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Alpha Ministries, Inc

Church in the Woods at ....

Freedom Ranch

Choices

Dear Saints,

All of us are confronted with a multitude of choices to make daily. Many of them seem small and almost inconsequential while others seem overwhelming and life threatening. What makes life so complicated and hard is not just the choices we make but often it seems we really have no choice at all. Much of our confusion and frustration in life comes from the fact that we are not sure what choices we have, if we even have a choice, and exactly what choice we should make in any given situation. Welcome to the world of a control freak!

Seeking to control the people and circumstances in our life comes from a deep need to make ourselves secure in an insecure world. There is no guarantee that we will be unconditionally loved, accepted, and forgiven in this dog-eat-dog and often hostile world. In fact, chances are that we will be neglected, abandoned, or even abused. Likewise, unless we can control the people and circumstances in the chaos of this world it is impossible to find a real sense of importance, purpose, and competence. Wrong or bad choices seem naturally to lead to a meaningless and unsatisfying life.

Underlying all other choices we must make is the most important and basic choice. It is the choice the Bible urges us to make daily and describes it in a variety of terms. Jesus invites us to take his “yoke” upon us (Matthew 11: 28-30). Paul urges us to “present our bodies as living sacrifices unto God” (Romans 12: 1-2). James tells us to ask for wisdom from above (James 1: 5). Peter calls on us to “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5: 6). All these directives (and many more) have one thing in common…surrender. We give up trying to make it happen and let God do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

In the AA program of recovery the 3rd step describes this kind of surrender as deciding to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God. Making the choice to surrender all our decisions as well as our very lives to the control and care of God is the foundation and start of a new and satisfying lifestyle of grace in which God, through his indwelling Spirit, leads us, guides us into all truth, comforts us in our choices, reminds us who we are, and produces the very character of Christ in us. As Paul instructed the Philippians 2: 12-13, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have obeyed, not in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which works in you both to will and do of his good pleasure. “

The fundamental choice we all must make each day is whether we want to let God control our lives. It is really a no-brainer since he is the sovereign creator and sustainer of the universe and loves us so much he gave his life for us. For me it boils down to one simple prayer each morning, “Lord please remind me of who you made me to be in your son and guide me in how you want me to love others around me today”. I really do not have any other choice that makes sense.

John

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Hope in the Chaos

Posted on 10 June, 2020 at 10:20

Dear Saints,

My heart is grieved by the state of our nation as reported by the media. I don’t ever recall a time in my life when the hatred and vitriol reported in the news was a severe as it is today. Even considering the fact, that I experienced firsthand the animosity of the anti-war protests of the late sixties I don’t remember the intensity of selfish hatred being reported like it is today. The betrayal of those who seek to protect and serve the communities in which they live is every bit as damaging, if not more, that the betrayal of the soldiers who fought and died in Vietnam. Despite the current movement toward anarchy (the spirit of the anti-christ for biblical scholars) I have two sources of hope for our nation.

 

First, the media reports of any event is always sketchy at best and usually wrong. Because of their limited ability to know the truth on any issue that arises they will naturally spin the story according to their own biases. Add to that the competitive lust for breaking the most sensational story and it is amazing when they produce anything, we might consider newsworthy. What is reported is usually incomplete and just enough to rile our emotions. The end result leaves us feeling “outraged” without any concrete ways to respond. This is why Jesus promised to give his followers the indwelling Comforter whom he called the Spirit of Truth to guide us into all truth. Trusting the Spirit of God to guide us personally in all that we do or say is far superior to trusting the media reports or political leaders and “experts”. I suspect the bad news reported by the media is exaggerated.

 

The second source of hope I have for our nation is the promise Jesus gave concerning the Spirit’s work in this world. In John 16: 7-11 Jesus said, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto You; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment because the prince of this world is judged”. In short, Jesus promised to deal with this world through his Spirit for our benefit. He is convincing the world of the sin of unbelief, what true righteousness really looks like, and that the prince of this world, the Anarchist known as the Anti-Christ, is already condemned.

 

Through the eyes of faith in the Spirit of God working in this world we can look past the fear mongering and propaganda of the news media and see the Spirit of God at work around us. In the midst of the riots and reported hatred for the police I heard a story of a black man who seeing four cops at a table in a restaurant picked up the tab for their meal and thanked them for their service. Such acts of kindness and appreciation for those who serve are out there because the Spirit of God is at work in this world regardless of what the media would have us believe. In the midst of all the suffering occasioned by the pandemic, riots, and civil unrest the Comforter is still working in the hearts and minds of those who will listen.

 

John

 

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