Month: September 2013

Pressed, but Not Crushed

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2 Corinthians 12:10

The Message (MSG)

7-10 Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.
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Bathyspheres are amazing inventions. Operating like miniature submarines, they have been used to explore the ocean in places so deep the water pressure would crush a conventional submarine as easily as if it were an aluminum can, Bathyspheres compensate for the intense water pressure with plates of steel several inches thick. The steel keeps the water out, but it also makes a bathysphere heavy and difficult to maneuver. The space inside is cramped, allowing for only one or two people to survey the ocean floor by looking through a tiny plate-glass window.

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What divers invariably find at every depth of the ocean are fish and other sea creatures. Some of these creatures are quite small and appear to have fairly normal skin. They look flexible and supple as they swim through the inky waters. How can they live at these depths without steel plating? They compensate for the outside pressure through equal and opposite pressure on the inside.

Spiritual fortitude works in the same way. The more negative the circumstances around us, the more we need to allow God’s power to work within us to exert an equal and opposite pressure from the inside. With God on the inside, no pressure on earth can crush us!

It is not enough to begin; continuance is necessary. Success depends upon staying power. Abiding in the word and prayer is the way to have strength to deal with the pressures of life.

Beyond the Status Quo….

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John 5:31-47

The Message (MSG) 30-33 “I can’t do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide. You can trust my decision because I’m not out to get my own way but only to carry out orders. If I were simply speaking on my own account, it would be an empty, self-serving witness. But an independent witness confirms me, the most reliable Witness of all. Furthermore, you all saw and heard John, and he gave expert and reliable testimony about me, didn’t he?

34-38 “But my purpose is not to get your vote, and not to appeal to mere human testimony. I’m speaking to you this way so that you will be saved. John was a torch, blazing and bright, and you were glad enough to dance for an hour or so in his bright light. But the witness that really confirms me far exceeds John’s witness. It’s the work the Father gave me to complete. These very tasks, as I go about completing them, confirm that the Father, in fact, sent me. The Father who sent me, confirmed me. And you missed it. You never heard his voice, you never saw his appearance. There is nothing left in your memory of his Message because you do not take his Messenger seriously.

39-40 “You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.

41-44 “I’m not interested in crowd approval. And do you know why? Because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God’s love, is not on your working agenda. I came with the authority of my Father, and you either dismiss me or avoid me. If another came, acting self-important, you would welcome him with open arms. How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rivals and ignoring God?

45-47 “But don’t think I’m going to accuse you before my Father. Moses, in whom you put so much stock, is your accuser. If you believed, really believed, what Moses said, you would believe me. He wrote of me. If you won’t take seriously what he wrote, how can I expect you to take seriously what I speak?”

Dr. Jack Mezirow, professor emeritus at Columbia Teachers College, believes that an essential element in adult learning is to challenge our own ingrained perceptions and examine our insights critically. Dr. Mezirow says that adults learn best when faced with what he calls a “disorienting dilemma”-something that “helps you critically reflects on the assumptions you’ve acquired,” This is the opposite of saying, “My mind is made up-don’t confuse me with the facts.” When Jesus healed on the Sabbath, He challenged the deeply held beliefs of many religious leaders, and they sought to silence Him. Jesus said to them: “You search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” Oswald Chambers observed, “God has a way of bringing in facts which upset a man’s doctrine if these stand in the way of God getting at his soul.” Unsettling experiences that cause us to question our assumptions about the Lord can also lead us to a deeper understanding and trust in Him–If we’re willing to think it through and come to Him. My mind cries its questions, My longing heart, joining. O Father, please hear me ! O spirit, keep teaching! The unexamined life is not worth living.- Socrates

 

 

“You must die in order to live”

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Philippians 3:8

The Message (MSG)

7-9 The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.

The autumn season we are now entering is one of cornfields ripe for harvest, of the cheerful song of those who reap the crops, and of gathered and securely stored grain. So allow me to draw your attention to the sermon of the fields. This is its solemn message; “You must die in order to live.” You must refuse to consider your own comfort and well-being. You must be crucified, not only to your desires and habits that are obviously sinful but also to many others that may appear to be innocent and right. If you desire to save others, you must be buried in darkness and solitude.”

My heart fails me as I listen. But when the words are from Jesus, may I remind myself that it is my great privilege to enter into “the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10) and I am therefore in great company. May I also remind myself that all the suffering is designed to make me a vessel suitable for His use. And may I remember that His Calvary blossomed into abundant fruitfulness, and so will mine.

Pain leads to plenty, and death to life–it is the law of the Kingdom! Do we call it dying when a bud blossoms into a flower? Finding, following, keeping, struggling, is He sure to bless? Saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs, Answer, “Yes.”

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In the Thick Of It…..

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Jesus' modified miracles

Isaiah 33:2-4

The Message (MSG)
2-4 God, treat us kindly. You’re our only hope.
First thing in the morning, be there for us!
When things go bad, help us out!
You spoke in thunder and everyone ran.
You showed up and nations scattered.
Your people, for a change, got in on the loot,
picking the field clean of the enemy spoils.

Does it seem to you that the only stories you hear about miracles occur in remote African villages or obscure Chinese provinces? Do you wonder if God is visibly active only on the mission field? Steven Mosley, author of It Only God Would Answer, believes the reason we hear more stories from missionary ventures than local churches is, “God is most active when we are reaching out most, He stretches out when we stretch out.

I feel so empty this morning because of my mourning after the state of our nation. I woke up pondering why I am so consumed with my position in life rather than my position in Christ. There is so much work to be done in this world. I want desperately to have a connection with the Lord that will provide for the countless lost souls as felons and derelicts of society right here in my community.

“I considered the life of George Mueller. He wrote an entire book of answers to specific prayer request he made while living in complacent Victorian England. Mueller was stretched–he was seeking to meet the needs od two thousand orphans. In remote China, Hudson Taylor was given needed funds or had personal needs met without ever making an appeal to any human being. Taylor was stretched–sharing the Gospel where it had not been preached before. Brother Andrew, ‘God’s Smuggler,’ had an abundance of answered prayers. He, too, was stretched–devoting his life to taking Bibles behind the iron curtain.”

Mosley has concluded, “God is most active in the thick of it.” Are you asking God to help you meet your heart’s desire today, or are you asking Him how you might help Him meet His heart’s desires?

Don’t pray for task suited to your capacity. Pray for capacity suited to your task. I am praying and soliciting your prayers of agreement that God will provide “Second Chance Alliance” the opportunity to grow into a full pledge ministry. My wife and I are consumed with felon reform and human life being recycled for God’s glory to be seen on this earth. We want a building to house and educate the fallen and thought to be forsaken individuals of drug addiction and criminal lifestyles. We want a church to connect then with and a recycling business of plastic, aluminum and glass and electronics to give them work and help our planet to become “Green” again. Please pray with us that this stretching of our faith will produce this vision.

USDA Plans to Expand Worrisome Meat-Inspection Program

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Failed pilot inspection program leaves feces (and other contaminants) on beef and pork—and the feds want to keep it going.

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Remember when we reported that the United States Department of Agriculture was set to relax oversight of the poultry industry and allow slaughterhouses to speed up their kill lines? Food-safety experts lined up at the time to condemn the policy, which would privatize slaughterhouse inspections and allow poultry processing plants to kill the birds 25 percent faster.

As it turns out, the USDA has been piloting a similar process in five American hog plants for the past decade. Kill lines at these facilities were sped up by as much as 20 percent and the number of USDA safety inspectors at each plant was cut in half. We learned this week that the plants using the pilot process are some of the worst offenders when it comes to health and safety violations, according to the USDA’s own figures and extensive reporting by the Washington Post.

Serious health violations abound at three of the five pork facilities in the pilot; meat with “chunks” of fecal matter and other contaminants made it to the end of the processing line before it was caught by inspectors. (The plants were cited with violations for letting tainted meat get that far along without being noticed.)

The process of lax inspections and faster kill lines has been used internationally too, with even worse results. A Canadian beef plant using the new system sent products tainted with E. coli into the market—an outbreak that led to the recall of 8.8 million pounds of beef and beef products in Canada and the United States. And several sped up Australian plants shipped meat still containing “chunks” of fecal matter and partly digested food, which was thankfully stopped at the border.

All of which makes faster kills lines and fewer inspectors a bad idea of meat processing, right? Not as the USDA sees it. The Administration wants to expand the failed program nationwide after it finishes up a review of the pilot, which should be completed by next spring. Food-safety advocates are in an uproar over that possibility.

“Expanding the trial inspection program that the USDA has been using is a very bad idea,” says Jaydee Hanson, senior policy analyst with the Center for Food Safety. “The program has some of the worst problems in the hog processing business. Moving the lines faster and reducing the number of inspectors and then relying more on company employees for nominal inspection is a good way to make our meat and poultry less safe.”

Hanson went on to call the policy allowing companies to inspect their own product “a travesty,” and outlined a call to action for the USDA regarding its handling of meat and poultry production and imports. She’d like to see the USDA adopt stiffer penalties for companies caught shipping contaminated products—including jail time—while providing better protections for workers who report safety violations to the authorities. The center’s suggestions also included tighter border control for contaminated meats coming from abroad, lowering inspection costs for small-scale meat processors, and declaring more pathogens illegal in food.

“If companies cannot legally ship food that is contaminated, knowingly or not, they will have to do a better job,” she says.

Hanson believes our society cannot trust food corporations to honestly inspect their own meat and poultry, adding, “the new ‘lite’ inspection program would cut the heart out of the federal verification program.”

In the meantime, the rest of us might just take this as a little hint to keep cutting back our meat intake more and more, or get to know our farmers and ranchers. Because if the pilot is indeed expanded, your steak or pork chop could become significantly less appetizing.

Thank You For My Suffering, Why? Because I am being perfected In Them

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Thou Hast enlarged me when I was in distress.( Psalms 4:1 KJV)

This verse is one of the greatest testimonies ever written regarding the effectiveness of God’s work on our behalf during times of crisis. It is a statement of thanksgiving for having been set free not from suffering but rather through suffering. I am writing about this tonight because my wife and I are coming into Jubilee in the morning, we are completing one year of captivity. In stating, “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress,” the psalmist is declaring that the sorrows of life have themselves been the source of life’s enlargement.

haven’t each of us experienced this a thousand times and found it to be true? Someone once said of Joseph that when he was in the dungeon, “iron entered his soul.” And the strength of iron is exactly what he needed, for earlier he had only experienced the glitter of gold. He had been rejoicing in youthful dreams, and dreaming actually hardens the heart. Someone who sheds great tears over a simple romance will not be of much help in a real crisis, for true sorrow will be too deep for Him. We all need the iron in life to enlarge our character.

 

The gold is simply a passing vision, whereas the iron is the true experience of life. The chain that is the common bond uniting us to others must be one of iron. The common touch of humanity that gives the world true kinship is not joy but sorrow–gold is partial to only a few, but iron is universal.

Dear soul, if you want your sympathy for others to be enlarged, you must be willing to have your life narrowed to certain degrees of suffering. Joseph’s dungeon was the very road to his throne, and he would have been unable to lift the iron load of his brothers had he not experienced the iron in his own life. Your life will be enlarged in proportion to the amount of iron you have endured, for it is in the shadows of your life that you find the actual fulfillment of your dreams of glory. So do not complain about the shadows of darkness–in reality, they are better than your dreams could ever be.

I never imagined having a relationship with my creator as I now have and not to forget with my wife and my community. God used this house arrest to achieve many good things that are evident in my marriage to Him, my wife and the spirit. Never say that the darkness of prison has shackled you, for your shackles are wings–wings of flight into the heart and soul of humanity. And the gate of your prison is the gate into the heart of the universe. God has enlarged you through the suffering of sorrow’s chain.

He unleashed nails, whips, beatings, lies, harassment, scandal and every form of bitterness and betrayal upon our King of Kings, but look where He is seated. If Joseph had never been Egypt’s prisoner, he would have never been Egypt’s governor. The iron chain that bound his feet brought about the golden chain around his neck. Be encouraged in this life no matter what the circumstances are, because that is your opportunity to build relationship with God, man, family, hostile workers and difficult people. The church is even going to have iron in it for you to be used to exude maturity in Christ, be of good cheer and keep marching.

Under Surveillance

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PRISM: 'really freaky'.

The National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program after a court ruled that some of the agency’s activities were unconstitutional, according to top-secret material passed to the Guardian.

The technology companies, which the NSA says includes Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook, incurred the costs to meet new certification demands in the wake of the ruling from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court.

The October 2011 judgment, which was declassified on Wednesday by the Obama administration, found that the NSA’s inability to separate purely domestic communications from foreign traffic violated the fourth amendment.

While the ruling did not concern the Prism program directly, documents passed to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden describe the problems the decision created for the agency and the efforts required to bring operations into compliance. The material provides the first evidence of a financial relationship between the tech companies and the NSA.

The intelligence agency requires the Fisa court to sign annual “certifications” that provide the legal framework for surveillance operations. But in the wake of the court judgment these were only being renewed on a temporary basis while the agency worked on a solution to the processes that had been ruled illegal.

An NSA newsletter entry, marked top secret and dated December 2012, discloses the huge costs this entailed. “Last year’s problems resulted in multiple extensions to the certifications’ expiration dates which cost millions of dollars for Prism providers to implement each successive extension – costs covered by Special Source Operations,” it says.
American Eye

Please Read Amos 9:1-6

Jeremiah 23:23-24

The Message (MSG)

23-24 “Am I not a God near at hand”—God’s Decree—
“and not a God far off?
Can anyone hide out in a corner
where I can’t see him?”
God’s Decree.
“Am I not present everywhere,
whether seen or unseen?”
God’s Decree.

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Imagine that you’re visiting a foreign country when you realize that you’re being followed. Your every move is watched. Your every conversation is monitored. Your hotel room is bugged, and the restaurant tables are electronically rigged to pick up every word you speak. It’s as if at all times someone wants to know what you are doing, saying, thinking and planning. You are constantly under the scrutiny of another, and it seems there is no place to hide.

Fortunately, most of us don’t know what it’s like to live under that kind of surveillance. Yet, in reality, we do live every moment of every day under the watchful eyes of the Lord. He sees everything we do; He hears everything we say; He knows every thought we think. for those who love and trust the Lord, this is an awesome yet comforting truth. But for those who are determined to resist Him, It’s a different story. Amos told Israel that God was pleading with them to turn from their sins(Amos5:4-15), and he warned them that there would be no hiding place for those who refused to repent(9:1-6).

The American Government is reenacting the strengths God really possesses without compromise. I am dealing with the seriousness of my walk with Christ after studying this message tonight. Father, have mercy on us when we are rebellious. We lift our heart to you in behalf of all who think they can somehow elude your constant surveillance and final judgment.

They shall not stand the judgment test
Who live for self today,
For God sees all and He will judge
The evildoer’s way!!!!
Live today as you will wish you had lived when you stand before God….