disease progression. and keeping up treatment may give them hope that something will come along to cure them.That illustrates two problems 1)the patient doesn’t understand all the language and procedures 2) the doctors are hesitant many times to interpret the medical jargon to the patient. That would mean to tell them what they have is incurable.

INCURABLE is not a word that any of us want to hear. With modern medicine, we assume that something will become available to make this “thorn” (as Paul said) to go away. I understand that doctors are charged with helping people get back to health. They are wonders at treating 95% of the ills we face. But sometimes we have something that modern medicine cannot cope with.

As a Hospice Chaplain, I ask the doctors to be honest with their patients. I know you don’t want give up trying to help your patient. But honesty with them will move your patient to be able to make a decision as to quality of life. Many of the people I see said they asked for treatment to stop because of what it was doing to their mind and body.

Hospice is designed to provide the best quality of life that a person can hope for in their condition. With comfort meds and nurses that attend to their needs, these patients are so appreciative of being able to spend time with family and friends while they can appreciate them.

What is better, aggressive treatment that can be debilitating at the least to being comfortable understanding that they can have the best life they can before the INCURABLE comes to pass. My heart goes out to all who are faced with serious illness and have to go through multiple tests. When it come to not being able to cure them, I hope that they with their doctor decide that quality of life is is best for the time they have left. Amen

Getting through bad times

May 11, 2017

We all go through trials in our lifetime. We have events that affect us deeply. You can’t live a very long life until sin, sickness, tragic death, loss of a job, children in trouble or a myriad of other events hit you when you least expect it.

I want to talk about two elements of dealing with those events. You can either deal with it or let it overwhelm you. If you don’t deal with it ,your life can reflect your suffering by depression, sickness, addictive habits. lost relationships If you ignore the pain that you are going through, if you say to yourself, i’ll get over it , if you tell yourself suck it up and go on, you will most likely suffer for it.

So may I suggest you start following James 5:13-16. It says, “Is anyone of you in trouble,?
he should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is anyone of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well, , the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous man is powerful and effective”

What we may glean from that scripture is that the community of faith will be there for anyone who is going through distress. Can’t we all remember when we had a problem we could discuss it with someone we knew and trusted, they listened and were supportive. Wasn’t that a relief when you unburdened yourself? The church is our sanctuary, a place we can go to help us heal. How? Expanding on the scripture I would say that through church friends, fellow Christians, believers, through their individual concern and listening But let me suggest another church activity and that is small groups If you are a member of a small group at church whether it be bible study, Sunday School our outreach ministry, to name a few, hopefully you bond with members of that group.

The second element of dealing with these life events is grief. We could write several blogs about the elements of grief. But for this discussion I want to focus on being able to grieve. So many people deny their grief., and as I have said above, it manifests itself in unhealthy behaviors. This is where I think small groups (as well as individual Christians), play a part in getting that person to verbalize their grief. I have had many occurrences where a person in grief found comfort and solace talking about it with the people in their group

The people in your group have known you for a while, maybe have known some of your struggles and maybe have shared their struggles with you,, but most of all, have worked with you, studied with you and prayed with you, and will reach out to to help you through the valley.

Your grief may be for something that happened many years ago and you didn’t deal with it at the time. Now you have an outlet , a sounding board to help you through it. I can’t express enough the need for you to come to grips with your unresolved grief. Because of what happened to you may have frozen you in a life today that is less fulfilling because of it.

Oh you may never forget the incident, but God guides you through it and wants you to have life and have it abundantly!! Amen