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SonWorld Adventure Park VBS – Registration

SonWorld Adventure Park VBS

Please come to “SonWorld Adventure Park” VBS

Tuesdays, August 6,13,20, 2013 1:00-2:30 PM for children ages 5-11 following our Tuesday ice cream and sandwich meal.

Central United Methodist Church, 1227 6th Avenue, Beaver Falls

Featuring: Bible Stories, Crafts and Songs

Please plan to join us each week of learning about Jesus, fun and fellowship.

Please plan to join us at this special time each week as we learn about Jesus and gather for some fun.

This year’s theme: Choose today who you will love and obey (Joshua 24:15). 

Each day will focus on the choices we make in following God.

Register so that we can count you in for an awesome adventure. 

Forms are available from the Fellowship Hall bulletin board and at the Kitchen serving window, or just print out the form below, complete it, and bring it with you!.

 

Name:_________________________________    Age and/or Grade Completed:_____

 

Address:________________________________________________________________

 

Parents/Guardian:                                                                        Phone#*s:_______________________                          

 

Emergency Contact(s) Name and #: ____________________________________________________

 

Person(s) authorized to pick up this child: _______________________________________________

                                                                                                                          

______________________________________________________________________________

                                                                                                                                                               

Note:  For their protection, your child will be released ONLY to those listed.  Photo ID may be requested.

Food or Other Allergies?   __________________________________________________________                                                                                                                                             

Medical Conditions?  _______________________________________________________________                                                                                               

Other Special Requirements?_________________________________________________________

 

I give permission for my child to be photographed for VBS/church publicity use:  Yes/No 

 

In case of emergency, I give permission for my child to be transported to a medical facility for care:  Yes/No   

 

Signature of Parent/Guardian for all permissions requested:__________________________________                                                                                                

2013 SonWorld Adventure Park VBS Registration

 

 

 

 

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Holiness Down Here – Unholy Racket

Loud MusicKey Bible Verse: “A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else!”  Psalm 84: 10

Bonus Reading:  1 Corinthians 13: 1-7

I just know I could be more saintly if I had a little more peace and a little less music.  When you mount to our bedroom floor, the first thing you’ll hear is my older son playing an album by his favorite emo artist—whatever that means.  I don’t think the artist’s voice will last if he continues to sing that loud.  

In the opposite corner, his sister is playing Avril Lavigne.  I realize she has to sing at the top of her lungs to be heard over the emo.  But the thing that makes it hard to adjust to is that their kid brother is playing the local hip-hop station over the top of the other two.

Sometimes I think that if I could just ride over the hill on my Honda, I could be more noble and pure.  I could write poetry and dream dreams and pray prayers.  I could make my own music if I needed any … I’d probably be bored and lonely, too.

I don’t think God especially wants me to be pious and saintly ‘way over on the back of Comer’s farm by myself.  What He’d probably really like me to do is treat each of the roomers on my floor with kindness and love mixed with a liberal dose of holiness—even when the music is four decibels above the threshold of pain.

—Bob Benson in “See You at the House”

 

My Response:  A situation in which I find it difficult to be godly is …

 

Thought to Apply:  Standing in a church singing a hymn doesn’t make us holy any more than standing in a barn and neighing makes us a horse.

—Eugene Peterson (writer)

Adapted from “See You at the House” (Generoux, 1986)

Sixth Avenue Bulletin Board – Rewired!

Central - Rewired 6th Avenue Bulletin Board - 7-29-2013After being in the dark for a while, our outdoor bulletin board on Sixth Avenue once again is illuminated.

Thanks to Conrad and his friends who discovered and corrected the problem earlier today, our bulletin board once again has light!

Emergency Exit Rehab!

Emergency Exit Stairway Project - Floor 1 - 7-25-2013The work continues on refreshing and renewing our Emergency Exit at Central Church.  The room has been completely cleaned out, and the walls and ceiling have been painted white. 

The latest – the floor has been painted in “Sweeping Blue” – what an appropriate name for a floor color.

Don’t wait for an emergency.  The next time you’re at Central, take a look at how the work is progressing!

Emergency Exit Stairway Project - Floor 2 - 7-25-2013

How to Prepare for Challenges

Prepare for ChallengesUp Close & Personal with A. C. Green

  • Why are practice sessions so important?

People get into that syndrome where they say, “I’d do this if I were in the finals.”  That type of person never gets to the top.  Failure to prepare is preparation for failure.

We always practiced with more intensity than we had in an actual game.  Coach Riley wanted us to react instinctively to game situations. T he only way to do that is by practice.  

Practices prepared us to endure to the end, to keep our concentration, to react quickly and instinctively, and to win the game.  This runs a close parallel to spiritual training. If you haven’t been in spiritual training every day, when the real situations come, you won’t be ready.

  •  What’s the relationship between talent and discipline?

In professional basketball, if a player has talent and ability but doesn’t have discipline, he washes out.  Anyone can do some thing once, but not well.  Maybe after a lot of tries, some one can do something perfectly a time or two.  But to do something perfectly every time requires constant practice, and practice requires discipline.

  • Is discipline primarily physical?

No.  Your mind has to get in shape, too.  Pat Riley had hard practices, but they prepared us well.  I call it “toughness with gladness.”  We forced our minds to control our bodies: “Legs, get out there and double-team, and don’t tell me you’re too tired!”

It’s the same principle in the kingdom of God. You tell your body to get up and go do something right, and all of a sudden your body starts talking junk to you.


         
“Oh, no, I want to stay in bed.”

           “I don’t want to go to Bible study.”

           “No, I don’t want to confront my sins.”

You have to control your mind and body to make yourself do what you know to be right, what you know to be the habits of a champion.  Those who accept compromise or want to find an easy way can never perform at the highest level.

 –          A. C. Green is a forward for the Dallas Mavericks and an NBA All-Star.

Credits: Adapted from–Saturday: with J. C. Webster, Victory (Creation House, 1994)

New Projection Screen!

Central - New Projection Screen 2 - 7-15-2013

Central now has a brand new projection screen for any video or slide projections that we would like to use.

It measures 8’ x 8’, so any image should be easily viewable from even the last pew in the Sanctuary!

UMC Market

UMC Market“Whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.”  – Proverbs 13:11

Here’s a new way to create donations to our Church

The United Methodist Church has launched “UMC Market”,a new online purchasing service with merchants that automatically gives Central Church a donation every time you make an eligible online purchase – but you have to sign-up so Central can get the cash!

How It Works

The United Methodist Church is providing this micro-donation tool to all of its members as a modern and secure way to develop new income-streams for local churches, including Central Church!  

 By downloading the browser-app or by shopping through www.umcmarket.org, you’ll automatically create micro-donations to Central Church every time you make a purchase!

Get Started

The easiest way to create micro-donations is by downloading the tailor-made browser app to your computer.  Go to www.umcmarket.org, click on the “Join Now” button, and follow the steps.

By doing this, your computer will automatically register when you enter an online shop that’s in our network, and you will be informed of how many percentages of your purchase that store will donate to Central Church.  

(The browser app doesn’t work on smart phones or tablets yet, so if you’re using such devices, please shop from UMCmarket instead.  For more information, see below).

How is it possible?

The United Methodist Church is partnering with hundreds of stores who’ve agreed to give back a portion of your purchase.  It’s their way of saying “thank you” to UMCmarket for referring customers to them.  

The money goes automatically as a donation to Central Church once you’ve selected it in your account.

Make your purchases from UMCmarket

You can also shop directly from www.UMCmarket.org.  Here you can easily get a complete list of the all the participating stores.  Log in with your email and a password of your choice, make your purchases as usual, and your donation is already made.  It’s really that simple.

 They even show coupon codes and other deals you can use for a great discount, on top of your donation!  No need googling “best buy coupon code”.  It’s all here.  As long as you start at UMCmarket.org and make your purchase using the links provided, stores will know to send a donation to Central Church.  (Unfortunately, it won’t work if you visit other sites before finishing your transaction or have “cookies” disabled on your computer.) 

Who gets the donated money?

Once you’ve found Central Church (“Central Beaver Falls”) under the Organizations tab, press  Join’.  

When you’re ready to start shopping, a donation comes directly to Central Church.

At the end of the year you’ll get a complete list of all the donations you have made during the year.

Receipt of your donations

Every time you have made a purchase you’ll get an email stating the amount of your micro-donation.  

Every month, Central Church will get your donation together with all other donations created by members of our Church.  It will not be possible for anyone to see what you have bought, just the amount of the donation you have created.

Participating Merchants

Here are just a few of the merchants participating in this program:


                      Macy’s 2% donation / 9 others

PETCO Animal Supplies 3.5-6% donation

Best Buy 0.5-4.5% donation

Expedia 1.5-4.5% donation

Vitamin Shoppe 6% donation

 

Old Navy 0.5-11% donation

   OfficeMax 0.5-4.5% donation

Walgreens 5-7.5% donation / 1 coupons / 4 others

Advance Auto Parts 6% donation/4 coupons


Browser App for Central Church

To automatically download the browser app for Central Church, go to this link: http://www.umcmarket.org/organisation/bCRCcH-QMeKzv0xXULsKSQ/Central-Beaver-Falls/plugin

Share the Love

The more people that know about UMCmarket, the more our Church benefits.  So, spread the word!

Borrowed Bodies

Concept of Hand with Electronic FingerprintsKey Bible Verse:

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body.” – (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Bonus Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Growing up in east Alabama, I was taught that my body was God’s temple, which meant that I was not to use alcohol, drugs, or tobacco, or to have premarital sex.  However, as I grew older, I began to realize that today’s Key Bible Verses taught more than that.

This passage encourages us not only to avoid things harmful to our body but also to do things that will keep it healthy.  The neglect and abuse of our body is a spiritual matter.  Similarly, the exercise of and care for our body is also of concern to God.  How could deliberately letting our body deteriorate be honoring to God?

A few years ago, my cholesterol level was at 358 and rising.  Because my family has a history of heart disease, I was concerned.  But my efforts at diet and exercise were perfunctory.  I told myself that one day I would have to get this condition under control.  But then I realized that the issue was more than a health problem; it was also a spiritual problem.

Only then did I begin to make important lifestyle changes.

—- Ken Korr in God’s Man

Personal Challenge

Ask yourself whether you need to make some changes to offer God a healthier, more Christ-honoring body.

Thought to Apply

A man who is ruler of his passions is master of the world.  – Dominic (Founder of Order of Preachers, 13th Century)

Journey 101 – Knowing God

Journey 101 - Knowing GodNew Study!

Explore the good news of the Bible and discover Bible study tools and resources to deepen your understanding of God and the Scriptures.

Journey 101 Knowing God is one part of Journey 101: Knowing, Loving, Serving God.

Journey 101: Knowing, Loving, Serving God is a three-part basic faith course that helps to answer these questions as it guides participants on the journey of growing as a Christian.  

The goal?  Becoming a deeply committed follower of Jesus Christ.  The three studies are grounded in 15 core traits of a deeply committed Christian–traits that paint a picture of what it looks like to follow Jesus Christ with increasing passion and dedication.

This new study begins at Central Church on Sunday, July 14 at 10 am.  Join us on this important Journey of faith!

Journey 101 – Knowing God

Journey 101 - Knowing GodNew Study!

Explore the good news of the Bible and discover Bible study tools and resources to deepen your understanding of God and the Scriptures.

Journey 101 Knowing God is one part of Journey 101: Knowing, Loving, Serving God.

Journey 101: Knowing, Loving, Serving God is a three-part basic faith course that helps to answer these questions as it guides participants on the journey of growing as a Christian.  

The goal?  Becoming a deeply committed follower of Jesus Christ.  The three studies are grounded in 15 core traits of a deeply committed Christian–traits that paint a picture of what it looks like to follow Jesus Christ with increasing passion and dedication.

This new study begins at Central Church on Sunday, July 14 at 10 am.  Join us on this important Journey of faith!

Genius at Work

GeniusKey Bible Verse:

“Train yourself to be godly.  For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” – (1 Timothy 4:7b-8).

Bonus Reading: 2 Peter 1:5-8

 

Those who have watched Mike Singletary (perennial All-Pro, two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and member of the Super Bowl XXV Dream Team) “play” and have observed his wide-eyed intensity and his churning, crunching samurai hits are usually surprised when they meet him.  He is not an imposing hulk.  He is barely six feet tall and weighs, maybe, 220.

Whence the greatness?

Discipline.

Mike Singletary is as disciplined a student of the game as any who have ever played it.  In his biography, Calling the Shots, he says that in watching game films he will often run a single play 50 to 60 times, and that it takes him three hours to watch half a football game, which is only 20 to 30 plays!  

Because he watches every player, because he mentally knows the opposition’s tendency given the down, distance, hash mark, and time remaining, because he reads the opposition’s mind through their stances, he is often moving toward the ball’s preplanned destination before the play develops.  Mike Singletary’s legendary success is testimony to his remarkably disciplined life.  —- R. Kent Hughes in Disciplines of a Godly Man

Personal Challenge

What motivates you to be disciplined?

Thought to Apply

Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life’s problems. – M. Scott (Psychiatrist and Author)

The Nine-Out-of-Ten Club

SluggardKey Bible Verse:

“Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.” – (1 Thessalonians 4:1).

 

Bonus Reading: 1 Samuel 2:22-25; 3:11-13

 

My father died of a heart attack at age 53.  He was one of the most energetic and motivated men I have ever known; few people could begin to keep up with him.  He started businesses, helped ministries, flew planes, drove motorcycles and sailed a 45-foot yawl across the Atlantic Ocean …  He was disciplined and diligent in every area of his life, except one: caring for his body.

He was lazy and careless about that his whole life.  He paid no attention to diet or exercise.  Nine out of ten isn’t bad unless the tenth one kills you.

Few people I know have sunk into across-the-board slothfulness. But many of us are suffering from little pockets of laziness or inactivity.

What kind of people suffer from selective sluggardliness?

  • It’s the dad who sets sales records at work and shoots a four handicap on the golf course but fails miserably to respond to the emotional needs of his wife and children.
  •  It’s those who spend more money than they have and say tomorrow they’ll go on a budget.

— – Bill Hybels in Making Life Work

Personal Challenge

In what areas of your life have you worked hardest? In what areas have you slacked off?

Thought to Apply

Better be pruned to grow than cut up to burn. – John Trapp

Fellowship Hall Update – Another Section of Wall Framed and Covered!

South Dining Room Wall - Section 1 - 7-9-2013As you can see, the indented section of the South wall in the Fellowship Hall has been framed and covered with plasterboard by our crew of dedicated workers!

A big thanks to Dave Conner, Dick Dotson, and Dick Klugh, and their intrepid leader, Jeff Lokey, for all of their hard work so far on this project!  

We will now hand off the mudding and sanding of the seams to Conrad before we return to paint and finish this segment of the wall.  Conrad has advised that he is really backed up with work, so we’re in line, but it may be some time before he can free up and come to the Church to help.

In the meantime, the dedicated members of “Jeff’s Brigade” are planning to start in with the framing of the large, remaining section of the South wall. 

If you are available any time to help with the work, just let Jeff or any of the other Trustees know.  There’s always room for another set of hands!

Let’s Go Run

Businessman Winning RaceKey Bible Verse:

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  (Hebrews 12:1b).

Bonus Reading:  Hebrews 12:2-6

 

Before I started ninth grade, a buddy who lived down the street said we should start jogging to get in shape for football practice that fall.  We jogged 1.6 miles through the hills at the base of Lookout Mountain, and we made jogging part of our daily routine.  We jogged together throughout high school and even when I was home from college, and the hills and distance helped my endurance.  That’s where my motivation and success began – when I was 14 years old and Billy Harper told me, “Let’s go run.”

See, I wasn’t blessed with an incredible body.  I was tall, but I wasn’t big and strong before I started working out.  I realized that if I wanted to achieve my goal of becoming a professional football player, I had to work.

Whether it’s as a football player or as a man, if I want to be great, I have to work.  Let’s face it, most people don’t want to work to be great.  Because work is hard, not fun. I’ve seen guys who played off raw ability, working hard during the season, but not during the offseason.  But the really great ones work hard all year and build a legacy.

          Reggie White in God’s Playbook

Personal Challenge:

Praise God for His magnificent work of creation when He made you. Reflect your thankfulness in the way you care for His creation.

Thought to Apply:

No pain, no gain.  – Anonymous

What Sluggards Say

SluggardKey Bible Verse: Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!”  (Proverbs 6:6).

    Bonus Reading: Proverbs 6:7-11; 24:30-34

 “I’ll do it tomorrow.”  The Book of Proverbs calls people who operate according to this mindset sluggards.  Every time a person responds to a pressing responsibility with a careless “I’ll do it later,” he is acting in a sluggardly way.

When I was a kid and Mom asked me to set the table or take out the garbage, I was likely to say something like “At the next commercial, Mom.”  If Dad heard me, he’d say, “Do it now, Billy. Don’t wait.”  He did me a huge service by demanding prompt, responsible action.

Let’s say that on the way to work I remember a challenging responsibility that I didn’t have time to complete the previous day.  I could use my car time to pray and ask God for strength.  I could think about ways of fulfilling that responsibility more efficiently.  I could determine to face that daunting task with as much energy and aggressiveness as I can muster.  But if I’m on the sluggard’s path, I’ll find an excuse for not facing that challenge perhaps even, for not going to work that day.

Proverbs warns that procrastination breeds procrastination, excuses breed excuses, laziness breeds laziness. You’ll end up stuck in a life of ruin.

                –          Bill Hybels in Making Life Work

Personal Challenge:

What tasks are you likely to put off?  Ask God for strength to face them.

Thought to Apply:

Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible.  – George Horace Lorimer (SATURDAY EVENING POST EDITOR)

How to Bear Fruit

Basket of Fruit and Pumpkin PieKey Bible Verses: The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Dig Deeper: John 15: 1-8

After telling the believers in Galatia they couldn’t perfect themselves with hard work,  Paul listed the fruit of the Spirit found in today’s Key Bible Verses.  Notice that Paul focuses on fruit, not efforts.  Fruit is the by-product of walking with God in faith.

Can we really not produce such things by ourselves?  According to Jesus, no, not apart from him.  Christ told his followers: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15: 5, ESV).

The goal of this week’s readings is not for you to swear you’ll do better at this or for you to promise you’ll never again do that.  Change is possible, but dependence on God is absolutely foundational.  We must move beyond self-help into full surrender and godly dependence.

True heart-level renovation takes a Master Carpenter—One who crafted your heart from the start, then redeemed it, then began a transformation in you that he will be faithful to complete (Phil. 1: 6).

Remember, your commitment to change is not a means to get God to act on your behalf.  He already has.

—Mike Ashcraft in My One Word

My Response: When I try to improve, do I trust God to work within me?  Or is my motivation often to seek his approval or to influence him to “act on my behalf”?

Thought to Apply: “Being” is far more important than “doing.”  When we are what we should be inside, we will bring forth fruit. —Billy Graham (evangelist)

Foolish Efforts

Dunce Holding Paper Money ca. 2001Key Bible Verse: How foolish can you be?  After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? (Galatians 3:3)

Dig Deeper: Galatians 3: 1-5

Paul asked the Christ followers in the region of Galatia the two questions in today’s Key Bible Verse.

In other words: “You couldn’t live without sinning.  You couldn’t save yourselves from the consequences of your sin. God did that for you.  Are you now trying to live without sin without his help?  Are you trying to finish what he started?  Do you think you can perfect yourself by yourself?”

Paul challenged their thinking and he challenges ours.  He questions the usual mode of achieving spiritual growth, which is more effort and more willpower to make ourselves do more works and obey more rules more consistently.

Paul reminds the Galatians that God has given them his Spirit and this—combined with their faith, not their strenuous moral striving—is what will perfect them.

God doesn’t help those who help themselves.  God helps those who walk with him in faith.  Our efforts were never the impetus for God’s transforming grace.  They won’t be the impetus for our changed hearts either.

We don’t need willpower or self-effort.  We need faith that God will accomplish in us and for us what we can’t do ourselves.  He is the source of what we long for and need.

—Mike Ashcraft in My One Word

My Response: I will trust God to change my heart and release me from the following sinful behaviors: …

Thought to Apply: God does not give us the power to imitate him; he gives us his very self.—Oswald Chambers (Scottish minister, devotional writer)

Totally God

SunriseKey Bible Verse: God’s power has given us everything we need to lead a godly life. (2 Peter 1:3, NIRV)

Dig Deeper: 2 Peter 1: 3-11

Dallas Willard in Renovation of the Heart calls spiritual transformation “the inescapable human problem with no human solution.”  Think about that.  He is saying you have a problem that you cannot solve.  Maybe that’s depressing news.  Or maybe it’s the best thing you’ve heard all day because you’ve struggled to change every bad habit to little avail.

The fact that our own spiritual transformation is a problem we can’t solve indicates we need to look outside ourselves for the solution.  We have to look to God.

We tend to look to God at the beginning of our walk with Christ.  We hear the message of salvation that says every last one of us sins and comes up short of God’s standards for righteousness (Rom. 3: 23).  Therefore, we deserve death (Rom. 6:23).

But God chose to put Christ in our place, letting him who was sinless die for our sin so we can be renewed and raised to righteousness in him (Rom. 5:6-9).

We realize in matters of salvation that it’s totally God who makes that happen, and we bow and accept it in faith.  But in matters of sanctification—in matters of changing for the better—we tend to think it’s all up to us.

—Mike Ashcraft in My One Word

My Response: How difficult is it for me to make needed changes in my life?

Thought to Apply: We are not to be surprised if living as Christians brings us to the place where we find we are at the end of our resources, and that we are called to rely on the God who raises the dead.—N. T. Wright (British theologian)

God Helps Those Who…

Strong 2Key Bible Verses: So work with fear and trembling to discover what it really means to be saved.  God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey him. (Philippians 2: 12-13, CEV)

Dig Deeper: 1 Corinthians 15:10; Hebrews 13:20-21

I read an article several years ago claiming “God helps those who help themselves” is the most commonly quoted verse in the Bible.  There’s a problem with that claim; it’s not in the Bible.

It sounds rational and seems like it belongs in there.  If we demonstrate some effort to improve, God will surely get behind us in our attempts to change.

When we’re feeling motivated to make something happen, we assume God will help us because we’re putting forth the energy to make a change.  Besides, he’s not going to waste his time putting more effort into us than we are putting into ourselves.  Right?

We qualify ourselves based on the hard work we do.  We evaluate our character based on how often we go to church, attend Bible studies, volunteer, or check other items off the standard religious resumé.

But when you do all these things and yet little transformation takes place, what then?  Work harder?  Do better?  Promise to do this or swear not to do that?

We’ll up our effort and willpower.  Discipline is a great word.  But it’s all too easy to assume discipline is the sole solution to our problems.

—Mike Ashcraft in My One Word

My Response: How does today’s reading track with what I’ve heard at church about discipline?  How does it track with my own thinking?

Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be

91 years of lifeWho Said It … Mike Ashcraft

Mike Ashcraft pastors Port City Community Church in Wilmington, North Carolina.  He is the coauthor of My One Word—the source of this week’s readings.  Mike married his high school sweetheart, Julie, and they have two daughters.  He enjoys running, rocking on his front porch, surfing, and reading.  Check out Mike’s blog at myoneword.org.

What he Said … Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be

The self-help section of my local library sits right next to the spirituality section.  I notice more people browse the self-help shelves.

Self-help is a popular idea that implies we can become whatever we want to become—without help from anyone.  This speaks to the essence of what we long for: to be the self-made man.

But this desire for self-sufficiency isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Case in point: it helped pave the way for sin to enter the world.  The lure of knowing all God knows drew Eve into wrong thinking.  Dependence on her Creator seemed limiting, not freeing.

Lest you think I’m throwing Eve under the bus, we all follow in her footsteps seeking knowledge that will empower us apart from God.  We relegate him to certain times and spaces in our lives, insisting on handling the rest by ourselves.  We fail to realize that building a life apart from God would mean, well, a life apart from God.

Key Study Passage: Galations 3: 1-5

What Will We Find in Heaven?

Heaven“But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”Matthew 6:20-21

In just two sentences, so much is illustrated here:

What we can take with us to Heaven are the things that cannot be destroyed by the things of Earth.

What are considered heavenly treasures are not the same as what we value as earthly treasures.  We cannot take our possessions with us, but we can take with us the pieces that make up our hearts and souls.

The treasures that lie in our hearts are accessible at any time and cannot be stolen from us.  God sent His only Son to die on a cross for our sins and asks for a relationship with us in return.  If we have asked Jesus into our hearts, we already possess the greatest treasure of all.

We are all guilty of taking pride in our material belongings, but we need to remember how much more valuable this one relationship is over everything else.  It’s not always easy, but that is why we are so blessed to have the Bible with us… to remind us of what really matters most.

Choose Wisely

Wise OwlKey Bible Verse: “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses …. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Dig Deeper:  Proverbs 3

Life and death are major themes in the Book of Proverbs.  The words “life” and “live” occur around 56 times in this book, and the words “death” and “die” around 20 times.  And when we say that something is “a matter of life and death,” we mean that it matters above all else.

We sinners stray into the territory of death every day.  But in the Book of Proverbs God is counseling us, alerting us to where death lurks.  When the sage warns his son against sexual sin, for example, he says, “The dead are there” (Prov. 9:18, ESV et al.).  There is a hell before Hell.  But there is also a heaven before Heaven.  Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).  Jesus said, “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).

This is what God wants for every one of us today: to die less and live more through Christ.

There is a road, and there is a destination.  The question is, where are we going with our lives?

Everyone is on a journey.  We can choose our own path, but we cannot choose our own consequences, our own destination.  “In the path of righteousness [only] is life.”

—Ray Ortlund Jr. in Proverbs: Wisdom that Works

My Response: What are some ways I can “choose life” today?

Thought to Apply: We should live our lives as though Christ were coming this afternoon.—Jimmy Carter (39th president)

Everything to Enjoy

Young Woman Standing with Arms Stretched OutKey Bible Verses: God’s works are so great, worth a lifetime of study—endless enjoyment!  Splendor and beauty mark his craft; his generosity never gives out.  His miracles are his memorial—this God of grace, this God of love.  (Psalm 111:2-4,  The Message)

Dig Deeper:  Proverbs 8

In Proverbs 8, God is giving us a whole new way of seeing everything.  We naturally tend to think piecemeal.  But the God-centered wholeness of life is wisdom, and it is joyous.

The sage is teaching us the doctrine of creation.  It runs throughout the Bible.  Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (ESV, et al.).  Revelation 4:11: “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things.”  Living in his universe, we have nothing to fear and everything to enjoy.  God made it all, for us, to the praise of his glory.  So there goes superstition.  There goes asceticism.  There goes stoicism.  There goes religious grumpiness.

Because of God, everything in the creation is good.  Because of Adam, everything God made is marred and tragic—including our personal responses to everything God made.  Because of Christ, everything God made will be redeemed.  So even now everything is, in principle, eligible for wise enjoyment under Christ (1 Tim. 4:1-5).  The NFL is good, fallen, and redeemable.  Gardening is good, fallen, and redeemable.  Your job is good, fallen, and redeemable.  Everything God created is good, and we should rejoice in God our Creator.

—Ray Ortlund Jr. in Proverbs: Wisdom that Works

My Response: I will list things I’m thankful for that God has created for my enjoyment.

Thought to Apply: There is not one little blade of grass, there is no color in this world, that is not intended to make men rejoice.—John Calvin (French theologian, writer, pastor)