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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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Perilous Times

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Dear Saints;

 

In his last letter to his beloved disciple and co-worker, Timothy, Paul warned him about these days we are living in. He calls them, “perilous times” and gives a description of the kind of humanity he would be facing with the gospel the gospel message. The list of adjectives he uses to describe these perilous times leaves little doubt that the Holy Spirit surely had our culture in mind. Right at the top of the list is, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves” which is King James English for one hundred percent selfishness. Likewise the last description in the list, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof”, fits American religiosity to the tee.

 

I know this description has applied to humanity through out all history since the days of Paul, but selfishness and religiosity seem to be especially relevant to today’s generation. They may be seen as the root causes of both the political corruption and religious apostasy that will ultimately dominate the world. As the end of the age approaches we may expect to see the political and religious systems of this world devolve into what the book of Revelation calls “Mystery Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of all the Earth”. This refers to the satanic world system that has opposed God’s plan of salvation and his people since Cain murdered Abel and built a city opposing God.

 

The natural self-centeredness of humanity is a significant part of the sinful nature all people are born with as a natural descendent of Adam. Being “lovers of our own selves” prohibits our truly loving God or others, even those of our own families, and naturally destroys our relationships. As stated in the Big Book of AA, “Selfishness, self-centeredness we think is the root of all our problems.” This is why Jesus told the religious teacher, Nicodemas, he had to be born again. The only way to eliminate our natural selfishness is to be born of the Spirit and become a new person like Christ. The corruption so evident in our politicians is due to a large extent to their natural selfishness interacting with wealthy “special interest groups”. The remedy for such is not legal or political, but spiritual.

 

The apostasy of the church is due to the fact that humanity will go to great lengths to appear to be dependant on God, but relies on its own ability to be religious. Like Adam and Eve dressing themselves in fig leaves, the church seeks to devise all manner of programs, build beautiful and impressive buildings, and conduct elaborate rituals, but relies on its marketing strategies, religious entertainment, and manipulative planning rather than the power of God to sustain itself. This may sound somewhat jaded and harsh, but is actually mild compared to the scathing rebuke given by Jesus to the religious leaders of his day. Referring to them as “hypocrites”, “blind guides”, “fools”, and “snakes” Jesus compared them to “whited sepulchers” which appear beautiful on the outside but are full of decaying bodies. So also many religious people today “outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity”.

 

These escalating “perilous times” we now live in need not frighten or discourage believers. Both Jesus and Paul warn of them to prepare us for our part in this invisible war. In faith we put on the whole armor of God and stand fast in the liberty of Christ to love others. Knowing that we have been made “more than conquers” we are assured that we cannot possibly lose because our Savior is and will be revealed the “King of kings and Lord of lords”! Even so come quickly Lord Jesus!

 

John

 

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