Love Your Neighbor as You Love Yourself

Most of us have been confronted at one time or another by a person asking us for a hand-out.  These request come in various forms.  Sometimes it’s a homeless person on the street.  Sometimes it’s a woman in the parking lot of the grocery store.  We often see panhandlers standing at busy intersections seeking money from those waiting for the light to turn green. If you love your neighbor as you love yourself, it seems to me finding some way to help each and every time you encounter a request like this would be mandatory.  When Jesus was asked by a lawyer to define what “neighbor” means, he told the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) essentially letting the lawyer know that anyone you encounter that you have the ability to help is in fact your neighbor.  So then, are we obligated to give money to every panhandler we see?

Galatians 5:13-14 (NIV)

“Serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

It’s impossible for us to know what’s really going on in a panhandler’s life.  You can find videos online of panhandlers pretending to be homeless leaving at the end of the day in a nice car and driving to a nice home.  Certainly we’re not obligated to give our money away to a scam artist.  How are we to know if we’re being scammed or not?  If someone standing in front of me is honestly in need I truly want to help, but I don’t want to simply fuel a drug addiction or alcohol addiction.

James 4:3 (NASB)

“You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

Giving money to panhandlers does not always help.  Feeding an addiction is not helpful.  Helping a scammer increase their profit encourages criminal behavior.  Walking away from someone who is hungry when you have the ability to help is wrong.  If you love Your Neighbor as you love yourself, you will want to do something.

Proverbs 3:27 (NASB)

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”

Realistically, anyone who is panhandling needs help.  Unfortunately, money is not always the help they need.  Most of us don’t have the time or resources to intervene in the life of every panhandler we come across.  We don’t have the ability to investigate their motives to make sure they are legitimately in need; we can’t provide counseling for their addiction, there’s no way to be certain money will help.  Does that make it okay to walk away and do nothing?

Proverbs 14:20 (NASB)

“The poor is hated even by his neighbor, but those who love the rich are many.”

No matter what their motive is, all panhandlers are poor.  Some are poor by lack of income, some are poor in spirit and have become criminals, and others are poor in self-control and have become addicted.  God doesn’t want us to hate them because they are poor.  He wants us to help.

How to love your neighbor as you love yourself

Maybe we’re not responsible for every panhandler we come into contact with.  Perhaps those interactions are meant to push us toward supporting a larger effort to solve the problem.  Giving money to, or volunteering at a local homeless shelter or food pantry might be one way to help.  Organizing an outreach program specific to your neighborhood through your church may be another way to help.  We each have to manage our own finances carefully so as not to become debtors ourselves.  A good steward will be certain that their money is put to good use.  In the case of the panhandler, the best way to love your neighbor as you love yourself may be to seek out a program that is a trusted sound investment.

Romans 13:8 (NASB)

“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”

 

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

 

Same Kind of Different as Me

This is the true story of Ron Hall who is a wealthy art dealer in Texas focused on making lots of money and living a comfortable life.  He’s not overly concerned about those less fortunate than himself until some trouble in his marriage to wife Debbie forces him to join her working at the local homeless shelter.  In an effort to rekindle his failing relationship with Debbie, Ron reluctantly joins her serving food to those who have lost their way in this world.  When both Debbie and Ron decide to befriend a homeless man, Denver, who has a very difficult personality, they each begin to change.  Ron grows to understand and care deeply for the homeless like Debbie, and Debbie again warms up to her relationship with Ron, while Denver discovers there are people who truly care about him.  All three struggle to understand God’s hand in all of this.

Tragically, Debbie is diagnosed with a terminal disease and everyone has to again readjust their point of view, including Ron and Debbie’s teenage children and Ron’s alcoholic father who is eventually pushed aside by Ron for his rude behavior.

In the end, it’s Denver who brings clarity to the situation delivering a powerful eulogy at Debbie’s funeral and suggesting to Ron he needs to mend the relationship with his father.  Ron ends up continuing the work with the homeless that Debbie started along with his best friend Denver by his side.

This is a thought provoking story that encourages the viewer to consider carefully how similar we all are, while at the same time being completely different.  That may sound like a contradiction but it’s not.  Although we are each totally unique, we are also all traveling along the same road – rich or poor, black or white and we all must find our way through this life and into the great beyond.  There’s some good acting in this film by Greg Kinnear, Renee Zellweger, Jon Voight and Djimon Hounsou who plays the homeless man, Denver.  Unfortunately, I was left with the notion that there’s a lot more to this story than what made it onto the screen. I have not read the book on which this film was based, but I’m guessing there’s a lot more detail in there about how these relationships developed and evolved.  If you understand that, you’re going to see an abbreviated version of some fairly complex relationships; and if you enjoy exploring how all of God’s creations are joined together, this film will be well worth your time.

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7 Ways to be closer to God

Children have a purity about them that is hard to find in adults.  A young heart is more open and ready to love and a young mind is more inclined to change.  One of the best ways to be closer to God is to be like a child – ready to love and inclined to change.

Luke 18:16 (NASB)

“Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

Adults tend to be rigid.  Battered hearts become hardened.  Too many wrong turns make many reluctant to turn at all.  When looking for ways to be closer to God, an adult needs to become like a child. An adult needs to knock down the walls that surround their damaged heart and remove the blinders that keep them from seeing all the possibilities.

Matthew 18:3 (NASB)

“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Study

Of all the ways to be closer to God none is more precise than studying the Word of God.  Children listen to Bible stories with wonder and excitement.  Some adults look at Bible study as a chore.  Moving closer to God requires that child-like faith.

2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Pray

Sincere prayer alone with God, offering your love and appreciation for Him, giving thanks for all He has done in your life, and seeking His guidance, will certainly move you closer.  Children believe God hears their every word.  Adults sometimes pray in groups and are more interested in the others in the group hearing their prayer rather than God.  Prayer time alone with God will move you closer to Him and likely give you a deeper understanding of yourself and your relationship to Him.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NASB)

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Love

Love is not simply a feeling, it is an action and a decision.  Children show their love with hugs and gifts like a fresh picked flower.  Taking the time to share that kind of heart felt love for those around you will go a long way toward moving you closer to God.  Make a decision to respond to every situation with love and take action by seeking out those you’ve neglected so that you can give them special attention.

John 13:34 (NASB)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

Give

There are many ways to be closer to God through giving. Children love to wrap things up and give them away as gifts.  Adults often are more concerned with the sacrifice of the thing that is being given away.  To move closer to God you will need to let go of whatever you are giving away with joy in your heart.  You can give of your time, your money, or your personal possessions.  In so doing, you will also be giving love which may be more valuable than all the other.

Luke 6:38 (NASB)

“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over.”

Help

Children often offer to help even when they don’t have the skills to do the job.  Adults will make excuses and find multiple reasons not to help if they can.  The devil likes to tell us we don’t have time to help or our help is not even needed.  Our selfish side will listen to the devil and go the other way to avoid a disruption in our regular routine.  The truth is we all have some time in our schedule that we can devote to helping others.  Without question, helping other is one of the best ways to be closer to God.  When those being helped smile and offer heart-felt thanks, you will feel the presence of God.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NASB)

“We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”

Forgive

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to break up an argument between two children, you may have experienced how eager they are to put the negativity aside and get back to playing and having fun.  Carrying a grudge sets up a wall between you and God that blocks a more intimate relationship with Him.  Consider how good you will feel when you put down that baggage and walk away.  Turning off negative thoughts about others is another good way to move closer to God.

Matthew 6:14 (NASB)

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

Minister

You don’t have to be a theologian or the pastor of a church to minister to others.  What you need is the ability to listen and sincerely care about the lives of others.  Children can minister to adults with a hug or a show of deep concern.  That simplistic approach to ministry is precisely what’s needed.  Simply asking someone in need how you can help is a form of ministry.  Following through by providing that help directly or making a connection with someone more qualified to help is a form of ministry.  Introducing someone to the Bible, prayer, or inviting them to your church is a form of ministry.  You will feel God reaching out to you as you reach out to others.

1 Timothy 4:6 (NIV)

“If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.”

There are many more ways to be closer to God

If you take a little time to consider each of the seven examples given here, you will quickly discover they all expand out in several directions.  Studying the Word of God can include helping others, and giving Bibles as gifts, and ministering to those in need.  There are limitless possibilities as to how you can combine and multiply these seven avenues leading to a closer relationship with God.  Simply taking the time to explore the possibilities is your first step closer to Him.  Stay focused; keep traveling toward the light.

 John 8:12 (NASB)

“I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

 

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

Step Eleven – Your Place in the Body of Christ

God’s creation is a complex machine of which you are an important part.  As a believer, you are part of the body of Christ and He is the head directing and controlling all the connecting members.  Each of us has a specific role to play.  God has placed you where He needs you to be and has given you the tools needed to accomplish your mission.  Your service to God is solely dependent on your devotion to Him and your adherence to following His instructions.

1 Corinthians 12:27 (NASB)

“Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.”

One of the beautiful aspects of God’s creation is the fact that we are all different.  There aren’t any two people exactly alike.  We each have very specific talents, abilities, and circumstance that make us perfectly adapted to God’s desire for our life.  As followers of Jesus a large portion of our mission is to share our faith with those around us.  This could be through direct spiritual counselling or it could be by simply exemplifying a dedicated Christian walk that others will see and admire.  Those people you come into contact with every day are not there by accident.  They are there for you to guide or be guided by, all in an effort to reach spiritual maturity.

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NASB)

He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

A primary concern of all followers of Jesus should be to aid, assist, and support other believers.  As the part of the body of Christ you are not alone.  By design, you need the help of other believers to achieve your mission to minister to those people in your life who have been place there by God for your spiritual growth.  Working together under the leadership of Christ we can guard against attacks by the devil and tap into the awesome power of God’s love.

Ephesians 4:14-16 (NASB)

As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

Finding Your Role in the Body of Christ

Your specific talent may be very obvious but not everyone is greatly blessed with exceptional gifts.  If you are, use those gifts to serve God as best you can without selling out to the world.  If your talent is more subtle, God has created you that way for a reason.  Supporting roles are just as important as dominate leadership roles.  In fact, leaders typically cannot function without a solid support structure.  Most people know what it is they do well.  Some people try very hard to do something they are not well suited for and fail.  Find God’s path and follow what He has planned for you.  Don’t go looking for something outside of God’s plan for your life.

Romans 12:4-8 (NASB)

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Every moment of every day should be viewed through the eyes of God.  Look for the path He has placed in front of you and move in that direction.  Keep in mind the devil will be trying to deceive you into going a different way.  Study the Word of God, pray, have regular fellowship with other believers and your function in the body of Christ will be made clear.

Psalm 32:8 (NASB)

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.”

 

More Steps Here

 

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

Actions not Words

Stop studying the Bible.  If you’re a mature Christian and you’ve read the Bible, attended thousands of sermons, been to Bible seminars and small group studies many times, do you really need to keep studying?  You should have it down by now.  Actions not words should dominate your walk with the Lord at this point.  Those words should be deeply implanted in your heart by now.  Those words come alive when you take action.

James 2:14-17 (NASB)

“What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”

When you first become a Christian I believe strongly in the value of studying the Bible from cover-to-cover, preferably along with the guidance of a good teacher.  As a new believer the bulk of your walk with the Lord should be in careful study and in prayer to fully grasp what it means to follow Jesus.  If you’re diligent in your study, you should be well acquainted with the ways of the Lord within a year.  Once you have a solid biblical foundation you expand that knowledge by putting what you’ve learned into action.  As a new believer the word of God should be your focus.  As a mature believer it should be actions not words.

James 1:22 (NASB)

“Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”

Rather than going to another weekend Bible retreat, why not spend a weekend helping others?  Rather than spending an evening going through the book of Romans verse-by-verse again, why not spend the evening helping others?  Rather than working your way through another one year bible reading program, why not use that time to help others?

Philippians 2:3-4 (NASB)

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Following Jesus is a Process of Actions not Words

Following Jesus is not a passive endeavor.  You need to get on your feet and move.  There’s probably someone around you right now who can use your help in some way.  If not, you most likely won’t have to go very far to find someone who needs your help.  Certainly, if you ask everyone you meet how you might be of help, chances are you’ll find more than one person who has a problem which you can help solve.  Serving God is all about serving others.  If you want to serve others you will need to actively pursue that goal.  It has become easy in this world to look the other way and just keep going when God places someone in need directly in front of us.  The devil has provided us with a million excuses not to help.  A true follower of Jesus pushes the devil aside and makes the time to take action.

The Word of God is profoundly important.  Once it has taken up residence in your heart, actions not words, are far more important.  It may be time to put the Bible down and get on your feet.

Titus 3:8 (NASB)

“I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.”

 

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

 

 

Step Ten – Connecting with God

Connecting with God is a fairly simple process that is available to everyone through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  God is one essence, but three persons – Father, Son, Holy Spirit.  Father God is the all powerful Creator of the universe.  His Son, Jesus Christ, is God manifested in the form of a man who walked the earth teaching the ways of God and in the end sacrificing Himself on the cross as payment for our sins.  The Holy Spirit is the power of God that lives inside every Christian believer.

Matthew 28:19 (NASB)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

If you love God the Father with all your heart and believe that His Son Jesus died on the cross for your sins, and was resurrected on the third day to return to Heaven, you are granted eternal life and filled with the Holy Spirit.  You are connected.

Acts 2:38 (NASB)

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Once you become a believer and follower of Jesus Christ you have access to the power of the Holy Spirit.  This power is not something with which you can achieve miraculous feats; it is a connection to God that gives you a sense of peace and a deeper understanding of all things pertaining to God.

Romans 15:13 (NASB)

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Connecting with God on a Deeper Level

Through careful study of the Word of God, with the help of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to achieve a much deeper understanding of God and move closer to Him.  The world we live in can be hostile to this kind of understanding and you will need to be on your guard for those who will try to uproot your faith.  The Holy Spirit is with you to give you the strength to endure these kinds of assaults.

2 Timothy 1:14 (NASB)

“Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”

There is of course another force that is opposed to us connecting with God.  The devil will continuously try to maneuver his way into your thoughts and push you in all the wrong directions.  We are spirits living inside human bodies that are susceptible to the deception of the devil.  God has created us this way so that we are constantly exercising our ability to overcome evil and walk toward the light.  This is essentially our daily spiritual workout.

Galatians 5:16-17 (NASB)

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another.”

We are connecting with God when we call on the Holy Spirit to help us fight the temptation of the devil.  In addition, by keeping ourselves away from the devil’s schemes, we are keeping the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit pure and undefiled.

1 Corinthians 6:19 (NASB)

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”

The Formula for Connecting with God

Connecting with God is a simple process that can be carried out by following this formula found in the book of Galatians:

Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Take some time right now to pray about the “fruit of the Spirit.”  Consider how prevalent these things are in your life.  Consider how the devil is constantly trying to turn you in the other direction.  Ask the Holy Spirit living inside you to help you focus on these admirable traits.  Stop and meditate on this list several times a day.  Make it your mission to respond in every situation, no matter how difficult, with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  This is your most powerful connection to God.

Psalm 51:11 (NASB)

“Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.”

More Steps Here

 

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

God Will be With You

A lot of people are spending a lot of time online these days.  We can like and share and follow and make friends with others from all over the world.  The Internet has enormous potential as a tool to bring people together in all sorts of ways.  Know that when you travel through cyberspace God will be with you.  Listen carefully to the Holy Spirit for opportunities to share your faith and offer encouragement and fellowship to other believers.  Consider all the possible ways you might be able to serve God by serving others through your online experience.

Dangers of the Internet

There are seemingly no limits on the Internet.  You will find absolutely anything and everything lurking in the shadows of cyberspace.  People may attack you for expressing your love for Jesus.  People pretending to be your friend may only be looking for a way to scam you.  People claiming charitable goals may actually be out to increase their own bank account.  Anonymity makes it easy for crooks to pretend to be something they are not.  Fear not, God will be with you.  You can negotiate these waters by simply being careful and looking for respected references before trusting anyone or anything.  There is no question that the devil has found many ways to use the Internet; this is why it is so important for believers to have a substantial presence there as well.

Joshua 1:9 (NASB)

“Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

God will be With You Always

I don’t want to overstate the dangers of the Internet; most of my experience online has been very positive.  What we don’t want is to become complacent and allow those who may intend harm to catch us off guard.  I have a dream that the Internet will one day be used as a resource to help people come together to solve each other’s problems.  This is already happening in many respects.  We can get answers to almost any question online.  We can find things we need and have them shipped to our house online.  We can easily connect with friends and family online.  We can even visit our doctor and get mental health therapy online.  Perhaps one day it will be possible to simply type in any problem you are having and instantly find a solution.  Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to quickly connect those in need with those who have the time, talent, and resources to help?  You may have a problem right now that you’re dealing with – is it possible that somewhere in the world there is someone who has the ability to solve your problem?  I’m convinced that the Internet will one day bridge the gap between those in need and those willing to serve.  Until that day comes when help is just a click away, you need to rest in the knowledge that God will be with you no matter what you’re going through.

Romans 8:38-39 (NASB)

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

Austin We Care

 Can you imagine going to a store to shop for items you need, yet not having to pay anything for them?  Well this is exactly the experience Austin We Care has created for families in need.

For years, Austin We Care has invited families in need to come select needed items at no cost to them.  On a designated day in December, Austin We Care volunteers would transform a local community gymnasium into a department store.  Sections were included for brand new toys, brand new shoes, barely used clothes, and a grocery package that included a turkey; however, at this store there was no cash register.

It has been a blessing to help families in need especially during times when so many families were struggling to provide the basic necessities for their families.

Austin We Care is a nonprofit organization that was established in 2000.  Apostle John Horne and Lady Barbara Horne, leaders of Restoration Temple of Deliverance, serve as the President and Vice President of Austin We Care.  In more recent years, as Restoration Temple of Deliverance was in transition to a new church building, Austin We Care has done different variations of Christmas assistance. This past December, Austin We Care worked with a local housing authority to identify families in need.  The organization purchased toys for these children from their wish list and also provided each household a food basket with a gift card to purchase meat.  Volunteers delivered the toys and food baskets to the families at their homes.

Now that Restoration Temple of Deliverance has moved into their new church building located at 701 Davis St, Taylor, TX, Austin We Care is looking forward to serving more families during the Christmas season.  A name change is also on the horizon to reflect the wider area Austin We Care plans to serve.

It’s truly amazing what Austin We Care has accomplished solely through volunteer efforts.  Funds for Austin We Care are obtained through grants, donations from local stores, individuals, fundraisers, and support from the Restoration Temple church family.

For more information about Austin We Care, contact Christie Williams at cmw1801@yahoo.com.

Click Here to visit the Restoration Temple of Deliverance website.

 

How might you use your talent and resources to serve God?

 

 

 

 

All Saints

“All Saints” is based on a true story about an Episcopal pastor, Michael Spurlock, whose first assignment is to close a church that has dwindled down to only a handful of members.  His mission is to spend a couple of months doing an inventory, assist potential buyers, and shepherd the remaining members elsewhere.  The All Saints church is located in a rural community in Tennessee and the remaining members aren’t anxious to leave.  As things are winding down, the congregation is surprised by a group of Karen refugees from Burma who have escaped a brutal civil war.  Several Karen families, who were Christians before they fled Burma, are struggling to survive and have turned to the All Saints church for assistance; unfortunately, there is no money or resources to share with them since the church is closing.

In an effort to sustain themselves, the Karen, who were farmers in Burma, ask pastor Michael if they can plant crops on some of the land that surrounds the church.  Michael agrees but believes the church might be sold before they are able to harvest their crops.  As Michael works through the problems that God has brought his way, he comes to the conclusion that there is enough land attached to the church to turn it into a farm that can sustain the Karen families and pay the church mortgage.  After a struggle with the church hierarchy, Michael is allowed to take the church off the market and move forward with his plan to turn the property into a profitable farm.

The first season of farming is a major struggle and it looks like the concept is going to fail; however, in the end the church hierarchy sees the potential and decides to support the church/farm financially in order to help it succeed.

This is a richly textured story about a man who leaves his sales career to become a pastor, and a community that learns to adapt to a new situation in a remarkable way.  It is also a story about how God may choose to work things out in ways that are not always easy to understand.  “All Saints,” is a well-made film with quality acting and was filmed at the actual All Saints church which today is a thriving ministry.  The concept of repurposing a church rather than closing the doors is one that should be considered more often.  God’s work is not always carried out through a worship venue; sometimes a farm works just as well.

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The Way of the World is not The Way of Peace

Followers of Jesus Christ have a more clear perspective of the world we live in than do those who have not yet seen the light.  From a Christian perspective, the way of the world is all about people traveling in the wrong direction, finding favor in all the wrong things, seeking acceptance for all the wrong reasons. Simply put, if you’re not following Jesus you are on a train leading to destruction.  Once you find Jesus, you have found the way of peace.

1 John 5:19 (NASB)

“We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

Advertisers, television programs, movies, and popular publications all exploit the lustful desires that permeate the human mind.  Often, the most popular personalities are arrogant masters of their chosen genre, standing tall, claiming their place as the number one of whatever it is they’ve accomplished.  This culture of achievement and sex appeal is a shining example of a world running in the wrong direction.

1 John 2:16 (NASB)

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”

The way of the world is an endless pursuit of pleasure, satisfaction, and wealth.  It’s a selfish pursuit that only looks out for others when it’s beneficial to self – when there’s a reward of money or recognition.  If you’ve become enamored by our popular culture you are not being directed by the way of peace; you are being directed by the enemy.

James 4:4 (NASB)

“Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Finding the Way of Peace

In so far as it is possible, a follower of Jesus should do everything in their power to circumnavigate all the popular trends and all the chasing after bigger and better things of this world.  Rather than seeking more for self, a follower of Jesus will find the way of peace looking after others.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are the watchwords of a true Christian (Galatians 5:22-23).   The way of this world is often in direct defiance of those Godly standards.

Romans 12:2 (NASB)

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

In this world, people of faith are often mocked and ridiculed as simple-minded and ignorant.  There is a large population that believe they have wisdom far superior to that of the average Christian, simply because the average Christian has turned away from the greedy pleasures unbelievers find so fascinating.  What these lost souls believe to be wisdom, is actually the devil twisting their mind into his desire.

1 Corinthians 3:19 (NASB)

“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.”

Pushing Aside the Way of the World

Before Jesus began his ministry, a man known as John the baptizer spent his days letting people know a new way was coming.  His mission was to usher in the way of peace.  His mission was to push aside the way of the world and shine the bright of truth on all those he encountered.

John 1:6-8 (NASB)

“There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.”

When John was a baby his father Zacharias predicted his future in a vision given to him by the Holy Spirit.  He foretold of what was to come some thirty years later.

Luke 1:76-79 (NASB)

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;

For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways;

To give to His people the knowledge of salvation

By the forgiveness of their sins,

Because of the tender mercy of our God,

With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,

To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,

To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

John’s job was to guide our feet into the way of peace and turn us away from the way of the world.  When we turn our gaze toward Jesus and seek to follow His teaching, everything changes.  By trusting in Him, and believing in his death and resurrection on our behalf, we are forgiven of our sins and thereby separated from this world to join the Kingdom of God.

John 5:5 (NASB)

“Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

 

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