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,