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Warren Curry
 
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Have you ever been to a church where you didn’t feel welcome? You went in and looked around the foyer area and no one greets you. You proceed through the doors into the sanctuary and find yourself a seat in the back row and begin to prepare yourself for the worship time. People come filing in and many are talking with one another, because it seems they all know each other, but still, no one offers a hand to be shaken or says hello. As you look around, you even notice some making eye contact with you and when they notice you seeing them, they turn away quickly or pretend they are looking beyond you at something else. The service goes by and when it is done, you linger around for a while in the foyer area again, reading some of the bulletin boards to see what things the church is involved with and still no one says boo to you. Finally you leave, feeling a bit slighted, and tell yourself you will never visit this church again.

 
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GRATITUDE AND SACRIFICE

Since the Son of God has died for me, then the least I can do is live for Him. "If Jesus Christ be God and died for me," said the great British athlete C. T. Studd, "then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him."

(Source: Norman Grubb, C. T. Studd, Cricketer and Pioneer, p. 141. From a sermon by Matthew Kratz, Give Worship, 11/29/2009)

 
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VACANT HOMES, VACANT LIVES

TIFTON, GA — The most interesting thing about Tifton is an abandoned Victorian house filled with thousands of bats. Tift County declared the once-elegant house in the town’s historic district off limits after a bat specialist said that maybe 20,000 bats had moved in, apparently for good.

Now, teenagers call it the bat house. People talk about the smell, which is an unholy mix of animal urine and decaying wood. "In the summer, ooh, does that place reek," said Linda Turner, 69, a retired nurse and neighbor. "You ain’t smelled nothing until you come back here on a hot day."

Brothers and Sisters, I’m not going to visit that bat house. WHAT A SIGHT AND WHAT A STINK IT MUST BE! Vacant houses get infiltrated with all kinds of creatures and probably not just bats. And many of these creatures make a mess, create a big stink, and eventually ruin that dwelling.

But it doesn’t just happen with vacant houses, it also happens with vacant lives! If a person doesn’t fill their life with good stuff, the bad stuff and sometimes, the evil stuff will move in and take over.

What’s going on in your house? That is, the house you live in, the fleshly body you live in? Who has moved in? Who has taken over your residence and controlling your life? God wants us to stay clean in this world and that will only happen when we let Him move in, that is, when we fill our lives with worship, prayer and service.

Thy word have I hide in my heart that I might not sin against thee! Ps. 119:11. The Bible will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from the Bible!

(From a sermon by Steve Shepherd, Our Walk in This World, 4/4/2011)

 
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A NATIONAL PRAYER OF REPENTANCE

Joe Wright is the pastor of Central Christian Church in Wichita, KS. On January 23, 1996, He was asked to be the guest chaplain for the Kansas State House in Topeka. He prayed a prayer of repentance that was written by Bob Russell, pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. According to an article in the Kansas City Star from January 24, 1996, his prayer stirred controversy, and one member of the legislative body walked out. Others criticized the prayer.
The controversy didn’t end there. Later that year in the Colorado House, Republican representative Mark Paschall angered lawmakers by using Joe Wright’s prayer as the invocation. Some members there also walked out in protest.
Paul Harvey got a hold of the prayer and read it on his program. He got more requests for copies of it than any other thing he had ever done. Here’s what he prayed:

"Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good," but that’s exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values. We confess that:
We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism.
We have worshipped other gods and called it multi-culturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it a choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.
We have abused power and called it political savvy.
We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air...

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THE HARVEST IS RIPE

The Harvest is ripe -- Here's proof:

Wycliffe: Vision 2025
Translation projects started in every language on the planet by 2025.

Worldwide evangelism:
In "The Faith Equation," Dr. Marvin Bittinger, Professor of Mathematics at Purdue University and author of over 175 college math textbooks, claims that by 2033 every person on the planet capable of understanding the gospel will have been presented the gospel, according to modern evangelism trends.
34,000 converts each day in South America
28-37,000 Chinese converts daily
23-25,000 African converts daily
16,000 Muslims come to Christ daily - the following stories are all quoted.

"In December 2001, Sheikh Ahmad al Qataani, a leading Saudi cleric, appeared on a live interview on Aljazeera satellite television to confirm that, sure enough, Muslims were turning to Jesus in alarming numbers. "In every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity," Al Qataani warned. "Every day, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity." Stunned, the interviewer interrupted the cleric. "Hold on! Let me clarify. Do we have six million converting from Islam to Christianity?" Al Qataani repeated his assertion. "Every year," the cleric confirmed, adding, "a tragedy has happened."

Stories from Muslim countries: Iraq -- thousands of new Christians since Saddam was overthrown, many new churches started, Egypt -- some reports say 1 million Egyptians have trusted Christ over the past decade or so. The Egyptian Bible Society used to sell about 3,000 copies of the JESUS film a year in the early 1990s. But last year they sold 600,000 copies, plus 750,000 copies of the Bible on tape (in Arabic) and about a half million copies of the Arabic New Testament. The largest Christian congregation in the Middle East, meets in an enormous cave on the outskirts of Cairo. Some 10,000 believers worship there every weekend. A prayer conference the church held in May 2005 drew some 20,000 believers, Afghanistan -- only 17 Muslim converts to Christianity before 9/11/01, but now more than 10,000, Kazakstan -- only 3 known Christians in 1990, but now more than 15,000, Sudan -- more than 1 million Sudanese have converted to Christianity just since 2000, and some 5 million have become Christians since the early 1990s, despite a radical Islamic regime and an on-going genocide that has killed more than 200,000.

Seminaries are being held in caves to train pastors to shepherd the huge numbers of people coming to Christ. Why such a dramatic spiritual awakening? "People have seen real Islam, and they want Jesus instead," one Sudanese evangelical leader said, Iran -- in 1979, there were only 500 known Muslim converts to Christianity, but today Iranian pastors and evangelical leaders say there are more than 1 million Iranian believers in Jesus Christ, most of whom meet in underground house churches. One of the most dramatic developments is that many Muslims are seeing dreams and visions of Jesus and thus coming into churches explaining that they have already converted and now need a Bible and guidance on how to follow Jesus."

Worldwide: 174,000 converts daily -- David B. Barret and Todd M. Johnson of the Global Evangelism Movement.

This is truly the most exciting time in all of history to be alive and a part of His Great Commission. The opportunity has never been more dramatic and the need has never been so huge:
All of history has built up to this point.
Global impact in your hometown.
Multiplication opportunities.
Transportation and communication impacts.
Globalization
English

Current end time events.
Israel, wars and other events.

The 4th qtr., bottom of the 9th, the end-game.

(From a sermon by Nate Herbst, The Great Commision -- Discussion, 11/21/2009)

 
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WARREN WIERSBE ON TRUE WORSHIP

Warren Wiersbe, in his book on True Worship, says, "We must beware of trying to get chummy with God. I know the apostle John leaned on the bosom of Jesus in the Upper Room; but he fell at the feet of Jesus when he beheld Him in His sovereign glory (Revelation 1:17)." Then Wiersbe continues, "There is an undue familiarity with God that only proves that the worshipper does not really know God at all."

--Warren Wiersbe, True Worship, p.26. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Close Encounter with God, 11/11/2010

 
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WORSHIP WARRIOR

I like the way songwriter and worship leader, Brian Doerksen, puts it. He says, "Becoming a worshipper means becoming a warrior... And by toning that down...we have sent men and women away from the church in droves. It's time to call them back," Doerksen says, "as worshiping warriors." That is as "warriors who are surrendered to God, warriors who know that their authority comes because they are under authority, warriors willing to wait even when everyone else is rushing ahead, or [warriors willing to] act decisively...in obedience" to their commanding officer, Jesus Christ, even when everybody else is lagging behind in disobedience.

(Brian Doerksen, Make Love, David C. Cook, 2009. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Take a Risk, 5/25/2012)

 
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JESUS DIED FOR MARY TOO--Communion Meditation

Mark Lowry, a Christian comedian observed that Mary’s silence at the cross always amazed him. If he were being crucified in the middle of town, his mother would have "Pitched a fit", but Mary never said a word. Lowry wondered if maybe what made the difference for her was remembering back to that 1st Christmas. Remembering touching his little hands and feet and counting his fingers and toes.
On a serious note, Lowry says:

"I wonder if she realized then that those were the same fingers that
had scooped out the oceans and formed the seas.

Mary probably counted those little toes- I wonder if she realized
that those were the same feet that had walked on streets of gold and
had been worshipped by angels.

Those little lips were the same lips that had spoken the world into
existence.

When Mary kissed her little baby, she wasn’t just kissing another baby - she was kissing the face of God.

33 years later she’s standing on a hillside watching blood pour from His veins, from the side of her own son... and she didn’t open her mouth. What a great testimony to the fact that

H...

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Contributed By:
Davon Huss
 
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MAN IN A HURRY

On the Andy Griffith Show episode "Man in a Hurry"- Malcolm tucker is a wealthy businessman from Charlotte. One Sunday he happens to have car trouble a couple of miles outside of Mayberry. Malcolm walks the rest of the way to town and meets Andy coming out of Sunday morning worship.

Andy offers to assist Malcolm but warns that it is nearly impossible to get anything done on a Sunday in Mayberry. Malcolm begins to lose patience when Wally, the filling station owner, refuses to fix his car because it is his policy not to work on Sunday. Furthermore, Malcolm is dumbfounded when he learns that he can't even use the telephone because the elderly Mindelbright sisters use the party line to visit on Sunday afternoons, since they are unable to get around very well.

Back at the Taylor house, things don't get much better for Malcolm. He explodes into a tirade, screaming that the citizens of Mayberry are living in another world--that this is the twentieth century, and while the whole world is living in a desperate space age, the town of Mayberry shuts down because two old ladies' feet fall asleep.

Out on the front porch Malcolm actually begins to relax as Barney and Andy sing the old spiritual "Church in the Wildwood." But this calm is short lived when Gomer informs Malcolm that his cousin Goober has offered to fix the car. Later, when Gomer returns with the car, Malcolm is surprised that there is no charge for the repair since it was just a clogged fuel line. Goober actually considered it an honor to work on such a fine machine.

As Mr. Tucker prepares to leave, he stops and contemplates the events of the afternoon as well as his return to the activities of his hectic life. Malcolm realizes that the very characteristics of Mayberry life that initially frustrated him so much are, in fact, the priorities he needs to establish in his own life. He decides to put his business on hold and stay the night in Mayberry.

I think the reason the episode is so popular is that we can all see ourselves in Malcolm Tucker. We can all get caught up in our daily activities to the extent that we are blinded to everything else going on around us, and when things don't go our way, we explode! One man said, "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans." The next time that something unexpected or bad happens (not if but when), may our trials make us stronger in our faith.

 
Contributed By:
Michael McCartney
 
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THE FOURTH GIFT OF THE MAGI

David Dewitt states, "Though there are still many questions about the Magi that may be left unanswered, we can determine that they brought a fourth gift that is often forgotten by many. After they laid their treasures down before Mary and Joseph, they worshipped Jesus. (This is the 4th Gift – the Worship of the King of Kings) These wise men from afar came not just to court favor but to proclaim that they believed Him to be the King of kings. The greatest gift that we can offer to Jesus this Christmas is our praise and worship."

 
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