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Monday, April 28, 2014

Probing Questions

WOW! What a Weekend now the weekend has come to an end and we are starting the New week off with this in mind. Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you. —1 Peter 3:15 While riding on a train a few years after the American Civil War, General Lew Wallace of the Union Army encountered a fellow officer, Colonel Robert Ingersoll. Ingersoll was one of the 19th century’s leading agnostics, and Wallace was a man of faith. As their conversation turned to their spiritual differences, Wallace realized that he wasn’t able to answer the questions and doubts raised by Ingersoll. Embarrassed by his lack of understanding about his own faith, Wallace began searching the Scriptures for answers. The result was his confident declaration of the person of the Savior in his classic historical novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. Probing questions from skeptics don’t have to be a threat to our faith. Instead, they can motivate us to seek a deeper understanding and equip us to respond wisely and lovingly to those who might question our faith. The apostle Peter encouraged us to pursue the wisdom of God in the Scriptures when he wrote, “Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). We don’t have to have an answer for every question, but we need the courage, confidence, and conviction to share our love for Christ and the hope that is in us. —Bill Crowder Christ is the ultimate answer to life’s greatest questions. Bible in a year: 1 Kings 3-5; Luke 20:1-26 Insight Hebrew boys in the first century were taught the Old Testament. In today’s reading, we see how Peter, a fisherman of the working class, had at his command a familiarity with the Scriptures when he quotes from Psalm 34:12-16 (vv.10-12) and Isaiah 8:12 (v.14). Peter may well have recalled these passages from memory.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Fearful Fish

Friday is here we have made it through another week so now let take a moment to think about how God has keep us through seen and unseen dangers.The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory. —John 1:14 Managing a saltwater aquarium, I discovered, is no easy task. I had to run a portable chemical laboratory to monitor nitrate levels and ammonia content. I pumped in vitamins and antibiotics and sulfa drugs and enzymes. I filtered the water through glass fibers and charcoal. You would think my fish would be grateful. Not so. When my shadow loomed above the tank to feed them, they dove for cover into the nearest shell. I was too large for them; my actions incomprehensible. They did not know that my acts were merciful. To change their perceptions would require a form of incarnation. I would have to become a fish and “speak” to them in a language they could understand, which was impossible for me to do. According to the Scriptures, God, the Creator of the universe, did something that seems impossible. He came to earth in human form as a baby. “The world was made through Him,” says John, “and the world did not know Him” (John 1:10). So God, who created matter, took shape within it, as a playwright might become a character within his own play. God wrote a story, using real characters, on the pages of real history. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (v.14). —Philip Yancey All praise to Thee, eternal Lord, Clothed in a garb of flesh and blood; Choosing a manger for a throne, While worlds on worlds are Thine alone. —Luther God entered human history to offer us the gift of eternal life. Bible in a year: 2 Samuel 21-22; Luke 18:24-43 Insight As the “messenger” (Isa. 40:3; Mal. 3:1; Mark 1:2-3), John the Baptist’s ministry was to introduce Jesus to the world and “to bear witness of the Light” (John 1:7). John presented Jesus as the Logos, the self-existent, preexistent, omnipotent, eternal, Creator God who spoke everything into existence, giving light and life to His creation (vv.4-5). He also presented Jesus as God incarnate (vv.9-14). Jesus added humanity to His deity, becoming one Person with two natures—perfectly human and yet perfectly divine (Phil. 2:6-8). He came to give “light to every man” so that we don’t need to live in sin’s darkness (John 1:9) and to give new life to those who believe so that we can live as God’s children (vv.12-13).

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Family's Fight Against IBD

Here is a story about Jack and his Family's fight against IBD. In the fall of 2011, Philip (Pip) and Ellen noticed that their 11-year-old son Jack was eating more slowly, pushing food around his plate and sometimes not eating at all. His yearly physical showed that his overall growth had slowed, and soon he was struggling with severe abdominal pain, diarrhea and fever. That November, Jack was diagnosed with Crohn’s. IBD is hard to cope with at any age, but it can be especially difficult and isolating as a kid. Though Jack is warm and cheerful, Pip and Ellen knew he was in pain and sometimes overwhelmed by his disease. The family’s first experience with CCFA was in the summer of 2012, when Jack attended Camp Oasis. Camp ended up being a special place for Jack. He told his parents that for the first time since his diagnosis, he felt “normal” there. Though abdominal surgery prevented Jack from attending last summer, he’s thrilled to return to camp once again this year. Like many kids with IBD, Jack and his family have had a lot of ups and downs. One of the most challenging things to cope with is the lack of general knowledge about IBD, as many people don’t understand the severity. Ellen notes that people will say that Jack “doesn’t look sick” – but as anyone close to IBD knows, looks can be deceiving. Ellen says that it’s hard on the whole family when Jack isn’t feeling well and the feeling of isolation is only compounded by the sense that many friends and family “don’t get it.” But the community, reassurance and support of other parents they found at CCFA have been incredibly helpful. Determined to extend this feeling of understanding and welcome to other families, Pip and Ellen worked with CCFA to start pediatric, adolescent and family support groups in their hometown of Atlanta. After only six months, over 30 families regularly attend the meetings. Pip and Ellen also pulled together a team – the Stink Bombers – for the annual Take Steps walk. Last year, they raised over $14,000 in donations – and this year they’re aiming to do even more! At Jack’s last check-up, his doctor reported he was growing again. Though he hasn’t achieved full remission and is still coping with the disease one day at a time, Jack and his parents have a great deal of hope for a healthy, happy future for Jack and thousands of other kids like him. You can help raise critical funds for IBD cures and help kids like Jack when you join Take Steps today!

Victory Over Death!

Even though Resurrection Sunday was yesterday and we are getting ready to start a new week let's ALWAYS keep in mind what JESUS has done for us JESUS LIVES!. The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth. —John 5:28-29 An ancient painting I saw recently made a deep impression on me. Its title, Anastasis, means “resurrection,” and it depicts the triumph of Christ’s victory over death in a stunning way. The Lord Jesus, newly emerged from the tomb, is pulling Adam and Eve out of their coffins to eternal life. What is so amazing about this artwork is the way it shows how spiritual and physical death, the result of the fall, were dramatically reversed by the risen Christ. Prior to His death on the cross, the Lord Jesus predicted a future day when He will call believers into a new and glorified existence: “The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth” (John 5:28-29). Because of Christ’s victory over death, the grave is not final. We naturally will feel sorrow and grief when those we love die and we are separated from them in this life. But the believer does not grieve as one who has no hope (1 Thess. 4:13). The witness of Jesus’ resurrection is that all Christians will one day be taken from their graves to be clothed with glorified resurrection bodies (1 Cor. 15:42-44). And so “we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17). —Dennis Fisher Dear Lord, thank You for sacrificing Your life for our sins so that we might live. We’re thankful that because You died and rose again, we can have assurance that one day we’ll be with You in a place of no more death. Because Christ is alive, we too shall live. Bible in a year: 2 Samuel 12-13; Luke 16 Insight In our passage today, John portrays Jesus as both life-giver and judge (5:24). As life-giver, Jesus gives us eternal life. As judge, Jesus will not condemn us (Rom. 8:1). God has given Jesus authority to be life-giver and judge “because He is the Son of Man” (John 5:27). The title “the Son of Man” is a Messianic title (Dan. 7:13-14) that speaks of Jesus’ deity and humanity. Jesus used the title synonymously with “the Son of God” (Matt. 26:63-64).

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Today Millions are Celebrating Easter BUT for Millions of Christians we know it has Resurrection Sunday. I just wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Resurrection Sunday. JESUS LIVES!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Facing IBD as a Family

Here is What's going on in our CCFA April Newsletter. Letter from Rick Geswell, CCFA President & CEO Rick Geswell, CCFA President and CEO Warm wishes to all during this holiday week of remembrance and reflection! Are you ready to round up? Bridgestone has once again generously pledged to help raise money for IBD using a "round-up" program at over 2,200 locations nationwide. For the months of April and May, Bridgestone customers can round up their transactions to the nearest dollar to help fund CCFA's research. Tell your friends and family – now is the time to head to Bridgestone! Our research is expanding! Earlier this year, we worked with The Broad Foundation to incorporate the Broad Medical Research Program into our research portfolio. The program, which was founded in 2001, funds pilot research, enabling scientists to test initial ideas and generate preliminary data in order to qualify for larger research grants. We're thrilled by this new addition – it's just one more opportunity to generate promising research... and get that much closer to treatments and cures. Facing IBD as a Family Jack and Family In 2011, Philip (Pip) and Ellen noticed that their 11-year-old son Jack was eating more slowly, pushing food around his plate and sometimes not eating at all. Not long after, Jack had severe abdominal pain, diarrhea and fever. Soon, he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. In the nearly three years since his diagnosis, Jack and his parents have done everything they can to make life with IBD easier – and so far they've made a huge difference. Read the family's story here. read more IBD Can Affect All Groups of People The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has designated April as National Minority Health Month. Though IBD can affect anyone, Caucasians – especially Jews of European descent – are more likely than other racial groups to have IBD. However, studies show that the disease increasingly affects African Americans and Hispanics in the U.S. To learn more about the prevalence of IBD in different ethnic groups, visit our fact book here or reach out to the IBD Help Center at info@ccfa.org. Introducing GI Buddy for Androids Great news – our GI Buddy is now available as an Android mobile app! Now Android users can join online and iPhone users in managing and tracking key elements of their disease, participating in CCFA community forums and using Charmin's Restroom Finder app. With thousands of online visits and app downloads since launch, we're thrilled to expand the reach of GI Buddy... and we're not done yet! Keep an eye out for the upcoming launch across all mobile and online platforms. Learn more. APRIL 2014 ISSUE Sign Up for the Advances in IBD Webcast for Patients Have you signed up to join the Patient Review of our Advances in IBD 2013 conference? You'll hear about the conference's most important clinical research discussions from one of our leading IBD experts. The overview is on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 from 8-9PM EDT. Register now! CCFA Genetics Initiative The CCFA Genetics Initiative is hard at work to identify genetic pathways associated with IBD... and they're on the path to treatments and cures! Help fund crucial research today. Pregnant with IBD? Join us for a live Facebook Q&A session on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 5PM EDT. Dr. Aline Charbaty will answer questions about IBD treatment before, during and after pregnancy. Log on to Facebook and participate! IBD Clinical Trials & Other Studies CCFA provides a comprehensive database of studies, clinical trials and other research on Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Some of the recently added studies include: • Out-of-Pocket Cost Burden in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease, conducted by Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford University • TELEmedicine for Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (TELE-IBD), conducted by University of Maryland, Baltimore Deciding whether to participate in a clinical trial is an important personal decision, best made with a full understanding of the drug development process and a participant's role.

I’m Alive

We have made it to the end of the Week YES! As we ALL know today we are taking a moment to Celebrate what we know as Good Friday which is celebrate by millions. We are gearing up for what we know as Easter but to most Christians it's called Resurrection. As we reflect on this Week and preparing ourselves for Resurrection this Sunday lets take a moment to reflect on this. You He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins. —Ephesians 2:1 Laura Brooks, a 52-year-old mother of two, didn’t know it but she was one of 14,000 people in 2011 whose name was incorrectly entered into the government database as dead. She wondered what was wrong when she stopped receiving disability checks, and her loan payments and her rent checks bounced. She went to the bank to clear up the issue, but the representative told her that her accounts had been closed because she was dead! Obviously, they were mistaken. The apostle Paul was not mistaken when he said that the Ephesian believers were at one point dead—spiritually dead. They were dead in the sense that they were separated from God, enslaved to sin (Eph. 2:5), and condemned under the wrath of God. What a state of hopelessness! Yet God in His goodness took action to reverse this condition for them and for us. The living God “who gives life to the dead” (Rom. 4:17) poured out His rich mercy and great love by sending His Son Jesus to this earth. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we are made alive (Eph. 2:4-5). When we believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we go from death to life. Now we live to rejoice in His goodness! —Marvin Williams I know I’m a sinner and Christ is my need; His death is my ransom, no merit I plead. His work is sufficient, on Him I believe; I have life eternal when Him I receive. —Anon. Accepting Jesus’ death gives me life. Bible in a year: 2 Samuel 3-5; Luke 14:25-35 Insight Twice in today’s passage, Paul affirms that our salvation is God’s gift, for “by grace you have been saved” (vv.5,8). He reminds us that we are saved so that we can do good works (v.10). In other epistles, Paul encourages us to be “zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14), to be “fruitful in every good work” (Col. 1:10), and to demonstrate “an abundance for every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8). Martin Luther put it this way: “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.”

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mistaken Identity

As we have started the New Week just wanted to reflect on the fact that Millions of us Celebrated Palm Sunday which is the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey where millions gather to wave Palms as a symbolic message that the Messiah has arrived. He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” —Matthew 16:15 My youngest brother, Scott, was born when I was a senior in high school. This age difference made for an interesting situation when he grew to college age. On his first trip to his college campus, I went along with him and our mom. When we arrived, people thought we were Scott Crowder and his dad and his grandmom. Eventually, we gave up correcting them. No matter what we said or did, our actual relationships were overridden by this humorous case of mistaken identity. Jesus questioned the Pharisees about His identity: “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They replied, “The Son of David” (Matt. 22:42). The identity of Messiah was critical, and their answer was correct but incomplete. The Scriptures had affirmed that Messiah would come and reign on the throne of His father David. But Jesus reminded them that though David would be Christ’s ancestor, He would also be more—David referred to Him as “Lord.” Faced with a similar question, Peter rightly answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). Still today, the question of Jesus’ identity rises above the rest in significance—and it is eternally important that we make no mistake in understanding who He is. —Bill Crowder Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail, In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail; Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end, Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend. —Grant No mistake is more dangerous than mistaking the identity of Jesus. Bible in a year: 1 Samuel 25-26; Luke 12:32-59 Insight The place where Jesus asked His disciples the question about His identity was significant, for it was at Caesarea Philippi (v.13), a center of worship for Baal, the Greek god Pan, and the emperor. Jesus first asked what others were saying about His identity (vv.13-14). He then made it personal, directing the question to His own disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” (v.15). To the world, Jesus was merely a great man, such as John the Baptist, Elijah, or Jeremiah (v.14). But Peter got it right: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v.16).

Friday, April 11, 2014

“Isn’t God Powerful!”

Friday is here and we are giving Thanks to God Almighty for bringing us to the end of the Week. This is giving us ALL time to reflect on this. Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name. —Psalm 29:2 One day, my 3-year-old granddaughter Katie surprised her mom and dad with a bit of theological expertise. She said to them, “You both had sisters who died. Then God took them up to heaven to be with Him. Isn’t God powerful!” God’s immense power is a mystery, yet it is simple enough for a child to understand. In Katie’s young way of thinking, she knew that for God to do something so miraculous, it would mean that He is powerful. Without understanding all the details, she knew that God did something wonderful by taking her two aunts to heaven. How often do we sit back in our more sophisticated world and marvel: “Isn’t God powerful”? Probably not often enough. We can’t know how God spun the worlds into existence with His voice (Job 38–39; Ps. 33:9; Heb. 11:3), nor can we know how He maintains control of them (Neh. 9:6). We can’t know how He planned and fulfilled the incarnation of Jesus, nor can we understand how He can make Christ’s sacrifice sufficient for our salvation. But we know these things are true. The power of God: immeasurable in its wonder yet clear enough for us to understand. It’s yet another reason to praise Him. —Dave Branon Everything God does is marked with simplicity and power. —Tertullian Bible in a year: 1 Samuel 17-18; Luke 11:1-28 Insight Psalm 29 is a graphic celebration of the strength of the Lord. Each of the elements on which the voice of the Lord is said to have an effect was a recognized symbol of strength in the ancient world, and the voice of the Lord shakes these elements with ease. But the beginning and the end of the psalm talk about the strength of people. In verse 1, the “mighty ones” are to give glory and strength to the Lord. And verse 11 gives the source of that strength, God Himself. What God gives us, we are to offer back to Him.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Strawberry Mess

So here we are getting ready to jump start a New Week.Be of the same mind in the Lord. —Philippians 4:2 My husband and I had recently moved into our house when a man dropped off a large box of strawberries on our front sidewalk. He left a note saying he wanted us to share them with our neighbors. He meant well, but some children discovered the box before any adults did and had a strawberry-throwing party at our white house. When we returned home, we saw children we knew watching us from behind a fence. They had “returned to the scene of the crime” to see how we would react to the mess. We could have just cleaned it up ourselves, but to restore our relationship, we felt it was important to talk with them and require their help in cleaning our strawberry-stained house. Life can get messy with relationship struggles. This was the case in the Philippian church. Two faithful servants, Euodia and Syntyche, were in sharp disagreement. The apostle Paul wrote to the church to encourage them to work through their problems (Phil. 4:2). He also wanted another person to come alongside them with a spirit of gentleness. He wrote, “I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel” (v.3). Realizing we’ve all made messes in life, we can trust the Lord to help us deal gently with others. —Anne Cetas Dear Lord, please give me discernment and courage in my relationships. Help me by Your power to be gentle and show the same love to others that You have shown to me. True love both confronts and restores. Bible in a year: 1 Samuel 7-9; Luke 9:18-36 Insight As Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi comes to an end, he provides his readers with a number of imperatives: “stand fast in the Lord” (v.1); “be of the same mind” (v.2); “help [those] who labored with me in the gospel” (v.3); “rejoice in the Lord always” (v.4); and “let your gentleness be known to all men” (v.5). Notice the varied kinds of imperatives given. Because unity, support, rejoicing, and gentleness are needed depending upon the situation, sensitivity to the Spirit’s leading helps us to tap into God’s resources so that we can respond appropriately to each circumstance.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Check The Oil

Yes It's FRIDAY! And we have made it to the end of the week has we reflect on this week here is some Food for thought has we prepare ourselves for the Weekend. My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up. —Psalm 5:3 When I helped our daughters learn to drive, I included a little instruction on basic auto maintenance. We visited a local service station where they learned to check the oil every time they put fuel in the car. Today, years later, they often remind me of my six-word slogan, “Oil is cheap; engines are expensive.” Adding a quart of oil is nothing compared to replacing an engine. Maintenance is also important in our spiritual lives. Taking time each day to read the Bible, pray, and listen to God is a key element in avoiding a breakdown. In Psalm 5, David wrote, “My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You” (v.3). In the following verses he poured out his heart in praise, thanksgiving, and requests to God. Many people find it essential to begin every day with the Lord. Before checking email, catching the news, or eating breakfast, they find some quiet moments alone to read a portion of God’s Word, praise Him for His greatness, thank Him for His love, and seek His guidance. Others spend time reading and praying at different times of the day. It’s not magic—it’s maintenance, as we ask the Lord each day to fill our hearts with His presence on the road of life. —David McCasland Give me a strong desire, O Lord, to look into Your Word each day. Help me hide it in my heart so that I might not stray from Your truth. Feed me and teach me about Yourself and Your will for me. The roots of stability come from being grounded in God’s Word and prayer. Bible in a year: Ruth 1-4; Luke 8:1-25 Insight In this morning prayer (vv.1-3), David called out to God to help him live a holy and worshipful life (vv.7-8). He extolled God’s justice, holiness, and unfailing love (vv.4-7), and he affirmed his unwavering trust in God’s presence and protection (vv.4-8,11-12) even as he faced slander, danger, and evil.