The Greatest Moment of My Life

The greatest moment of my life is when I first believed that Jesus loved me & forgave my SIN – rescuing me from myself! 7/28-85 at 22min after eight.

Today I celebrate 29 years of being a Christian. It is unbelievable to me that 29 years ago, I was a lost man with no relationship with God and I was on my way to hell.

I remember so vividly sitting on a bleacher in Legion Stadium in Wilmington, N.C., listening to Dr. Freddie Gage preach the gospel. I was struck with such deep conviction as he shared. I realized that night that I was lost in my sin and that I needed Jesus to forgive me, clean me up and give me a new life. When Freddie gave the invitation and instructed people if they wanted to receive Christ and His forgiveness to walk down the aisle, I didn’t walk down, I ran! I jumped over a 5 feet concrete wall and ran to the front to receive the gift of eternal life that he spoke about. I experienced salvation!

The word salvation means, “to restore or deliver.” I was living a crazy life and making one bad choice after another…I desperately needed to be rescued…to be restored. I was in bondage and needed to be delivered.

There is no greater feeling on the planet than to know that your sins have been forgiven, to know that you have power to live in victory everyday and to know that heaven will be your home when you die. I know what it means to be lost and separated from God but I also know what it is like to be saved and forgiven – to have an intimate relationship with Jesus and be the recipient of His grace and mercy.

Today, I celebrate and thank God for new life. I have never gotten over the fact that God gave me a new life that evening in July of 1985. I am overwhelmed just thinking about God’s grace in my life and all He has done for me.

Thank you Lord Jesus for saving me.

Thank you Johnny Hunt for inviting Freddie Gage to preach that crusade in Wilmington, N.C. 26 years ago.

Thank you Freddie Gage for preaching the gospel and sharing your story with such passion.

I am forever grateful!
If you are reading this and you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal savior, please contact me and let me know. I would love to share with you.
If you do know Him, tell someone about Him today!
July 28, 1985, 22 minutes after 8…I will NEVER forget!

Feed Me, Feed Me!

I have four grand-children! It really is an amazing thing. Finn is three years old, Lakely will be three in October, Judah will be one next month and Huntington is 3 months old.

Finn and Lakely can feed themselves. Huntington is completely dependent on others but Judah is at that stage where he wants to feed himself. You put the food on his plate and he picks it up on his own.That is the goal! You do want your children learning how to feed themselves. Feeding themselves is apart of maturing and growing up.

Too many Christians want to just sit around and be fed by someone else. “Feed me, feed me” is all you hear from them.

Food is not the problem. Food is everywhere. For a Christian to say, “I just want to be fed”, is like going to a restaurant and crying because there is no food. What you are really saying is that you want someone to feed you. You want to be waited on hand and foot.

Could it be that we are growing lazy and self-centered? Could it be this is really an indication of our spiritual condition?

Today, we have way more information than we could ever apply. Perhaps we are using the excuse, “I want to go deeper” when all along, we are really not applying the knowledge that we already have. We are all educated way beyond our level of obedience. I am not saying that we should not learn more, study more, pray more, etc… Deep isn’t what you know, it’s what you do. Men, ask your wives: “Would you like for me to quote Ephesians 5: 21-30 on love you and take you out on a date?”

When is the last time you served the Lord? When is the last time you visited the hospital and prayed over someone, besides one of your own family members? When is the last time you shared your faith with someone who does not know Christ?

Deep is a single mother raising her kids, working full time and serving at New Season Church.
Deep is giving God His 10% tithe and 2% more as an offering.
Deep is praying for and inviting a friend to church for years and not giving up on them.
Deep is going to visit someone in jail whose family is falling apart and needs encouragement and support.

Deep isn’t about information, it’s about transformation! If you are not applying what you already know to help others, you are not deep…you are stuck!

“Feed me, feed me” comes from babies who can’t feed themselves!

Unacceptable

According to Lifeway research, 3500 churches close every year. 3500 churches will no longer be preaching the gospel or being salt and light in their community. That is almost one church a day. Let that sink in for just a moment.

According to N.A.M.B. (North American Mission Board), nearly 72% of Southern Baptist Churches in North America have plateaued or are declining. American Church research project states that 77% of Americans do not have a connection to an orthodox (Bible believing preaching) Church.

There is a great need for God’s people to repent and to be broken hearted over the condition of our land. If you read Nehemiah, chapter one, we see the response of Nehemiah after hearing and understanding the condition of his land and the people. God broke his heart. He wept, prayed and fasted. The Bible says the news so gripped him that he “sat down.”

Churches are closing, churches have become stuck in the past and are married to tradition. Churches have gotten out of touch with culture and no longer relate to the younger generation. Many churches have become irrelevant so the doors close. They would rather experience the pain of the doors closing than the pain of change.

These statistics are unacceptable to me. I cannot sit idly by and do nothing. We must care more about the “lostness” of our world than the comfort of our own churches and preferences. Lord forgive our indifference. We have grown cold and callous to the lost sheep.

God help us to be like you; to leave the 99 and go after the one. Lord, change us, break us, forgive us and renew a passion deep within us. In Jesus name…

Cruise Control

More than likely, you drive a car that has cruise control.

Cruise control is a great feature to have if your foot becomes tired, if you’ve been driving for a long distance or if you are traveling on the open freeway and you are ready to set your vehicle on a certain speed.

To use cruise control, you set the speed – you determine how fast you really want to go. The system takes over to maintain your selected speed.

Cruise control is certainly handy when driving but not for living. Many people attempt to live life on cruise control…steady, easy and maintaining. Cruise control is passive. Your mind is not engaged and you just ease through life effortlessly.Its so easy to to be in cruise control emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically.

We must be fully engaged. We must constantly fight the temptation to allow things to remain the same way. It is much easier to cruise than to live life to the fullest with our foot on the accelerator. Life is too short and opportunities are too few to live your life on cruise control.

The Pearl

Someone once said that sacrifice is giving up something you love now in order to gain something more later.

Jesus shared a parable in Matthew, chapter 13 about a merchant who searched diligently for fine pearls.When he found the one pearl of great value, he sacrificed all to buy it. Jesus was speaking of the kingdom of heaven with this parable…of salvation and living the kingdom life.

I have just spent the last two weeks In Uganda, Africa. I am writing this blog from Uganda. We arrive back home tonight in Atlanta.

Uganda actually means pearl of Africa…

All of the people that I met thanked us for sacrificing to come to their country. Hmmmm – sacrifice?

To get in a big plane and fly to Uganda. To have plenty of food to eat, (pizza on two occasions that was really good) shelter (no air conditioning but a big fan).

To have the opportunity to preach in 10 different churches. One of those services was one of the top 5 experiences I have ever had! We got to minster to and encourage over a 100 pastors.

We met some amazing people and built some great relationships. We sailed on Lake Victoria, saw the beginning of the Nile River (the longest river in the world), went “hut to hut” and shared the gospel and we saw over 160 people pass from death to life!! No sacrifice here!

We will be sharing our experiences this Monday night, July 21  at 6:45. I will also be posting a video with some highlights of the trip.Thank you all who prayed and gave financially for this trip. Your investment impacted thousands for the kingdom!

What God is Doing in Iraq written by Ralph Canada

Many times our only frame of reference on what is happening in the Middle East is what we see on our nightly news programs. There is no denying what we see on these news programs, but there is so much more that God is doing that we do not see portrayed on these programs. So the question comes to bear is what is God doing in the midst of this great tragedy? Many times our initial response as to what should be done is out of frustration at the status quo, or gaged on our political ideology. So let me suggest a few things that we should think about in light of what is going on in Iraq:

1. God is at work in the midst of Tragic Events: Our field partners and missionaries that we have helped to send to this part of the world report an openness to the Gospel not previously seen. One our our Peruvian missionaries reported that they were able to give out over 4,000 copies of the book to refugees. This is a country were “our book” is not available in most places and in some places illegal to even have. But now God is opening up doors, that were previously closed. Yesterday I received the report that now over 600 of the Sunni refugees have recently come to faith in Christ! God is working in spite of these tragic events!

2. People Movements lead to God Movements: Even in the O.T. we see the same principal, that people movements, albeit are uncomfortable, but in the end, result in God being glorified.

Our “workers” are telling us of that they are seeing “unprecedented” opportunities to share. People that have lost everything, that have left their homes behind, want to make sense of what is happening. They look for “deeper” meaning in their tragedy, and thus are more open to consider things they might not have been willing to consider before.

3. Our response should be based on our faith and the Great Commission. So many times it is so easy to loose sight of what God is doing, and wants to do, and our response comes out of anger, vengeance and our sense of justice. But God wants us to respond as Christ Followers, that His Kingdom be what is paramount in our minds, thoughts, and our response.

What can we do in the midst of this situation?

1. Pray for God to be glorified in the midst of all that is happening. Pray that those that are displaced, and those facing incredible persecution would seek out the only one that can heal their souls, Jesus Christ. That His Name be lifted on high in this land. That is something that only He can do.

2. Do not be deterred by fear. Many times our missions theology is based upon our risk factor. I am not suggestion one purposely seek out danger or persecution. What I am suggesting is that we never let those be a factor in our obedience to the Gospel! We are commanded to take the Gospel to dangerous places, its that simple.

3. Identify with those being persecuted: Those being persecuted are being persecuted for one reason; openly sharing their faith and witnessing for Jesus Christ. Nick Ripken in his recent book The Insanity of Obedience stated: When we too share our faith in Christ and openly witness for Him, then we identify with our brothers and sisters in chains. When we remain silent, then we identify with those who put them in chains.

So although things on your T.V. screen may look bleak, know that God is working, and we are to continue to engage in this part of the world and share Jesus Christ with everyone possible.

Ralph Canada is the director of Connect Global Network, and the Latin American director for Global Focus. You may contact him and learn more about his innovative ministry raising up a new generation of missionaries for the unreached by sending him an email: rcanada@globalfocus.info

www.connectglobalnetwork.org

www.globalfocus.info

Growing Into Obedience by Brad Bessent

Saul is the first king of God’s people, Israel. But it doesn’t take long in his reign before the flaws in his character begin to surface. God has told Saul to destroy the Amalekites because of the way they had treated Israel when they had come out of Egypt. Saul had led his army into an incredible victory. One problem, God had given very clear instructions; “Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him.” (I Samuel 15:3). But Saul had captured his adversary, King Agag, as a trophy, and they had taken some of the best livestock and possessions.

Saul and the army are returning when they are met by God’s preacher, a man named Samuel. As Saul greets Samuel Saul says, “Blessed are you of the LORD! I have carried out the command of the LORD.” About the time that he has said this, you can hear the bleating of the sheep, “Baaaaa,” in the background. Samuel says, “If you have indeed carried out God’s instructions, then what is the bleating of sheep and lowing of cattle that I hear?”

Oh, that,” says Saul. “Some of the folks thought it would be a good idea to bring back the best of the livestock to offer as a sacrifice to God.” This all leads to a very telling statement by Samuel, “Has the Lord as much delight in burn offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord. Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” (I Sam. 15:22) We discover something very important: Partial obedience is the same as disobedience. This mistake is quite costly to Saul, ultimately costing him the kingdom.

I have read many blogs recently where the writer asserts the spiritual ignorance of many Christians today. Again and again there is strong encouragement to know more about what the Bible teaches. There is a problem, however, in my opinion, with all of this. The maturing process in the Christian faith is not fed by knowledge, but by obedience. If you read the roll call of heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 there is not a single one commended for what they knew. They are commended for what they did. Christian faith is an action faith.

Consider the matter of the Great Commission. Jesus commands us to “Go into all the world and make disciples.” That is our mission as followers of Christ; we are commanded to make disciples. Jesus then tells us to teach them something. But if you look carefully at the instruction He gives, it is not the imparting of knowledge. He says, “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” (Matt. 28:20)

In other words, making disciples means training believers to obey all that the Lord commands.

When a person hears the Gospel as a non-believer, there is only one action that will take them to the next step. They must obey the Gospel, they must believe. When a person believers, then they are told to confess their faith publicly by baptism. We are told to pray, to give, to love, and so on. Each instruction from God through His Word calls for a response of obedience on our part as an individual. Accumulating information about the faith does not grow us to maturity in faith. We grow to maturity by obeying each instruction that God gives us.

The old hymn we sang in church says it best. “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” Are you caught up in your obedience? What is God saying to you today that calls for a response on your part? What is the next step that you need to take as a follower of Christ?

Brad Bessent is the founder of Church Unleashed Global,  Inc.

Web  https://www.churchunleashedglobal.org

What’s Your Function? by Jaron Shaffer

In his first letter to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul writes a beautiful illustration of the body of Christ. He writes, “The body is not made up of one part but of many,” and that “God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.”

Think about that for a second. Just as our bodies are made up of different parts that serve different functions, so it is with the church. You were created intentionally, specifically and uniquely to serve a function within the body of Christ! There are no useless parts.

God has arranged EVERY part. There’s no one who attends New Season that God overlooked or skipped over when He was handing out gifts. You were made to serve a function.

The problem is that many of us fail to use our abilities within the body. You may think that you don’t have anything to offer, but you couldn’t be more wrong! You have a spot in the body!

You might not know your gift or ability, but lack of awareness does not equal absence of presence. Your gifts are there, you just need to find them and develop them. And we want to help you!

This Sunday at 9:30am in room 106, we have Volunteer Orientation. Volunteering is a huge part of our culture at New Season and this is your opportunity to get connected through serving. There is a place for you here and I’m excited to help you find it.

Come and find your function.

Jaron Shaffer is the Operations/Student Pastor at New Season Church. He is married to Alyse and they have 3 sons: Elijah (4), Liam (2), and Graeme (4 months).

You Have to Have Hope! by Vickie Flockhart

My husband is in Uganda today leading a mission team from New Season. He called me yesterday and was excited to share that 10 people had accepted Christ. I know Steve well enough to know that by the end of this trip, several hundred people will experience new life in Christ. I’m not being arrogant when I say that, I just know that evangelism is his passion; he lives and breathes to share the gospel and see people come to Jesus…it is who he is!

When Steve asked me to write a blog for today, I knew immediately that I would deal with the issue of “HOPE.” I believe that so many people are discouraged and lose their desire to even live because they have no HOPE.

HOPE is powerful. It is not just an “ooey-gooey,” feel good emotion. It is scriptural.

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a future,”

That is my favorite verse! I have had to hold on to that promise many times and God has always proven to be faithful.

Our family experienced the most painful time of our lives in ministry eight years ago. My Dad got sick and died during this difficult time. It was a dark and depressing time.

I experienced feelings of no HOPE which kills any vision for the future. I felt as if we had been discarded, just tossed to the side. The feeling of no HOPE was the very worst. Think about it…if you have no HOPE, why get out of bed in the morning?

Why does an athlete continue in a sporting event with no HOPE? Why does a cancer patient fight to live with no HOPE? Why does a person who made some pretty bad choices in life try to make things right with no HOPE? You HAVE to have HOPE to move forward!

Change your way of thinking…memorize Jeremiah 29:11 and remind yourself that it is a personal promise to you from God and that it is true! God does not lie and God does not fail!

I pray that you also have special family and friends around you to love you and just say, “I believe in you!” We had many “friends” who walked away during that dark time but we had some incredible people who loved on us, drove to visit us from others states, called, sent cards, invested in us emotionally (and also financially) and poured HOPE into us. You never forget that type of friendship!

So in summary, I don’t know how many people will read this or what you may be experiencing today, but I just want to encourage you to have HOPE. No matter what you have done, no matter what the haters say, no matter what the Doctor told you, no matter what ESPN says about your performance, no matter what the most hateful bloggers or tweets say about you…

God says he has plans to “give you HOPE!” Hold your head up today, know that you are loved and that God has HOPE and a great future waiting for you!

Change

Have you ever heard someone say "I don’t like change"? Maybe you have uttered those exact words yourself. The reality is that nothing stays the same! Everything changes .We can embrace change or resist change. Most people do the latter.

The world we live in today is so much different than just a decade ago. Significant changes seem to be happening every day. Technology changes, politics change, economics change and culture changes. The way we did things 10 years ago doesn’t work in our modern day culture.

We must adopt better practices of the way we do things or we will die. Charles Exley, former CEO of NCR Corporation said, “I’ve been in business thirty six years. I’ve learned a lot and most of it doesn’t apply anymore.”

John Maxwell said, “The question should not be will we ever change, but when and how much will we need to change.”

There are psychological barriers to change. The change makes sense logically and intellectually but psychologically and emotionally, it brings anxiety. We are afraid of change.

We are afraid of the unknown. How will this affect me, my family, my life?

We all must change. You can resist change or embrace change. Change really is inevitable. So let’s embrace change and change!

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