Monday, December 1, 2014

Focus '14 Modeling Jesus - Entry #36 - Merry Christmas

Hi Friends!

The Bible tell us in Luke 2:11 that "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." Jesus is the greatest gift - the perfect Christmas gift - and so the question is what will we do with the gift of Jesus this Christmas?

Will we stress out looking to buy that which cannot be bought by man but which has already been given by God? Or will we share the gift of Jesus which we have received knowing He is the priceless gift provided by God for everyone in the world?

My focus in life is to share as much love with as many people as I can - this Christmas that will involve purchasing and passing along some cards and gifts and sharing some meals and enjoying some fellowship and serving some others for sure - but to truly love others is to share the perfect gift of Jesus with them.

The perfect gift of Jesus was birthed in a Bethlehem stable - and ultimately wrapped on the cross of Mount Calvary on the original Black Friday - our sin debt was purchased and canceled by the atoning death of Jesus Christ for our sins - and His victorious Sunday morning resurrection gives us eternal life.

You can't put that on your MasterCard or Visa or American Express - you can't even pay for that in cash at  your local Christian bookstore or community Church - the perfect gift of God can only be received by faith to be shared with others in need of the same gift.

My prayer is that the biggest rush for the church this Christmas will be to share the saving gift of Jesus with others - I already have less stress just reminding myself that the perfect gift has already been provided and given by God for everyone on my Christmas list and in the world - what of you?

I encourage you to stress less - remember if the only gift you share with another this Christmas is Jesus that you will have shared the perfect and the greatest gift available to all - "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."

Merry Christmas,

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Focus '14 - Modeling Jesus - Entry # 35

Isaiah 26:4 (New International Version)

Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

Nothing in this world is as Solid as the LORD - I encourage you to pray to Trust the LORD with your entire being - there is nothing too small or too great for the LORD.

The LORD is the Rock eternal - not a Rock - not one of many Rocks - but the Rock eternal - the Rock that cannot and will not be moved.

The LORD is always with you - the LORD will never fail you - the LORD will never forsake you - the LORD has you covered coming and going.

Trust in the LORD with every step - do the things the LORD asks of you the way the LORD asks you to do them - forever Trust the LORD - and give thanks that our God the eternal Rock is the LORD.

God's Peace,

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Focus '14 - Modeling Jesus - Entry # 34

2 Chronicles 5:12-14 New International Version (NIV)

12 All the Levites who were musicians—Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives—stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets.

13 The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang:

“He is good;
his love endures forever.”

Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, 14 and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.

Hi Friends,

The scene above happened thousands of years ago - but is one that we can recreate and make anew in our hearts and with our mouths and in our lives - each and every day.

“He is good;
his love endures forever.”

Let's continue to sing that song in unison - especially during the season of Thanksgiving - knowing the church is the temple of God and His Spirit lives in us (I Corinthians 3:16).

“He is good;
his love endures forever.”

Let's invite people in the world to sing that song with us - especially during the season of Thanksgiving - knowing we have been commissioned to grow the church in Jesus name (Matthew 28:19-20).

“He is good;
his love endures forever.”

Let's continue to serve others with a symphonic voice and a servant's heart - especially during the season of Thanksgiving - knowing humility best models our Savior and Lord (Philippians 2:1-11).

“He is good;
his love endures forever.”

Let's praise God as the trumpeter, harpist, percussionist, tenor, alto, soprano, bass - let's praise God with our gifts for His glory alone - especially during this season of Thanksgiving (Romans 12: 1-21).

“He is good;
his love endures forever.”

Let's say it and sing it throughout each day - especially during this season of Thanksgiving - knowing the church (God's temple; His people) will soon celebrate Christmas in a world that needs to see Jesus living in us (Luke 2: 1-20).

“He is good;
his love endures forever.”

Let's praising God with that song with every breath- especially during this season of Thanksgiving and Christmas - knowing God is so good and loves people so much that He gave us His only Son Jesus to save us from sin and death (John 3:16).

“He is good;
his love endures forever.”

God's Peace,


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Focus '14 - Modeling Jesus - Entry # 33

Hi Friends!

As awesome and pleasing as this picture is to my eyes - the Scripture below reminds us to focus on an image that never changes - one that is eternally beautiful to people of the Christian faith.

As many of you know we have been focusing on this passage in our Daily Word Devotional Emails at Connections - I post it here in hopes that all who read it will be encouraged to think more frequently on things above - and to ultimately live in a manner that reflects the virtues of Christ Jesus.

May this beautiful and ever-changing season continue to be one of reflection for all - may your Spirit be replenished by the reality of Christ Jesus - and by the ability to face all earthly challenges (namely sin and death) with heavenly assurance in relationship with Him.

God's Peace,

Colossians 3 New International Version (NIV)

Living as Those Made Alive in Christ

3 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Focus '14 Modeling Jesus - Entry #32

Hi Friends!

As we enter a new month with the beautiful foliage of fall about us - I'm reminded that change is necessary and good - one thing I need to change and perhaps you do as well - is played out in vivid colors in The Gospel of Luke Chapter 10: Verses 38-42 - please take a moment to read this passage.

Admittedly I find myself very busy doing some seemingly good things "but only one thing is needed" - and so I need to remove some leaves of opportunity - perhaps even some colorful leaves of opportunity - and choose "what is better" - replenishing my Spirit daily in relationship with Jesus Christ.

Anxiety and frustration are now normative to many in culture - but those in relationship with Jesus are brightened daily by His unwavering peace - not a human peace - but His divine peace that supplants our worries and fears.

The transformation I am talking about is inward - it is in the heart of the believer that all things remain vividly beautiful no matter the season - for Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever - His love for us endures forever - in the meadow - in the valley - the peak of the hill - every step - He is faithful to replenish us continually.

See the Psalm below - notice He has us "lie down" before we stand up and walk - so I am encouraging you and confessing my need to be in deeper relationship with Jesus - I need to make some changes - I need to say no to some opportunities and take more time to replenish my Spirit - because "only one thing is needed."

God's Peace,

Psalm 23 (NIV)

A psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #31

Hi Friends!

Fragmented and dysfunctional relationships appear to be increasing in our society or at a minimum are more readily magnified through social technology and spontaneous media.

The Bible says one thing never fails to mend fragments into functional and even flourishing relationships - that one thing is love - not love loosely defined but love defined unconditionally.

The best opportunity for all people to share genuine relational fellowship - is to respect the moral law of love modeled in the person of Jesus Christ - His love always exemplifies that which is true, right, and best.

I encourage you to take a moment to read the passage below - pause and spend some time in prayer - understand anew that our faith and hope in God must be great to experience restoration of civility and right relationships in our culture.

Most importantly understand that God is love - realize afresh that His love is greater than even our hope and faith in Him - His love for humanity never fails to save, strengthen, and fully sustain humanity.

May we turn to Him - may the love modeled in Christ Jesus be evident in each of us and may the world know we are Christians by our love - the love of Jesus working through us to enrich relationships.

God's Peace,

1 Corinthians 13 New International Version (NIV)

13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.

11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #30

Hi Friends!

Few things say fall to me like football - admittedly it is my favorite season of the year on several fronts - in addition to football it's also the season when you can bow-hunt whitetail deer in Ohio - and in my innermost being I'm still optimistic that the Red's might make a run at the fall classic.

But beyond the bonfires and festivities of fall - there's something about families settling back into their communities, schools, work, and church after summer that is very appealing to me as well - in this age of instantaneous social media I think it's increasingly easy to take one another for granted - to expect relationships to stay strong without too much discipline.

When fall rolls in I am reminded anew that great football traditions and successful whitetail hunters and world championship baseball teams have at least one thing in common - each of them are very disciplined in the fundamentals of their games - some call it old school but more accurately I would call it proven school.

Proven school is that methods may change but fundamentals for optimal outcomes never do - the Bible affirms this formula for successful living when it tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) - and therein lies our hope for stronger relationships with one another.

While seasons and methods change the values and virtues of our Lord and Savior never do - and so rather than take one another for granted with the often limited touch of social media - I am recommending that we relearn the discipline of relationship building in all seasons in our communities, school, work, and church.

Consider this - the outcomes we respect the most on the gridiron and in the hunting blind and at Great American ballpark all find their origin in consistent discipline which is in fact the very nature of Jesus Christ - that's why Jesus calls all people to be His disciples.

Consistently modeling the behavior of Jesus is to deeply invest in personal relationships with others within our sphere of influence in all seasons - no one has changed less and loved others more than Jesus - so let's look to him this fall and in all seasons and be more disciplined in strengthening our personal relationships.

As I look to do that - please know I'll be rooting for the Red's and the Madeira Mustangs and the Ball State Cardinals (go DH) and for THE Ohio State University Buckeyes to all enjoy success - and for whitetail hunters everywhere to thin the population of deer with respect to the driving safety of all.

But most of all I will be rooting for you and me - I want us to be disciplined and to remain connected to Christ Jesus our Savior and Lord - to consistently share His unchanging values and virtues with our family and community and work and school and church.

No one has changed less and loved others more than Jesus - if ever I would be found quote worthy please know you can quote me on that - no one has changed less and loved others more than Jesus - let's continue to model His discipline and fundamentals this fall and in all seasons.

God's Peace,

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #29

Hi Friends!

As many of you know we're in a lesson series where we're looking to Scripture to provide authentic answers for troubling times - and troubling times are not only in the Middle East but in Middle America (reference the news from Missouri) - and even in Middle Madeira (see the local news) where many who read this blog live.

One answer that Scripture provides to relational crisis is a single word with multiple applications - the word we discussed today is humility - I believe the Biblical definition of humility is to think more of God than we think of anyone or anything.

Jesus modeled humility in thinking of God above everyone and everything - and the Apostle Paul encourages us to embrace the Spirit of Christ in every aspect of living (see Philippians 2) - in so doing Scripture promises that troubling times will be transformed to peaceful times that surpass human understanding.

This evening I simply want to encourage Christians to humble themselves as Christ did - to put the will of God above everyone and everything and depend upon His Word to be the resource that will best bring calm to the storms of life - may the supernatural peace of Jesus be manifest through the church to the hearts (the Middle) of humanity throughout the world.

This is my prayer this evening - that people everywhere would turn to Jesus and find rest for relational conflict that can be modeled for future generations through the unity of His Spirit - and the relational bond of His Peace.

In Christ,

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #28

Hi Friends!

Some days are filled with opportunities that are really beyond words. Today was such a day for me. I really can't fully express the emotion, conviction, passion, or essence of the worship I experienced and enjoyed today in a church building, a stadium, and a car ride with friends of faith.

To that end, the Scripture below is the one that flooded my mind and heart as I sat down to share this blog with you this evening. I just want to encourage you to continue to praise the Lord for His great love and faithfulness and goodness and rejoice that in Christ we belong to Him.

God's Peace,

Psalm 100

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.

3 Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.

5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #27

Hi Friends!

Unless you have been been in a far away place without any form of communication, odds are good that your mind like those of most people on the planet, has been inundated with discouraging and troubling news in recent days.

Thanks be to God that Jesus provides authentic answers for troubling times. He invites us to come to Him in our weariness and with our burdens and He promises to give us rest when we choose to do so. Contextually (see Matthew 11: 28-30) Jesus guarantees His peace is different than that in the world.

The Bible consistently tells us that Jesus provides peace that passes all human understanding (see Philippians 4) as His peace guards our hearts and minds. Therein is where the proverbial rubber meets the road: the Bible teaches that lasting behavioral change requires a permanent change of our hearts toward God in Christ.

Tragically, some refuse to believe that truth and as a result the world continues to morally decline with man's inhumanity to man reaching new and epic proportions. I encourage you to remember that our responsibility is to pray for everyone, even our enemies, asking God to intervene in a way that turns all hearts toward Him.

There is a statistic that says the phrase "fear not" is used in the Bible 365 times: one for each day of the year. I have never counted to check the validity of that statistic but I am confident we have nothing to fear of man (be afraid of man) in as much as we fear (revere) Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.

The invitation of Jesus is for all people to come to Him and find rest. If you haven't made that decision please do so today. If you have please pray for others to do so and heart-by-heart, person-by-person, the world will come to know the peace of Christ that protects His followers from eternal harm.

Our current lesson series at Connections is centered in the gospel of Christ as recorded by Matthew. The word gospel means "good news" and our focus is to preach and share as much "good news" about Christ in a troubled world as we possibly can.

Please join us and worship and pray with us as we seek to be instruments of blessing to all mankind.

God's Peace,

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #26

Hi Friends!

The photo above includes members of our family (Daniel and Grace) as they recently ministered in Mexico on a short-term mission trip.The home in the background was built to bless a family and as you can see in the picture, the family and ministry team are pretty pumped about the new home.

The leaders of this mission work are John and Jane Ray and the homes are built through YWAM (Youth with a Mission) where they have served Christ internationally for many years. Specifically, the homes are built as part of Olivia's Basket to honor the Ray's youngest of four daughters (Olivia) who died tragically doing ministry a few years ago.

The Scripture passage I asked my children to read and study each morning and evening of this trip was Philippians 2:1-18 and my prayer was that the attitude of Christ described therein would shine through them as stars as they held out the word of God to others (verse 16). As I prayed that prayer throughout each day of their trip, I was subsequently drawn to another Scripture which I have posted below.

Matthew 9:35-37 (NIV)

The Workers Are Few

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Would you join me in looking up and around and asking the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field? If your heart is moved with compassion by those you see in need of Jesus, would you carefully consider God's Will for your personal role in answering this prayer?

There aren't many workers in the picture above but  much work was done in a short period of time through the power of Christ to the glory of God. How much more can be done through you and me and the church in reaching others with the compassion of Christ in our lifetimes? 

Friends, I know God wants more from me and I believe He wants more from all of us...He wants us to consistently have the attitude, the compassion of His Son Jesus for lost souls...He wants us to consistently shine like stars in the universe which is ripe and ready for harvest. 

As we pray about that, let's keep one another posted about all the ways that God chooses to answer that prayer through each of us. May He continue to bless Olivia Ray's legacy as her family faithfully lives to bless others with the compassion of Christ in her memory. Thank you John and Jane and family.
God's Peace,
Jeff (and Carolyn and family)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry # 25

Hi Friends!
The Bible says "Elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching" (I Timothy 5:17).

The man pictured to the left is Terry Ohlinger who served as an Elder in the North Terrace Church of Christ during my teenage years.

Terry recently passed away at the age of 70 after battling a crippling pulmonary disorder during the last several years of his life.

He graduated from Pomeroy High School and received both his Bachelor's Degree in Education and Master's Degree in Education Administration from Ohio University.

He worked over 40 years in public education, spending the majority of his career at Zanesville City and Franklin Local Schools. He also worked in the Meigs Local and Maysville Local school districts.

He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Phyllis Coleen (Wilson) Ohlinger; sons Jay (Vanessa) Ohlinger of Dublin, Jon (Rachel) Ohlinger of Columbus, and Joshua (Mandi) Ohlinger of Belmont, NC; brother William (Donna) Ohlinger of Pomeroy; and grandchildren Sarah Marrone, Henry Ohlinger, Emma Ohlinger, Sara Ohlinger.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother Philip Ohlinger; and sister-in-law Carol (Evans) Ohlinger.

Terry is an Elder worthy of double honor: he could preach well and in my opinion teach even better. But best of all Terry served others as unto the Lord with great humility and God-given humor.

One of the many lessons I learned from Terry and have sought to pass on to my family and church family is one that I refer to as "the dipper and the bucket." As I recall and retell the lesson, the idea is for us to dip into God's bucket of love and then pour that love out into the lives of others.

As students often do, one might ask the teacher what happens when the bucket is empty? Terry responded by assuring everyone with his teaching and more importantly with his life, that the supply of God's love cannot be exhausted by human demands.

From my perspective, that lesson alone makes Terry Ohlinger worthy of double, triple, or quadruple honor...worthy of all the honor we can give him. But if you know Terry as I do, you know from his perspective he would want all the honor afforded him to go to His Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

Would that we all would dip into the bucket and pour out the love of God into the lives of others as Terry Ohlinger did with his life: to do so would honor Jesus with a life well lived that touched and shaped the lives of countless others with great humility and great humor (just look again at his smile).

God's Peace,

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #24

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

         Jesus in John 15:12 RSV

Meditative Thought
The 2014 World Cup reminds me that heaven is a place with believers in Jesus Christ from every continent and with unity that is unbreakable by prejudice or pride.

Reflective Prayer
Father, we profess our unity with your children of faith in Jesus Christ from throughout the world. Thank you for the church: a foretaste of heaven. May all people from every part of the world put their faith in your Son for their salvation and experience unity both now and forevermore.

God's Peace,

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #23

Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
          Jesus in Mark 16:15 KJV
Meditative Thought
Work, for the night is coming,
Under the sunset skies;
While their bright tints are glowing,
Work for the daylight flies.
Work till the last beam fadeth,
Fadeth to shine no more;
Work while the night is darkening,
When man’s work is o’er. Anna Coghill

Reflective Prayer
Lord Jesus, help us to work as unto you for your will and your glory, knowing that you are coming again to complete your work for eternity.
God's Peace,


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #22

Hi Friends!

Losing selfishness is the one of the most fulfilling aspects of following Jesus: when we are fully focused on loving God and others our lives are fully enriched in the virtues of the One we serve.

This call to Christian discipleship is counter-cultural: the path involves personal surrender to Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Lord I give myself to Thee.
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.
                                               J.W.Van Deventer

Pray this pray and/or if you know the hymn sing the lyric: continue to enjoy the blessings of discipleship as you give yourself to Jesus and He fills you with His love and power.

God's Peace,

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #21

Hi Friends!

Imagine driving down a dark road one evening this summer and suddenly plunging into the depths of a sink hole, never to be heard from again: think of the terror of the free fall before hitting bottom.

Now imagine a flagman stopping you before you come to the sink hole and rerouting you so you would avoid the deadly plunge: think of the gratitude for the one who gave you a new beginning.

The Bible says "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12 RSV). My assumption is you are eternally grateful for The ONE who reroutes you from this seemingly right path that is actually dead wrong?

If you have sensed that God has been trying to flag you down and give you a new beginning this summer, be careful to measure your steps against the coordinates in His Word.

Consider joining me in praying the following prayer each day this week as we continue to seek God's life-giving direction from the study of Scripture: "Teach me thy way, O Lord; and lead me on the level path" (Psalm 27:11 RSV).

God's Peace,

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #20

Hi Friends!

Summer is my favorite season for spiritual reflection and renewal. There is something about being able to spend more time outdoors that instinctively inspires me to more readily and consistently appreciate and praise God our Creator.

As I breathe in more of God my desire deepens to invite others to enjoy Him and that's my prayer for you this summer: I pray that you might enjoy a vacation from your routine and be reinvigorated in your relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ.

The Bible says (I Peter 1:3-4) that God in his great mercy has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, and that this iinheritance is kept in heaven for you.

There's something about summer that naturally causes me to look up and really let the blessing of our heavenly inheritance in Christ Jesus soak in: it's like a new beginning for me that inspires me to share my heavenly inheritance with others as often as I can.

Enjoy your summer: continue to soak in the goodness of God and share His goodness with others! And go Reds: there's something about cheering for the boys of summer in Cincinnati that gives me a great deal of joy as well!

God's Peace,

Monday, May 26, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #19

Memorial Day Reflection

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this:
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
His love for humanity was so great that He also
laid down His life for His enemies (Romans 5:6-8).
As we Remember the sacrifice of all who safe-guard America,
we thank God for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all (even our enemies).
With humility we Remember that the graves of American Heroes
are marked by the Cross of Humanity’s Hero and Savior Jesus Christ.
The link that follows was shared with me by a Retired Marine Captain
who is a member of our church. Watch and Remember.
God's Peace,

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #18

Hi Friends!

As most of you know the primary focus of Connections Christian Church is to take our cues from Christ and to look to the examples of the 1st century church as recorded in the Scriptures of what it looks like to flesh out our fellowship with Him and with others.

To that end, what follows might appear to be some really difficult, perhaps unanticipated applications of the Christian life. But notice if you would that all of these applications were first voiced and lived out as truth with unconditional love by our Savior and Lord Jesus.

Matthew 6:14-15: "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."

Mark 11:25: "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your sins."

Luke 6:37: "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven."

According to Jesus, forgiveness is something that frees us to have right relationship with God and others: it is both an act of obedience and will and it is not the easiest or the most natural thing to do. Forgiveness is what Jesus did for us and is what He asks us to choose to freely "give away" to others.

Luke 23:34: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

Those words were spoken by Jesus from the cross of Calvary for me and for you and for all humanity. My hope is that the blessings God bestowed upon Jesus for speaking and living those words would inspire you to speak and live those words with others in need of your forgiveness.

If you hold anything against anyone, don't condemn them, but forgive them and know the forgiveness of God for having done so. This is not an easy teaching but it is what we see fleshed out in Christ and the 1st century church that we choose to model.

Recall a time (see Acts 16) when Paul and his companions were jailed for preaching Jesus in a culture that sought to eliminate His name from the mainstream. As you consider the opposition Christians face for mentioning the name of Jesus in culture today, consider this example.

When Paul and his companions were miraculously freed by God from prison, the jailor in Philippi antcipated condemnation. Instead, Paul and his companions afforded forgiveness and led the jailor and his entire household to the saving truth and grace of Jesus.

This is the example we seek to model at Connections Christian Church: that of Christ and the 1st century church. We're not looking to get even with people in the world who wrong Christ and His Church. We are looking to forgive people and lead them to the One who forgives all of us.

Do you hold anything against anyone?

Will you forgive that person as Christ forgives you and show them your Savior?

God's Peace,

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #17

Hi Friends!

We're a couple of weeks into the series "Give Yourself Away" at Connections Christian Church and I'm grateful for your renewed desire and commitment (individually and collectively) to fulfill the commission of Christ Jesus.

As we have observed with increasing frequency over the past few weeks, there are many challenges in culture where healing can only be found in the saving truth and grace of our Savior and Lord. Our responsibility is to sacrificially share that truth and grace with a world in desperate need of peace.

To that end, the link below from Ravi Zacharias serves to address some of the challenges we face in our culture and I believe it will assist you in bringing the peace of Christ into the world in which we live. Please read it and reflect upon it and pray about how God would have you live in response to it.

Our son will have the opportunity to study with Ravi and other Christian Apologists for a week at Wheaton College later this summer. Please lift these spiritual leaders up in prayer as the world needs to experience peace and healing that is only found in Jesus and His teachings.

God's Peace,

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #16

Hi Friends!

In the passage below, the Apostle Paul confirmed his commitment and that of his partners in ministry, to live and model the life goal of Jesus to others.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

My prayer is that like Paul and his partners in ministry, we will refuse to live for ourselves and choose to live for Christ who gave His all that that we might be saved from sin and death.

Remember that the love of Christ which compels you to "give yourself away" is the only love that never fails. Be blessed and be a blessing.

God's Peace,

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #15

Hi Friends!

During the month of May 2014 we will be focusing on the above theme which in reality is the life theme of Christianity.

Our primary verse for this series is Romans 12:1 which is written below for your careful and prayerful consideration.

Each week we will be focusing on a specific area to collectively minister to the needs of others as we seek to truly and properly worship our great God.

Each member of our ministry staff will be sharing a message during this series: pray for all to be used of God to encourage the church to live sacrificially in service of our Savior and Lord Jesus.

God's Peace,

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #14-Jesus Has Risen!


Read the Story from Matthew 28 below

then click on the link for a fascinating depection of the Resurrection

Matthew 28 (NIV)

28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.
Happy Easter and God's Peace,

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #13-Easter Week

Hi Friends!

One of the last things Jesus said from the cross was "It is finished." Jesus finished things like the fulfilment of the Old Testament Law and nearly 400 Old Testament Prophecies. He disarmed our adversary and ultimately paid in full (finished) the death penalty for our sins by His grace.

"It is finished" but Jesus is not finished with you!
Jesus is alive!
Three days after being crucified and buried in a tomb Jesus arose from the gave!

As you think about what this means for a Christ-follower I want to encourage you to consider a life scene in the first century church. After the Apostles Peter and John had healed a lame man, they responded to questions from the crowd with these words.

"Know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed" (Acts 4:10 NIV). 
Isn't reassuring to know that the power that healed this lame man in the 1st century is available to anyone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ in the 21st century? And what's more we continue to see God healing people in the name of Jesus Christ today: often physically but always spiritually.

(Ephesians 1:3 NIV) says "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." Our heavenly blessings are assured because Jesus finished His earthly work on cross with an empty tomb.
My prayer is that you will not allow physical pain, relational conflict, financial challenges, the loss of a loved one, or any other life issue to cripple your faith? I pray you will look to the cross and realize what Jesus has finished for you and then look to the empty tomb and see He is not finished with you!
Happy Easter my friends!
God's Peace,

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #12

Hi Friends!

As we continue our series "Life for All" where we've been examining the 7 life-changing statements of Jesus from the cross, my heart was drawn in Spirit to the following Scripture.

1 John 3:16 (NIV)

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

The past several days have been filled with numerous opportunities for each of you to sacrificially love your brothers and sisters as Jesus does. Thank you for doing so as unto the Lord!

If I can personally befriend you in a way that blesses you and your family and honors Christ, please share your need by clicking the following link.

It is a privilege to serve a church family that is willing to lay down self-will for God's-will and the good of His people. Continue to abide in Christ and His Word and love in His Spirit.

God's Peace,

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Focus '14-Modeling Jesus-Entry #11

Hi Friends!

As we study the words of Jesus from the cross, I was reminded of a verse in Ephesians where the Apostle Paul instructs the church about our speech.

Ephesians 4:29 (KJV)

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

We should be most grateful that Jesus had no corrupt communication from His mouth: He completely embodied truth and grace (see John 1) which edify and minister the gift of God to those who hear.

Isaiah 53 (see that passage below) speaks about how no guile was found in Him and Jesus tells us why: Jesus said "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."

I am most grateful that Jesus had a heart filled with truth and grace and modeled the communication needs of humanity: even from the cross.

Join me in asking God to renew His Spirit within us to continue to speak His truth in ways that edify and minister with His grace to those who hear: may our hearts model His as we speak.

We are all sinners saved by the gift of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ from the cross: the words we speak as a church should model the forgiveness and assurance we find in Him even in a culture of crucifixion.

God's Peace,

Isaiah 53 (NIV)

53 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.