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06/01/2016 Transitioning to a New Blogsite

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I began blogging in August 2012.  At the time I was serving in the second month of my sixth year as the appointed pastor of Monroe United Methodist Church. It was already a time of spiritual renewal for me and of renewed spiritual vitality for the congregation, and the blogging was the result of both and also became a means for further renewal personally and for the congregation.

Forty-five months later, my journey with Monroe UMC is nearing an end.  I will be retiring the blogsite that I began in August 2012 because I chose to use “Monroe UMC” as part of the domain  name, and it will no longer be appropriate for me to connect with readers using that domain name since I will no longer be serving the congregation as pastor beginning on moving day on June 29th.  Although no new posts will be added to that blogsite after June 28th, readers may still access the blogsite after that date to view the hundreds of posts published since August 2012:  Monroe UMC Blogsite.

Josh Dalton will be serving as the congregation’s new pastor beginning on June 29, 2016.  I pray that the congregation will welcome, love and support him.

Today I am launching this new blogsite, and I will continue to blog on this site through the end of the transition and beyond.  If you wish to subscribe to receive future posts from this blogsite, you may do so at your own initiative.

I am grateful for the nine years that I have served as the pastor of Monroe UMC and look forward to God’s preferred future for me and for the congregation as we part on June 29th.

Grace Upon Grace,
George

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07/17/2018 When God Remains Quiet

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Here is an excerpt from today’s reading in Streams in the Desert compiled by L.B. Cowman.

I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place.  (Isaiah 18:4)

In this passage, Assyria is marching against Ethiopia, whose people are described as “tall and smooth-skinned” (v.2).  As the army advances, God makes no effort to stop them, and it appears as though they will be allowed to do as they wish. The Lord is watching from His “dwelling place” while the sun continues to shine on them, yet “before the harvest” (v. 5) the entire proud army is defeated as easily as new growth is pruned from a vine. Isn’t this a beautiful picture of God—remaining quiet and watching?

Yet His silence is not to be confused with passive agreement or consent. He is simply biding His time and will arise at the most opportune moment, just when the plans of the wicked are on the verge of success, in order to overwhelm the enemy with disaster. And as we see the evil of this world, as we watch the apparent success of wrongdoers, and as we suffer the oppression of those who hate us, let us remember those miraculous words of God—-“I will remain quiet and will look on.”

Yes, God does have another point of view, and there is wisdom behind His words. Why did Jesus watch His disciples straining at the oars through the stormy night? Why did He, though unseen by others, watch the sequence of anguishing events unfold in Bethany as Lazarus slowly passed through the stages of his terminal illness, succumbed to death, and was finally buried in a rocky tomb? Jesus was simply waiting for the perFact moment when He could intercede most effectively.

Is the Lord being quiet with you? Nevertheless, He is attentive and still sees everything. He has His finger on your pulse and is extremely sensitive to even the slightest change. And He will come to save you when the perfect moment has arrived. (from Daily Devotional Commentary)

Comments? Please post them to this blog site.

Today’s music video features Andrew Peterson.
The Silence of God

Grace Upon Grace,
George

07/16/2018 Unique to the Christian Faith

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Philip Yancey has written the following:

During a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world were discussing whether any one belief was unique to the Christian faith. They began eliminating possibilities. Incarnation? Other religions had different versions of gods appearing in human form. Resurrection? Again, other religions had accounts of return from death. The debate went on for some time until C. S. Lewis wandered into the room. “What’s the rumpus about?” he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions. In his forthright manner Lewis responded, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”

After some discussion, the conferees had to agree. The notion of God’s love coming to us free of charge, no strings attached, seems to go against every instinct of humanity. The Buddhist eightfold path, the Hindu doctrine of karma, the Jewish covenant, and the Muslim code of law—each of these offers a way to earn approval. Only Christianity dares to make God’s love unconditional.

Comments? Please post them to this blog site.

Today’s music video features Fellowship Collective.
Grace on Top of Grace

Grace Upon Grace,
George

07/15/2018 Unconditional Grace & Forgiveness

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Pastor and counselor David Seamands wrote the following in his book, Healing for Damaged Emotions:

Many years ago I was driven to the conclusion that the two major causes of most emotional problems among evangelical Christians are these: the failure to understand, receive, and live out God’s unconditional grace and forgiveness; and the failure to give out that unconditional love, forgiveness, and grace to other people. . . . We read, we hear, we believe a good theology of grace. But that’s not the way we live. The good news of the Gospel of grace has not penetrated the level of our emotions.

Comments? Please post them to this blog site.

Today’s music video features Brooke and Boggs.
Grace Upon Grace

Grace Upon Grace,
George

07/14/2018 The Humiliation of Being Christian

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Here in its entirety is today’s reading from “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers.

I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. —Matthew 5:39

This verse reveals the humiliation of being a Christian. In the natural realm, if a person does not hit back, it is because he is a coward. But in the spiritual realm, it is the very evidence of the Son of God in him if he does not hit back. When you are insulted, you must not only not resent it, but you must make it an opportunity to exhibit the Son of God in your life. And you cannot imitate the nature of Jesus— it is either in you or it is not. A personal insult becomes an opportunity for a saint to reveal the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus.

The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is not, “Do your duty,” but is, in effect, “Do what is not your duty.” It is not your duty to go the second mile, or to turn the other cheek, but Jesus said that if we are His disciples, we will always do these things. We will not say, “Oh well, I just can’t do any more, and I’ve been so misrepresented and misunderstood.” Every time I insist on having my own rights, I hurt the Son of God, while in fact I can prevent Jesus from being hurt if I will take the blow myself. That is the real meaning of filling “up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ…” (Colossians 1:24). A disciple realizes that it is his Lord’s honor that is at stake in his life, not his own honor.

Never look for righteousness in the other person, but never cease to be righteous yourself. We are always looking for justice, yet the essence of the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is— Never look for justice, but never cease to give it.

Comments? Please post them to this blog site.

Today’s music video features a song by John Michael Talbot.
Peace Prayer

Grace Upon Grace,
George

07/13/2018 Priorities

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Here in its entirety is today’s reading from “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers.

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord… —Isaiah 6:1

Our soul’s personal history with God is often an account of the death of our heroes. Over and over again God has to remove our friends to put Himself in their place, and that is when we falter, fail, and become discouraged. Let me think about this personally— when the person died who represented for me all that God was, did I give up on everything in life? Did I become ill or disheartened? Or did I do as Isaiah did and see the Lord?

My vision of God is dependent upon the condition of my character. My character determines whether or not truth can even be revealed to me. Before I can say, “I saw the Lord,” there must be something in my character that conforms to the likeness of God. Until I am born again and really begin to see the kingdom of God, I only see from the perspective of my own biases. What I need is God’s surgical procedure— His use of external circumstances to bring about internal purification.

Your priorities must be God first, God second, and God third, until your life is continually face to face with God and no one else is taken into account whatsoever. Your prayer will then be, “In all the world there is no one but You, dear God; there is no one but You.”

Keep paying the price. Let God see that you are willing to live up to the vision.

Comments? Please post them to this blog site.

Today’s music video features a song by Robin Mark.
All I Once Held Dear

Grace Upon Grace,
George

07/12/2018 Body Building

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Here in its entirety is today’s reading from “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers.

…till we all come…to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ… —Ephesians 4:13

Reconciliation means the restoring of the relationship between the entire human race and God, putting it back to what God designed it to be. This is what Jesus Christ did in redemption. The church ceases to be spiritual when it becomes self-seeking, only interested in the development of its own organization. The reconciliation of the human race according to His plan means realizing Him not only in our lives individually, but also in our lives collectively. Jesus Christ sent apostles and teachers for this very purpose— that the corporate Person of Christ and His church, made up of many members, might be brought into being and made known. We are not here to develop a spiritual life of our own, or to enjoy a quiet spiritual retreat. We are here to have the full realization of Jesus Christ, for the purpose of building His body.

Am I building up the body of Christ, or am I only concerned about my own personal development? The essential thing is my personal relationship with Jesus Christ— “…that I may know Him…” (Philippians 3:10). To fulfill God’s perfect design for me requires my total surrender— complete abandonment of myself to Him. Whenever I only want things for myself, the relationship is distorted. And I will suffer great humiliation once I come to acknowledge and understand that I have not really been concerned about realizing Jesus Christ Himself, but only concerned with knowing what He has done for me.

My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace,
Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God.

Am I measuring my life by this standard or by something less?

Comments? Please post them to this blog site.

Today’s music video features a song by Scott Wesley Brown.
We Are the Body of Christ

Grace Upon Grace,
George

07/11/2018 The Faith of Elijah

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Here in its entirety is today’s reading from Streams in the Desert compiled by L. B. Cowman.

Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. (1 Kings 17:7)

Week after week, with an unwavering and steadfast spirit, Elijah watched the brook dwindle and finally dry up. Often tempted to stumble in unbelief, he nevertheless refused to allow his circumstances to come between himself and God. Unbelief looks at God through the circumstances, just as we often see the sun dimmed by clouds or smoke. But faith puts God between itself and its circumstances, and looks at them through Him.

Elijah’s brook dwindled to only a silver thread, which formed pools at the base of the largest rocks. Then the pools evaporated, the birds flew away, and the wild animals of the fields and forests no longer came to drink, for the brook became completely dry. And only then, to Elijah’s patient and faithful spirit, did the word of the Lord come and say, “Go at once to Zarephath” (v. 9).

Most of us would have become anxious and tired, and would have made other plans long before God spoke. Our singing would have stopped as soon as the stream flowed less musically over its rocky bed. We would have hung our harps on the willows nearby and begun pacing back and forth on the withering grass, worrying about our predicament. And probably, long before the brook actually dried up, we would have devised some plan, asked God to bless it, and headed elsewhere.

God will often extricate us from the mess we have made, because “his love endures forever” (1 Chron. 16:34). Yet if we had only been patient and waited to see the unfolding of His plan, we would never have found ourselves in such an impossible maze, seeing no way out. We would also never have had to turn back and retrace our way, with wasted steps and so many tears of shame.

“Wait for the Lord” (Ps. 27:14). Patiently wait! (F. B. Meyer)

Comments? Please post them to this blog site.

Today’s music video features Elevation Worship.
Give Me Faith

Grace Upon Grace,
George