Changes

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by Steve Kearns

The song “Turn Turn Turn” was written by Pete Seegar in 1959, was recorded and became a number one hit for the Birds in 1965. It has been a favorite of mine for years. The lyrics which come from Ecclesiastes have held new meaning for me as of late.

As 2011 starts I am looking at Lorna’s and my life from the perspective of verse one which says “to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Since July of 2006 when I was given a medical layoff because of bad hands (10 surgeries in 4 years) we have been trusting and praising God for caring for all of our needs. Being on L&I all this time I have been wondering what God had in store for me for our future. About a year ago I was told that I was going to be retrained in order to go back to work. My main interest was to be working with people in some way. With that in mind I decided to get a Wa. State certification in Chemical Dependency Counseling. Not entirely sure that this is God’s will for me I am stepping out in faith and started my training on the 3rd. This brings me to verse 1 of Ecclesiastes 3. I feel that God has brought this season into my life for His purpose, not sure of what impact I might have for the Kingdom but excited all the same.

As I registered for classes in Dec. I found out that all of the Chemical Dependency classes were on Wed. night and only on Wed. night.  This was going to be a major change for me as it is taking me out of Awana after twenty-two years. I had an especially hard time with this and even doubted that this could be what God wanted for me. After much prayer and tears (yes real men cry) I was reminded of verse 1 again. I am confident that this is God’s timing and purpose for me at this time.

So if God is taking you through a change in your life no matter what that change may be, remember Ecclesiastes 3:1. God has a season and a purpose for everything under heaven. Approach the changes you go through knowing that God is with you and in control.

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Depravity

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by Steve Kearns

As I was reading in 2 Peter 2 today my thoughts strayed back to vs. 19 over and over again. I wanted a better understanding of the word depravity so I went to my “Random House Webster College Dictionary” for help. I was a little shocked when I found the word vitiate, I will get to that in a bit.

Here is what Mr. Webster had to say, de-prav-ity  1. The state of being depraved. 2. A depraved act or practice. Okay so what did he have to say about depraved? de-praved, morally corrupt or perverted. I understood that pretty well. (my life before Christ) So what does Webster say about the root of these two words? de-prave, 1. To make morally bad or evil, vitiate; corrupt.  2. To impair or weaken the effectiveness of.  3. To debase; corrupt; or spoil.  4. To make legally invalid; invalidate; to blemish.

Going back to vs. 19 (NIV) it says “they themselves were slaves of depravity – for a man is a slave to whatever has Mastered him.”  With that in mind remember the word vitiate? (vitiate for a believer means) a Christian who is Mastered by or a slave to sin has 1. Impaired the quality of his or her Christianity,  2. Weakened the effectiveness of his or her Christianity,  3. Debased, corrupted or spoiled their faith and witness for Christ,  4. Has invalidated or blemished their witness or effectiveness as a Christian.

So my question is, as a believer can I be enslaved to, or mastered by sin and still be an effective witness for Christ? I say absolutely not!

As I read on to vs. 20 God’s word bears that out, “If they had escaped the corruption ofthe world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.”

God’s desire for believers is that we be witnesses for Christ in a corrupt and fallen world, a good witness not a bad witness!

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Faithful Pray-er

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by Steve Kearns

In June of 2009, 95 year old Emma Gray died. For over two decades, she had been the cleaning lady in a big house. Each night as she did her work, she prayed for blessings, wisdom, and safety for the man she worked for.

Although Emma worked in the same place for 24 years, the occupants changed every four years or so. Over the years, Emma offered her prayers for six US Presidents: Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter.

Emma had her personal favorites, but she prayed for them all. She followed the instruction we read in 1 Timothy 2 to pray for “all who are in authority” (v.2).

When I read this in the Daily Bread last month I was convicted of the fact that I was not praying for our President as I should be. It was easy for me to get and forward jokes, slams on his character, questions about his citizenship, and a ton of other e-mails of how bad a job he is doing. Was God pleased with my attitude towards Mr. Obama? No, I don’t believe He was! God’s word does not say we are to pray for our leaders only if we agree with their politics. It simply says we are to pray for “all who are in authority.”

As we just celebrated our independence I have to wonder what would have happened to this country years ago had God’s people not been involved in its founding? Is it not our responsibility to continue to pray for our leaders and God’s will for our Country?

Because God “hears the prayers of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29), who knows how He used Emma’s faithful prayers? In Proverbs 21:1, we read “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.”

Like Emma, we are to pray for our leaders. Is there someone God is calling you to pray for today?

No leader is beyond God’s grace

When righteous people pray;

For when God’s children intercede,

The Lord will have His way.

To influence leaders for God, intercede with God for leaders.

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Vows

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by Steve Kearns

Most people who were born before May 18th 1980 know what major event happened that day. Yes the “Eruption of Mount Saint Helens.”

Not very many people know what happened on that date ten years earlier. Two kids running from dysfunctional families exchanged wedding vows in a Catholic church in south Tacoma.

Not knowing Jesus as their personal savior, those vows were only words between the two of them. Four years later after months of heartache by the selfish immature husband they came to know Christ as their savior. As they grew in knowledge of God and learned the importance of vows or covenants those words spoken four years earlier began to take on new meaning.

God’s word is full of His promises to us. Hebrews 6:13-20 speaks of His promise to Abraham and how He fulfilled it. If you read vs. 13 & 14 you will see God did this in the form of an oath, “He swore it by Himself.” Vs. 18 says “It is impossible for God to lie.”

What a blessing for us as believers to search God’s word for all of His vows or promises to us and know that He will not renege on even one of them. Needless to say the deceiver tries to convince us otherwise, but I for one am not buying into his lies.

Take time to look at God’s promises for you, there are many of them! I held Him to his promises in Proverbs 22:6 and He fulfilled that promise to me. That is just one of many examples of how He has cared for me over the years.

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Knowing God

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by Steve Kearns

As I have walked these past 36 years as a Christian I have often had the question run through my mind: How do I know God? Ps. 46:10 says: “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Years ago I asked Pastor Dale Swanson, how can I know God more? His answer left me a bit confused at the time. He said that he would take his Bible and go up into the mountains and meet with God there. He said at those times he felt closest to God. I guess when I think about it, that would be exalting God in His creation. I have tried Dale’s advice many times.

I have sat high atop a mountain looking down on a beautiful lake that God created and thought, Okay, I see God’s handiwork, and I know Him through it but, is this really knowing God?

I love the ocean and have sat for hours in quiet solitude enjoying it but, is this really knowing God?

Ps. 42:2 says: “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”

I had a real desire to meet with God and know Him in a more personal way than just enjoying His creation, but I wasn’t finding how to do that. My thoughts kept going back to the command to “be still.” Then one day it hit me: I don’t have to be in the mountains or at the ocean I just have to “be still.” What does that look like? For me, it is sitting at my dining room table with God’s Word open in front of me, with all outside distractions put aside and just listening to what God is saying to me from His Word. The Bible is full of picture stories showing us who God is, what He wants for His own, how much He loves us, and all He has done for us. To really know Him I had to “be still” and let Him speak to me from His Word.

For me I have read and re-read Scripture for years, but until I was able to close out the outside things that occupy my mind I was not able to fully understand what I was reading. Spending time in God’s Word is always preceded with prayer that God would clear my thoughts so I can communicate with Him unimpeded.

So can I, like Pastor Dale, take my Bible and sit in front of God with beauty like this to enjoy? Well, yes; but for me I think I would really struggle with keeping my focus on His Word and not on His creation. But I believe that, for me, God wants me to keep the two separate. I love gazing upon His beauty through the Word, and through creation. I am able to meet with God both ways. One is for knowing all about Him, and the other is for enjoying His blessings to all of us.

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Pray For Others

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by Steve Kearns

1 Timothy 2:1 says “I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving thanks, be made for all men.”

Let no one ever say that he has nothing to pray about, or that he doesn’t know how to pray in God’s will, for it is always in the will of God to pray for other people! This is a gift that any Christian can give, even if he is penniless or bedridden. There are none so poor as to be unable to afford such a gift, nor can even the wealthiest give a finer gift.

Note just a few of the relevant commandments to believers: First we are to pray for all fellow Christians: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18.) We should also pray for the lost. Jesus commanded: “the harvest is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2).

As leaders at Elim we have a need for prayer in leading God’s flock! We are the first in the line of defense against attacks by satan. We need prayer for God’s wisdom and discernment. We are admonished to pray “for kings, and for all that are in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (1 Timothy 2:2). And for the ministries of those who proclaim the Gospel, i.e. our pastors (Colossians 4:2-4).

As an Elder I have the great privilege of praying for the shepherding group that I am overseeing. All of those who call Elim home have Elders praying for them on a regular basis, if you have not been contacted by an Elder please contact Larry Short or myself so we can make sure everyone has an Elder Shepherd. At the start of each new Elder board year we select those we desire to have in our shepherding groups, we do not want to skip anyone so please contact us if you don’t know who your Elder Shepherd is.

I thank you all for your faith in us as leaders and again ask for your unceasing prayers in our ministries at Elim.

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