Faith Forward

Jesus, having returned from the 40 days of temptation in the desert and beginning his public ministry, enters a synagogue and is handed a scroll of the prophecies of Isaiah. He unrolls the scroll and reads these powerful words, which is part of Isaiah’s prophecy about himself. The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18-19, quoted from Isaiah 61:1-2) What are the chances of Jesus just happening to turn to that passage? We can surmise that Jesus was intentional about reading that passage on that day to introduce... Read the article

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A New Birth

The birth of a child is not only exciting, it changes everything. I’ll never forget the excitement that filled our home as we anticipated the birth of our daughter. We decorated her room, we bought furniture, a car seat, clothes and all the items needed to take care of a newborn. We talked and talked about what it would be like to have her in our life. We celebrated her birth with great fanfare. Friends and family came over to share in our joy. We were now a family of three and we knew everything was going to change. And then a few days after her birth, we put everything away and waited for the next year to celebrate. Wait! What? OK, the last sentence was completely fictitious. Kayla is now 32 years of age and we are still enjoying... Read the article

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The Omega and the Alpha

November marks the end of one worship year with Christ the King Sunday, and the beginning of another worship year with Advent. The title of this article is a play on words. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end—and this month gives us the opportunity to celebrate with the end and work back to a celebration of the beginning. The worship calendar gives us constant reminders that all our worship centers on Jesus. We can’t make him the center of the center—he already is. The GCI worship calendar keeps us focused on him. So let’s start with the end. Christ the King Sunday Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom... Read the article

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His Light, His Life, His Love

We often talk of sharing the life and love of Jesus, but we are also called to share that he is the light of the world. The three seasons (cycles) of the GCI Worship Calendar help us focus on his light, his life and his love. History was not my favorite subject in high school. Some of the stories were interesting, but I couldn’t see the value in knowing what I considered the trivia that always showed up on tests—specific quotes, exact dates, minute details. As I got older and learned more, I realized there was significance to some of this “trivia.” A quote or specific date might have been what inspired someone to start a movement. The “minute details” often led to events that changed the course of history. I have come to... Read the article

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“As for Me and My House…”

“…We will serve the Lord.” This quote from Joshua 24:15 is only part of Joshua’s admonition to stay focused on who God is. As a young student of the Bible, I could not understand how Israel could get caught up worshipping other gods. I’d seen pictures of Baal, Dagon, Asherah, Moloch and others and wondered how a nation who had been delivered from slavery fall for worshipping a pagan statue or carving? How naïve I was. I didn’t ask about the gods behind the statues and images Joshua and others were referring to. Egypt had as many as 40 gods that were feared and/or worshipped. But they weren’t just images— they represented many things. Amon was the god of the air. Thoth was the god of writing and wisdom. Anubis was the... Read the article

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Ordinary Time?

In the GCI Worship calendar, we are now under what is called “Ordinary Time”—the time between Pentecost and Christ the King Sunday. It’s a time that celebrates the mystery of the church and the mystery of Christ living in us. The word ordinary can sound boring, simple, and non-energetic, yet most of our days would fall under the category of ordinary time. We don’t celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and special events every day; most of our year is spent living a rather ordinary life—however that looks to each person. This doesn’t imply the rest of the year is less important, less effective, or less essential. It is during this “ordinary time” that our work is done, our projects are completed, our day-to-day life is... Read the article

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Know Justice Know Peace — Know Jesus Know Peace

I asked Charles Taylor, GCI Pastor in Miramar, Florida, to take this column and share notes from a sermon he gave on racial injustice. The point of his sermon was that in the midst of the real suffering and deep pain of racial injustice, we hold to the truth that God is real and he is there for us and in us. He will strengthen and comfort us as he brings his justice. To this I say Amen, and thank you Charles for the following article. Have a blessed month. Rick Shallenberger Know Justice Know Peace - Know Jesus Know Peace by Charles Taylor We are at a time of crisis in our country—people are still suffering over the loss of loved ones during the coronavirus epidemic. Our hearts, prayers, and sadness go out to those who... Read the article

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“Where is Your Faith?”

Many sincere questions have been asked by Christians during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Have we failed to trust God to protect us?” “Didn’t Jesus promise the gates of hell would not prevail against his church?” “Why did we allow government to shut our church down?” “Aren’t we going overboard with safety concerns—requiring masks and gloves, and not hugging each other? There is a lot of information in the news and on social media about Covid-19. Depending on where you are in the mix, you can believe this pandemic is a conspiracy from a foreign country to show our weaknesses, that the pandemic is being used as a political tool, that we are treating the disease wrong, that masks cause more danger than good, that wearing a mask... Read the article

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A Church Deployed

The pandemic gives us unique and imaginative ways of sharing God’s love and life with others. You ever notice how often things don’t go exactly as you planned? Along with that, certain life events seem to come at “the worst time”—at least from our perspective. My daughter was pregnant with our 2nd grandchild when she called with news that weighed heavy on my heart. “Dad, Chris is being deployed and will be gone a minimum of six months.” “When does he leave?” “Just after the baby is due.” My heart just sank. What a horrible time for the military to take my son-in-law. What were they thinking? There had to be a better time. I found myself thinking the same thoughts these past several weeks as I’ve spent more time... Read the article

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“Remember Me”

What did Jesus want us to remember? I’ve watched a number of people die over my lifetime. Some died quickly, some were tortured by disease and suffering for months, even years. I’ve watched family members fight cancer and other diseases, and I’ve seen bodies shrivel from the effects of disease. I’ve lost six siblings, my parents, most of my aunts and uncles, a few cousins and all my grandparents. And I remember each one. I remember many great conversations, some fantastic adventures, numerous laughs, some tears, incredible stories. I love telling stories to anyone willing to listen—the stories help me remember. I don’t share the suffering, the pain, the anguish and the final moments before death. I remember, but those... Read the article

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