A few days ago I was thinking about my Dad. He never liked shortcuts. In his later years when I would drive him to his doctor’s appointments or when he was riding with me, he would say, “Why did you turn here?” I would say, “It’s shorter! We can save some time.” To which he would reply, “I don’t think so. Stay on the main roads.” Dad was right! Life offers few, if any shortcuts! The same is true in our spiritual lives. Shortcuts don’t make you a stronger or better Christian. They in fact, may weaken you! The main roads of the Christian life are things like: Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, fellowship, loving one another, discipleship, missions and giving to support your church. Yes, when we take shortcuts, we are not helping ourselves or others. Stay on the main roads, pursue Jesus, love Him, serve Him faithfully and share with others God’s blessings upon your life! I sure do miss my Dad. But I’m thankful that I can remember the important things that he said to me like, “Stay on the main roads.”
I love the summertime, mainly because I love warm weather and of course, the beach. Our overall attendance has been pretty good. The Lord has sent us some wonderful families and you have been faithful. Praise the Lord! It goes without saying, that summertime is vacation time. I do want to encourage you to stay close to the Lord. Faithfully read God’s Word and pray. There is no substitute for family devotional times. All of us enjoy vacation time, Cheryl and I sure do! At the same time, financially things don’t change. It’s very important that we all do our part through faithful giving. Online giving (gracechurchnc.com) helps with this. Our weekly obligations do not change with the seasons. The Lord’s work is dependent upon our giving – that’s you and me! Jesus said in Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Our Summer Vacation Bible School is close. It begins on Sunday evening, July 21. Make yourself available for ministry. There are many opportunities to serve. Our children are important. Let the Lord use you. Cheryl and I will be leading a Parenting Class each evening. Join us and bring a friend. We are going to have a great time together, learning together and preparing ourselves to be the best parents we can be. Come on in. You’ll enjoy yourself, guaranteed!
Tomorrow’s message centers on I John 2:15-17. I have been challenged and blessed and you will be as well! Our children at TEEN VALLEY RANCH are traveling home today. Your prayers are appreciated. It is truly a joy serving Jesus with you. Our community and our world need what we have in Christ! Let’s serve Him and share Him together!
Mike and Cheryl <><
Steven Cole has an excellent introduction to 1Jn 2:12-14 – Years ago, a “Dear Abby” (Arizona Daily Sun [1/10/99]) column ran a story by a retired schoolteacher. One day she had her students take out two sheets of paper and list the names of the other students in the room. Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down by their names. She took the papers home that weekend and compiled a list for each student of what the others had said about him or her. On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, everyone was smiling. “Really?” one whispered. “I never knew that meant anything to anyone.” “I didn’t know anyone liked me that much!” Years later, the teacher went to the funeral of one of her former students, who had been killed in Vietnam. Many who had been in that class years before were there. After the service, the young man’s parents approached the teacher and said, “We want to show you something. Mark was carrying this when he was killed.” The father pulled out of a wallet the list of all the good things Mark’s classmates had said about him. “Thank you so much for doing that,” Mark’s mother said. “As you can see, Mark treasured it.” A group of Mark’s classmates overheard the exchange. One smiled sheepishly and said, “I still have my list. It’s in my top desk drawer at home.” Another said, “I have mine, too. It’s in my diary.” “I put mine in our wedding album,” said a third. “I bet we all saved them,” said a fourth. “I carry mine with me at all times.” At that point, the teacher sat down and cried. And, she used that assignment in every class for the rest of her teaching career. That story shows how much we all need encouragement.
Independence Day is coming up! As Christians we can relate to Independence Day through our Lord Jesus! Believers rightly connect to this significant day because our Christian faith is based upon deliverance, rescue and redemption. Every July 4th, we Americans celebrate our national freedom. And we should celebrate it!!! Think of it in these terms. Freedom, by definition, requires a high price! In most cases freedom is gained only through bloodshed! So is our salvation! Both are deeply respected because blood is required for them to exist. We as Christian citizens cannot help but see red, white and blue as meaningful to our daily liberty. And yes, as disciples of Jesus and members of His body, the church, we cannot be color blind to the blood that was shed for our total and complete spiritual deliverance from our sins. So then, as Christians, Independence Day has a two-fold meaning and blessing. First, as Jesus’ disciples, we are bought and paid for by the blood of our Lord Jesus! Secondly, as Americans our freedom was paid for by our forefathers who died to secure our God given liberties. So celebrate both with hearts filled with a deep love and a devoted respect for everything we enjoy as Christians and as Americans.
This Sunday evening, June 30th at 5:30PM join us as we celebrate our faith and freedom. We will be watching the movie, “Monumental” starring Kirk Cameron. Chuck Wadley, who has studied the content of the movie, will facilitate our discussion. For me, it has been quite some time since I have studied the founding and freedom of our great nation. Please join me this Sunday for this unique and stirring presentation. We planned this event to begin just before Independence Day. Please take advantage of this opportunity to review your history and to celebrate your great freedom as an American.
Also, this Sunday we will receive an Amazing Love Offering for the needs represented within our church family. Our budgeted benevolence money is used for our immediate community. Every fifth Sunday of the year we receive this offering. Please do your part to care for our church family. Presently we have a surplus, but we never know when this money and maybe more will be needed. I love you and appreciate your generosity. God bless you!
Stay cool and enjoy your weekend. Pray for our families traveling and our teens returning home from Word of Life camp.
Jesus is Lord!
Pastor Mike <><