Articles for July 2019

Phil. 4:6; John 14:13-14 Pray first, Not last!

What are the things that burden and discourage us….that steal our joy?…our peace? Is it personal sufferings; adversities come in many different forms.

There are certainly no shortage of things to worry about – government/worldwide issues, financial issues, family, relationship issues, health issues…And each of these categories can be sub-categorized into a plethora of smaller details with which we can easily burden ourselves with worry for things over which we hold no control.

I once saw a cartoon that read, “They said it couldn’t be done…so, I didn’t even try!”

The point is not that ‘adversities, sufferings, discouragements are always going to happen and there’s nothing we can do about it, so don’t even bother to try’. The problem” is fixable. The “way” you’re trying to fix it is wrong. See, Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Mt. 19:26

When we encounter discouragement, adversity, suffering, we have to stop thinking of “ourselves” as the first “problem fixer” to go to.

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Unfortunately, our heavenly Father has become a “last resort” to many a believer, who has tried everything in his/her human toolbox to fix the problem their way first. They’ve laid awake endless nights trying to figure out how the issue could be rectified when simply turning it over to the Lord was the right answer from the beginning. We need to take it to the Lord in prayer!

In an internet article titled, 7 Reasons Our Prayers are “Unanswered”, the #1 reason given for why prayers go seemingly “unanswered” is, “We Don’t Ask”. You really can’t blame God for not answering a prayer that was never prayedright? James 4:2b You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

If it’s Jesus you seek, God’s will that is of primary importance, your prayers will be answered.

Luke 11:9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. There is so much that we all spend time worrying about, that daily robs us of our joy, that could be claimed “victories for the Kingdom”, if blood-washed believers would daily take it to the Lord in prayer! 

Wednesday, March 13th, is exactly 40 days prior to resurrection Sunday; the day we all recognize and celebrate the most important event in history! This year, our focus, and the focus of our sermon series leading up to Easter weekend, is “40 Days of Prayer Leading to Resurrection”. We will begin with that Wednesday evening service/message and each Lord’s day up and through Resurrection Sunday will focus upon different aspects of prayer. All along the journey we will be encouraging one another to be in fervent prayer over particular areas of concern; things of our own volition, we know we are incapable of changing, but by God’s will and not our own, and through the power of Jesus’ name, all things are possible. What things can we lift before the thrown of God as we approach the foot of Calvary? Church growth? Government/Our Nation’s issues? Personal devotion? Forgiveness? Spiritual Revival throughout the Nation/World? There’s still a few week’s left, if you have idea’s, write them down and slip them into our box in the entryway just outside the sanctuary!

The beautiful old hymn says it best:

O, what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer!  

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?

We should never be discouraged, Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Can we find a friend so faithful Who will all our sorrows share?

Jesus knows our every weakness, Take it to the Lord in prayer!

What a friend we have in Jesus! Let’s make Him our first resource, not our last resort!

In the meantime, talk it up, put it on your calendars! Wednesday, March 13th, 6:00 p.m. – bring your friends, your neighbors, your neighbors you wish were your friends! And let’s be a praying force here in Barryton, MI that will make a difference throughout Michigan and the world!

John 14:13-14 13And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.


In Christ,



Jeremiah 3:14 ‘Till Death Do Us Part’

‘Till death do us part…’  No month of the year puts us more in the mindset for loving, romantic relationships than February, because February is the month in which we celebrate Valentine’s Day. And because statistics tell us it is also the second most popular day for a proposal of marriage. When we think of marriage, we have to think of love as well. A marriage without love would be a car without an engine; a human life without a heart or lungs. This love that exists between these two individuals is a pretty incredible thing. It’s a sacrificial love, a love that perhaps for the first time, is choosing beyond itself to fully commit, fully submit to another.

When such a choice, between a man and a woman, is mutually made to “commit and submit” to another as life partners, this is what is rightly referred to as “monogamy”, and this is what God, in His word, has ordained. This love was not “fallen into”, nor is it a static love that will be the same 5, 10, of 50 years from now as it is right now. It’s not a love that depends upon appearance or health or wealth, rather it’s a love that you choose to demonstrate and act on. It’s an act of the mind as much as an act of the heart. Agape’ love. C.S. Lewis called it “gift love”.

So this man and this woman, in their conscious choice of one another make vows to one another, promises to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health… of all the promises that can be made between the two of them, the main idea is the commitment of two lives to one another, “for as long as you both shall live.”

In this physical life, “as long as we both shall live”, is all any of us have to promise (Hebrews 9:27).  Jesus said in Matthew 22:30 in answer to the Sadducees questioning Him about marriage at the resurrection, 30 “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”  But Scripture always references the body of Christ, the Church, or in the Old Testament, when referring to Israel, it refers to God as a Husband and Israel as His bride.


Jeremiah 3:14 “Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord, “for I am your husband. I will choose you – one from a town and two from a clan – and bring you to Zion.


On earth God cares for and protects Israel as any affectionate husband would. He looks after them in spite of their unfaithfulness, and yet they bear the name of the people of the God of Israel, they share in His wealth, reap the benefit of His wisdom and guidance. He continues to treat them as a husband who wants only to spare His bride any grief or public disgrace (Mt. 1:19).

Charles Spurgeon says, “In heaven they marry not, but are as the angels of God; yet there is one marvelous exception to the rule, for in heaven Christ and His Church shall celebrate their joyous nuptials. This affinity as it is more lasting, so is it more near than earthly wedlock.”


In Christ,


Tools – The necessities for your Christian walk. – Article by, Mari-Anna Sta

Go and Stop being Vile! Job 40:4; John 8:1-11

Job was no fool. When you’re right, you’re right…and when you’re wrong, you’re wrong. When you stand before your father with cake crumbs all over your shirt and frosting smeared from earlobe to earlobe, and dad looks straight at you as says, “Will you deny that you’ve been into your mother’s cake?” [“Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty?” Job 40:2]

Job’s reply? There would be no argument here. Not today. The NIV says, 4 “I am unworthy…”

King James puts it another way. 4 “Behold, I am vile.” I am guilty. I am sinful. I am not worthy of you. Rotten ole Job! Throw the book at him, Lord! Sinner!

Now hold on…hold on…HOLD ON! Just a minute! Isn’t there anything here that sounds just a little bit familiar? Do you know that there is not a single name in the entire Bible, nor outside of it, apart from Jesus Christ Himself, who couldn’t make that same statement apart from the blood of Jesus? Which, by the way, includes you and I. That same book could be thrown at all of us. James 2:13b says, “Mercy triumphs over judgment!”

In John 8, Jesus was teaching in the temple courts when the Pharisees and teachers of the law brought a woman in before Him who had been caught in the act of adultery. In an effort to trap Jesus in a no-win situation – if He ordered her to be stoned per the law of Moses, He violates Roman law (Jews were not allowed to carry out the death sentence), if didn’t order her stoned he’d be seen as not supporting Jewish law – they ask Jesus, 5“Teacher, the Law of Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”

Jesus bent down and starts writing in the dirt with his finger. Pretty soon he stands up and says, 7“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then he bent back down and resumed his doodling in the dirt.

This caveat seemed to put a bit of a twist in their trap. One by one, beginning with the older, I suspect, wiser ones dropped their stones and walked away until all that was left was Jesus and the woman. Jesus stands up and asks her, 10“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.

Go now and leave your life of “unworthiness”, of “vile-ness”. Mercy triumphed over judgement. And that’s what Jesus prefers for any of us. It’s what He offers to any of us. It’s us that chooses to continue in our life of depravity.

Another beautiful part of this story is that God loves us even while we’re still “vile” and “unworthy”, and “guilty”. Otherwise, how could we ever approach Him? Not only does He love us and permit our approaching Him, He calls us to Him! The apostle Paul could give pretty good testimony to the Lord’s pursuit while he was yet “vile”. Paul said in his letter to Timothy;

 1 Timothy 1:15-16 15“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.”

 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

And there lies the most beautiful part of the story. If it weren’t for Jesus’ sacrifice, once for all our sins, we would all be still standing “vile”, “unworthy”, and even worse, “guilty”, before our heavenly Father awaiting our just punishment.

So when you hear someone say things like Job said, “Behold, I am vile.”, or “I am unworthy!”; or maybe like what Simon Peter said when he first met Jesus on their first fishing trip. After Jesus told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat and they caught so many fish they filled the boat, Peter fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Luke 5:8  The folks we know may not use the same words today. What you may hear is, ‘You just don’t understand the kind of life I’ve led, the things I’ve done.’

‘I’ve just done too many bad things in my life. God could never forgive me. He’d never hear my prayers.’

‘You don’t understand the things I’ve done!’

Here’s what we do understand:

 Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

 Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love for us in this:

While we were still sinners,Christ died for us.

 Acts 2:21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

What you did before is water over the dam. What you do now and forward is what matters.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”  John 8:11


In Christ,


Happy Fathers Day! Genesis 37

Happy (upcoming) Fathers Day! Unfortunately, the world we live in has produced many biological fathers, not all of which can be considered “Fathers” in the truest sense of the word. Certainly the children, the family, suffers when there is a lack of a father figure, but (1) a biological relationship does not a father make, and (2) the father not only cheats his children when he chooses not to participate in their lives; whether he realizes it or not, he cheats himself. Men, we have a God-given opportunity to lead, teach, nurture, love, encourage, protect…a piece of ourselves. We have an opportunity to watch them grow and we’ve got a front row seat from which to influence. Jody and I were blessed to have four wonderful children, 3 sons and a daughter; all good students and athletes. I was grateful for the chance to coach the boys in wrestling, baseball, and football, and spent many weekends in gyms for volleyball tournaments and track meets in support of all four of the kids. My children always said they listened for and could hear my voice above all the others, and that gave them inspiration. Dads, we have the ear of an impressionable child. What an awesome opportunity and responsibility! They’re teachable; teach them right.

Someone once said rather profoundly, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” You can make a good “first impression”, or a bad “first impression”, but once it’s made, it’s made. There’s no rewind button. We have one childhood per child to teach them right. We have an opportunity to love them with all our ability…equally. Jesus gave us a model to follow for living life and for being a good father to our children, which after all is teaching them the best way to live life. We need to teach them to listen for the voice of instruction that comes from the Holy Spirit, to hear that voice above all the rest.

Romans 2:11 says, “For God does not show favoritism.” Neither can we, Dads. There were only two of us, my sister and I, growing up in our family. And there really was no favoritism issues. But it doesn’t require great numbers to favor one child over another. It only takes two. Favoritism breeds resentment, from which, if allowed to fester, comes contempt. A family that I knew of, also had but one son and one daughter. Both were adopted and, no doubt, were loved by their parents. However, as they grew older it became more and more evident that the father’s favorite was his son. The son was an honor student, popular in school, a good athlete…an easy target to dote over. But doting over the one became ignoring and borderline disrespect for the other. This favoritism continued into their adult lives as the daughter could seem to do nothing worthy of admiration in her father’s eyes. Resentment developed, not surprisingly, between the brother and sister, carrying into their adult lives where, even now, they have little if any relationship at all.

Sad stories at Fathers Day can be changed to glad stories if we learn from them. The Old Testament story of Jacob and his 12 sons demonstrates a thing or two about fatherhood and “what not to do”. It’s a story of how favoritism breeds resentment, contempt, and, in this case, personal guilt.

Jacob, the son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham, had 12 sons by three different women. Jacob favored Rachel above the rest and when she bore him two sons, Joseph and Benjamin, Jacob favored Joseph above all his sons (Gen 37:3).  And it was rather obvious to the brothers. The story in Genesis 37, makes evident three points of contention that takes resentment into contempt.

#1 – Joseph was his father’s eyes and ears in the field. Verse 2 tells us that Joseph was a bit of a tattle-tale. It was bad enough that he was Daddy’s favorite, but he runs back to tell Jacob everything they do.

#2 – Jacob exacerbated the situation by making Joseph a “richly ornamented robe” (v3).

#3 – Jacob’s attitude and actions made it no secret that Joseph was favored above the rest and this fueled their contempt, not for their father but for Joseph. They coveted their father’s love and affections.

Resentment had blossomed into all out contempt. Verse 4 says, “they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.”  Being the second to the youngest, not only was Joseph the newly coronated favorite, but he had taken over the position that they had all once held. They felt ignored and rejected by their father. Contempt is to resentment what a tornado warning is to a tornado watch. With a tornado watch, conditions are right for a potential tornado to develop. A tornado warning indicates that one has been sighted, it’s just a matter of where it will touch down or if it will touch down. Resentment is living in the same town where explosives are sold. Contempt is living in a 12’x 14’ shed nearly full of explosives. It only takes a spark for disaster to strike.

Disaster came in the form of Joseph’s dreams that “he” would rise to prominence and rule over “them”.  They would all bow down to him (v5-9). They hated him all the more. So, when Jacob sent Joseph on his next assignment to check up on his brothers, “they saw him coming from a distance and plotted to kill him.” (v18) But for his brother Reuben’s sudden case of conscience, they would have killed him. Instead they took his coat and threw him in a cistern until a merchant caravan came by and they sold him to them. They took his coat and covered it with goat’s blood and told their father that Joseph had been eaten by a wild animal (v33).  As far as they were concerned, Joseph was dead. No more favorite.  Favoritism had completed its course.  Resentment, contempt, death.

The story seemed to have ended badly, from their perspective. But God had other plans. In Genesis 50:20 Joseph says to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

God uses all situations to accomplish His purposes. So, maybe you think you dropped the ball as a father. You figure you did a poor job, didn’t teach your children the right principles, you weren’t the best example to them growing up. All is not lost. You’re still their father. They’re still your children. God is in the rehab business. He can take what you messed up and make it shiny new. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Mark 9:23

So, Dads, let’s make this Fathers Day a glad story. Become a Godly father. Our heavenly Father has given us such a perfect example to follow!

In Christ,


2 Corinthians 11:2 Godly Jealousy

You know how much Jesus loves you? He loves you so much that He can’t bear the thought that you would choose another and not Him! He loves you so much that He would die for you! Wait a minute…He DID DIE FOR YOU! That death on the cross that we just celebrated, was the price He paid; not for His sins, He didn’t have any sins! It was the price He paid, FOR YOUR SINS AND MINE. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19b-20 “You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” If we claim the redemption He has provided through the shedding of His blood, we belong to Him, and He’s not sharing!

2 Corinthians 11:2  2I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. The Lord is very jealous of your love. Why wouldn’t He be? He paid such a dear price for it. How could you think that you are your own, or worse yet, that you belong to the world? He has already proven that He would rather die than to see anything come between you and His love! God loved so much that, while we were still sinners, He died for us that we could be reconciled to Him, be one with Him, and have eternal life with Him. He has a burning desire for us! God is jealous when someone takes something that rightly belongs to Him and keeps it for themselves or gives it to another; i.e. His glory, praise, our time, worship. When we give worship or praise to false gods that is due God Almighty, we provoke God’s righteous jealousy.

Furthermore, He is jealous of our trust. The only one you need to put your trust in is Him. Is your trust being misdirected to your finances, or lack of them? Maybe we’re putting a little too much faith in the world’s advice, i.e. secular counseling, advice of non-Christians, etc. Or when we rely a little too heavily on our own wisdom the wisdom of a friend – or worst of all, start putting too much trust in works of our own apart from the blood of Jesus, His jealousy is greatly aroused, since He’s always been glad when we trust in Him.

God is always jealous of the company we keep. Anyone we care deeply about we care deeply about every aspect of their life, including how they spend their time. Certainly, there should be no none we fellowship with more than Jesus. No one has invested so greatly in our life as He. No one has died for us. No one loves us so and has such an active role in our everyday life, He is our lifeblood! When you compare communion with the world with that of abiding with Jesus daily is grievous to our Lord!

John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”


In Christ, Rick