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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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Blog

New Year 2021

Posted on 29 December, 2020 at 10:25

Dear Saints;

 

As I look forward to the New Year, I have mixed emotions. On the one hand I am ready for an exiting year of growth despite the challenges we may face, but on the other hand I am concerned about the condition of our world. Part of me, the new man that I am in Christ is rejoicing in the hope of glory in the coming year, while another part of me, the flesh, is filled with resentment, despair, and anxiety. Yes, I realize this makes me somewhat schizophrenic from a clinical perspective, but it really just means that I am a Christian fighting my own flesh while living in a sin cursed world.

 

As I face the threats of 2021, I have a choice to make within the context of God’s sovereignty. I can choose to enter 2021 in faith, or I can choose to live the natural lifestyle of fear. While this choice may not make any real difference in what is going to happen in the next year, it will dramatically affect my attitude. Exercising faith in God’s Word I can be assured of some amazing promises regardless of what lies ahead in the New Year. I can be sure that I am and will be personally secure in God’s love and significant in God’s eternal plan no matter what happens. In faith I can see the end of all trials at the beginning and know I cannot lose. Faith in who I am guarantees that all things will work together for my good in 2021!

 

Entering the New Year in the natural lifestyle of fear is a radically different story. Rather than hope we might be able to muster a little wishful thinking but endure an underlying dread of the worst-case scenario. We are afraid we will lose our money and

all the satisfaction that it brings us. We are afraid we will lose our health and must face our own mortality. Such fears create a morbid dread of 2021 at best, and a pervasive sense of gloom and doom at worst. In addition to becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy our natural fears may even produce a variety of psychosomatic illnesses consuming most of our time, energy, and money.

 

The personal benefits of entering in to 2021 in faith are just the beginning…the genuine hope that comes from believing produces many more. In addition to the endurance of various trials we may face, hope gives us a sense of confidence in all that we do and speak. Having the experience of being tried and found approved we are confident in the other decisions we must make daily. From the simple choices of our everyday lives to the life altering decisions we sometimes must make; we can do so without the paralyzing anxiety so common to the natural lifestyle. Reliance upon the personal leadership of the indwelling Spirit of God we can be at peace even under extreme circumstances. We can truly know the “peace that passes all understanding”, the peace of God, himself.

 

Faith and hope free us to actually think about and love others around us. When I feel secure in God’s love and significant in his plan for my life, I have a joyful, confident expectation about my future. Knowing that my needs are and will be met frees me up to

 

be able to care about others. As we enter 2021 in faith, the hope that sustains us personally will also allow us to fulfill our high calling of God to love others like Christ. Regardless of the coming events of this New Year our purpose here remains the same…love others like Christ. Authentic faith will, in fact, always work itself out in love for others. No matter what we may face in 2021 we can be sure that we will have the opportunity to love others in a variety of ways. Despite the daily struggle with the flesh, I am going to believe who God has made me to be in Christ so that I can live and love like him in 2021. I choose to trust his indwelling Spirit to set me free each day to continue loving others. I hope you will join me.

Happy New Year!

 

John

 

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