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Kids Crafts – Icy Suncatcher

Here’s a great craft to brighten up those cold winter days!

What you Need

  • ice cube tray
  • food coloring
  • a round cake pan
  • ribbon or colored yarn
  • small plastic cup

What you do

  1. Fill an ice cube tray with water, then add a few drops of food coloring to each cube. Try just two or three colors, since they’ll blend together, later. Put them into the freezer.
  2. Pour water into a round cake pan until it’s about two-thirds full. Place a small plastic cup (the size of a small yogurt cup) full of water near one end. This will make the hole for the ribbon.
  3. Put the pan in the freezer for one hour, then arrange the colored ice cubes in it and refreeze it until it’s solid.
  4. Remove the plastic cup, then take your Icy Suncatcher out of the pan and hang it outside with some colored yarn or a ribbon. Enjoy!

Fruity Turkey

Wow! Here’s a great craft that you can eat. You can make one for each person at your Thanksgiving table—just think of it as a healthy dessert!

What you Need

  • An apple
  • A pear (yellow reddish or brown pears might look good, but any kind will do! A green turkey? Why not?)
  • A clementine or navel orange
  • a dried cranberry (for a gobble)
  • a couple of cloves (or small raisin pieces) for eyes
  • a dried apricot (for feet)
  • tiny dab of peanut butter (to keep things in place)
  • a whole cashew nut (or almond)

What you do

  1. Core apple and cut into thin slices (for the wing feathers)
  2. Cut pear in half and core (for the body)
  3. Peel clementine or navel orange and detach sections (for the wing feathers)
  4. Arrange apple and clementine (or orange) sections on a plate in a fan shape.
  5. Place the cored pear-half on top.
  6. Cut the dried apricot in half and cut wedges into it (these are your turkey claws)
  7. Tuck the “claws” under the pear
  8. Use very small dabs of peanut butter to attach the nut-beak, and the cranberry-gobble
  9. Push cloves into pear for eyes
  10. Enjoy!

Kids Crafts – Gratitude Pebbles

As we approach the Thanksgiving season, here’s a great way to remember to thank God for all His blessings! Try writing down the names of those you love, or pets, or things in nature. In fact, you can keep adding new rocks to your pile! And when you see one, tell Him how much you’re grateful!

What you Need

  • Smooth pebbles
  • Acrylic paint
  • Small paint brush
  • Black magic marker

What you do

  1. Clean and dry your pebbles if they need it.
  2. Paint each pebble a different color.
  3. After the paint is dry, use the magic marker to write down the name of a person or a thing you’re grateful for.
  4. Stack your pebbles somewhere so you can see them and be reminded of the many ways in which God has shown you His love.
  5. Using a single pebble, say a little thank you prayer to Him for that person or thing each day. Remember, it’s hard to be hateful when you’re grateful!

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Thankful It’s Him and Not Me

It was not the type of Sabbath behavior that reflected Christ. As a matter of fact, it was down right embarrassing. It was Sabbath morning and an argument had broken out in our home that went from bad to worse. Satan was up to his tricks again and we had fallen for them. It had escalated to such a point that we actually went our separate ways, some to one church and the rest another. Here we were; leaders of a church plant and acting like a bunch of spoiled babies.

During potluck dinner, my husband, James, was approached by a person inquiring about the Lord’s work in Niagara Falls. He shared the many outreach projects we were working on and the way God had been leading and blessing. During the conversation, he was asked what needs our plant had. The biggest need at the time was a van. Trying to pickup 25-35 kids in small cars was very challenging. We had been searching for a cheap used van that would at least run and do the job. Upon seeing this great need, a commitment to purchasing a van for the ministry was made.

Jim came home and shared with me the good news. We were going to get a van! My mind instantly recalled how foolish and ridiculous we had behaved, especially me. What puzzled me even more was how it could be. We didn’t deserve it. How could He be blessing us with a van the way we were acting? It really did not make any sense. So gently, God impressed me that the greatest thing we have to be thankful for was that in spite of what we really deserve to receive, we gain great riches and blessing because of the merits of Jesus Christ. Everything we attempt is worthless, it is only by God’s grace and love that we are allowed to co labor with Him. It is not about me, it is about Him and His Glory. When we catch a glimpse of who He is and who we are, we are truly thankful for His abundant love and grace. “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10 NKJV) I am so thankful that God allows us to be His vessels even though more times than I would like to admit, I am unworthy. I am eternally thankful that it isn’t about me, because when those times come and God allows me to see the real me, it can be truly embarrassing. Most importantly, I am truly thankful that he loves me even when at times I act foolish and misrepresent Him, I have never deserved it and that makes me love Him even more for His love.

Shortly after, we picked up the new vehicle, a 2008 Ford 12 Passenger van. It was more than we could have asked for! Thank you to that special person who now makes it possible everyday for kids and adults to come and learn about Jesus. Thank you Jesus for the miracles you give us each day and for your precious blood, that makes us worthy and beautiful.

My name is Christina Webber. My husband is James Webber. Currently he is church planting in Niagara Falls, NY for the New York Conference and I am assisting him. I am passionate about youth ministries and evangelism. We have three children; Courtney, Gabrielle, and Jonathan.

Christina Webber

The Parallel

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? (Matthew 6:26)

As a younger person, I never realized the joy that watching birds has brought more recently. Monitoring our bird seed supply goes hand in hand with our shopping trips.

God has made some of his smallest creatures to display brilliant colors so pleasing to the eyes. Had God not picked my husband and I up out of our comfort zone and brought us to 3ABN, I might never have experienced the spectacular view of a colorfully-arrayed male cardinal against a backdrop of pure white snow. As fearfully and wonderfully as God has made our bodies, He did not fail to take care of the least of His little creatures.

A few weeks back my husband and I were watching the multitude of colorful birds enjoying the black sunflower seeds in our bird feeders on our deck, when one of the small birds about the size of a chickadee flew into our sliding glass door. It did not seem to harm it as it went on its way flying without difficulty. The scene soon changed as a female cardinal flew into the same door. Much to our horror, she landed about three to four feet from the door. We did not know what action to pursue as we are not familiar with first aid for birds. Initially she fluffed her feathers a few times bringing us hope of her survival; however, then all movement ceased. We quickly pondered what we should do but felt so helpless.

I needed to go to another part of the house, and as I did, I felt prompted to pray. I pleaded with the Heavenly Physician for this beautiful bird’s life asking that He spare her life as we loved her and did not want her to die. As I returned to the living room, I discovered that as my husband was impressed to go out onto the deck, she quickly revived and flew away. While I was feeling so disturbed over “Miss Cardinal,” God’s touch gave her the power she needed. I had two reasons to rejoice – one, that He cared about what I cared about and saw fit to intervene, and secondly, because I saw how anxious God is to answer prayer.

There is a parallel to this incident. God had to watch His Son die on the cross. He had to watch the agony and pain of Jesus knowing full-well that He had power to save Him. Had He chosen to spare the life of His Son, you and I would not be able to inherit eternal life. What a sobering thought for you and me! Had Jesus not been willing to leave His comfort zone and die in our stead, our story would be quite different.

Grace Yost

I Saw the Light

Lightning flashed across the fields, followed by booming thunder. “Here we go again,” I cried as electric power to our old farmhouse went dead, plunging us into a pitch-black background. As a youth, I often held my breath in the eerie darkness as I listened for sounds of Mama fumbling around to light an oil lamp.

When she set the shining lamp on a high stand, rays of light would penetrate the darkness bringing great relief to my troubled imagination. The lamp from the stand cast a shadowy glow into the next room, providing me just enough security to tag along with Mama as she went throughout the house lighting the rest of the lamps.

“No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light” (Luke 11:33). The Bible declares in Psalms 119:130 that the entrance of God’s Word brings light—understanding for the simple! When Christ lit the light of the Gospel, He put it on a lampstand for all to see. He did not preach from a secret chamber, but broadcast the warmth of His light for all to receive His deliverance from darkness. But will all receive His light?

“The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness” (vs. 34). On those dark stormy nights at the farm, if I had kept my eyes tightly closed, no light would have entered my physical eyes. Likewise, if my spiritual eyes are squinted shut, if I refuse to receive the light of His Word, then I am spiritually blind and full of spiritual darkness. This darkness represents lack of understanding and poor spiritual judgment.

If we have good spiritual eyes—minds that will allow the entrance of God’s Word—our whole spiritual being will be filled with the light of God. He gives us understanding and the ability to discern between good and evil.

The Bible clearly teaches we become what we behold! If we concentrate on the carnal world, we can count on bad spiritual eyesight and minds overshadowed by spiritual darkness. In sharp contrast, if we focus our eyes on God’s Word—meditating on the character of Christ and the plan our loving Heavenly Father has for our lives—God will fill our minds with His light of spiritual understanding.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105). Aren’t you glad that we have God’s Word as our guide? Let the light in! If you follow it, you can be sure that He will show you the path of life and you will find joy in His Presence forevermore.

Thank You, Jesus, for lighting my lamp! Thank You for delivering me from darkness! I saw the light, and it was good!

J.D. Quinn

Instrument Rated Christians

I have a friend who flies jets and is an accomplished pilot.  His accomplishments didn’t happen overnight; it took years of hard work, study, discipline and training to attain to the position he now holds.  My friend, Shawn shared his instrument rating training experience with me and I was amazed at how it related to the normal Christian life.  In his early experience as a pilot, he learned to fly by sight and basic instrumentation, but this was only the beginning.  The “blue sky fliers” are great pilots in good weather and on sunny days, but are ultimately grounded if conditions worsen.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because so many of us are “blue sky Christians” and soar through life unabated until the storm clouds of despair roll in and ground us.  Just as pilots who are not instrument-rated are grounded because of dense fog or the darkness of night when familiar landmarks can’t be seen, so it is with Christians who are not instrument-rated in the Word of God.  We are grounded.

My friend told me of the countless hours he trained and learned bits and pieces as he went.  However, the bits and pieces didn’t really work correctly until he was able to put them all together to form an exact pattern and purpose for everything involved.  How true this application is in our daily walk with God, we have bits and pieces but seldom seem to be able to get it all to fit.  This fitting will come about when we seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to guide us into all truth.

The map of God’s Word is like a thousand-piece puzzle; one piece is blue, another is green, while still another may be brown.  This can be confusing unless we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives.  The map of God’s Word appears to be a complicated puzzle, but the Holy Spirit will reveal Himself as the picture on the front of the puzzle box.  He will say, “Look at the picture on the box so you can see how the pieces fit properly.”  The Word and the Guide must work together for truth to be revealed.

Shawn also said that to acquire an instrument rating status, you must take a test where your vision is blocked.  Does this sound a lot like 2 Corinthians 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight :)?  A test is taken with blinders on to block out your peripheral vision and a visor is placed above your eyes to limit your vision to only the instrument panel.  Then you must complete flights using only your instruments as your map and compass.  You can’t go by what you feel because it may cost you your life and you can’t go by what you see because you can’t see.  You may feel as though you’re flying upside down, but what do the instruments show?  The flight instructor will tell you to look and listen to your instruments and “Just fly the plane.”  Don’t go by your natural senses; fly it by faith in the map and the compass.

This is what God desires for His children.  He wants them to be “instrument-rated Christians” who will soar with Him by using the “map of His word and the compass of His Holy Spirit.”  You may not feel like you’re saved, healed, delivered or worthy of anything Christ has done for you, but “just fly the plane.”

 

Hal Steenson

The Baby Bird

Here is a living object lesson indeed! We rescued a baby bird one time and began feeding him. He was in our driveway and we would have run over him when we pulled out if I had not seen him. Initially, I caught him and put him in the bushes thinking he’d be safe there and mommy bird would care for him.

When we returned home, he was in the driveway again. We feared he would not live because he was in such bad shape, but we prayed for him (I suppose it could be a her, how would I know?) and fed him some berries and soaked dog food (that’s what one web site recommended), and then, the next morning, he was happy and singing and eating better. I thought to myself, “I think he’ll live and even prosper once he’s able to fly and eat on his own.” Then a couple hours later, noticing mom and dad hovering around with food in their beaks, I opened the door to the cage and went back inside.

A while later I went to check on him and he was on the ground. Some time after that, I went outside and mom and dad flew up to the tree and a moment later so did baby bird! Praise the Lord! God is good! His eye IS on the sparrow, and His eye is always on us. He cares for us much more than the sparrows. Matthew 10:31 says, “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Talk about unfathomable love! What a Lord and Savior we serve! May this be your source of consolation and encouragement today. God sees what you’re going through, He cares for you, He will bring you through it.

Samantha Nelson

The Wedding Vows

There is great wisdom in men that submit themselves to the LORD and seek HIS guidance in their lives. A good friend, Pastor Hal Steenson, once told me about how he saw Ruth’s commitment to Naomi as a commitment that couples should make when they unite in marriage. He also told me that when he performed the wedding vows he incorporated Ruth’s words into them. I thought about that as I sat down and read the four chapters of the book of Ruth in light of the statement she made to her mother in law “And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me” (Ruth 1:16-17), I agreed that such submission is what a husband should have for his wife and a wife for her husband. Complete surrender to one another.

As Christians we are part of JESUS CHRIST’s church thus we are HIS bride. We could see this idea clearly depicted in the last two chapters of Revelation. Is it not important then that we too submit ourselves to JESUS in complete surrender daily? As a married man I can assure you that if I rest my marriage in my commitment to my wife on the day of our wedding, the relationship won’t last. Our commitment to each other that day is important, but it is as we renew our vows to each other daily under the direction of GOD that we will find joy and everlasting happiness as husband and wife. So let’s do the same in our relationship with JESUS. Let’s renew our vows to HIM daily in this way:

1. Don’t ask me to leave you or stop following you, I just won’t do it.
2. Wherever you are heading, I am going with you.
3. Wherever you are, is where home is.
4. Our families will be one family; it’s not your family and my family, but our family.
5. We will have and serve one GOD together.
6. I will be by your side forever.

JESUS, I commit myself to you in this way by the grace of GOD, not by my might, but by HIS love.

May GOD continue to strengthen us daily as we rededicate our lives to HIM day by day!
by HIS love.

 

José L. Medina Jr.

The Little Things

A gray blur registered in my peripheral vision, streaking from the couch to end under the dining room table.  Could it be a mouse? In our house? In the four years we have spent living in Thompsonville, not once have we had to deal with a mouse in the house.  If my eyes were not playing tricks, this would be an unusual occurrence to witness. I would sit back and watch to see if this “little thing” would make a move again. Sure enough, after a few moments he darted out again for crumbs under the table and then back to his shelter under the couch. That confirmed it. It was a mouse! Out came the old mouse trap baited with a little peanut butter. It wouldn’t take long now as this trap would solve our problem. I waited patiently to hear the snap of the trap but nothing happened that evening, or the next day or the next.  Maybe the mouse went back outside where he belongs and we won’t have to deal with him again. And that is just what we did. We didn’t really think about him again since he never came out to eat under the table or showed evidence of coming close to the mousetrap. Several days later, to our dismay, we found our “little” friend. He was still living in the house and had found a new home in the pantry. What a mess! He had chewed through anything and everything that he could, leaving his mark on every shelf and creating an absolute mess. How could something that “little” get all over the pantry in such a short amount of time to leave such utter chaos.

As I worked to clean up the mess, I wondered how this “little” critter could make such a mess and cause me so much grief. Then the Lord reminded me of how a “little” sin, if not confessed and repented of, can produce a mess in our lives. Sometimes we look upon some sins as only “little”, reasoning with our conscience that it’s not that important. Some who give in to their own inclinations, desires and wishes actually conclude that sin is not so offensive or terrible to God. But we need to give attention to the little things in life, for this is the secret of success. To Eve, back at the genesis, it was a small thing to disobey God by eating of the fruit of the forbidden tree and tempting her husband to join her in disobedience. But by this one “little” sin, Adam and Eve opened upon the world the floodgates of woe. Some of us may look at eating the wrong fruit as a very little thing. But when we look to the consequences of the first couple’s decision, they are anything but small.  Like my pantry, it was just one “little” mouse but the consequences were more than I ever imagined. Lord, help us to see our “little” sins and their consequences in Your true light.
Roi Ewing

Reflections

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Sun was dying in the west on a crisp fall afternoon. It happened to be Friday, the “Preparation Day,” and I was anticipating the blessed Sabbath Day.  As I looked over the lovely lake on which we lived in Florida, I gazed upon lovely reflections in the water.  My eyes could hardly believe the beauty I was beholding.  The sandhill cranes had landed on the small island out in the lake.  Although they could be noisy at times, it was always a joy to see them.

My husband and I decided that we wanted to capture the beauty of the moment so I went to retrieve our trusty 35 MM camera.  We snapped some photos of the sunset and the reflections on the lake.  At some future time we finished taking the roll of film and took it to the neighborhood drugstore to have it developed forgetting exactly what photos we had taken.  As we looked through our developed photographs, we came to the ones of the sunset over the lake and how disappointed we were.  It did not duplicate or even remotely resemble the beauty that we had seen that Friday afternoon.

This must be how God feels about the reflections of our lives many times.  As Christians we should reflect the mind and character of Jesus yet we allow self to slip into our daily lives.  Our focus is drawn from our precious Saviour, and we begin to think of the problems we are encountering.  Instead of praising His Holy Name, we find ourselves complaining and even feeling sorry for ourselves.

At times like these, we all really need a Saviour.  Let us behold the beauty of His life and His great sacrifice.  Let’s praise Him today!  As we behold Him, we become changed, and as we become changed, our reflection will be more beautiful.

 

Grace Yost

Useless Unless Broken

Whosoever shall fall upon this stone shall be broken… Luke 20:18

If there had been directions on the bottom of the alabaster box mentioned in the fourteenth chapter of Mark, they would have read “useless unless broken.” What an example this woman demonstrated by her actions, showing us the progression into the perfect will of God. Even though the scripture doesn’t give her name, it does declare that this act of love would be a memorial for her forever. If all we see is that she anointed Jesus, then we’ve missed a beautiful truth.

The first thing the lady with the alabaster box did was “come” to Jesus. With a very precious and extremely expensive box of ointment, spikenard, she “came” to Jesus, and passed all the indignant eyes.

The second thing she did was “give” and in so doing, gave Him her all. Many of us come to Jesus, but refuse to give Him everything, and by holding on to certain things we miss the fullness of Christ in our lives. It will cost us our lives to serve the Lord.

The third thing she did was to “break”; she broke open the alabaster box. Regardless of the cost of this alabaster box of precious spikenard, it was “useless unless broken.” Likewise, our lives are useless as long as we are secure within ourselves and refuse to be broken for the cause of Christ. “Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” Luke 20:18 (KJV) The Last thing this woman did was “pour out” the ointment on the Lord’s feet. When the disciples began to murmur against her, Jesus said, “Leave her alone; she’s preparing me for my burial.” Since the cross, whenever we pour ourselves out before the Lord, we are no longer preparing Him for burial, but we are declaring His resurrection.

We must approach Jesus in the same manner and attitude as the alabaster box lady. We must “come” to Christ on our own, even when circumstances try to prevent our coming. We must “give” ourselves all-inclusively to the Lord without holding back anything. Then we must be willing to “break” anything in ourselves that would hinder our walk with Him. Our pride, our self-sufficiency, and our will must fall upon the rock of Christ because we will be “useless unless broken.” It is when we approach our Lord with this heart, humility and honesty that He is able to pour us out as witnesses to a hurting world.

 

Hal Steenson

Giving Our Heart to Our Lord

In the Bible, we are instructed to keep the law of God and the law of the land. We find in John 14:15 (NKJV) “If you love me, keep My commandments.”

Following this same vein, we find in Titus 3:1 (NIV) “…remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient.” According to this, if we keep the law of God and do not keep the law of the land, we are not observing the law of God after all.

Let’s imagine taking a trip through the country. If I find that I drive faster than what is reasonably safe I’m often reminded of such by seeing a posted speed limit sign. This serves as a reminder to me. If I was to put safety at risk and speed, I might see a red light rotating in my rearview mirror. This would be a highway patrol officer assigned to enforce the speed limit law. The consequences I pay after he stops me and gives me a citation is even a stronger mindful souvenir of disobeying the law. In this event, I was guilty because of the choice I made. I chose to obey error rather than the law of the land. God has given us the right to be wrong. This is called free will. Certainly, God would have us follow His example and do that which is right rather than wrong. However, He will not force any of us to do His will.

Romans 6:18 (NIV) “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”

Romans 6:20 (NIV) “When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.”

Romans 6:22 (NIV) “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”

You can see that the first step in giving our heart to God is to “want” to keep the speed limit or in reality God’s law. Many times, we are not strong enough in our own power to do this. The effect resulting from curses and/or blessings sometimes provides incentive for us to keep the law. In this example, to avoid a curse (getting the speeding ticket), we would keep your speed within the acceptable limits. Contrary to curses is blessing. We could find incentive under the umbrella of blessings to keep the law of the land, in this example the rewards issued could be lower insurance costs, or, the right of telling others how long we have gone without getting a citation.

Again, this is our choice. We can rest assured by what we are told in His Word. Deuteronomy 11:26,27,28 (NIV) 26 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse- 27 the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; 28 the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God….” Blessings or curses are the results of keeping or breaking the law but not the right reason for keeping it. We should keep God’s law because we love Him. Because we love Him, we won’t want to hurt Him. Choosing to serve self is behind us. Thank you Jesus. We read in the Bible that if we fall away we crucify the Son of God afresh, and put Him to open shame. Hebrews 6:6. So in following our scenario, the best police officer is the love in our heart that we have for Jesus. Let us give our hearts to Him. John 14:15 (NKJV) “If you love me, keep My commandments.”

Joe O’Brien

The Matter of the Gray Matter

When someone says “gray matter,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? It’s the brain of course, that jelly-like, wrinkled-up glob that fits snugly in our cranium. It’s our head computer that bosses around all our muscles, all our extremities and controls all our bodily functions.

However, if something goes wrong with our “gray matter,” the signals sent from our brain to our body may become distorted or confused. This is when someone wants to speak or move in a certain direction but his or her body doesn’t respond as it should. What’s worse is that sometimes your “gray matter” will fire neuron signals correctly and at other times, it will only fire blanks. Our brains can be a complex blessing and at other times a confused curse.

Have you ever thought about how your “gray matter” doesn’t only affect you in the physical realm; but it also has the potential of destroying your spiritual destiny and swinging wide the gates of hell. Now if you think that I’m referring to the unregenerate man, the one that has never made Jesus Lord, I’m not. I’m discussing the person that attends church, pays his or her tithes and has a relationship with the Lord.

You’re probably wondering where this is going. Well, it’s headed toward discussing “The Matter of the Gray Matter.” However, the “gray matter” in this scenario is not our carnal minded brain. It is the black sin that we committ and then convolute by mixing black and white together to produce a gray sin. The Word of God is never gray; it is always either black or white and our prayers must also be either black or white—no gray prayers allowed. The “gray matter” sin evolved from black to gray because that sin was not confessed before the Father quickly and for what it was, it was black. It’s only when we confess our sins in their blatant blackness that we will receive full forgiveness for that sin.

Nevertheless, some will play the “gray matter” game and begin to chase that sin in the merry-go-round circles of their “physical gray matter” mind. They convince themselves that if someone else hadn’t done what they did, then you would have never said or done what you did. The next move in the “gray matter” game is to rationalize our motives, which gives birth to the righteous indignation that we believe we deserve.

This is when we water down our Black sin prayer with little White lies and end up only asking God for Gray forgiveness. What should have been an “Oh God, please forgive me because I have sinned prayer,” has now become a watered down ‘powdered milk prayer’ that has no power to release you from that original sin.

God can only forgive us of what we ask Him to forgive us for—if we repent to some extent, then we will be set free to some degree. We must reconsider the “matter of the gray matter” and humble ourselves before our Lord and ask Him as King David asked, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

It is only when we sincerely pray and ask for forgiveness according to the truth of our sin, that we will be forgiven according to fullness of God’s grace.

So, let me ask you once again, “What about the Matter of the Gray Matter?

One John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Hal Steenson

The Mortarboards of Life

From Kindergarten to the Memorial Gardens, graduations are forever. Mortarboards fly from skinned up knees to tree house trees because commencement services never cease. As you go from building blocks to Tonka trucks, Tonka Trucks to life’s mountaintops, you have one graduation and commencement service after another. You graduate from the mumps to the measles, to the misunderstandings where you find yourself mostly misinformed about life’s true purpose. This is when you start to ask, why am I here. What is God requiring of me? Why does life have to be so hard? Life was so easy when the ground was flat, now every step you take is uphill and full of pitfalls and avalanches.

You find yourself graduating from happiness to hard rows to hoe and you can’t understand why it isn’t the same as it used to be, when you were only three.

Once upon a time, your mortarboards soared high into the air and flew as effortlessly as an Albatross, sailing on the winds of endless graduations. Now your mortarboards of life seem stuck to your head, permanently fixed by your confused future.

Jeremiah challenges our graduations in his twelfth chapter and the fifth verse, “If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?”

You must invite your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to be the keynote speaker at every one of life’s graduations. It is only then that you can reach for your cap and prepare to remove that gown, eager to accomplish God’s goals for His Kingdom.

When Jesus reigns in your life, you will be able to run with the footmen and contend with the horses. However, without Him, you’ll never throw your mortarboard from the mountaintops, because it will always be on exhibit in the corner of life’s complacency. It’s only when you invite Jesus to every graduation that you can hand Him your final mortarboard of life and say, “Here Lord, you throw this last one in the air, if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have made it to my final graduation destination.”

 

Hal Steenson

The Path of Least Resistance

Each time I turned the small tractor towards the north I could see the storm clouds growing higher, wider and darker. I knew I had less than 20 minutes to finish tilling the garden. This would be the third and last time I would till before planting. I parked the tractor and grabbed a hard-toothed rake to smooth any mounds or trenches left by the tiller. Proper drainage for the garden is important too.

Less than an hour later the deluge from the dark foreboding clouds arrived. Sitting inside the house, looking out the bay window; I could see portions of the garden, the yard and even the driveway were flooding. As the heavy rains diminished into a sprinkle I retrieved the rake and a hoe from the garage and headed toward the garden with the intent to correct some of the flooding problems. Leaves, twigs and pine needles caused small dams to form in the yard. Raking those out of the way corrected the yard and driveway problem.

The garden would need a different solution. First there was the problem of three major puddles caused by low places in the lay of the garden. Runoff from a nearby pasture presented another problem and third, the tiller had formed ridges with each pass. This made the water form small streams running parallel through the garden.

High school science had taught me that water will always follow the path of least resistance. I stood a few feet away from one of the puddles and I could see a ridge line from where the tiller had formed a dam so the water could not drain. Taking the hoe I cut a trench in the ridge to reach lower ground and watched the water start to drain through the path of least resistance.

The Holy Spirit took that moment to impress a lesson on my mind. “Sin takes the path of least resistance too.” I stood a few moments contemplating the thought, “Sin takes the path of least resistance too.” I remember hearing the pastor say we should guard the avenues of our minds. The Lord was using that thought to show I had not been diligent at guarding the avenues of my mind. Perhaps I was guilty of letting sin find roads of least resistance into my mind.

A few inches of water, if it’s moving fast enough, can sweep a person off their feet. Then they are in serious trouble. A few paths left open to allow what we might consider minor indulgence of sin can develop into a flow that can sweep us off our spiritual feet. Then we are in serious trouble.

Fighting the good fight of faith is not easy. Resisting temptation is not easy. Allowing temptation to find a path of least resistance into our mind will, as James so aptly put, “…it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:15b.
Resistance to sin starts with submission to God. With submission we have the promise, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

 

Mitch Owen

What Is the Big Deal About Grace?

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

My mind was racing. “I have to be at work at 4:00 p.m. I had a wonderful time vacationing with my fiancé at her dad’s. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it to work on time. I wonder what Lauren in doing right now. Well, let me speed up to better my chances of getting to work on time. Oh no, the police, I better slow down. I’ll just get in front of this car and then I will reduce my speed all together to the speed limit. Oh no, I have a police officer behind me; I don’t have money to pay a fine or higher insurance prices. Dear Lord please help the officer to pass me by and not give me a ticket…”

The trooper did not pass me by. He flashed his lights at me, pulled me over and asked for my license and proof of insurance. Then he came back and instead of giving me the ticket I deserve, since I was speeding, he was graceful and handed me a warning and told me to slow down. That is what grace is all about. Just like the police officer forgave me for breaking the law, Jesus wants to cover all of us with His grace and forgive our sins as we confess them, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). We are guilty of our sins and deserve to die, “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (Ephesians 4:7), as we confess our sins to the LORD and receive His forgiveness. Therefore, even though we are guilty, through Jesus’ grace we receive something we do not deserve, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

 

José L. Medina Jr.

Present Help in Time of Trouble

We live in a world that brings us challenges and difficulties. No one can escape it. But we can all make the best of it by realizing that, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1. It is marvelous and comforting to take hold of God’s promises.

God even uses His other children to bring us comfort and strength to face the challenges of life. I was reminded of this in a remarkable experience with my children Samuel and Caleb. During that time Samuel, the oldest, was nine years old and Caleb was six years old.

Kids really enjoy getting balloons, but, on this day they not only received one balloon each, they had received the helium-filled balloons. They seem to enjoy those even more. We arrived at our home with our two boys who were happy to have their helium-filled balloons on a beautiful summer day.

My wife and I exited the vehicle first. I had stopped to pick something up from the yard when I heard my wife say, “Well there it goes somebody’s balloon!” There it was, one yellow helium-filled balloon heading higher than any mortal man can reach. It was too late. I could not stop it. My little son Caleb cried in despair and grief, “my balloon!” He then began to weep. I felt so sorry for him and begin to wonder, what can I tell my son to help him during this difficult time? What can I do? Before I managed to take three steps my oldest son Samuel had already reached him and said, “Here Caleb, you can have my balloon.”

I stood there amazed at what Samuel was willing to do to help his brother. He gave up his balloon to bring him comfort during his difficult time. Caleb looked at his brother, stopped crying and said with a teary voice, “Thanks Sam!” He immediately stopped weeping. It brought such joy to my heart to see that.

At that moment I thought, “That’s what God is like!” Friends, God is trying to help us see that He is near. He truly cares about us. I encourage you to allow God the opportunity to let you see that it is true, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1.

 

Johnny Dinzey

Mishaps Happen

It was time for summer vacation, and we had planned a trip to the mountains of North Carolina. My daughter had mastered the art of riding a bicycle only a few months earlier and was anxious to take her bike with us. After several stops in various spots along the way, we settled in for a few days at a KOA campground in Franklin, North Carolina.

Very proud of her accomplishment, my daughter asked if she could ride her bicycle. After giving her a little bit of motherly advice, off she went. Little did I know what had occurred on that jaunt on her bike. The manager of the camp ground had seen her riding and had stopped her with some very wise words of wisdom, but to a seven year old, it was nonsense. Now bear in mind, she was from Florida and had only been used to flatlands, and she enjoyed swimming more than anything. The manager had told her she should not be riding in areas where there was rock scattered on the roadways as there was a possibility she would run over one or more of them thereby causing her to get hurt. She conveniently failed to tell me of the warning she had received.

One evening as I was preparing our evening meal in our RV, I heard a knock on the door, and when I answered the door, it was a fellow camper bringing my daughter to me all skinned up. There was hardly a place on her body that was not bleeding, scraped or bruised, but she wasn’t nearly as concerned about her injuries as I was. In fact, I considered the possibility of taking her to the nearest hospital emergency room. Her only concern was that we not tell the manager. Then and only then, did the whole story come out.

Was the warning the manager had given important? Yes, indeed, it was important. Because my daughter failed to heed the warning, she suffered the consequences. Her scrapes and bruises healed in time, but she could no longer enjoy the campground swimming pool during the remainder of our vacation.

A few weeks later we were at a campground much closer to home, and again my daughter was involved in a bicycle accident. This time she was riding about dusk and thought she would make a shortcut back to our trailer so she rode through the campground rather than keeping on the paved areas designated for riding or driving. There was a rope stretched across the area, and due to the time of day and the coloration of the rope, she did not see it and ran into it. As a result, she received a very bad rope burn on her neck. She paid dearly for this poor choice.

First of all, again she could not swim, and secondly she was very much afraid that her awful looking neck injury would prohibit her from being the flower girl in her uncle’s wedding. You see, she had volunteered for the coveted position of flower girl. Her neck did heal enough before the wedding, although even a slight scar remains to this day.

Now Karen was a child when she made the poor choices. I wish that those were the only poor decisions she ever made as I did not like to see her suffer, but unfortunately, there were others. None of us are exempt from the foolishness which clouds our minds.

God has given us the greatest guidebook of all – the Bible. Sadly enough, few see the importance of spending quality time in the Word. The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 119:105 that God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths. Why do we need a lamp to light our pathway? Simply because we find ourselves in many dark times when we do not know whether to turn left or right, to continue forward or stay stationary. Do we forge ahead without regard to our expected destination or outcome? If so, we may find ourselves on a dead end street with no room to turn around.

King Solomon offered words of wisdom in Proverbs 3:5-6 which should be a sobering message for all mankind. Let’s see what it says. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Would we plan a trip across the country without consulting a map? It would hardly be a wise decision. Should we plan our day without consulting the One who created us? The answer is clear and precise. As frail humans we are incapable of foreseeing the future and where our choices will take us. Let us allow the One who knows the end from the beginning to lead us in the way of everlasting life.

 

Grace Yost

Peanut Butter Jars

I have a tradition. Almost every year I go to Wal-Mart before Christmas and buy Mollie, my wife, a new set of drinking glasses. I purchase a new set of glasses that match. Why do I do this? It all started years ago when our two children were at home and we’d have dinner together. We would sit down at the table and all the plates matched—all the salad bowls were identical, however, rarely did all of the glasses match. There may be a decorative glass, a mayonnaise jar or an old plastic Tupperware glass. Okay, so give me a break, I like things to be uniform; I like things that go with one another, in other words a matched set.

For years, Mollie has collected an elaborate set of fine crystal, which she stores in the basement; we rarely use it. I asked her years ago why we seldom use these dishes and she said “she was saving them for good.” If you measure good around our house by how often we’ve used her crystal dinnerware; it wouldn’t add up to a great deal of “good.”

So around Christmas I go to “Wally World” with a big smile, having grand thoughts of four glasses that match. How wonderful life becomes on that glorious occasion. The Steenson household has now been elevated to the level of the privileged. I am a happy camper.

Then, I don’t know how it happens, but somewhere around the last of March, somebody finishes off a jar of Peter Pan peanut butter. Then someone puts the jar in the sink. I not sure how the next step happens, but somebody puts the peanut butter jar in the dishwasher, and then it’s put in the cabinet with the rest of the glasses that match. We sit down to dinner, I say the blessing and look up in shock at three glasses that match and one Peter Pan peanut butter jar, with part of the old label still stuck on it.

There may be some of you that are like Mollie’s fine crystal, beautiful and almost priceless—however, there are many of us that are just Peter Pan peanut butters jars, with part of the old worldly labels still stuck on us. I thank my God that Scripture doesn’t say we are something because of what we are. It says we are something because of what we contain. 2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. Your earthen vessel may be fine crystal; it may be a Peter Pan peanut jar or even a Styrofoam cup, but God is more interested in what’s inside that vessel, than the vessel itself.

As a teenager I learned to speed read. However, there is one thing that I refuse to speed read and that’s the Bible, God’s Word. One of my favorite Scriptures is Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: You just can’t speed read riches, mystery, Gentiles, Christ, glory and get the depth of what Paul is saying in this passage. Paul is saying that it is Christ in you that is the hope of glory. He’s saying that God is trying to tell us that Christ, the very presence of God’s Son, has set up His residence within us and He will never leave us or forsake us. Wow!

Because of this Scripture, I don’t really mind being a peanut butter jar as long as I’m filled with His glory, even if I don’t match the rest of the glasses. You see, God’s dinner table has a diversity of classes and an assortment of glasses.

 

Hal Steenson

The Good Shepherd

The rising sun cast its rays on budding bushes and trees. The smell of Spring was in the air—fresh and green. As morning dawned on the Quinn Farm in central Texas, the seasonal sounds intensified.

Baa…Baa…Baa—a ewe bleated for her newborn lamb. Baa…Baa—the baby responded. This constant cry of communication, multiplied by hundreds of pairs of sheep, filled the air with a near-deafening sound during lambing season.

There is always plenty to be done on a sheep farm. One of my morning responsibilities was to check the flock. One ewe might need assistance in bringing her newborn into the world. Another might need a cut or sore treated. It didn’t matter what needed doing, I relished it all.

I remember this as though it were yesterday. It is one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. While doing pastoral counseling with Richard the other day, these pleasant memories resurfaced.

Richard, a precious man, had wandered away from his church congregation. Now he felt isolated—outside the fold. Would Jesus take him back? I began describing the love of our Good Shepherd and opened my Bible to share.

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost (Matthew 18:12-14, NIV).”

“Richard, do you see how much Jesus loves you?”

A moment of silence followed, broken by his weeping. Oh thank You, Holy Spirit, I thought, for intervening to do that which only You can do—touch the very core of our being, and restore us to harmony with God.

“Richard, Jesus also said, ‘I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own….My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me (John 10:14, 27 NKJV ). He wants you to read your Bible and listen for His voice of guidance.”

As a young shepherd on the farm, I spent many hours searching for ewes and their lambs. Preferring privacy before and after giving birth, the mamas would run off and hide, not realizing their separation from the flock could endanger them and their babies.

Our family had a special call we used to gain our livestock’s attention—they associated this call with food and safety. Calling and searching for the missing ones, my hope was they would hear and respond to my voice. Usually, when I entered their range of hearing, they would answer. What a comfort to know I had been responsible in protecting them from wild dogs and coyotes.

It wasn’t always a happy ending. Some ewes died giving birth, because in their time of need they had hidden from their shepherd. I still sought after them to retrieve their young and bring them into the fold. It was difficult to get another ewe to suckle an orphaned lamb, so many seasons would find me bottle feeding as many as twenty lambs or more. I was more than just their shepherd. I was their adoptive parent as well, and they depended on me to keep them from harm and danger. I accepted my duties with deliberate devotion.

In all ways, Jesus is our Good Shepherd. He never leaves us or forsakes us. He passionately pursues us. He protects us. He adopts us, feeds us and cares for us. The life of a shepherd is a good analogy for Jesus.

Richard was greatly consoled as we discussed how Christ shepherds us. He was very appreciative for me “rescuing” him. God had used me as a shepherd.

It’s true. Today, I am still serving and functioning as a shepherd. My farm is different—spiritual, not physical. I thank Jesus for the experience I had as a youth dealing with real sheep and their lambs. I know what it’s like to physically carry a lamb back to camp. I know what it’s like to nurture and mend the wounded. I know what it’s like to aid the lost and dying, to bring comfort and peace to them. This knowledge gives me a better understanding of the types and symbols Jesus refers to in the Bible.

I continue to ask the Lord to give me the strength to be His laborer and help those in need. I also ask God to give strength and stamina to those who are on the front lines helping the less fortunate and downtrodden. I know our great Shepherd will equip us for His work.

“Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever (Hebrews 13:20-21).”

 

J.D. Quinn

A Garden of Choices

Fruits

by Dr. R. Dean Davis

The ancient Hebrews had a relational understanding of God—they knew Him by what He did for them. They also related events in ever-increasing levels of detail, so beginning with Genesis 2:4 we find ourselves at the third level of detail of the Creation story.

Man is clearly the centerpiece of God’s Creation. He is His magnificent accomplishment—created in His own image and likeness. Adam has a special relationship with God because he is the crowning act of Creation. He has rulership, under God, here on earth.

Because of this he is given the ability to create (or reproduce) life, to create words (in naming the animals), and most importantly, to make choices—none of which were more important than his continual choice to obey God, insuring his eternal life.

The Garden of Eden—The First Sanctuary

The Hebrew word for garden is gan, meaning “an enclosed garden,” and the word edan (Eden) literally means “pleasure” or “delight.” God longed to live right in the center of things, surrounded by His children, so He created the earth’s first sanctuary—a sacred place where He could dwell with them in a special relationship.

God’s careful attention to detail had provided Adam and Eve all that they needed to be happy and productive. He provided a river that flowed from Eden and divided into four riverheads. Biblically, the number four represents the whole earth (think of the “four corners of the earth” in Isaiah 11:12). Ezekiel 47:1 describes this same river of living water as coming from the temple, and in Revelation 22:1 it comes out from the throne of God.

He also planted two trees in the midst of the Garden. In Hebrew thinking, anything that is singled out, or placed in the center of something, has great importance. Why have two trees, side by side, as if they’re equal? The simple answer is that Adam and Eve were given a choice. Both trees bore fruit, and fruit meant food and life. However, one choice would bring life, and the other would bring certain death.

God named the first one the Tree of Life. It provided life-sustaining food and represented Him as the Source of life. The second was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil—of which Adam and Eve had been carefully instructed never to eat of, or they would most certainly die.

Choices

Surely Adam and Eve must have regularly eaten the fruit of the Tree of Life in order to live. This tree was to be used for coming generations, as well, judging by the literal translation from Hebrew: “the Tree of Lives” (plural, indicating successive generations).

The trees no doubt were planted close enough to each other to give them a choice, and the fruits of both trees were pleasing to the eyes. But God’s instructions were unmistakable. If they chose to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they would reject God’s wisdom, thinking they might exalt themselves to His status (Genesis 3:4–5).

God provided Adam and Eve everything they needed: a beautiful home, food, water, work, companionship for their social needs, communion with Him for their spiritual needs, and a Sabbath rest in His sanctuary. However, in His wisdom, He knew they must form their own characters by continually making choices, so He gave them free will.

Even Jesus Christ was not born with a developed character (Hebrews 5:8–9; 7:28). He had to choose His Father’s will continually. In fact, everything written in Scripture about salvation indicates we have to choose God continually, as well.

The choice Adam and Eve had is the same one we have today. We must all choose between obeying God, or defiantly picking our independent course, relying on ourselves.

Next time we’ll take a closer look at the fall of man as we strive to learn through the eyes of the ancients.

—From the October 2011 issue of 3ABN World

Unexpected Gifts

Praying woman

by Grace Yost

Gifts come wrapped in many ways, and some gifts are not wrapped at all. God’s gifts also come to us in various forms—many times in ways we never expected.

Have you ever considered that the desire to serve God is a gift from Him? Have you dreamed at some point in your life—even your childhood—of serving God in a ministry, or as a missionary? My personal belief is that the Holy Spirit works through our hearts to create within us that desire for service to God and to humanity.

As a child, I tended to be a dreamer. In my early teens, a returning missionary came to our church and related the wonderful experiences his family had encountered while serving in Africa.

I thought how exciting it would be to serve God in that capacity, and although I chose a different path, when I became an adult the desire to serve my God was still in the back of my mind.

“For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.” Jeremiah 29:11 (Amplified).

A God of Second Chances

My career included some responsible jobs and I enjoyed them. But I always felt a void in my life that needed to be filled, and God is a God of second chances.

Although I was no longer young, in 2001, at a 3ABN Rally in Florida, my husband was impressed by the Holy Spirit to move to Illinois to volunteer at the ministry.

My immediate response was, “If the Lord is calling us, then we must go!” However, the word “but” entered the picture, and valid excuses began to surface, like, “All my precious family would be so far away!”

As God continued to work in our lives we made our way to West Frankfort, Illinois—with all our worldly possessions in tow. Then came our declaration, “Here we are, Lord. Use us.”

I was offered a position as a volunteer assistant in the pastoral ministries department.

Oh, Lord, what do I have to offer the Pastoral Department? I wondered.

“Nothing,” was the response I received. “Humble yourself, my child, and the Holy Spirit can work through you.”

Yes, Lord, here I am.

Thus began the most incredible journey of my life, and little did I realize how much my family would grow! Today I have countless spiritual brothers and sisters who live behind bars. As they open up their prior lives to me in letters, I find they all have a story to tell—and most of them start with a broken childhood. Perhaps they were not wanted, or were born to a teenage mother with no means of supporting them. So goes the scenario that Satan sets up to lead them down the path of destruction.

Treasured Gifts

Never in a million years would I have dreamed that this would be my destiny in life—called to reach out and touch lives by sharing the precious Words of the Bible, mingled with words of encouragement. People need to know that it is never too late to make Jesus Lord of their lives.

In turn, I receive treasured gifts from the inmates. Sometimes the gifts come in forms of cards and letters, assuring me that God has truly used me to help them. The most endearing name I’ve ever been called is Mama Grace.

My office is decorated with lovely gifts made by them, including a bar of Ivory soap carved with praying hands, and very recently, a beautifully painted plaque with an affirmation inscription that reads:

Grace
Heaven is our home,
This earth we are
Just passing through.

Dear ones, please do not close your ears to the call of God. Unexpected blessings will flow through your life as you allow Him to work through you.

—From the October 2011 issue of 3ABN World

 

Hey Houston, We’ve Got a Problem Here

The church Jesus established when He dropped His head in the locks of His shoulders and died, is on a mission—a mission from God. The mission is to go into the entire world and preach the good news to every nation. If you are a child of God, then it becomes your mission, not just a mission. The mission began with the great commission, which sadly for the unsaved world, is now becoming the great omission. We are tumbling through eternity with little direction or purpose.

As the Apollo 13 spacecraft rocketed toward the moon, the astronauts had high hopes and great expectations for their lunar landing. Everything had been checked and rechecked and NASA had given them the green-light. It seemed that nothing could stop them now and they would return with the mission accomplished.

“Hey Houston, we’ve got a problem here,” got everyone’s attention at Mission Control as Jim Lovell tried to describe that problem. Now it was up to home base to define and correct that problem if this undertaking was to continue. NASA experts at home were awakened out of their sleep with a loud cry for help. They now realized it was not just a matter of completing a project, but now a matter of saving the very lives of those involved in the mission. The space capsule was leaking oxygen–leaking it badly. Could they somehow get a crippled vehicle back to it origin? If they couldn’t, would the blood of those lost astronauts be on their hands because they had used faulty parts from Apollo 10?

“Father, we’ve got a problem here.” The mission we’re on is in big trouble unless those who are sleeping awake from their slumber and start doing all they can to bring Your church under control. She’s leaking power badly and things don’t look too good for Her. Lord, will You sound a loud cry and call in all the evangelists, pastors and laity back to Mission Control? Sir, will you allow your Holy Spirit to get everyone’s heads and hearts together and bring this church back to the standard that You established on the original launching pad of calvary? Will you call all your children out of their lethargic darkness and into Your fields white with harvest? Father, help us to get past our programs and projects and turn to the true cause of Christ. There are lives that depend on us as never before, lives that will go tumbling out of Your divine orbit if we don’t do something. Father, unless we do something quick, their blood may be on our hands because we’ve lost sight of the great commission. “Help us Father, we’ve got a problem here.”

Revelation 14:18
“And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.”

Hal Steenson

Let’s Go Target!

Some time ago, my sister and her daughter Sonia came to our house to visit. During their stay, we did all of the fun things three-year-olds love to do. We walked our dog, played on the jungle gym, swung on the swings, slid down the slide, and squeezed through what must have been miles of tunnels and tubes; all of those things kids enjoy—and uncles do because they love their nieces.

What I remember most was the little dollhouse and toys she would play with for hours. Inevitably, she would get tired of playing alone and ask uncle “Teve” to play. There is one part of the game that I particularly cherish. After moving furniture, telling “pretend” stories, and driving miniature doll cars, she would suddenly say, “let’s go Target!” So there we were—in the land of make-believe—driving tiny cars to Target.

Since that time, whenever my wife and I find life getting particularly stressful, one of us will often say, “let’s go Target!” No, it’s not the store we desire; it’s a break from the moment. A lasting escape, however, can only be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the only source of true happiness; the fountain of living water that never runs dry.

For this little girl, Target was the store where everything seemed magical, full of wonder and surprise. It’s funny how, when you are three, make-believe is a wonderful escape from reality. Maybe your imagination is more vivid at three or maybe, as you get older, reality keeps you from staying young. As an adult, make-believe turns childhood fairytales into dreams. Dreams that often take a lifetime to achieve. Your dreams may be of fortune, treasures, or fame, but all these are only an escape; an attempt to try to obtain what money can never buy.

For Christians, there is a place better than anything we can imagine or make-believe. The Bible tells us, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9) I have found that even our biggest dreams can’t compare to the ones God has in store for us.

If you are longing for true peace and joy, remember, the One who called the little children to Himself, is calling you to spend eternity in paradise with Him. I’m looking forward to Heaven, aren’t you?

Steve Nelson

Styrofoam Cups

2 Corinthians 4: 1&7 says, “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;… But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

Have you ever watched what someone does with a Styrofoam cup after they finish whatever was in it? They bite it around the edges and stick pencils through it and tear it to pieces before finally disposing of it. Why do they do that—because a Styrofoam cup is almost worthless? This cup is only good for what it contains. This is what Paul is trying to communicate by using the term “earthen vessel.” This was a common clay pot that was used by the wealthy as well as the poor. These earthen pots were so common that if one should break, it would be thrown away and not repaired. We can relate to this Scripture if we read it as “we have this treasure in Styrofoam cups.” However, it will take a true child of God to exhibit what’s in the vessel and not the vessel itself.

Every born-again believer has been given a ministry to fill their Styrofoam cups. It is the ministry of Glory, but most Christians don’t realize what this ministry is or how to use it. I have a saying, “whenever you see a ‘therefore,’ look and see what it’s there for.” The key to seeing what it’s there for is to read the Scriptures preceding the therefore. The third chapter of 2 Corinthians explains what this ministry is. Two Corinthians 17- 18 says, “now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Moses’ glory faded after he came down for Sinai; however, the glory that is in our vessel will never fade because it progresses as we go from glory to glory by going from Matthew to Mark, Luke to John, Acts and Romans and Corinthians and so forth. By doing this; we are changed into the same image as our Lord and become a reflection of Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:27 (Amplified Bible) “To whom God was pleased to make known how great for the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ within and among you, the Hope of [realizing the] glory.”

Another key factor to keep our Styrofoam cups full is the proper understanding of verse 17—it actually reads, “Where the Spirit is Lord, there is liberty.” The Holy Spirit must be Lord in your life. Ask the Lord to fill your Styrofoam cup to overflowing every day—then let it overflow and flood all that come into contact with you.

Philippians 1:20 (Amplified Bible) “This is in keeping with my own eager desire and persistent expectation and hope, that I shall not disgrace myself nor be put to shame in anything; but that with the utmost freedom of speech and unfailing courage, now as always heretofore, Christ (the Messiah) will be magnified and get glory and praise in this body of mine and be boldly exalted in my person, whether through (by) life or through (by) death.”

Hal Steenson

Lighten the Ship

The shipwreck in the twenty-seventh chapter of Acts is the most detailed account of an ancient shipwreck in recorded history. However, this is not why Luke was led by the Holy Spirit to pen this record. This Scripture is an obvious example of a mature walk with God. It reveals our willingness or our refusal to give up all our excess baggage by lightening our ships to live a life of faith. As we continue toward the safe haven of the Lord, we will experience a continuous “lightening of our ship.”

Many Christians set sail on their newly born-again ocean of life with fair winds at their backs. They are mostly unaware of the storms they’ll encounter along this journey and perceive they have obtained life’s ultimate purpose. Be assured the storms will come and Christians will be required to lighten their ships. Acts 27: 14-16 “But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive. And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:”

The progression of lightening the ship is simple; the first thing we try is to “come about the boat.” The lifeboat was not carried on the ship, but was pulled behind the ship with a rope. Our first response when the storms hit are to find a way out of the ship. It is only by staying in this world and living an overcoming life that we will be victorious.

The wrong step is to seek ungodly resolutions and unprofitable helps, not realizing that our ship of life will sink if we refuse to lighten the vessel. It will take our letting go of every worldly thing that is holding us back. Many material things and prideful attitudes must be exposed and expelled from our lives. Acts 27:19 “And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.”

Though the wealth of this world is considered a blessing, the time may come when it will be a burden; it will not only be too heavy for someone to carry to safety, but heavy enough to sink the one that has it. The children of this world can be wasteful of their wealth to make their own lives luxurious, yet are sparing of it in supporting the cause of Christ.

Every Christian should be willing to cast away all of his or her worldly possessions rather than their lives; but many would rather make shipwreck of their faith and a good conscience, than of their material goods. The tactics the sailors used did not work; it was only when they had given up all hope of saving themselves, they were open to God’s Word, and trust in His mercy through Jesus Christ.

They had tried the futile help of man, but that didn’t work—they had personally thrown the tacklings of their lives overboard, but it did not benefit their dilemma. It was only after they threw their life-sustaining provisions overboard that they could walk totally by faith. Acts 27:38 “When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea.”

Once again, it is only the self-sacrificing children of God willing to lighten their ships of life that will make it to God’s safe haven. Acts 27:44 “And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.”

We must be willing to stay in this world’s ship, ride out each storm in our lives and rid ourselves of every unnecessary baggage that we do not need for our final destination. I encourage you to examine yourselves—you may find yourselves throwing stuff overboard.

Hal Steenson

Social Evangelism

Group dinner

by Dr. Leonard Westphal

I was raised in Brazil in a very sociable and hospitable home. With great fondness I remember all those people eating in our home, and how my parents enjoyed having them over for fellowship. Early on they impressed on my heart the importance of hospitality.

The Bible lists 21 different gifts God gives His people in 1 Corinthians 13 and Ephesians 4. But look how many times Christians are called to be hospitable:

In Romans 12:13, the apostle Paul urges us to practice hospitality.

Hebrews 13:2 reads, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.”

In 1 Timothy 3:1–7 Paul mentions that one of the qualifications required of a bishop or pastor is to practice hospitality. And since we’re all called into ministry by Jesus, we must do likewise.

The Gift of Hospitality

Think of the friendship between Jesus, Lazarus, and his sisters. He enjoyed their hospitality, and out of this grew a very close friendship.

My wife Rita and I believe the Lord has graciously given us the gift of hospitality, which we’ve taken on as a ministry we call “social evangelism.” We attend the Campus Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church here in Loma Linda, California, and we’re blessed to have a lot of visitors from other states and countries. So during the worship service we scan the church for those who look like they’re not quite sure where to go and what to do. After the service, we make our way to them and invite them over for lunch and fellowship.

On average we’ll be blessed to host eight to ten people each week. We’ve discovered that cooking for two or 10 really takes about the same amount of work! Lunch usually consists of five different dishes and a tossed salad, and it gives us the opportunity to get to know people on a personal level. In fact, over the past five years we’ve been blessed to have over 300 people to our home for a Sabbath meal.

Once we have eaten together, we sit in the living room and go around the room, introducing ourselves to each other and becoming acquainted with everyone. We talk about God’s work around the world, and, of course, we share about 3ABN. Then we sing and pray together, and what wonderful, lasting friendships we’ve made over the years! I dare say that most people forget the sermon given by the pastor in a couple of days, but they never forget the meal and fellowship we shared. Wherever and whenever we meet those who have been in our home, there’s an instant recollection and reflection on that special occasion.

Dying of Loneliness

I recently read an article in the Los Angeles Times about a woman who had written a letter to the editor in which she stated that she was dying of loneliness! Her sad words told them that no one had visited or called her for over 20 years, and she ended with the desperate plea, “Please have someone call or write to me.”

My dear friends, this doesn’t just happen in the big cities. There are many, many people dying of loneliness right in our own churches! Therefore, Rita and I have made a decision to make sure we invite people to our home who don’t normally get an invitation. I can’t tell you what tremendous joy and spiritual satisfaction we feel as we contribute to God’s work in this way. Won’t you consider extending your friendship to someone this Sabbath? I promise you the blessings will be immediate and abundant!

—From the October 2011 issue of 3ABN World

Ramblings on a Rock Tumbler

polished rocks

by Grandma Joyce Neal

My old rock tumbler sits alone and covered with cobwebs in a corner of my dusty shed. I haven’t used it for many months now, and on my back porch, a bucketful of raw agates are waiting to be polished.

So what am I waiting for? I think now would be a good time to clean it up and put it to use again. Know why? ’Cause I need a happy reminder of how sanctification works in real life. I really need to watch a parable in action over several months, allowing its lessons to sink deep into my soul.

You know, I grew up in an era when we never talked about justification, sanctification, or—heaven forbid—salvation by faith! It was every man for himself back in those days, and we were on our own to figure out how to do it.

Being a kid and all, it was so hard to behave in even a reasonably good way—you know, just good enough to avoid getting yelled at by parents or teachers—let alone tackling my motives and attitudes. I thought God and His Heaven must surely work the same way, so I tried in vain to be just good enough to keep the peace, while keeping my freedom to be me! It sure was tricky—and hard work, besides!

I Forget

But now that I’ve grown up a little, every once in a while I still tend to forget what I’ve learned in the meantime. I forget how much God is willing to do to put success in my pathway. I forget He’s on my side. I forget He actually wants to save me for His kingdom. I even forget that He has my name inscribed on His hands.

How can I lose track of all that so easily, and so often? I guess I just gradually slip back into old thought patterns over time without noticing it. Then, first thing I know, I’m sad, depressed, discouraged, and trying to figure out (all over again) how to have victory and a happy, peaceful mind and heart.

Jewels

That’s where this old rock tumbler comes in. I can see it all now—God walks along the creek bank every day, searching for rocks with potential. His eyes quickly alight on His jewels mixed in with the gravel and mud. He carefully lifts each one, wipes it on His sleeve, and squints as He holds it up to the light to catch a glimpse of the beauty hidden deep within.

Then, with great loving care, He tears off a little corner of His spotless white robe (how does it stay so clean when He’s down in the muck with us?) and gently wraps it around His newfound treasure. Right then, He starts out for home with His hanky, and all that it contains, held safely in both hands.

Then into the rock tumbler we go—along with all the other rough gems—and life begins to spin us around in a seemingly pointless cycle of bumping, jostling, and grinding. In the process, some of our “best points” get broken off as we bump into people’s sharp edges (and we can’t imagine why!). Grit rubs us the wrong way, and all the other stones are downright abrasive. (Never mind the fact that we rub them the same way!) How come this process can’t be hurried up, anyway?

Then I’m reminded that while it takes just a few months to polish a rock, it takes a lifetime to polish a person. But hang in there—it’s worth it in the end.

And here’s the really good news: while we’re in the tumbler, we are one of His! Doesn’t even matter how rough and unfinished we are; if we stay in the tumbler we are one of His gems for eternity—and we’re in a perfectly safe place!

With lots of love,
Grandma

—From the October 2011 issue of 3ABN World

The Dumbest Words Ever Spoken By the Church

I was reading the Scriptures the other day and was absolutely stunned by a passage in the gospel of John. The more I thought about it, the more my jaw dropped in total disbelief! I don’t know how Jesus could have looked at the church members before Him and kept a straight face!

The setting is found in John chapter eight. Jesus is talking on a number of issues about the Kingdom of God. Starting in verse 31, we read this: “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Here Jesus is trying to reveal to the Pharisees and Sadducees their great Spiritual need. Their reply is stunning! “They answered him, ‘We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?’ ”

Were they kidding? Had they lost their minds, or at least their memories? The Church leaders were so intent on discrediting anything that Jesus might say, that they denied their entire history rather than agree with Jesus about anything. Throughout their entire history, the sad stories of obedience and blessing, and disobedience and servitude were written. These men knew the stories all to well. They had been in bondage to Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians, and the list goes on.

As they spoke these very words of denial to Christ, Who had dwelt in the pillars of cloud and of fire as He brought them out of four hundred years in bitter bondage, I wonder how He could have kept a straight face. Even as they spoke, they were chafing under the bondage of the Roman Empire! And they told Jesus they had never been in bondage? Denial is the cruelest bondage of all.

It is easy to get down on the people of old, but is it possible that God’s people at the end of time could be guilty of the same attitudes? Is denial of our true standing before God a real possibility? Revelation 3:14-16 tells us: “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:”

God’s servant wrote words for us: “The only hope for the Laodiceans is a clear view of their standing before God, a knowledge of the nature of their disease.” (Testimonies 4 p, 87) the only hope for you and me today, as we stand in the hour of the final judgment, is to recognize our own indifference toward sin, and see how we really look to God. To those who see themselves as they really are, and repent of their ways, the Lord has said that they will be over comers and enter the kingdom of God, by His grace. Is His grace sufficient for you today? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Pastor Matthew Andrew

Love Brings Victory

“With God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

I started the day with my usual request for God to give me His thoughts and His words to share with His people as they called the 3ABN prayer line. The time I spent driving the ambulance and rescue truck in the Santa Rosa Ca. Fire Department also helped prepare me for my first prayer call that morning.

“I’m Too Far Gone”
The first words I heard on the phone that morning were, “I don’t know why I called you because you can’t help me.”
My response must have gotten her attention. “You’re right,” I said. “I can’t help you, but God can.”
I asked for her name and her prayer request, assuring her that if we would ask God together, He would help her. But what Kim* said next got my attention.
“I have been praying to God for eight months to help me, but He won’t. I’m to far gone, so I’ve decided to end my life.”
I quickly told Kim that I had never heard of anything that God could not handle so I really needed to know what that might be.

Kim began by saying she was hopelessly addicted to cigarettes, alcohol and occasional drugs, and that for over a year her efforts to quit had continually ended in failure. Each night she would fill her pack of cigarettes with water and throw them into the garbage, but the next day she would buy another pack thinking it would bring her peace. By the end of the day she would be angry with herself once again for being such a weakling, and would fight back by wetting her remaining cigarettes and tossing them in the garbage again. She had thrown a thousand dollars into the garbage this way in the past year.

It was the same with alcohol. As the weekend approached she would stock up for the joy of it all. But the next morning there was no joy as she realized she had destroyed another batch of brain cells by drinking the night before. Then, as the tears rolled down her face, she would fight back by pouring the rest down the drain, only to do it over again and again.

Although Kim never bought drugs, people would offer them to her for free if she would join in. She gave in hoping to find peace or joy or happiness but the drugs always left her feeling empty. Kim told me that she had begged God day and night for eight months, often in tears, to take away these desires, but that He had done nothing.

“Our Gift of Love”
“Kim,” I began, “There is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for a friend, and Jesus laid down His life for you. (John 15:13) You have your best friend In Jesus who has given you the greatest love possible. Would you like to show your love for Him?”
“Yes, I would,” she said, “but I don’t know how.”
“Well, Jesus tells us how in John 14:15, where He says, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments.’” I replied. “You see, Rather than just taking our sins from us, Jesus also allows us the privilege of giving up our sins as our gift of love to Him.” Then I invited Kim to give life another try, and that this time we would pray together weekly that her love for Jesus would grow until she could make loving choices that would bring joy to His heart as He strengthened her.
“I would like that very much,” she answered.

I’m happy to say that today Kim has the victory through her love for Christ who strengthens her!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13.

*A pseudonym.

Joe O’Brien

Trail of Tears

“He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Quite often we run into someone who seems to have everything together—you know, the one without any problems who’s on top of the world. When asked how they’re doing, the answer is always the same, “Great! Couldn’t be any better,” and perhaps we’re left thinking, Wow, what am I doing wrong? Everything isn’t going great for me. As a matter of fact, my whole world is falling apart! I’ve left a trail of tears behind me for a long time now.

However, how many times have we found out later that the person who claimed to be doing so well really wasn’t? Instead of living by faith, they were only “speaking a positive confession.”

A Tragic Lesson

American history hands us a lesson that is so shameful we can barely whisper its truth. It’s the story of how 46,000 Native Americans were forcibly removed from their land in the 1830s and driven 2,200 miles by foot across nine states to reservations in Oklahoma. Four thousand Cherokee lives were needlessly lost on these journeys. These souls perished from illness, starvation, and broken spirits along what is now known as The Trail of Tears.

Satan has designed another Trail of Tears and laid it out for every child of God—a forced spiritual march designed to cause physical and mental suffering, pain, and disease along the way. At times we will find ourselves hurting while someone else shouts Hallelujah! But God’s Word tells us that all who live godly lives in Christ will, at some time, suffer persecution.

3ABN pastoral ministries department is not the easiest place to work, mostly because of the phone calls we receive each day. In a recent staff meeting we calculated that about 10 percent of our calls were praise reports, 15 percent were regular callers, and the remaining 75 percent were distressed callers from all over the world! At times each of us have wished we could melt ourselves through the phone lines into their homes, just hold them and let them know that we care.

Have you ever needed to just be held and have someone tell you they care? Our pastoral staff tells callers unashamedly that we care—and so does Jesus.

We Can’t Take It

For the past five years I’ve had the privilege of managing 3ABN’s Prayer Warriors by sending out our prayer lists all over the world. On more than one occasion, new applicants have e-mailed me and said, “Pastor Hal, I am truly sorry but I am going to have to stop being a prayer warrior. These prayer requests are so heart-rending that I can’t take it. How do you, and the other pastors at 3ABN, do this on a daily basis?”

I always e-mail them back and tell them that I understand, and that it’s okay. Then I tell them that we can’t take it, either. We can’t carry it; we can’t bear it, so we lay these precious requests at the feet of Jesus, our burden-bearer.

Each week we send out hundreds of prayer requests. The e-mails always start out with praise reports, but quickly move into a long list of broken hearts, broken marriages, broken bodies, and shattered lives—a true Trail of Tears! However, in my desk I have a priceless file full of e-mails and letters from people who have been touched and healed by the God we serve—and by the effectual, fervent prayers of His prayer warriors all over the world.

So, the next time you hear someone “speaking by the power of positive thinking” that they’re doing great, remember this Trail of Tears truth: all of us are either coming out of a problem, are walking through a problem, or are headed for a problem.

And here is a greater truth: Jesus has already blazed the trail for us, and is walking right along beside us!

Pastor Hal Steenson

Compelled by Compassion

Mark 6: 25- 34

And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother. And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb. And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.

And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him. And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.

Down through history, avenging the death of a family member was considered a noble and honorable thing to do. In the Mosaic law of the Old Testament blood revenge was described as an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” However the lex talionis was far more complicated than the scripture implies. The law of blood revenge was grounded in the tribe structure. In other words, the killing was not an act against the public but a private matter between the tribes of the victim and the assailant. The killing created in the tribe of the deceased both a legal right and a societal duty to enforce lethal revenge on the tribe of the manslayer. At the same time the killer’s kin had a sacred obligation to produce a life in exchange for the original victim and a duty to be indifferent or unresponsive when the victim’s tribe came for revenge. If this principle was respected by the society, then the second killing generally ended the retaliation process.

However, we have an aberration here. First, we are not dealing with tribes in this setting and second, we are not addressing the Mosaic Law. What we have seen in the preceding Scriptures is the Great Controversy and Christ’s examples of grace and compassion to the world.

Herod had just had Jesus cousin’s head chopped off and served to him on a platter. John the Baptist, the man Jesus had said, “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist” was now dead and those around Jesus were undoubtedly waiting, watching and wondering what the most powerful Man they had ever encounter was going to do about it. He could call down fire from heaven and destroy all that were in Herod’s kingdom. He could send a plague of leprosy that would slowly eat their flesh away causing them a slow agonizing death.

John’s disciples had told Jesus what had happened; they were aware of the great controversy going on here between light and darkness, but He seemed indifferent to it all. Jesus even told them to come on and get some rest and get something to eat—take it easy for a while; you’ve been through a lot. Now, as unbelievable as it seems, He was more interested in teaching a large crowd of people than He was in avenging John’s death.

Is it possible that John’s disciples may have asked Him specifically, “Jesus, how are you going to avenge you blood kin’s death?” This may have been where He showed them by demonstration rather than explanation.

Mark 6: 35-44 And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes.

And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.

In truth, Jesus could have taken the five thousand men present and stormed the castle, drug king Herod into the street and hung him publicly from the gallows. He could have gathered the women there around Herodias and her daughter and stoned them to death, but if He had done that; Satan would have won. Jesus was not compelled by anger; He wasn’t compelled by emotions—He was not compelled by any human instinct alone. He was compelled by compassion and it was a compassion that was birthed by the Father. It was a compassion that fed fifteen thousand people in the face of hunger. It was a compassion that taught the message of hope in an age of hopelessness. It was Christ Compelled by Compassion–willing to shed His own blood rather than shed the blood of others in revenge.

Surely Satan trembled as Jesus sat the five thousand in ranks of one hundred by fifty thinking this to be some new battle strategy. Satan was poised for battle, waiting for Jesus to charge but Jesus won the conflict on His own ground by teaching the Word and feeding the hungry. Satan must have looked on in horror as Jesus got in the boat and left, Jesus knew there would be other battles, however, He also knew compassion would always win over conflict.

Pastor Hal Steenson

The Addiction of Pride

For many years I have observed and been involved in one of the worse addictions in Christianity to date. It is running rampant through every denomination, independent, and networked ministry on the earth. It is causing division, confusion and isolation even in the lives of the non-church going lone rangers. What is this addiction that is destroying the kingdom on a daily basis and is spreading like wild fire? It is the only addiction that appears to be competitive. People who are addicted to alcohol so often drink together as do people who do drugs. It is commonplace for pot smokers to have pot parties and socialize around a noncompetitive addiction, but this addiction I’m talking about will not let you do this. The addiction I’m referring to is pride. Proverbs 16:18 clearly states that pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Please note that is does not say that pride follows destruction. On the contrary this addiction precedes your destruction, and causes a haughty spirit, which precedes your fall.

In 1995 I received a devastating blow from the enemy and lost all that I had worked for fifteen years. There was nothing left that was salvageable in my ministry. Broken and humiliated, (now would be a good time to remind you that humility and humiliation is not the same thing) I began to go into the withdrawals from pride. No, it’s not the DT’s; it’s called bitterness and resentment. Almost anyone that has ever experienced withdrawals will affirm the withdrawals are sometimes harder on you than the addiction. When I finally began to cease from my withdrawals, I asked the Lord why this had happened. His response was “Hal, why did this happen?” There are two truths I would like to impart to you at this point. First, when God asks you a question, He is not looking for information. The second truth is that the person who is addicted is usually the last person to admit they are addicted. It was not easy for me to stand up in God’s AA meeting and say, “Sir, I am addicted to pride.”

The word of God says, “Let a man examine himself.” Here is what I found when I began to take a look in my heart where this addiction had taken root. Pride was not just something I had, it had actually become a part me. Therefore in examining myself, I could not do anything other that closely examines pride itself.

The “P” in pride meant:

Perceiving that I should have more than what I do: I should have more of everything because I was doing the Lord’s work. I’m going to refer to this as the “I deserve because I serve attitude.” For some prideful reason we think that the more we do for God, the more he has to do for us. We need to remind ourselves that God is in charge of breathing and be careful when trying to command Him to do anything. I had not yet suffered yet blood. I had not done anything to deserve the blood of God that was shed for me on Calvary. If I could open blinded eyes, heal the sick or even raise the dead, that would still not give me just cause to have an I deserve because I serve mentality. The Apostle Paul said it so beautifully while boosting in humility. Philippians 3: 7-8 But what things were gain for me, I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ.

Here was a man whom God had to knock off his prideful high horse, strike him blind and humble him before Ananias to receive his sight once again. Here was a man who after pontificating at Mars Hill was rejected and had to have another pride adjustment. But finally we read about the rock fights this Apostle was in, and have you ever noticed he was the only one who didn’t have any rocks. Did you ever wonder why Paul didn’t have a pocket full of rocks? Have you ever asked yourself why Stephen didn’t cry out as stones were being hurled at him, “hey wait a minute, I deserve because I Serve.” Thank God for grace.

The “R” in pride meant:

Reaching the lost had become secondary and reaching for fame had become primary: I’m going to call this the “I want to be known syndrome.” It is too easy to be caught in this trap and almost impossible to escape once its addiction has ensnared you. I look back over the years at so many ministers and laymen who were sold out to reaching souls and making disciples who have gone by the wayside because of fame. These were people who burned with the flame of God for the lost, but somehow lost the “L” and flame became fame. It doesn’t matter if you came from the ghetto or from grandeur; the addiction of fame is after you and will destroy you. The writer of Hebrews asks, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation.” Let us not forget the words Paul in Romans 10: 13ff, “For whosoever shall call upon the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher. The great commission does not call us become famous; it sends us out to a lost and dying world. The only way this can truly happen is for the world to see Christ in us, not just see us. Colossians 3:1-3 has a directive about where our attention should be directed and will help us overcome the “I want to be known syndrome.” It reads, If you be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. It should be our prime directive to desire to know Him and the power of His resurrection rather than seek to be known. The Apostle Paul didn’t conquer Rome from an ivory tower, but he did conquer it; and he did it from his jail cell ministry. Thank God for those who are going to be famous in His Kingdom.

The “I” in pride meant:

Identifying more with the world than identifying with Christ: I John 2:15 -17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of the Father abideth forever. If we could just walk in this, we would be home free. Sometimes it’s just not that easy. I’m going to call this the, “if you’re smart, you’ll look the part trap.” This is where pride really becomes competitive with the rest of the body of Christ. We think we must have the biggest and the best of everything in order to be accomplishing the great commission. How sad it is to think that God is impressed with our material things, our conferences and our programs when so little of it identifies with Christ. I remember when I first made Jesus Christ Lord of my life; He was the last thing on my mind as I fell to sleep at night and the first thing on my lips when I woke up in the morning. All that changed, but I was smart because I looked the part. This addiction of pride will slowly allow you to embrace the world and the things of the world. You can slowly swap love for lust, ministry for money and Godly power for more people. This competitive spirit will cause you to think that you aren’t successful unless you have plenty of people following you – unless you dress and confess how prosperous your ministry is – unless you have a web page and your mailing list reaches a certain amount of followers. We reach out and lay hold of worldly things, which we feel, will make our ministry look even bigger and better. We slowly begin to worship our worship and praise our praise and in so doing have allowed Babylon to capture Judah. The world has captured our music, so we have to embrace the world to hear it. Sorry, I’ve used the word “we” on several occasion, but I’m not talking about you. Surely this only applied to me. Success doesn’t come from the world. Real success comes only by doing the will of the Father. God was not saying having the largest church in our area was wrong, because the size of the ministry isn’t what concerns Him. What He is concerned with is the heart of the ministry. The heart of any ministry will fall in one of two categories. It is either done in the flesh or it’s done in the spirit, and when we are addicted to pride, we don’t want to know which one it is, as long as it’s working. Pastor Moses had three million followers and Jesus had twelve and neither one had to “look the part,” they just did the will of the Father. The addiction to pride will cause you to identify incorrectly. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians tells us our identity as well as our heritage when he pens: Therefore be imitators of God – copy Him and follow His example as well-behaved children imitate their father. Ephesians 5:1 Amplified

The “D” in pride meant:

Defending my actions, rather than defending the faith: Defending my actions started out slowly and picked speed at a blinding pace. My actions were now worldly and not in line with the way a man of God must present himself. I began to judge others by there actions, but I judged myself by my intentions. I wonder how many times I said, “Well God knows my heart” and used this as a loophole for my actions. I would lose my temper at the drop of a hat and even used profanity and call it righteous indignation. People should realize that I was the top dog Pastor in our area and should give me some elasticity to go to extremes. I’ve since learned that extremes are dysfunctional and that made me dysfunctional. I read somewhere that dysfunctional people are mostly unaware of their disability. My son, Jeremy, told me one day; Dad your light is on, but you don’t you see it do you. He went on to say that when you turn on a light, the light is not aware that it’s on, but everyone in the room is aware that it’s burning brightly. By this time my light switch was stuck in the “on” position, and there was no turning it off. That’s why I refer to this as “your light is on and everybody knows it but you.” When your light of defense is on, you can’t understand 1 John 3:20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. I knew what this scripture meant. If my heart was saying what I was doing was wrong, then God was saying the same thing. And if my heart wasn’t condemning me then neither was God. But there is a big difference in listening to your head and your heart. At this phase of the addiction of pride you stop listening to your heart, and all you hear is your head. The head is saying nobody knows your light is on and you’re doing great.

The “E” in pride meant:

Everything in this ministry should revolve around ME: I had become a law unto myself and with my strong personality and hardheadedness; no one dared to oppose me. This is none other than the “King Me Mentality” and there is always something or someone that can and will dethrone you. In this facet of the addiction to pride all of your ministry team and workers stop being ministers to you and they become “employees only.” Even when someone has overextended themselves and has given all for the ministry, your favorite expression is, “that’s what they get paid to do.” In the early years of ministry, my wife, Mollie, and I shed a lot of blood to accomplish what God desired for this ministry and this King ME mentality was making sure everyone else had to bleed also. I didn’t care if I caused everyone around me to be uncomfortable and on edge; they couldn’t and wouldn’t do anything without me, their King. People who knew me before success and really loved me tried to tell me “you’re not the same person you used to be, but the addiction to pride would not let me see how drastically I had changed. It had to be them–surely it wasn’t me. They were just out of order. If I’d only known how the King would fall, and how many people I would wound and how many people would be overjoyed when I fell, maybe I would have changed, but probably not. You see, I was addicted to pride.

Pastor Hal Steenson

Kids Crafts – Sea Urchin

Sea Urchins are pretty tough to eat, but sea otters seem to have no trouble! Here’s a sea urchin you can make from edible fruits. Try it!

What you Need

  • an orange
  • toothpicks
  • raisins, craisins, or any other bits of fruit or dried fruit

What you do

  1. Take an unpeeled orange and cut it in half. Set it on a paper plate.
  2. Poke a toothpick through 3 or 4 raisins, then poke it into the orange.
  3. Repeat this with more raisins and toothpicks. Soon you’ll have a prickly “sea urchin!”
  4. Try this using tiny bits of fruit pieces, or dried fruit. Use your imagination and make your sea urchin unique! Makes a great desert treat.

P.S. Be careful with the toothpicks! They’re sharp!

Compassion In Competition

Hal Steenson

Mollie and I had not been to a little league baseball game in years and were therefore unfamiliar with the updated rules–such as the coach being the pitcher and the players throwing the ball to the pitcher to stop any player from running to the next base.

Nonetheless, there were still the age-old standards that popped up at our Grandson’s game. Like one young man sitting in our stands that had the delusion that he was the coach for both teams and was yelling out orders to every kid. It didn’t matter what the base coaches said, this man in the stands thought he was in charge. Never mind what they decided on a close call, he verbalized his own opinion and did it loudly. It was disgusting. I wondered what his son must have thought about him. I thought to myself, things haven’t changed that much since I played!

The pitcher for our six-year-old Grandson’s team was a young man, but the pitcher for the opposing team was a lady name Michelle that worked at a local convenience store and gas-mart in our town. She was always cheerful and had a great personality, but I learned something deeper and richer about her that day at the ballpark. Her team was at bat and as the next batter stepped to the plate someone behind me whispered, This is the first time he’s ever played in a real baseball game and I think it’s the first time he’s ever been at bat–let’s see how he does. He was a little chubby and as awkward goes, that too, but he positioned himself in the batter’s box and waited. First throw, a swing and a miss–the second throw didn’t quite make it there, she was being fair but gentle. Third pitch and bang off the bat and straight to the shortstop. The chubby kid ran as best he could but he was thrown out at first, but remember; he had never played in a real game before so all he heard was Jenny yelling “Run Forrest Run,” so he kept running for first base. He made it to first base and just stood there with a big smile of achievement on his face. The make-believe coach in our stands was mouthing off and saying, “Is that kid stupid, he was out–he needs to get off the base so we can get on with the game.” His wife told him to shut-up and for his sake, I’m glad he did!

What was Michelle going to do? This was a real competition. This was a real catch-22. However, that day it was competition with compassion, as Michelle walked slowly over to him and put her arm around his shoulder, I overheard her say something like, “Wow, you got a hit your very first time at bat–that’s great, not many players can do that. Now we’ll need to go to the dugout and get some water and wait for your next time at bat. Man that was awesome, you really smacked that ball.” The kids in the dugout clapped for him. He was a happy camper and never knew anything was wrong.

Had it not been for that simple act of compassion, that boy could have been humiliated, shamed and ended up a wounded, brokenhearted outsider. He could have been condemned or mentally scarred for life during a little league baseball game because he didn’t know the rules. Thank God for compassionate people like Michelle.

Then she modestly walked back to the pitcher’s mound and everyone was happy in Little League Heaven. She probably didn’t even realize that she had just saved that chubby little boy’s hopes and dreams. It may be, as a result of her compassion, he will probably grow up to be a godly father or maybe a guidance counselor helping chubby little kids change their Lives. Who knows, he may be a little league coach that puts his arm around your Grandchild and says, “Wow, did you see what you just did? That was great!”

I Peter 3: 8-9 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.

I'm a Card Keeper

Hal Steenson

When you are number nine of ten children you learn to accept a lot of things as fact. One fact is that you will only be able to find one or two of your baby pictures. And, if you’re lucky, when your aunts die, your cousins may mail some of your family photos back to you—usually the pictures your mother sent, but now they haven’t a clue who’s who in them (and could actually care less)! The only thing they recognize in the picture is the old Buick Century your daddy drove, because back then, everybody took pictures standing in front of the family car. It was just an unwritten “Kodak Moment” rule: People, car, stand by car, take picture, mail it to distant relatives.

Another fact I learned early that has stuck with me through the years is that since I was the ninth child, birthday parties were not big blowouts. As I recall, they eventually evolved into blowing out one candle atop a cupcake lit with daddy’s Zippo lighter, and a couple of bucks to spend on candy. That is, until my first fancy birthday card—a store-bought birthday card with Superman on the front! My sister Betty Faye had started to work for Woolworth’s Five and Dime, and had bought me that birthday card and some comic books. The comics were great, but the card was awesome. I read it over and over, then read it again and again, and then hid it in my cigar treasure box.

Card Keeper, Card Reader
However, I was addicted. I not only became a card keeper, but also a card reader. In my younger years, I’d find myself in front of the Lloyd’s Drugstore card rack, reading and thinking how a few wonderful words could make my heart spring to life, when only moments before it may have been flatlined with failure and disappointment.

A real “keeper card” doesn’t have to be bodacious, and should be worded in such a way that the person reading it doesn’t need you to underline a single word, because it would distract from the others. I’ve watched in bewilderment as men approach the special occasion card rack displaying hundreds of beautiful cards, then halfheartedly pick, pay for, and intend to present a card to someone they love, when they’re not even sure what it says!

I’m a card keeper. I still have the cards Mollie gave me when we were first married. I have cards my baby sister sent me years ago for my birthday. I have a mountainous collection of refrigerator “I Love You Papa” cards from my children and grandchildren—because I know they meant it. I’m a card keeper.

Today’s e-cards are nice, but there’s just something special about waking up on Valentine morning in the same house as the one you love, and there on the kitchen counter is a card—a “keeper card” that you can pick up in your hands and allow those written words to filter through your fingers into your heart.

It’s a lot like opening up an old Bible that has become so much a part of you, and reading John 3:16 aloud to yourself: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Now there’s a Valentine “I Love You” line! And it’s a keeper because I know our Heavenly Father means it.

Why don’t you send Him an “I Love You Prayer Card?”

I’m sure He’ll keep it!

If You Hear His Voice

Richard Pinero

Immediate Recognition

Thanks to the advances of technology, immediate was the worldwide response to the recognition of this gift, despite the sad condition of the bearer. Upon this recognition, Mr. Williams was immediately flung into stardom—all because someone recognized his gift.

Only days after, he was hosted on every major broadcasting network and media venue this vast nation has and was overwhelmed with offers of employment and housing. During one of those televised interviews he mentioned that the catalyst that changed his fate was the recognition of God’s constant care and preservation, especially of his voice. He realized that the Lord must have had something for him and he pledged to recognize the God in all his ways. It was amazing to see this man speaking freely of the love of God on national television. In fact, it was rather moving!

In a second interview he was reunited with his mother who, after ten years, was again given the opportunity to see her son. When asked if she had missed him, she reproached him lovingly, as only a mother can, saying that he would promise to go see her but would never show up. His response was that what kept him away was the shame of his condition. He thought he would bring shame and sadness to her heart if she saw him in his true condition. I believe Mr. Williams’ full recovery will come if he contineus to depend on God, and we pray that will be the case.

I typically don’t follow stories like these but this one pulled at me like a magnet, as I’m sure it did many others. Maybe it’s because each one of us can identify, to a certain degree, with Mr. Williams’ experience.

I couldn’t help but think of how many individuals today are in the same situation as Mr. Williams—a sorry spiritual state—yet feeling there’s something better out there. Each of us has been endowed by God with a unique gift, but unfortunately many of us have done as Mr. Williams did. We’ve taken that which was bestowed on us and squandered it on the follies of life. And after realizing it, we feel so ashamed that we isolate ourselves from the One who loves us most! The One who wishes to restore in us the former happiness and peace we once enjoyed, the joy that comes as a result of realizing that we’re accepted and loved by Him as we are, no matter what we’ve done.

God has bestowed upon each of us the gift of being called “sons [and daughters] of God.” 1 John 3:1. Wow! What a privilege; what an honor! Your 3ABN pastoral staff counts it a great joy to encourage you to lay hold of, by faith, and “neglect not the gift that is in thee.” 1 Timothy 4:14 KJV.

If your heart feels heavy and trodden by the weight of your guilt and shame, remember the inspired words recorded by prophet Jeremiah. “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3. Will you allow yourself to be drawn to God by the displays of His unwavering love?

“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” Hebrews 3:15 NIV.

Chocolate Covered Ants and Lying

Hal Steenson

It was time for new linoleum rugs in the Steenson household. I think it was a family tradition every five years or so. Anyway, it was an exciting time for a seven-year-old boy in the fifties. In addition, half the kids in the neighborhood would come out to watch. The twin girls, Lynn and Lane McCurley from down the street could see me flex my muscles as I helped my older brothers and daddy tote that barge and lift that bale.

Okay, back to the rugs–in the 1950’s linoleum rugs came in rolls 12’ x 12’ and we always bought them in the summer and unrolled them in the front yard in the sunshine so the folds and humps would come out before we put them down. Being so young and small, I wasn’t much help except to move little things out of the rooms so we could remove the old rugs.

We had cleared all the furniture out of the bedroom where my sisters Billie Joyce and Betty Faye slept–Daddy and my four older brothers were taking a break before we pulled up the old rug—those rugs were always stuck to the floor after a few years of traffic and no one was looking forward to the task. I was going to show them how strong I was; so I would pull that old sticky rug up all by my big self. I grabbed the back corner and gave it a tug and to my surprise, it came right up and I fell over backwards. However, that’s not the end of the story. Underneath the corner of that old rug was Blackbeard’s Treasure, nickels, dimes, quarters, and even a brand new half dollar.

I grabbed it all up as fast as I could and ran for the back door hoping no one had seen me take the loot. This had to be the find of the century and I was not about to share it with anyone, period. My little loot filled mind was working overtime as I headed for Sam’s Superette because I was going to buy everything in that corner grocery store. Sam, or Mr. Superette as I called him, was going to be a rich man.

I bought cookies and candy and four sixteen-ounce Royal Crown colas. I even bought a snap together balsa wood state-of-the-art wooden airplane. I spent it all except for forty-seven cents. What could I buy for forty-seven cents—then I saw it, a ten-ounce can of pure Hershey’s Chocolate. I couldn’t resist it and counting tax it would be exactly forty-seven cents. I spent every penny.

Afterward, I made tracks for our gang’s tree house tree and hid my stash before anyone knew I was gone, but I had to take something back home with me, but what would it be. I know, the Hershey’s Chocolate, I could open it and sip on it during the rest of the day while we worked. I crept into the kitchen, got a can opener and opened the can, took a couple sweet gulps and hid it outside under the back steps—now back to work.

Billie and Betty pulled up in the driveway, got out of the car and came into the house along with mother. The first thing out of Billie’s mouth was, “Where is our money, what happened to the money that was under the rug? we were saving it for the fair.” Everyone gave the same answer, “What money?” that is except for me. I had my head down and my eyes glued to the floor. She knew her money had been there and she knew someone was lying.

I had to get rid of the evidence but it was two hours later before I was able to get back to the Hershey’s can. I finally slipped out the back door, slid under the steps, grabbed the can, tilted it to my lips, took two or three huge gulps to get it all down then pulled the empty can back in chocolate approval. There to my horror, covering the can was hundreds of ants—inside and outside of the can. I had just swallowed hundreds of chocolate covered ants. I dashed toward the kitchen to confess my dilemma to my mama when I ran into my sister Billie Joyce. She was about to administer a hands on lie-detector test about her money but instead she stared at me in awe and said, “Hal, what in the world is all over your face? There are ants crawling all over your face and it looks like it’s covered in mud. What have you been doing boy and where is my money?” There I stood drooling chocolate that was purchased with stolen money while bugs crawled in and out of my mouth. What could I do? I did the only thing a seven-year-old boy could do. I lied, I said I didn’t take it and I ran like the wind.

That was fifty-three years ago and I find that some days I still have chocolate on my face when God catches me coming in through the backdoor of life. The dark chocolate of ungodly behavior that doesn’t belong in a man of God’s life is often accompanied by the ants of sin that sting us severely because we have left ourselves exposed to the elements of the enemy’s influence. Whenever we try to sneak in through the backdoor after drinking stolen delicacies, God will meet us and ask, “What is that all over your face?” If there is one lesson I’ve learned in my Christian walk; it is When God asks us a question, He is not looking for information. He already knows the answer. What He wants us to do is just fess up and ask forgiveness.

That experience took care of my craving for chocolate. In fact, even now, I often think of ants whenever I eat it, however; it took me  much longer to get a grasp on the lying thing. My sister Billie wasn’t sure if I was lying to her or not, but have you ever considered that it is impossible to lie to an all-knowing God. Have you ever considered that when you try to lie to God, all you’re actually doing is lying to yourself?

So the next time you’re standing there with chocolate on your face and ants crawling on lying lips, just be honest with God. He will forgive you and with the washing of the water of His Word, clean off all the chocolate and the ants with a loving touch.

1 John 1:9 KJV If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Answered Prayers

One of my favorite stories as a Colporteur was my first contact on my own. He was an Amish man with a lot of children who wanted the books real bad, but couldn’t afford them. I felt so bad for him that I went home and got some of my old children’s books and took them to his wife one day. I could see she was expecting another child. At another time I had a Medical Book I sold, but decided not to sell them anymore. I was concerned that she might have an emergency and would need that book so I gave the demonstration book to her. They were adding a new addition to the home and I could see that she was expecting again. She was very grateful and told me their children had enjoyed the other books so much that they were about worn out. I went home and got what was left of the books I had had for my own children when they were young, and some for her and her husband including a paperback Desire of Ages.

One day I was looking through my bookcase inside the wall of my dining room. I came across my large hardback Desire of Ages. I remembered I had gotten that at a Camp Meeting when H.M.S. Richards and the Kings Herald Quartet were there. They had signed that book for me. That was a treasure. I thought to myself, “Why don’t you set that out on the stand for everyone to see” “It’s too pretty to leave inside that bookcase in the wall.” Days later, I came out of my computer room and walked by the stand with the Desire of Ages on it. I glanced at it and the thought came into my mind, “Why don’t you give that to her?” I was horrified!!! I said, “I made that up!” “I made that up!” I just couldn’t believe that God wanted me to give them that book! I didn’t want to. I wanted it for myself. After all, it was signed! Then, one day the books were ready to go. I couldn’t get it out of my mind that God wanted me to take that book to them, so I did. It might mean their salvation and it was just laying on my stand looking good.

Within a week or two a lady whose husband had been a Colporteur called to say she had some new books for me from ones he use to sell. She gave me several of the large books from the Conflict of the Ages series, which included a brand new Desire of Ages. I felt God had replaced the one I gave away so decided I was going to start reading it again. I read through the first chapter and was thanking the Lord for the book when the thought came into my mind, “Norma, you prayed for that book.” OH, YES, I HAD! A long while before I had another hardback Desire of Ages and had given it to one of my brothers with a message written on the inner cover for him. I had recently been praying for another one to give to my sister that lived across the road from me. God had answered my prayers for that book! Isn’t He AWESOME!!!! I hurried up and put a message in it for her and wrapped it up and gave it to her. I told her the story how God had answered my prayers and that He wanted her to have it. What an Awesome Friend I have in Jesus!

JOIN ME THERE!

Jesus has gone away,

To prepare us a home in Heaven someday.

Soon He’ll return and then,

Usher us in to the restored Eden.

That will be an excitement beyond compare,

“Won’t you come and join me there?”

Norma Wellman

Kids Crafts – Dried Flower Candleholder

Check out this pressed flower découpage craft! It’s easy to make, and it’s really pretty under candle glow!

What you Need

  • pressed leaves or flowers
  • clear glass candleholder, or votive candle cup
  • craft glue
  • water
  • foam brush
  • lightly colored tissue paper

What you do

  1. Pick some pretty summer flowers and leaves (small, delicate ones work best).
  2. Dry your blossoms and leaves by pressing them between two sheets of paper towel (construction paper, or printer paper works, too), and then place them inside a large book, such as a phone book or encyclopedia.
  3. After a week or so, take out your flowers and leaves carefully.
  4. To make a découpage mixture, mix equal amounts of craft glue and water in a small container. The consistency should be little thinner than paint.
  5. Tear the tissue paper into small pieces.
  6. Using a foam brush, apply a thin layer of glue mixture all around the outside of the candleholder.
  7. Carefully arrange and stick the flowers and leaves onto the candleholder.
  8. Let it dry a bit, then carefully brush on more glue and start applying the pieces of tissue paper, making sure they overlap each other. Keep adding glue and paper until you’ve covered the entire candleholder.
  9. Let it dry thoroughly overnight, then place a votive candle inside and watch your beautiful flowers glow!

Kids Crafts – Sammy the Soda Can Doggie

Check out this cute doggie made from a soda can! It’s fun to make and fairly easy, too!

What you Need

  • soda can
  • craft glue
  • brown and pink craft paint
  • paint brush
  • acrylic spray
  • brown and red felt scraps
  • tiny black pom-pom
  • small goggly eyes
  • scissors

What you do

  1. Remove the tab from the can.
  2. Squeeze the can in half, then bend the top one direction and the bottom the other.
  3. Step on the can to flatten it. You may need an adult to step on it so it’s really flat! (You may need to have several cans on hand, since they don’t always bend the way you want them to).
  4. Paint your can brown with your craft paints. You may need to give it several coats, waiting for the paint to dry between coats.
  5. Paint the inside of the hole pink. This is your doggie’s mouth.
  6. Cut out a piece of red felt and glue it to his mouth so that it hangs out.
  7. Cut out two pieces of brown felt for your doggie’s ears. Glue them to the to of the can for “ears.”
  8. Glue two googly eyes to the can.
  9. Glue the pom-pom just over his mouth and you’re done!

Kids Crafts – Dog Shark

Hey kids, check out our Dog Shark craft! It’s easy and fun!

What you Need

  • Two Styrofoam cups
  • Craft Glue
  • One sheet of white craft foam
  • One sheet of blue craft foam
  • Scissors
  • Googly eyes
  • Blue acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush

What you do

  1. Glue the two open ends of your Styrofoam cups together to form the Dog Shark’s body. Let it dry thoroughly
  2. Spread out newspapers on your working surface (don’t get paint on the table!) then paint the Dog Shark’s body with acrylic blue paint (or your favorite color. You can also try neon colors!) Place it carefully on the newspaper until it dries
  3. Cut out a crescent moon-shaped tail out of the foam, attach it to the bottom of one of the cups with glue.
  4. Cut out half of a crescent moon shaped piece of foam for the dorsal fin, attach it with glue to the top of the Dog Shark’s body.
  5. Cut out a row of teeth out of the white foam. Glue them across your Dog Shark’s face.
  6. Glue on your Dog Shark’s googly eyes.
  7. Glue a wooden disk, button, or something flat to the bottom, so your Dog Shark will stand up.
  8. Rinse out your paintbrush, clean up the newspapers, and enjoy!

And Peter

Hal Steenson

But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: …. Mark 16:7

I’ve read this passage numerous times and even preached it. However, in 1995, after a devastating trial in my life, I saw something in this verse I’d never seen before. I saw the love, mercy and compassion of Jesus in an absolutely new light. Here’s how it happened.

Somehow, after twenty years of sobriety, I had started drinking again. After twenty years of serving God, preaching His word and building churches, I fell. I bought into the lie that “Christianity confronts culture” and when it does; I should adjust my convictions to match everybody else’s actions. I was in England for the first time and was shocked to find that almost all the people where I was ministering drank alcohol. At first, I was put off, but I didn’t want to offend anyone, so I allowed the leaven of alcohol to come back into my life and cause me to fall. When I fell, the enemy didn’t take me back to where I had been in sin; he took me back farther.

So there I was, broken, ashamed, and even suicidal when God began to slowly draw me back. Until He drew me, I felt like Peter, who had denied Jesus two times and when confronted the third time, he cursed and denied Him again. Peter had sinned and separated himself from the Savior he loved, and so had I. Peter didn’t deserve a second chance and neither did I. Nonetheless, the Lord allowed Mark 16:7 to release me from my bondage of sin and shame. I saw by His Spirit the words “and Peter.” This must be a mistake. The angel said, “Go tell His disciples.” Peter was one of the disciples, so why say “and Peter?” Then I got it. The disciples had scattered, but Peter stayed and openly denied knowing Jesus. To me this verse was saying go tell them all, but make sure you specifically tell Peter that it’s going to be all right. I’m not sure how God did it, but as I read the words again, they were ‘go tell his disciples, and make sure you tell Hal’ that it’s going to be all right. Its taken time, but things are now right with my Lord since I read “and Hal.” Maybe you would like to reread this verse and insert your name. Who knows what might happen.

Hal Steenson

I Saw the Light

J.D. Quinn

Lightning flashed across the fields, followed by booming thunder. “Here we go again,” I cried as electric power to our old farmhouse went dead, plunging us into a pitch-black background. As a youth, I often held my breath in the eerie darkness as I listened for sounds of Mama fumbling around to light an oil lamp.

When she set the shining lamp on a high stand, rays of light would penetrate the darkness bringing great relief to my troubled imagination. The lamp from the stand cast a shadowy glow into the next room, providing me just enough security to tag along with Mama as she went throughout the house lighting the rest of the lamps.

“No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light” (Luke 11:33). The Bible declares in Psalms 119:130 that the entrance of God’s Word brings light—understanding for the simple! When Christ lit the light of the Gospel, He put it on a lampstand for all to see. He did not preach from a secret chamber, but broadcast the warmth of His light for all to receive His deliverance from darkness. But will all receive His light?

“The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness” (vs. 34). On those dark stormy nights at the farm, if I had kept my eyes tightly closed, no light would have entered my physical eyes. Likewise, if my spiritual eyes are squinted shut, if I refuse to receive the light of His Word, then I am spiritually blind and full of spiritual darkness. This darkness represents lack of understanding and poor spiritual judgment.

If we have good spiritual eyes—minds that will allow the entrance of God’s Word—our whole spiritual being will be filled with the light of God. He gives us understanding and the ability to discern between good and evil.

The Bible clearly teaches we become what we behold! If we concentrate on the carnal world, we can count on bad spiritual eyesight and minds overshadowed by spiritual darkness. In sharp contrast, if we focus our eyes on God’s Word—meditating on the character of Christ and the plan our loving Heavenly Father has for our lives—God will fill our minds with His light of spiritual understanding.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105). Aren’t you glad that we have God’s Word as our guide? Let the light in! If you follow it, you can be sure that He will show you the path of life and you will find joy in His Presence forevermore.

Thank You, Jesus, for lighting my lamp! Thank You for delivering me from darkness! I saw the light, and it was good!

J.D. Quinn

Kids Crafts – Leaping Lentils

Remember the bubbling swamp water of this month’s Kids’ Korner story? Well, here’s a way to enjoy the power of bubbles at home (without the slime)!

What you Need

  • A tall narrow clear glass (a tall narrow vase will work, too. But don’t use a mug, ‘cause it won’t work)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 Tbsp. baking soda (the old stuff in the fridge is okay)
  • ½ Tbsp. white vinegar
  • small amount of lentils
  • small amount of Craisins (dried cranberries)

Alternate ingredients:

  • clear soda like 7-Up, or seltzer water
  • elbow macaroni
  • popcorn kernels (not the microwave bag kind)

What you do

  1. Pour the water into a tall narrow glass.
  2. Mix in the baking soda until dissolved
  3. Drop in some lentils, then slowly add the vinegar.

Why It Works:
The chemical reaction will cause bubbles to form, which will lift the lentils to the surface, making them dance. But after a little while, the surface tension will keep the lentils floating on top, so add 5 or 6 Craisins, and watch them dance around. If you don’t get enough bubbles, slowly add a little more vinegar.

Alternate Ingredients: You can get the same effect by using clear soda or seltzer water, instead of the water, baking soda, and vinegar. Try dropping in some elbow macaroni—and see which one works best! It’s fun for kids of all ages.

Kids Crafts – Buggy Bug Trap

Got any idea what kind of bugs crawl around at night? Here’s a great way to find out! It’s simple to make—and you never know what bug might stop by! Best of all, once you’ve looked them over, you can let them go on their way!

What you Need

  • A Mason-type glass canning jar (any kind of clear glass jar will do, though)
  • A shovel or something to dig with
  • A small piece of board
  • A few small rocks

What you do

  1. Make sure your jar doesn’t have any labels on it (if it does, you won’t be able to see the bugs!)
  2. Find a bush or a spot where the dirt is soft and moist, and dig a hole just slightly larger than your jar. Make sure the hole is deep enough so the mouth of the jar is even with the dirt
  3. Arrange your rocks around the jar and place the your small piece of board over them. Make sure the bugs have room to get in between the rocks, making it easy for the bugs to fall in.
  4. Leave your trap for a day or two, then take the board off and see if you’ve had any bugs “drop in for a visit!” Can you identify any of your “visitors?”
  5. Be kind to God’s little critters. Remember they all have a function in this world, so go ahead and drop them into the hole you dug and let them leave on their own.

Kids Crafts – Spring Flowers Word Search Puzzle

We know you like Word Search Puzzles, and since spring is right around the corner here in the United States, we thought we’d give you something to get you thinking about all the beautiful flowers God has given us to enjoy! Just print out the puzzle and see how many flowers you can find! Remember the names can be hidden vertically, horizontally, diagonally, and even backwards!

Download

Kids Craft – Polar Bear

Have you ever seen a polar bear? They’re huge and powerful! They’re also very beautiful in their white coats, but did you know they have black skin? How cool is that?
Here’s a fun polar bear craft that’s fun for all ages. Get creative! What kinds of polar bears can you make?

What you Need

  • small Styrofoam cup
  • white construction paper
  • black construction paper (or a small piece of black felt)
  • scissors
  • a large cotton ball
  • googly eyes
  • glue
  • black permanent marker

What you do

  1. Cut your polar bear’s head, ears, and arms out of the white construction paper and glue them on to the Styrofoam cup.
  2. Pull your cotton ball apart slightly to make a bigger “snout” for your polar bear.
  3. Cut a nose out of your black construction paper (or black felt) and glue it on.
  4. Using your black permanent marker, draw a mouth on the cotton ball.
  5. Glue on your bear’s googly eyes (if you don’t have any, you can cut little eyes out of the black construction paper or black felt)

Options: You can glue your polar bear’s face slightly tilted to one side or the other to give him a “quizzical” look! Why not make a whole polar bear family?

Watch ASI 2016 on YouTube

Now you can watch all of the main meetings of the 2016 Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries (ASI) Convention in Phoenix, Arizona! Relive all the best moments, and be inspired to do more for Jesus!

Click here to be redirected to our YouTube videos.

ASI Convention 2016

Programs Available

Wednesday Evening Opening Program – Keynote Address by Steve Dickman, ASI President.

Thursday Evening Program – Exciting ministry reports, inspiring music, and much more.

Friday Evening Program – Youth reports, marvelous music, and a special address by Mayo Clinic Internal Medicine Resident, John Shin.

Sabbath Worship Program – A message from Seventh-day Adventist World Church President, Ted N. C. Wilson, and a worship message from John Bradshaw, speaker/director of It Is Written.

Sabbath Afternoon Program – Four groups of leadership come together to discuss what is happening in each Division around the world.

Sabbath Evening Vespers Program – Reports, testimonies, music, and a special closing message from North American Division President, Dan Jackson.

 

iSITE REVIEW (London 2016 Review)

Join us each night before the 2016 London broadcast for iSITE REVIEW. A 1/2 hour program featuring testimonies, interviews and behind the scenes footage from the nine participating churches in London.

London 2016 Evangelistic outreach is a partnership with the SEC conference.

Evangelism. Everyone. Everywhere.

 

If you have missed any of the broadcasts visit http://www.3ABNLondon.com. 

Kids Time LIVE – In Berrien Springs, MI on Sept 4th.

Kids Time Live Event in Berrien Springs Michigan, Sept 4, 2016
If you are in the area of Berrien Springs on September 4th at 6:00 PM— be sure to join us at the Howard Springs Performing Arts Center for a KIDS TIME LIVE event! Join Miss Brenda, Ben Roy, Rich Aguilera, and Praise Time Kids for this live event. This program will not be broadcasted so make sure you get your tickets now at:
www.howard.andrews.edu or (269) 471-3560.

September 2016 3ABN World Magazine

Features:

    • Cover Story: 3ABN Homecoming Fall Camp Meeting 2016, with Ivor Myers and the 3ABN Family.

Plus our usual department updates from 3ABN Radio, 3ABN Latino, 3ABN Dare to Dream, and 3ABN Proclaim!; Just for Kids!; our broadcast schedules; and more.


New Program: Divine Design, hosted by Patti Barnes

 

Patti Barnes

Patti Barnes, host-Divine Design

Hello, I’m Jill Morikone, and this week we’re excited to tell you about a brand new series coming soon to 3ABN! It’s called Divine Design, and it’s hosted by Patti Barnes.

You know, there’s nothing more precious than a newborn baby—a gift from our loving heavenly Father. How important it is for us to become educated as to how to best provide for the well-being of these little bundles of love, not only after they’re are born, but while they are still being formed, and even before conception. Patti has long had a burden to educate young ladies about childbirth, since she is a Certified Professional Midwife and has practiced midwifery for over 30 years. In recent years, she’s concentrated her efforts on interesting others to enter the field of midwifery and childbirth education. Patti has taught seminars across the country, and has even been a guest on 3ABN’s Health for a Lifetime program with Don Macintosh.

More recently, she’s has implemented a Childbirth Education and Midwifery curriculum at Hartland College in Virginia, and put together a few short promotional videos with the Hartland Media Team. These five-minute productions caught the attention of our 3ABN vice president and general manager, Mollie Steenson. She watched them with fascination, and says that she was amazed that the topic could be presented in such a family-friendly way. Soon Patti and her student media team expanded the project to thirteen episodes, covering a wide variety of topics appropriate for all ages!

The topics cover many aspects of the formation of a baby, the miracle of childbirth, and the amazing transitions that take place as the baby is born. They also cover the importance of good prenatal care, the eight laws of health in childbirth, common complaints during pregnancy, and many other topics.

We believe that everyone who watches will benefit from these educational and spiritual programs, from expectant parents to grandparents, since these Christ-centered episodes give glory to our Creator and demonstrate a sample of the Divine wisdom and power in human reproduction.

Divine Design begins on September 7 at 9:30 a.m. Central, right here on 3ABN. You won’t want to miss it!

 

3ABN Live Broadcasts from ASI Convention Begin Wednesday!

Join us as we bring you live coverage of the 2016 Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries International Convention in Phoenix, Arizona! You won’t want to miss a moment of the inspiring sermons, amazing testimonies, and wonderful music.

It all begins on Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. Central on 3ABN!

ASI Broadcast Schedule on 3ABN
All times Central Daylight Time (UTC–5)

Wed 8/3 – 9:00–11:00 p.m. – Keynote Session
“Called. Chosen. Committed.” – Steve Dickman, ASI President

Thu 8/4 –  9:00–11:00 p.m. – Evening Session
ASI Members in Action

Fri 8/5 –    8:30–11:00 p.m. – Evening Session
“Great Is Thy Faithfulness: My Journey Into Medicine” – John Shin

Sat 8/6 –  11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. – Sabbath School
“Jesus Mingled With People” – Natasha Dysinger

Sat 8/6 – 12:40–2:30 p.m. – Worship Service
“Committed” – John Bradshaw

Sat 8/6 – 6:00–8:00 p.m. – Panel Discussion
“Unfinished Business—A Conversation With Our World Church Leaders” – Shawn Boonstra

Sat 8/6 – 10:00–11:00 p.m. – Vespers
Dan Jackson, President, North American Division

 

August 2016 3ABN World Magazine

Features:

    • Cover Story: London 2016, The Right Message, The Right Time

Plus our usual department updates from 3ABN Radio, 3ABN Latino, 3ABN Dare to Dream, and 3ABN Proclaim!; Just for Kids!; our broadcast schedules; and more.


Kids for the Kingdom!

KidsKingdom ad

This exciting program will be hosted by Brenda Walsh and will feature some of North Carolina’s musically gifted children. After the music program, Brenda will present a wonderful message encouraging kids to have a closer relationship with their Best Friend, Jesus!

Stay after the program for the book signing and for your chance to meet Miss Brenda! She will have all of her books, CDs, and DVDs available for purchase.

Program starts at 6:30 pm. (Eastern Time)

Leila Patterson Center
1111 Howard Gap Road
Fletcher, NC 28732

For more information, please contact Martha Brown at 828-290-2187.