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Cross Talk

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01.25.2015

posted Jan 23, 2015, 1:43 PM by Lakeview Office

The status of the people of Israel during their last days in Egypt was dreadful and oppressive.  Often times we forget how difficult things are and how comfortable misery can be.  Stephen, in Acts 7:11-19, gives us insight into their situation.  He tells us the King of Egypt exploited the people, was cruel to them and forced them to kill their babies.  God’s action in the Exodus was a response to the cries of the people.  God heard their cries and was already working a plan.

Some have questioned the actions of the mid-wives, saying they disobeyed the law and asked if they should have complied or done things differently.  They were dishonest and deceptive in dealing with the King of Egypt. As you read the story, you get the impression that the narrator was supportive of their actions.  It seems that God was supportive of their actions.  The truth was, they had to deal shrewdly to live in obedience to God.  The concept of government is a necessity for any people.  When government is evil, we are still to live in obedience to God.  That means we may have to break man’s law, as we live in obedience to God’s Law.  This is what motivated the mid-wives.  They lived in reverential fear of God.  They believed that God would be honored by the faithfulness of His people, no matter their role in society. 

Moses’ parents were of the same conviction.  They believed if they did the right thing, God would somehow act.  This should be the conviction of anyone who follows Christ; that we will do the right thing even if it goes against what other people expect.  When we act, that action gives God a place to work.  Moses’ parents were just being faithful when they hid the child.  God used that situation to raise up a leader.  There was no one more qualified to lead the people of Israel from Egyptian bondage than the son of faithful Hebrews, who is also the son of Pharaoh.  God would use this man to carry out a mighty act of redemption…an act that would direct the course of history.

-Dennis

 

01.11.2015

posted Jan 9, 2015, 1:47 PM by Lakeview Office

A highlight from the life of Abraham is the time when, “Abraham built an altar…; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar…” (Genesis 22:9).  We are impressed by Abraham’s actions and wonder if we could sacrifice one of our loved ones; one of our own children.  When we ask that question, we are getting at the heart of the episode.  Oswald Chambers asks, do we think that God is telling us that He wants from us the sacrifice of death?  He states that we make a mistake if we miss the fact that God is actually asking if we would make, not the sacrifice of our death, but of our life.  Paul calls it a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).  It can be a hard ethic to live out.  Even Peter missed it when he told Jesus, “Lord, I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33).  Peter was willing to die for Jesus, but was he willing to live?  Oswald states we have to be “willing to be identified with Christ’s death so that I may sacrifice my life to God.”

 

We seem to think that God wants us to give up things! God purified Abraham from this error, and the same process is at work in our lives. God never tells us to give up things just for the sake of giving them up, but He tells us to give them up for the sake of the only thing worth having, namely, life with Himself. It is a matter of loosening the bands that hold back our lives. Those bands are loosened immediately by identification with the death of Jesus. Then we enter into a relationship with God whereby we may sacrifice our lives to Him.

It is of no value to God to give Him your life for death. He wants you to be a “living sacrifice”— to let Him have all your strengths that have been saved and sanctified through Jesus (Romans 12:1). This is what is acceptable to God.

 

-Dennis Baker

 

12.28.2014

posted Dec 26, 2014, 11:20 AM by Lakeview Office

The title of last week’s Sunday morning service was Increasing Your Longing for God. It sought to direct us to hunger for, and long for the things of God. One aspect that we didn’t have time to talk about was longing for our heavenly home, and the importance of God’s presence that makes all of life different.  Everything is deeper and more significant when we know God; when we know where we are going.  I thought about this song by Rich Mullins. You may have this song on a cassette somewhere.  Look for it on You Tube. Listen through it a few times. It is called, “If I Stand.”

 

There's more that rises in the morning than the sun, and more that shines in the night than just the moon. It's more than just this fire here that keeps me warm. In a shelter that is larger than this room. And there's a loyalty that's deeper than mere sentiments; and a music higher than the songs that I can sing.  The stuff of Earth competes for the allegiance I owe only to the Giver of all good things

 

CHORUS:

So if I stand let me stand on the promise

that you will pull me through

And if I can't, let me fall on the grace

that first brought me to You.

And if I sing let me sing for the joy

that has born in me these songs

And if I weep let it be as a man who is longing for his home.

 

There's more that dances on the prairies than the wind. More that pulses in the ocean than the tide. There's a love that is fiercer than the love between friends; more gentle than a mother's when her baby's at her side. And there's a loyalty that's deeper than mere sentiments, and a music higher than the songs that I can sing. The stuff of Earth competes for the allegiance I owe only to the Giver of all good things.

 

CHORUS:

So if I stand let me stand on the promise

that you will pull me through

And if I can't, let me fall on the grace

that first brought me to You.

And if I sing let me sing for the joy

that has born in me these songs

And if I weep let it be as a man who is longing for his home.

 

And if I weep let it be as a man who is longing for his home.

 

When you long for God, it is going to show in every part of your life. Nothing is compartmentalized but everything has meaning because you come to know that God has made everything. His love not only transforms you, but it changes how you see things.  “all things were created by Him and for Him…In Him all things hold together.”  -Dennis

 

12.21.2014

posted Dec 19, 2014, 2:17 PM by Lakeview Office

I have a friend that is a wheat farmer in Oklahoma.  He is a hard worker and he is clever.  He has also taught me much about faith.  Jimmy believed in God.  As a wheat farmer in Oklahoma, he had to believe.  His existence was a matter of faith.  His mode of farming was dry farming.  That means he did not irrigate his crops.  What he did do is plow the land, plant the seed, and fertilize the plants.  The watering he left up to Mother Nature and Father God.  He trusted that he would get enough rain at the right time to grow a good crop.  He also trusted that he would get enough sun so that the wheat would not have too much moisture at the time of harvest.  After the seed was planted and the plants fertilized, all he could do is watch.  He trusted that the increase would come and he would reap a hundred fold during the harvest.  While the wheat was growing, Jimmy made sure the combine was ready.  He pulled maintenance on the wheat truck and swept out the storage bins.  He got ready for the harvest that he hoped would come.  All his energy was directed to that goal.  It seems to me a fitting analogy for faith in God.  It is also a fitting analogy for life. 

 

We all have a beginning, a cycle of life and an end.  We need fertilizer, water, sun, and time.  It is easy enough to observe the how of life, what humans struggle with is the why.  There are three basic answers to the question of why: One, life is a random product of cosmic energy; Two, aliens from another planet brought DNA seed to a planet that could support life; Three, we were created by a loving God who wants us to experience beauty and fulfillment.

 

The story of Jesus fits option #3.  The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus paint a picture of value and meaning for humans.  The story of Christ provides a perfect explanation and solution for the problems we face.  The other two options are like growing crops without water.  You can’t grow life without the love of God, the knowledge of God, and the Spirit of God.  When we fully grasp the Christ story, we will be like Simeon in Luke 2:25-32.  He took the Christ child in his arms and praised God Saying, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.  For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory for your people Israel.”  Do your eyes see this?  Do you see the truth of God in the Christ child?  Let this story define every part of your life, and you will know the meaning of the phrase, “Peace on earth to people He favors.”

 

-Dennis

 

12.14.2014

posted Dec 12, 2014, 12:59 PM by Lakeview Office

This week’s CrossTalk is the second part of Ann Brazile’s article on Death and the Christian.  Last week focused on the fact that death touches us all.  This second part focuses on faith and dying.

At this point we have to bring faith into the thought processes.  And this is the answer to the question of how a Christian deals with death: FAITH.  The New Testament gives us insight into this.  Paul tells us, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  Despite his desire to “depart and be with Christ”, he would remain “for your sake.”  Yes, it is human to want to stay and watch your children and grandchildren grow up and to be a part of their lives.  The Apostle John painted for us the most beautiful description of Heaven in the last chapters of Revelation (who wouldn’t want to experience that?!?)  He ends his writing with these two sentences; “Yes I am coming quickly.  Amen.  Come Lord Jesus.”  He conveys a strong desire for Jesus to return.  John was ready for death because of his faith in the Lord’s promises.  Our Lord Himself faced a certain awful death His whole life.  Philippians tells us that “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross”.  He knew the kind of death He would endure but accepted it saying “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will, but thine be done.”  He too, knew human fear, but didn’t let it take control of His life.

Hebrews 2:9-18 gives us the real clue in what takes away the Christian’s fear of death.  We don’t have to fear death because Jesus “destroyed him who holds the power of death…and freed those who were held in slavery by their fear of death.”  We experience total freedom when we die.  The author of Hebrews in Chapter 11:13-16 tells us that the founders of our faith “desired a better country, which is a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God for he has prepared a city for them.”  And for us, too – the one that John described so beautifully.

How strong is your faith?  Hebrews 11:1, 6 states “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen…And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He rewards those who seek Him.”  If the fear of death overwhelms your faith, then at death your whole life of service to the Lord – no matter how short or long it may be – will have been for nothing.

And, after all, death is a win/win situation for the Christian.  For if you live, great!  If you die, even better!!  You do not have to be fearful of death.  All will be well.  The Lord has control of our life and our death!!

 

12.07.2014

posted Dec 5, 2014, 2:57 PM by Lakeview Office   [ updated Dec 12, 2014, 12:59 PM ]

We have several in our family that are struggling with their health, and even end of life issues.  I don’t know how those brothers and sisters feel, but I do see them with a courage and contentment that only faith could bring.  Several weeks ago Ann Brazile and I were visiting and talking about these things.  Since she is living this, I asked her to write about it.  What follows is part one of what she wrote.  The rest will follow next week.  I am thankful for Ann and her willingness to share her experience with us.  Her article is called, “Death and the Christian.”

Yes, everyone knows they are going to die at some point – but usually not how or when.  The day you sit across the desk from your physician who is telling you that you have an incurable disease that will give you maybe 6-9 months to live, maybe less, will put a very different perspective on death.  (And, yes, I do know the power of prayer!)  Many in our church family face the prospect of death daily because of their profession.  Many of us face this prospect daily as we travel the freeways and commute to work.  These circumstances are everyday life.  When your health circumstances become fatal, then your mortality is something that you have to deal with.  Death becomes real – not just a concept.

To most people death is something to be feared – both your own and those you love.  The loss of loved ones can be a catastrophic occurrence in one’s life.  I know this well!  In the past two and a half years I have lost a dear niece, two brothers, three sisters-in-law, a brother-in-law, my dear daughter, and the love of my life – my sweet husband of 60 years!  But this I also know; the Lord takes care of His servants.  When death comes to them, He takes them home, to a better place.  He also mourns when they die, as David told us in Psalm 116:15 – “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones.” In recent conversation with a “wise beyond years” friend of mine, he said that “We trust that our lives and experiences are a part of God’s plan…fear is a natural emotion.  Fear of death provides safety because it helps us avoid things that may cause death…it doesn’t show a lack of faith to have fear, as long as you can place it as a human emotion.”

God is as sad as we are, when it comes to dying.  He created us to live forever, and death suggests something different.  But even in death, God’s will can be done.  He gives us comfort in suffering and peace in conflict. 

 

Next week, Ann’s article describes how faith speaks to the dying process.  Thank you, Ann for sharing your experience.

 

11.23.2014

posted Nov 21, 2014, 1:51 PM by Lakeview Office

As of 1990, the correlation studies between prayer and physical healing were numbered at 250.  This number has increased since then. In these various studies, researchers have found that prayer has a positive influence on relationships, physical and mental health, and overall well-being.

Recently, Christian researchers have begun to investigate the relationship of social and psychological factors as they are related to individual health and illness.  These researchers examine how the mind, nervous system, and immune system interact with each other. Our immune system protects us from the millions of viruses and bacteria we’re exposed to on a daily basis. Thoughts and emotions influence how we are able to repel these viruses and bacteria. Stress can weaken the immune system through the emotions, such as fear, sadness, and anger. Stress-reducing activities, such as laughter and exercise, strengthen our immune systems. The research revealed religious devotion was associated with improvement of one’s immune system.  Studies have shown similar positive effects between religions practice and individuals with mental illness.

Living by Christian principles leads to a greater quality of life, more contentment, and greater well-being than individuals who are less religious.   Active Christians have higher rates of optimism, hopefulness, resolve, self-value, thankfulness, countless positive emotions, and moral traits. In a study conducted by Koenig et al. (2014), Koenig and his associates found that active religious involvement significantly and positively reduces depression, and increases each of the positive emotions, attitudes, and behaviors listed above.

Koenig makes three suggestions for the church: The church must stay true to its foundational principles and instill them into children and young Christians. Second, the church must urge healthy habits among its members: avoiding alcohol, drug use, and cigarettes, as well as encouraging healthy diets, regular doctor visits, and disease screenings. Third, the church must share how God can bring spiritual, financial, and social wellness to the rest of the world.

 

Information in this article was compiled by John Lakvold.  It is a response to the sermon last Sunday.  The practice of Biblical Christianity significantly increases the quality of life and leads to healing and wellness.  Research sources are available upon request.

 

11.09.2014

posted Nov 7, 2014, 1:19 PM by Lakeview Office

That God is Will is Sovereign, does not mean I have nothing to bring to the table of my salvation.  Quite the contrary; I am to work with God and “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).”  God cares about what I think.  In another place He says, “Let us reason together (Isaiah 1:18).”  He wants us to come to an understanding of our lives and understanding of what He offers.  God listens to us and desires to instruct us and to help us work through our issues.  He wants us to but fully and freely.  He is like a good counselor, who listens and asks the right questions.  Like a good counselor, He practices Motivational Listening:

He listens to us with empathy.

He points out the discrepancies in our lives between where we are and where He wants to be.

God rolls with our resistance to His Will.

He will support our self-sufficiency when we follow His Will.

What becomes apparent in this process is that we have to discover the difference between feelings and thought.  Ayn Rand said, “don’t use you heart but use your mind” as you seek to discover truth.  Once you find truth, embrace it with all your heart.  This is what Paul says in Romans 12:1-2.  The Christians in Rome had to distinguish between Jewish teaching, Greek philosophy and Biblical truth.  Offering your bodies as living sacrifices is living with all your heart, but that is only going to happen when you are not like the people of Babylon and you let God change the way you think.  Then you will be able tell what God Will is; His good, pleasing and perfect Will.

-Dennis

 

11.02.2014

posted Oct 31, 2014, 12:52 PM by Lakeview Office

An early Christian said, “Our own will is like a wall between us and God, preventing us from coming near to Him or contemplating His mercy.”  His statement reflects the great mystery surrounding the sovereignty of God and the free will of humans.  It also helps us understand the reasons people who choose to follow Christ struggle with the flesh.  They don’t respect the power of desire for freedom, and their need to submit to the will of God.

The scriptural word for this struggle is dominion.  God has endowed us with a sense of dominion in order to live with initiative and creativity.  This is a part of God’s image in us.  It is intended to help us live productive and purposeful lives, but it has been distorted by sin.  Eyes that should otherwise turn to God, turn to self.  We value our own opinions over God’s Word and live by our own code. 

The passage that begins in 1 Corinthians 12:27, teaches us the importance of those who teach and what it is they teach.  What they teach, Paul says, is the “most excellent way.”  It is most excellent because love directs the course.  If God’s love directs your life, it will be most excellent and that wall between you and God will be gone.  Your actions will look like God because you will be able to clearly see God.  You see what Isaiah did (Isaiah 6:1-8).  You will understand the sovereignty of God and not be afraid of it.  You will see the need for someone to say something, raise your hand and say, “here I am, send me.”  In saying this you are accepting God’s code for your life. 

When you walk in love you are able to see the balance between human free will and God’s sovereignty.  One writer said it is like two ropes hanging from a ceiling, running through a pulley.  You must hold on to both of these ropes to find balance for your life.  Submitting to God’s Word and teaching brings benefits beyond your own abilities, but you must grasp them for yourself, and allow His truth and power to make the most of the gifts and abilities you have.  Hold on to both of those ropes, seeing clearly the God who is.

-Dennis

 

10.26.2014

posted Oct 24, 2014, 3:36 PM by Lakeview Office

Tabitha was a model Christian woman in the church of Joppa.  She was full of good works and charitable deeds.  At one point she became sick and died.  The woman washed her for burial and laid her in an upper room.  The disciples sent two men to Apostle Peter who was nearby and asked him to come quickly.  When Peter arrived, the widows met him and showed him the clothes that Tabitha had made them.  Peter was left alone in the room with the body of Tabitha, and he prayed and told her to arise.  She opened her eyes and she stood up; then he called the others into the room.  Hearing of this miracle, many others came to believe in Jesus.

We have too many brothers and sisters who are struggling right now with health concerns.  People like Tabitha, who are involved in ministry and beloved by God.  I wish they would experience what Tabitha did.  I do have hope that they may.  Paul also served with people who he loved and with whom he struggled (see 2 Cor. 1:8-11).  His words describe how we feel; “affliction…completely…beyond our strength.”  We share the ability to endure.  God delivers.  He has done this in the past and will continue to strengthen His people.  He states, “We have put our hope in Him that he will deliver us again while you join in helping us by your prayers.”

Paul’s enemies taught anyone who would listen that Paul had these struggles because he was not a genuine teacher of God.  Real teachers of God don’t have these struggles.   Paul stresses that struggles gives us the opportunity to engage in prayer and other acts of faith.  Even Jesus taught that in this world we will have suffering (John 16:33).  “Be courageous, because He has conquered the world!”

-Dennis

 

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