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Monthly Archives: December 2018

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:16 is likely the Bible’s most well-known verse. Most Sunday school children can quote it verbatim before they learn to read or write. It shows up on t-shirts, hats, and other gear like a sports logo or political slogan. Even staunch anti-church members of the secular public can communicate the gist of this familiar verse.

Sadly, while most people have heard John 3:16, they don’t know John 3. The verse itself may have permeated the culture, but it has been stripped of its vital context.

The third chapter of John’s gospel records the clandestine conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus the Pharisee. Jesus told him that he could never see the kingdom of God unless he was born again (John 3:3), that there was nothing he could do to make that happen (John 3:5), and that he needed to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit (John 3:5) if he was to ever inherit eternal life.

Nicodemus’s response was utter astonishment: “How can these things be?” (John 3:9). It was not that he didn’t understand what Jesus was saying. It seems he got the message plainly enough. But it overthrew his deepest convictions and left him virtually speechless. That question is the last thing we hear from Nicodemus in the narrative of John 3. He had nothing further to say.

The focus of the chapter then turns exclusively to Jesus, who delivers one of His most important discourses ever—an extended lesson on gospel truth. As Nicodemus listened in total silence, Jesus proceeded to draw a clear contrast between believers and unbelievers, the humble and the hypocrites, the truly reborn and the merely religious. And it was all too clear in His judgment that the Pharisees—Nicodemus included—were on the wrong side of that divide.

John 3:11–21 is rich enough that we could devote weeks to unpacking it—and that still wouldn’t begin to plumb its depths. But for the sake of this study we’ll just consider some obvious ways that Jesus’ words upend the hopes of those expecting their piety and works to merit salvation.

Self-Deceived Shepherds

First, notice that Jesus directly implicated Nicodemus as an unbeliever: “Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:11–12, emphasis added).

To postmodern ears, that sounds extraordinarily harsh. Contemporary evangelicals typically bristle at the thought of challenging anyone’s profession of faith. For some, the thought of being perceived as harsh or negative is more odious than actually being undiscerning. That’s why the church is overrun with shallow celebrities and false teachers whose doctrine and lifestyle show no real fruit of salvation. People like that have flourished and even begun to dominate the non-Christian public’s perception of what Christianity is, mainly because more sound and solid evangelical leaders are reluctant to plainly denounce them as charlatans.

Nicodemus’s ignorance about his need for regeneration was proof of his unbelief. He had studied the Old Testament in an academic way, and from the standpoint of his fellow Pharisees, he was one of the top experts on the subject. But he had never bothered to apply its teaching to his own heart, and therefore Jesus was perfectly blunt with him: “You do not believe.”

No Spiritual Privileges

Second, don’t miss the point of the Old Testament allusion Jesus makes in verses 14–15: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” The reference is to an incident that occurred during Israel’s wandering in the wilderness during the Exodus. Numbers 21 records that the people grew discouraged; they began to despise the manna God provided daily for their sustenance, and in frustration they rebelled against both God and Moses. “The people spoke against God and Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food’” (Numbers 21:5).

God unleashed a plague of poisonous snakes into the camp, “and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died” (Numbers 21:6). In response, the people repented and begged Moses to intercede with the Lord on their behalf. The Lord commanded Moses to make a bronze serpent, set it on a pole in the midst of the camp, and tell the people “that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live” (Numbers 21:8). The whole story was an illustration of justification by faith, and that was the point Jesus was making here.

But consider the difficulty of that analogy from Nicodemus’s perspective. As a ruler of Israel, he had always thought of himself as in the role of Moses. Jesus Himself said, “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses” (Matthew 23:2). But the analogy suggested that Nicodemus needed to see himself in the place of the sinning Israelites. Even the Old Testament imagery Jesus used was a contradiction of the Pharisees’ spiritual self-image. To a casual observer—especially to anyone trained in the rules of postmodern discourse and the canons of political correctness—it might seem as if Jesus was deliberately trying to provoke Nicodemus, smacking him hard again and again, demeaning his pharisaical pride in every conceivable way. In reality, Jesus was not being mean-spirited, but precisely the opposite. Nicodemus needed to recognize his spiritual poverty and see his need for a Savior. And Jesus cared more for the truth than about how Nicodemus felt about it.

Before Nicodemus could receive any help from Jesus, he needed to see how desperate his situation was. “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick” (Matthew 9:12). And when a patient has a life-threatening illness that urgently needs treatment, the physician needs to give him the bad news candidly. That was the case with Nicodemus.

Compassionate Confrontation

So notice, third, the way Jesus ended His discourse on the gospel by bringing the emphasis right back to the problem of human depravity and God’s condemnation of unbelievers:

He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God. (John 3:18–21)

This, too, is contrary to most contemporary ideas about how to do personal evangelism. Today’s evangelicals generally think if we offend someone by pressing the claims of the gospel too firmly or too plainly, we’ve done something terribly wrong. The reality is quite the opposite: if you think the gospel can be proclaimed in a way that is always appealing and never upsetting to unbelievers, you have the wrong idea about what the gospel message says.

That is why Jesus left the issue with Nicodemus on a note of condemnation. John 3:16, of course, is famous for its stress on the love of God and the giving of Christ so that “whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” That’s the central truth of the gospel message and the promise that makes it good news. But it is not good news for those who remain in unbelief. Therefore Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus ended on a harsh and sobering note about the severe condemnation that rests on all unbelievers and hypocrites. Since Jesus had already implicated Nicodemus in verse 12 with the words “you do not believe,” this was a very direct and personal challenge aimed squarely at him and the pharisaical belief system he represented.

An Encouraging Epilogue

As a matter of fact, Jesus’ discourse on the gospel in John 3 ends on such a negative note that if this were the only place we encounter Nicodemus in all of Scripture, we might conclude that he left without saying any more and remained in unbelief all his life.

However, there is every reason to conclude that Nicodemus, who originally came to Jesus under cover of darkness, was eventually drawn to the true Light and became a genuine believer. The last time we meet Nicodemus in Scripture is in John 19:39, where he and Joseph of Arimathea hastily prepared the Savior’s body for burial. It was an act that could well have cost him everything, at the very moment when the rest of the Sanhedrin had whipped public fury against Jesus into a murderous rage. He clearly had become a different man than he was when he first approached Jesus as an unbelieving, inquiring Pharisee.

Nicodemus reminds us that evangelistic encounters should never be evaluated by how the conversation ends. If we are biblically faithful in sowing the gospel, we can confidently leave the not-yet-converted sinner in the sovereign hands of God. Only He can regenerate them, and we know that nothing can stop Him from gathering His sheep into His fold (John 10:27–30).

Christmas invariably presents us with inquirers like Nicodemus. The normal hostility of unbelief often gives way to open curiosity as we gather around the scene of Christ’s birth. May we follow Christ’s example and firmly, yet graciously, call unbelieving family and friends to repentance and saving faith in Him.

Copyright 2007, Grace to You. All rights reserved.  Used by permission

Leonard Crawford Bio

My name is Leonard Crawford and I am a 56 year old husband with three children and three grandchildren. My wife, Veronica and I live in Atlanta GA.

I was brought up with Christian values in the Baptist church and I was baptized at the age of 15. Although I was brought up believing in God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost I somewhat strayed off path for quite a few years. After serving and retiring from the U. S. Marine Corps after 27 years, I didn't know what to do with myself and alcohol had begun to totally control my life. We all think from time to time that we can handle anything, and I believed that I was a good person who had it all together, but how wrong I was. I was barely holding on, and the path that I was on was destructive and I now know that it was not pleasing to God. My mother and father had both tried to reach out to me on numerous occasions, but it all fell on deaf ears.

I came to know my Lord and Savior in August 2014 through much love and prayers from my parents and my wife, I finally opened my heart to God so that He could take His place in my life. I dedicated my life to Him and was rebaptized in the Holy Spirit that same year. I have totally given my life to Christ, and I have daily devotions with God every day. I truly love the Lord and all that He has done for me and I will always study to show myself approved.

I was ordained a Deacon in September 2016 and I must say my journey has been a very exciting one. I have served as assistant Sunday School Superintendent, Secretary of the Deacons board, and Chairman for the Men’s Ministry. I am currently enrolled in a Bachelor’s program in Divinity at Christian Leaders Institute and will begin seminary at Luther Rice College this semester in pursuit of a Masters of Ministry degree. I am dedicated in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to anyone whenever the opportunity presents itself to me. I currently have a ministry in which I am involved in called 5iveMinutes of Inspiration which through the guidance of the Holy Spirit begun in October 2018.

My prayer is that I will be ready when called upon to do whatever the Lord wants me to do for Him and His Kingdom. I know that God is calling me in ways that I could have never imagined, and I pray that the Holy Spirit continues to guide me in my steps each day.

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord".

5 Minutes of Inspiration

Our mission at 5iveMinutes is a commitment to bringing uplifting and encouraging inspiration to God’s Beautiful people through the Gospel of Christ



Posted in Supported Ministries |

This is by far the biggest question people have to ask. It usually comes from some traumatic experience, whether it be personal or global. These questions are questions the non-believer, and some young Christians have.

  • Where was God when this event happened?
  • If God is so loving, why did God allow this to happen?

These questions are questions the non-believer, and some young Christians have.

Just the other night I was having a conversation with someone who is dear to me, they shared some hard experiences I could not even begin to understand, as well as some I could, in a different light.

We all have some hard experiences we go through, whether it was something done to us, a family member or a friend, when these experiences come to us we can sometimes doubt God, doubting how loving He really is, or even that He even exists. While it may be hard to face, some of these bad things are simply bad by our personal perception, while others that truly may be bad, not of them are God's fault. He is not the one we should be blaming.

Sin

At the root of everything, Sin is the blame. When God created the Earth, He saw that it was good, not bad, but good. There was no famine, no drought, no death or decay, no wrongdoings of any kind. The earth was literally without any fault or blemish.

When Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit, only then was sin introduced into the world. It was no longer perfect. Through this the earth was cursed, murder was the first, then to come was wickedness of all sorts, rape, incest, homosexuality, idolatry, deceit, and all the like. But before all of this, God made a promise that one day a savior will come and crush the head of Satan and His evil deeds. (Genesis 3:15) If that is not enough, after that happened, God committed the first spill of blood and provided cover for His children. (Genesis 3:21)

Not once in the entire history of the scriptures does God sin against mankind. But rather we sin against Him, this is the root of all the evil that happens in the world and to us.

He is a King

One of the hardest things to swallow is the fact that God is also a King. and in this universe we have two kingdoms, we have the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Each person that exists, that has ever existed and ever will exist are all a part of one of these two Kingdoms.

Jesus makes it quite clear in His teachings that we can not be part of both. Matthew 6:24, John 8:39-47, John 7:13-14.

As a King, the Father is responsible for His Kingdom, those people who are under His protection, who have been reborn by the Spirit of God, no I am not talking water baptism in a church, but a sincere spiritual transformation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

It would not be right for a King to care for someone else when the responsibility is the King they serve. Would it be right in our modern world to give our welfare, Medicaid or even income tax refund to other countries? Would it be right for a mother to provide for someone else child when their own family is fully capable of doing just the same? Would it be right for a husband to take care of someone else wife?

I think through this image, it is also important to recognize that God is not required under any standard to tend to those who are not of His Kingdom.

While God does tend to those outside of His kingdom sometimes, usually a means to give a "free sample" of the grace He offers. (Psalm 34:8). This is done as a means to show the outsider what they are missing out on.

The messenger of the Eternal God surrounds everyone who walks with Him and is always there to protect and rescue us.

Psalm 34:7

He is a Judge

Another hard reality we have to face is that God is a just judge, and His law is perfect. As a just judge, He is required to uphold His law. 

When you commit a crime, you are usually required to go in front of a judge and plead your case. Depending on the severity of the crime, and how often it has been committed, the judge will sometimes release you of the punishment and tell you that you are free to go. But what happens if we continue to commit the crime? What if we continue to 80 in a 45-mile zone? What if we continue in a life of homosexuality? What if a person is a continuous murderer, rapist, pedophile, drink driver and anything else you can think of? If these criminal acts were a part of the lifestyle this person chose and they had no intentions of changing or stopping with their crimes, would the judge be just and respectable if He continues to let these people go without proper punishment or discipline?

A right and just judge would uphold His law and need to make sure these people were properly dealt with.

One particular case that comes to mind is Moses lifting the Serpent in the wilderness, you can read the full story in Numbers 21, but the purpose was to remind Gods chosen people of the sin they committed against Him, and what would happen if they turn away from God and do as they please. Yes, God still disciplines and punishes His chosen people.

For our gain and His glory

While God may not be the immediate fault of these bad things, He does allow them to pass for a purpose. 

  • To the Unforgiven, a means to uphold the law. Romans 6:23
  • To the forgiven, to refine us into Christ's likeness.

Jesus never promised a perfect and happy life by the world's standards, no matter how much you read Jeremiah 29:11, this will never be the case. In fact, Jesus actually promised His disciples that they would have to endure persecution, all of them, with the exception of John (which was exiled on Patmos), died a martyrs death. All of them endured great suffering. But it was never God who was the cause of this, but it was the ruler of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) who was to blame.

To the Christian, God allows this suffering for His glory, and our gain. Much like gold which is a worthless undesired rock before it is put into the furnace, only once it has endured the heat, and pressure will it come out pure, beautiful and worth any value. (1 Peter 1:7.)

Jacob, otherwise known as Isreal had 12 sons. one of them, the youngest was Joseph but He was also despised. Joseph cause jealousy among his brothers and to teach him a lesson, his brothers threw him into a pit in hopes to shut him up. Later when they came back to get him they found that Joseph was gone. Joseph was taken by slave traders and sold into Egypt.

You can read the full story beginning in Genesis 37

Now the interesting part about Joseph experience was that he one day became second in command to Pharoah, there was no other person Joseph had to answer to. He was in charge. But in his life, the bad things that happened was that Jacob (Isreal) thought his son was killed, Joseph cause division between his brothers, so much that they did not like him. His brothers actually thought Joseph saw himself as being better than them. There was a split in the family, Joseph was alone, and for the next 20 years, his own family knew nothing about him. This experience might seem bad, and from a worldly perspective, it is. But the outcome is the most important.

Through this family conflict, the enslavement, years in prison, false accusations, Joseph, because he honored God above all, became second in command of all of Egypt, and because of his righteousness he was able to help Pharoah interpret a vision and ultimately saved the land of Egpty from a 7 year famine, not just Egypt, but even his own family came to buy some food and Joseph was reunited with them.

Conclusion

Why does God allow these bad things to happen? Why does a loving God not do something? The answer here is that He did, he created you and I to respond. To listen to His guidance and obey it. Not as a dictator, but as a King and a Father who knows what is best for His children. And just like any Father, they allow their child to go through certain hardships as a learning experience, or sometimes discipline. We can try to live our lives as strong independent people as much as we want. But when we begin to do that, we also lose sight of God, and when this happens God takes a step back until we decide to return to Him with open arms, when this happens then the Lord cares for us just as much.

We can not put the blame on God, it is the curse of sin which these come from, but through all of this, God can (and does) still use these for the greater good of His people, those who have been reborn by the Spirit. As we know in Romans 8:28, all these work together for those good of those who love (agape love) Him.

As Jesus shares in Matthew 6, we must first seek the Kingdom of God, only then, will He be there for us, more than He is now. 

If you have made it this far, God is trying to speak to you, trying to tell you how much He wants to be a part of your life. But to do that you must seek Him, repent of your sins, and serve the Lord. Profess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus your Lord (He is in charge, not you) and you will be saved. Ask Him to forgive you. But before He can, we must also forgive others in our lives (Matthew 6:14-45).

If you have done this, I want to strongly encourage you to engage. Open of the Word of God (If you need a bible, let us know) and learn who He truly is, not what the world has taught you. Find someone, a group of people who can help you with your new spiritual walk with the Lord, get involved in a church community and have fellowship with other believers.

The Pillars of Africa Children’s Ministries (PACM) is a local humanitarian Community Based Organization (CBO) established to improve the well being of children through sustainable projects.

Find out more on their website!

Our Ethos – Philosophy

Our Vision:

We envision well nurtured, empowered children with improved livelihoods.

Our Mission:

To raise a God fearing generation and capable ministers for the Kingdom of God and improved livelihoods

Our Moto:

“Children – the pillars for the future”

ECCLESSIASTES: 12:1“Remember now your creator in the days of your youth”

OUR GOALS AND OBJECTIVES:

PACM focuses on the following objectives:

  • Bridging all efforts geared towards the mobilization of resources for
    the constructive attention to the plight of orphans, destitute youth
    and other vulnerable groups of people.
  • Establishing churches and schools in the communities
  • Creating opportunities for impoverished children, youth and teen
    mothers to access resources for formal and informal education
  • Raising awareness of general health
  • Fighting Malaria spread in the rural areas of our communities.
  • Mobilizing local and international partners to provide access to
    livelihood enhancement resources to ensure sustainable social and
    economic development of rural communities.
  • Fighting child abuse
  • Promoting talents among the young generation
  • Providing a safe and nurturing environment for AIDS orphans to receive
    proper shelter, food, education, health care within the context of
    family, community and culture, and set them on a path to independent
    adulthood
  • Promoting acquisition of vocational skills hence promotion of self reliance
  • Having a collective voice
  • Engaging in income generating activities to increase income basically
    in farming
  • Fighting the wide spread of HIV/AIDS and STD’s among the young generation
  • Improving youth welfare
  • Extending an helping hand to the needy

Recently I was in a conversation with someone and suggested they may be coming up with excuses not to move. Through that, I began to think about my own experience with excuses. I remember years ago, I was into website development and aspired to have that be my career. While I still do enjoy web development in my free time. (Find out more HERE, as well as website hosting HERE) I have since then, followed a different calling.

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