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Contributed By:
Troy Borst
 
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ILLUSTRATION… Discipleship Journal, 11-12/92
A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:
1. Materialism
2. Pride
3. Self-centeredness
4. Laziness
5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness
5. (Tie) Sexual lust
6. Envy
7. Gluttony
8. Lying

Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when…
they had neglected their time with God (81 percent)
and when they were physically tired (57 percent).
Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising
situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).

 
Contributed By:
Michael McCartney
 
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I found a great article which addresses the question “Does God Play Favorites? On page 1562 in the Quest Study Bible: Listen to what it says: The whole Bible teaches that God is fair and just (Psalm 11:7). It also states that God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 18:23), but that he wants all men to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4). Therefore, the idea of God’s purpose in election (v. 11) raises some hard questions, such as “How can God choose some and pass on others?” People have attempted to explain God’s election in several ways. Some hold the view that God elects some to be saved because he knows beforehand that they will choose to accept Christ (8:29). Their election, according to this view, is based on God’s foreknowledge (Arminianism). Others conclude that God, in his wise and sovereign will, chooses some but not others for reasons we cannot understand. His selection may seem unfair, but that is simply because we have limited perspective. Humans, bound in sin. Do not naturally seek God (3:11), but when God’s grace comes to the elect, it frees them to choose God (Calvinism). Still others emphasize that God elected Jesus, his Son, and that all those who are in Christ by faith share in that corporate election. What about Pharaoh (vv. 17-18)? While the Bible clearly states that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (v. 18; see Exodus 9:12), it also records Pharaoh’s own decision to harden his heart (Exodus 8:15). The mystery of how God works in election is not easily resolved. Difficult questions continue to confound us. In the end we may need to confess that our understanding is limited, that we may be missing some key part of God’s plan that would allow us to understand election better (page 1562, Quest Study Bible).

 
Contributed By:
Tim Smith
 
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WORSHIP: IT TAKES TIME TO WARM UP

When I was a kid in Kansas City, we lived next door to a family who owned a publishing company. They had an old 4 door Mercedes that they would let their son drive to school. He was 3 years older than me and also named Tim. On those winter mornings when the temperature had dropped below freezing, I would walk next door to their house and find the car sitting in the driveway with the engine running to warm it up. Tim would turn on the car and let it run for 15 minutes to warm up the car and engine and get the fluids thawed and running. One morning though, Tim overslept and in his rush to get ready, he forgot to turn on the car. We got inside the car and it was freezing. We backed out of the driveway and headed to school and the car was just spitting and sputtering. We didn't know if the car was going to get there or not. It took almost the entire ride to school for it to get warmed up and running at its peak capacity.

And that's exactly what happens when we come to worship unprepared. It takes forever to warm up our hearts, focus our minds and free our Spirits so that we can enter worship prepared to encounter and honor and glorify the King. If we don't take the time to prepare before worship on Sunday morning and to worship individually throughout the week, then it takes most of the praise time or even more to get to a place to worship our Creator and Redeemer. And some of us never even get to that place. And then we walk out say, "That's wasn't a very good service today" when in reality the worship we gave God was very good to begin with. Worship is both personal and corporate and there's something unique when you are in the presence of a group of people who have take responsibility to prepare themselves for worship.

 
Contributed By:
Kenneth Sauer
 
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A LIGHT NAMED AL

On the morning of September 11, Jeannie Braca switched on the television to check the weather report, only to hear that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center.
Jeannie’s husband, Al, worked as a corporate bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald. His office was on the 105th floor of Tower One.
Al had survived the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and had even helped a woman with asthma escape from the building.
Jeannie knew that Al would do the same thing this time, “I knew he would stop to help and minister to people,” she said, “but I never thought for a minute that he wouldn’t be coming home!”

A week later, like so many others who were in that building, Al’s body was found in the rubble. Al’s wife, Jeannie, and his son Christopher were devastated!
Then the reports began to trickle in from friends and acquaintances. Some people on the 105th floor had made a last call or sent a final e-mail to loved ones saying that a man was leading people in prayer.
A few referred to Al by name.
Al’s family learned that Al had indeed been ministering to people during the attack! When Al realized that they were all trapped in the building and would not be able to escape, Al shared the gospel with a group of 50 co-workers and led them in prayer.
This news came as no surprise to Al’s wife, Jeannie.
For years, she and Al had been praying for the salvation of these men and women. According to Jeannie, Al hated his job and couldn’t stand the environment. It was a world so out of touch with his Christian values, but he wouldn’t quit.
Al was convinced that God wanted him to stay there, to be a light in the darkness, and although Al would not have put it this way, to be a hero!
Al was not ashamed of Christ and Christ’s words…and he paid the price of taking up his cross daily. Al shared his faith with his co-workers….many of whom sarcastically nicknamed him “The Rev.”
And on that fateful day…on September 11, in the midst of the chaos, Al’s co-workers looked to him—-and...

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The most classic example of a modern servant leader was Sam Walton. He despised corporate fat cats. He could, and would, handle the cash register as well as stock the shelves in any of his Wal-Mart stores. He drove an old, rusty, dented pickup not to prove a point but because it still had plenty of good mileage left in it. He told his staff on more than one occasion that "if American management is going to say to their workers that we’re all in this together, they’re going to have to stop this foolishness of paying themselves $3 million and $4 million bonuses every year and riding around every where in limos and corporate jets like they’re so much better than everybody else."

 
Contributed By:
Rick Stacy
 
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The mysterious formula for Coca-Cola

In 1925, the only written copy of its formula Coca-Cola admits to having was retrieved from a New York bank (where it had been held as collateral on a sugar loan) and reverently laid in safe deposit box in Woodruff’s Atlanta bank, the Trust Company of Georgia (which later merged with Sun Bank of Florida, creating SunTrust Bank).

But that was only the first step. That same year the company set a policy whereby no one could view the formula without written permission from the Board, and then only in the presence of the President, Chairman, or Corporate Secretary. Furthermore, the rule dictated that only two company officials would be allowed to know the recipe at any given time, and their identities were never to be disclosed for any reason. In keeping with the spirit of things, company policy was amended once air travel became the norm to preclude those two officers from ever flying on the same plane.

The mystery revealed

In 1993, Mark Pendergrast published what he believed to be Coke’s original formula in For God, Country and Coca-Cola. He’d come across the following among John Pemberton’s papers:

Citrate Caffein, 1 oz.
Ext. Vanilla, 1 oz.
Flavoring, 2.5 oz.
F.E. Coco, 4 oz.
Citric Acid, 3 oz.
Lime Juice, 1 Qt.
Sugar, 30 lbs.
Water, 2.5 Gal.
Caramel sufficient
Mix Caffeine Acid and Lime Juice in 1 Qt Boiling water add vanilla and flavoring when cool.

Flavoring
Oil Orange, 80
Oil Lemon, 120
Oil Nutmeg, 40
Oil Cinnamon, 40
Oil Coriander, 40
Oil Neroli, 40
Alcohol, 1 Qt.
let stand 24 hours.

The Coca-Cola Company was quick to label Pendergast’s published find as "not accurate" and "the latest in a long line of previous, unsuccessful attempts to reveal a 107-year-old mystery." Mind you, given how much Coca-Cola has invested in proclaiming its formula to be a carefully-guarded secret, it is never expected to react in any other fashion even if it is someday handed the real formula.

 
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"… we all have adversaries or opponents toward whom we feel animosity.
He may be the owner of a competing business who’s stealing your best customers, and if you’re honest, you’ll admit that you hate him for putting your livelihood in jeopardy. She may be a colleague who’s fighting against you - all too successfully - for bonuses and advancement. He may be a midlevel executive who’s firmly entrenched above you in the corporate structure, and you resent him because he’s blocking your way to the top.
If you’re management, your adversary may be the union, or vice versa. Your enemy might be people who hold opposing views on abortion or homosexuality, and you’ve gone beyond disagreeing with their opinions to despising them as people. It might be a teacher who refuses to cut you any slack. Or the girlfriend who broke your heart. Or the father who stunted your self-esteem. Or a former friend who broke your confidence and spilled your secrets to the world. Ot the ex-spouse who trashed your marriage. Or the recalcitrant employee who just won’t get on board with your policies. Or the classmate whose popularity eclipses yours. Or the colleague who is reaping all the recognition that you deserve."

Lee Strobel, God’s Outrageous Claims, pp. 10-11

 
Contributed By:
Timothy Smith
 
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Did you know there’s a company called “The Alibi Agency.” This London based agency’s slogan is: “We serve those who stray.” Here’s what’s on their web site: “With the pressures of modern life many of us have occasion to stray from our long term partners & dally with a brief sexual relationship with a third party, this is often a short term affair, inconsequential to our long term plans & relationships, but with modern communications, and media, it has become increasingly difficult to be able to carry on such a temporary dalliance, without risk of detection.. The Alibi Agency was established to provide a way out of this situation, we offer a Service which can help to protect your loved ones from undue anxiety, & help ensure the stability of a long term relationship by offering secure and professional handling of "Alibi’s" for you.. For instance:- we can provide you with invitations to corporate events, to cover your absence, we will provide telephone answering so that if someone tries to contact you, our receptionists will handle the call in the manner which was pre-arranged with you, as maybe a hotel receptionist, or a golf club secretary, she will offer to call your room, or have you paged, giving recognition to the fact that you are actually resident in the facility..” It goes on but you get the...

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Contributed By:
Michael McCartney
 
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** IS THE CHURCH ON THE ENDANGERED LIST?

Many Americans are on a spiritual quest. This should be good news
for the church. But, according to researchers, many of them are
choosing noninstitutional forms of religion. A recent poll by Gallup
shows that weekly church attendance is holding steady at about 40
percent of the population - the same rate as in the 1950s. But other
researchers - like Dave T. Olson, director of TheAmericanChurch.org
- claim only 17.7 percent of the population attends a church service
any given weekend.

Olson, who bases his numbers on annual church attendance reported by
individual U.S. congregations, says, "People who only go to church
now and again exaggerate how often they go."

Albert Winseman, religion and social trends editor for the Gallup
Organization, says people are shopping for alternatives to church
and that is one reason 3,000 local churches close their doors
annually.

"Most denominations are either declining or stagnant," says
Winseman.

The Assemblies of God is one of the few Christian groups to show
steady growth in recent years. The Yearbook of American and Canadian
Churches reports the Assemblies of God and Southern Baptists are the
only Protestant faith groups of the largest 25 to report an increase
in membership for 2004.

An April Gallup poll indicated 65 percent of Pentecostals attend
church weekly, second only to Church of Christ (at 68 percent) among
Protestant groups.

VANISHING PROTESTANT MAJORITY

Half a century ago, two-thirds of the population considered
themselves Protestants. Officially, for the first time last year,
self-identified Protestants dipped below half of all Americans,
according to Gallup research.

Evangelical and Pentecostal church attendance looks stable, but
membership isn’t keeping pace with population growth. Olson says
although the same number of people are attending church as 15 years
ago, there are an additional 48 million people living in the
country.

But people are not necessarily flocking to other faiths. J. Gordon
Melton, author of the Encyclopedia of American Religions, says
tabulating all the Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and New Agers
accounts for only 7 percent of Americans. Self-professing atheists
comprise another 10 percent of the population.

"In the culture today we don’t have the churchgoing momentum we did
in the 1950s, when ’respectable people’ attended church every week,"
says Earl Creps, director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at
Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri.
"There’s no guarantee anymore that people are going to come to
church."

Although only 17 to 40 percent of Americans attend church regularly,
about 80 percent of the population professes Christianity.

Pollster George Barna, who last year wrote the book "Revolution:
Finding Vibrant Faith Beyond the Walls of the Sanctuary," believes a
transformational shift is occurring in how Christians view church.
He claims more than 20 million committed yet disaffected
"revolutionaries" have struck out on their own to form house
churches, family faith communities and cyberchurches.

WHAT CHURCH OFFERS

Creps, author of "Off-Road Disciples," believes these
"revolutionaries" are forfeiting a great deal by not being involved
in a local church. "A great church offers relational connections,
people modeling how to live faith, accountability, the enormous
power of a group worship experience and the operation of the gifts
of the Spirit," he says.

Theologian J.I. Packer says the reality of corporate church life
pervaded first-century Christianity and should today as well.

"Individuality is not correct, according to biblical standards,"
says Packer, author of "Knowing God." "The church is central in
God’s plan. God uses the church to set up His kingdom - the
corporate relational reality where people respond to Christ as King.
We can’t dismiss the structure God has established."

Many observers believe house churches and cyberchurch movements are
short-lived trends that will never amount to more than 5 percent of
Christians.

Melton says such methods don’t represent a new phenomenon. "For
decades people have been saying they can be a good Christian and
never go to church," he says.

Gallup sees a strong link between individual spiritual commitment
and church attendance by measuring factors such as prayer, Bible
study and small group involvement.

"People can say they are a spiritually committed person without
attending church, but it happens only 5 percent of the time,"
Winseman says.

Creps says merely getting people into the sanctuary isn’t the goal.
"The issue really is the need for every person to come to God
through His Son Jesus Christ. That involves a connection with a
community of Christians - which we call church."

"The church is God’s primary vehicle for the proclamation of the
gospel," Winseman says. "The abundant life is found most abundantly
in the community of the local church."

--John W. Kennedy, Today’s Pentecostal Evangel

This article reveals the current condition of the church and some new trends in Christianity but for the church to be the Acts New Testament church we need to continue to explore and discover from acts what it looks like and what it does.

 
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"A corporate crisis can, if not effectively dealt with, materially harm the companys ability to do business now, and in the future."

 
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