Works of God

We are thankful that God is always at work causing team members to look more like Jesus. We desire to testify of the grace of God in our lives, and that through the working of Christ in us, you will be encouraged in your relationship with Jesus.

What Causes Me to be Worldly?

feartreeOur team has been studying James this semester and this was a question that our team discussed in devotions this past week. Will, asked us all to answer so we started at one end of the table and I was the last person in line to answer.

My first thought was “Oh, good! I have some time to think about what I’m going to say.” Then, my thought was, “Well, I better listen to what the others are saying because it is important.” Then, while the others were speaking, my flesh and the Spirit were warring in my heart. I knew that I didn’t have to think about what to say. I knew that there was one very big thing in my heart and life that caused me to be worldly; that caused me to be selfish and sinful! It was my fear. Of course, I didn’t want to say that out loud. The team already had heard me say that I struggle with fear and in fact, its what I always mentioned. I didn’t want to say that I still struggle. "What would they think of me? Would they think I’m a failure for not being able to conquer that specific area in my life? Would they think that I’m an awful wicked sinner for not trusting in the Lord for my fears? I’ll probably cry when it is my turn to speak. Would they think I’m such a girl for crying? I do this every time! Would they look down on me and reject me? Would God be disappointed in me for saying the exact same thing over and over and over? What?! No, wait…"

There it was…lying out there for God and me to see. My fear was oozing out of me like sin always does. It was gross and I hated it. I had to tell the team that I still struggle with fear and it causes me to be worldly. I still want to look good in front of people and I want people to think I’m godly and like Christ. Don’t get me wrong. Being Christ-like is not a bad thing, but “every Godward motion is opposed by the flesh.” What I mean by that is that most of the time my motive for being godly and Christ-like is so that others see me and think “good” thoughts about me and like me because I am “spiritual.” When I told the team, I did cry, but God was humbling me and loving me at the same time.

God sometimes uses our weaknesses in our hearts to show us how much we need Him. When our sin is exposed we find that we need the grace of Jesus. Christ died for the sin we have done, for the sin we are doing this very second, and for the sin we will do in the future. We don’t have to wallow in self-pity. We can rest in the love of Jesus and with His help we can change and become more like Christ. We certainly can’t do it ourselves. I relearn that every day. God has been teaching me to be humble. To realize that I will ALWAYS sin, but because I am saved by the grace of God through the shedding of blood of His Son on the cross, who died, rose and is coming again, I can conquer sin. I have already won because God is on my side. God is “cementing” my foundation in Christ! He is molding me to be more like His Son, Jesus!

What causes you to be worldly? In James 4:1 it says, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” Then, in James 4:4 it says, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” When I read this, I am so moved because I realize that every time I sin, I act as an enemy against God. My God, who loves and calls me His own. Thankfully there is more because James writes, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”

I will probably always struggle with fear, but I have Christ! If I humble myself and just be honest with God, seek after Him and confess to Him about my sin and struggles, He will use them to bring me closer to Himself. What an awesome God!

-Sarah Roe

 

Madness

jaredmadnessEvery year when the second week of March rolls around, the world seems to pause for a few moments as the madness of college basketball ushers in! Whether you are a sports fan or not, you have probably heard of the term, “March Madness.” It’s the time in which over 60 college basketball teams play against each other to see who will rise to the top and win it all. Each year people fill out brackets trying to guess which teams will win and which teams will be eliminated. The real madness lies in the battle of which person will have the best bracket.

You see, it's any man's game and any team can win! Every year the games consist of blowouts, nail biters, buzzer beaters, and huge upsets! Also, there is usually a low ranked “Cinderella” team that shocks everyone by winning several games against higher ranked schools! You never know what’s going to happen!

I write about March Madness not just because it is one of my favorite times of the year, but to share with you how God is working in my life through all the “madness” or trials He is kindly allowing me to have. As a team we have been studying James and discussing trials.

James 1:2-4 says – My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

One of the things I've been learning through our study of James is that trials are not only hardships and struggles, but also blessings that come into my life. Trials are simply circumstances that test my faith and reveal what is really in my heart.

A pleasant trial tested my faith a few weeks ago. Our team was ministering in Carthage, NC, and the three of us guys had the opportunity to stay in a nice apartment next door to a family from the church. The trial and test was whether or not we would be selfish the whole week and stay to ourselves or show friendliness and love to the family next door. Thankfully the Lord allowed us to reach out to that family and minister to them. That’s not what our flesh wanted to do, though. Our flesh wanted us to stick to ourselves and do our own thing.

This week, an unpleasant trial tested my faith. On Saturday, after we arrived at the church and got all set up, I went to park the supply trailer where it would stay for the rest of the week. In the process of parking the trailer, I managed to get the van stuck in the nice Tennessee mud. Now I had a trial on my hands! I could either get fearful, wondering what people thought of me, and how dumb I was and make excuses, or I could be humble and admit my mistake and rest in the fact that God loves me and is working to change me! My security needs to be in God alone!

James says that the right response to trials in our life, whether they are pleasant or hard, big or small, should be joy. How often do you respond to your trials with joy? When is the last time you thanked God for a trial you went through? Are you thanking God for the trial you are going through right now? All these questions are ones that the Lord is convicting me over as I examine myself. My normal response to trials is frustration, depression, fear, or anxiety.

Right now the biggest trial for me is a change of lifestyle next year. The Lord has been so kind to give me the privilege of traveling on the Galkin team for two years, but now the Lord is leading me on to seminary. Traveling for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel has changed my life incredibly. I love every minute of it and have become very close to the Galkin family and the other team members.

My response to the trial of a lifestyle change next year has been one of fear. I find myself fearing about what job I'm going to get, what my housing will be, how I will pay for a car, and the list goes on and on. My biggest fear though, is what my team members will think of me when I'm off the team. I fear what people think of me rather than resting in God and being secure in Christ! The Lord has been showing me that this fearful response to trials is only selfishness. When I'm being fearful, I'm only thinking of myself. When I get frustrated or depressed, I'm only thinking of myself. The answer is to count it all joy in each trial and actively love God and others. The Lord knows exactly what He is doing and is lovingly bringing trials into our lives to mold us into mature Christians who's security is in Christ alone!

I want to end with a quote from How People Change, a book we have been reading together as a team. “He calls us to wrestle, meditate, watch, examine, fight, run, persevere, confess, resist, submit, follow, and pray until we have been transformed into His likeness.”

So in all the madness in your life, remember to take joy and keep your eyes on Jesus!!

-Jared Mitchell

   

"How [Rolands] Change"

josheviewogOur team has been reading a book entitled “How People Change.” It has been a great encouragement and conviction to me. Along with that, and even more convicting has been our study in the book of James. The two of them together have brought a deeper understanding of James and what he is intending to teach us about true faith.

In studying James, we find out that the whole book is about what true and genuine faith looks like under the moment-by-moment pressures of life.

All of us have pressures. I’d like to share part of a day in my life with you and let you see in a real practical sense what I am learning from the book of James.

Before I can tell you about the day, I need to give you some history. My wife and I were just married this past May. A whole lot of changes happen in your life when you get married! To add to that, we just had our first little baby girl. She is a cutie and a bundle of fun and responsibility. Along with that, we are living in a 5th wheel trailer that the Lord has very graciously provided for us. Also, we pull the trailer with a big F350 truck. Needless to say – we are on a huge learning curve with life at the moment.

When you live in a 5th wheel trailer, you have lots of things to maintain constantly. Just 2 weeks ago, we had a converter go bad and send some crazy amounts of electricity into our trailer. Well, that caused a lot of damage to lights and the battery, etc. We are in the process of getting that fixed.

So, it was a busy rainy day. We spent the morning in services singing and preaching. We had a great morning despite the fact that the previous night our washer draining-hose sprung a leak and got water all over the floor. So after church, we wanted to relax and rest, but I needed to fix the hose. So, I was getting changed to run to Wal-Mart for a part I needed. As I did this, my hand knocked some of the loose wires that were sticking out of the ceiling from our light fixture that was being fixed and knocked the protective plastic pieces off of them. The next thing I know, there is a little spark and all the lights in our bedroom go off. Joyous occasion, right? I had already spent hours working on electrical issues in the trailer – I did not want another one. I did not lose my cool yet, I was talking to myself out loud thinking through possible solutions. Much to my surprise it ended up being just a blown fuse. I was very thankful it was nothing more. I said to my wife, “Praise the Lord it’s just a fuse.” I quickly replaced the fuse and then left for Wal-Mart.

I got to Wal-Mart and found the hose I needed to replace the leaky one. I was a little doubtful it would be long enough to fit, or if the rubber connecting part was going to fit snug enough to keep it from leaking. I got back to the trailer and began to work on the washer. I said, “Praise the Lord” as I found that the part was long enough. Then I realized that I was going to have to cut some of the rubber-connecting piece in order for it to fit snug – “No problem!” I thought. “I’ll just use a sharp kitchen knife and cut off the rubber piece and voila!.” So, I went to the drawer – completely in the zone for working. I was not thinking about whether my wife would want me to use the knife on a piece of rubber tubing! But pulled it out, and just before I started to cut, my wife interrupted me and asked me if I was seriously going to use the kitchen knife for that rubber tube. Now, what happened in that moment was a revealer of my own heart. I did not blurt out and yell, nor did I say hurtful things to my wife, instead, I manipulated the conversation by exaggerating how long it was going to take me to go outside, in the rain, to get a different tool, to cut the tube. Plus, then, being the husband, I put a little bit of a “I’m your authority tone” and “like it’s a big deal tone” in my voice. That was just enough to do it, she yielded and let me use the knife not wanting to cause a big stir over such a little thing. I went back to my task, finished it and said, “Praise the Lord this thing works!”

I knew I had done wrong in my attitude and my communication with my wife. The Spirit of God would not let me go too long before I apologized about my sin. The next day, Monday, our team got together and continued our study in James. We were to the part about wisdom. True faith results in wisdom in responding to moment-by-moment pressures of life. What does this wisdom look like?

Let me walk you through the list quickly. First it is pure (whole, of one material, not with duplicity). Then it is peaceable, gentle or kind, open to reason (teachable), full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and sincere. Now as we walked through this list, I was convicted even more over my sin the day before.

To start with, I was full of duplicity. My mouth was praising the Lord one moment, and then in the next, manipulating my wife. I responded to some of the pressures that day with a good attitude because they did not really strike me hard or in areas I would want to protect. But then, when it was my own pride, or just the fact that I had to stop doing something my way, I felt the need to war. Sure it was a subtle battle, but it was still a war. Second, I did not seek peace with my wife until I won the battle. I was not kind in my attitude nor was I teachable. No, even though there was a razor blade I could have used just feet away from me, I HAD to use the kitchen knife because it was going to get my job done faster. I was not merciful – instead I was judging my wife in my heart. “She would question me? She really thinks this will dull her knife?” “Does she not know that I know better?” No, I did not extend mercy to her. I could go through the rest of the list, but ultimately the wisdom I showed in that moment could be best described by verses earlier in the chapter – earthly, unspiritual, demonic – because of my selfish ambition.

This is a prime example of what James is talking about throughout the entire book. Whether it was that I had become the judge of my wife, my tongue speaking craftily, or sweet water and bitter coming from the same fountain. I had moments to show with a meek heart the wisdom of God, or in an adulterous heart the selfishness of my own desires. True faith is seen in the moments. I need to submit myself to God’s will for my life and beg Him for wisdom, not so I can have my own selfish ambitions, but rather so I can show with meekness the Wisdom of God. I know God is going to continue to teach me and grow me through this study. I hope that I will learn to exercise true faith whether through good moments or hard ones.

I hope that this look at a moment in my life will be an encouragement and a challenge to you. What kind of faith do you have? Does it show forth fruit, or does it reveal the selfish passions you have inside you?

-Josh Roland

 

Joy Stealers

emptycoffeeJoy stealer #1: The Internet (the source for 90% of my work on the team) is down.
Joy stealer #2: A team member just did something that irritates me.
Joy stealer #3: No one made coffee this morning.

The morning starts, and pretty soon I have no joy left in my tank. If I’m a Christian, why do I keep losing my joy over small things? Because when my idols and selfish ambitions are being poked and prodded, I get angry instead of submitting to the heat God is giving me to become more like His Son.

My reaction to heat reveals whether I am loving myself, or if I am loving God and others. So when the Internet does go down, I can accept that the trial is in God’s perfect plan to change me to be more like Him. I don’t have to react selfishly in thinking my job in media ministry is more important than my relationship with God. When a team member does something that irritates me, I can choose to love them because God chose to love me with all my flaws. When I don’t get my coffee in the morning, I can still be a loving person (caffeinated or decaffeinated) because of the love of Christ that is in me. Whenever heat comes at me, I have a choice to act selfish and produce thorns, or go Godword and produce fruit.

What steals your joy? How do you react to the heat of the Christian life? Joy stealers can tempt us to act like the flesh, but if we are focused on our position in Christ, and submit to the heat God is giving us, we will become more and more like Christ.

-Laura Kennedy

   

The Gospel for My {Ambitions}?

gospelformyambitionsWhen a person visits our team’s site it doesn’t take them very long to see what we are all about. Throughout our site are phrases like “The Gospel for My Life,” “The Gospel for My Town,” “Gospel Testimonies,” etc. Giving the gospel to the unredeemed and the redeemed alike in order to help churches be healthy is our team’s mission. I find, however, that in my own heart exist seemingly godly desires for the gospel to change areas of my life, but that in actuality are fleshly ambitions of self-betterment seeking to accomplish my own personal agenda. In essence, I have selfish desires cloaked in a guise of spirituality.

James 4:3 states “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” I never realized until recently how often I attempt to use the gospel in selfish ways. I see areas in my life that I want to change, areas of self-discipline, for example, and pray for God’s grace through the gospel to help me improve in these areas. But my desire for change is not that the gospel may be furthered in my life and the lives of those around me, but that I might feel better about the person I am and might appear responsible to those around me. I ask for gospel grace in order to spend it on selfish ambitions.

What God is teaching me is that he, through his gospel, is not my therapist seeking to meet my felt needs, but my Redeemer seeking to show me my true needs of submission, repentance and dependence. My need for God’s help is so all-encompassing that I even need him in my pursuit of grace. I praise God for making his love for me so obvious in the way he gently works in my heart that I am continually drawn to serve him.

-Jonathan Jarrett

 

Be Faithful

merrillcasket2 Tim. 2:2 - "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also."

Twelve years ago a great man of God decided to take to heart the words of 2 Tim. 2:2 and began to pour his life into a young rebel teenage kid. Twelve years later, to the glory of God, this rebel teenage kid is now traveling in evangelism under Will Galkin and is passionate about living for the gospel and impacting others for Christ.

What happened? God in his kind grace, lovingly saved a man, named Ron Merrill and put a fire in his soul for the gospel and loving people. In turn, God lovingly used Ron Merrill to impact my life for God in an incredible way, more than I'll probably ever know.

I would like to share with you a small look into the life of a man who was a warrior for Christ and literally wore himself out for the gospel.

Ron Merrill had a deep walk with God. He loved people with all his heart and was passionate about preaching! After graduating from college, Ron Merrill became a pastor at a small struggling church in Ohio. Soon the church grew to over 500 people. God was doing great things through a man who was sold out for Him. After twenty-two years of pastoring, Ron Merrill and his wife went into full time evangelism.

I met Ron Merrill when I was five or six years old and had no clue what God had in store for me. When I was thirteen years old, Ron asked me to travel with him during the summer at some camps he was speaking at. That was the start of nine summers of training in evangelism. Those summers changed my life! Ron Merrill taught me how to preach and helped put a passion in my heart for the lost. In those nine summers we saw many people saved and many lives given to Christ. He became my close friend and mentor. I know I wouldn't be where I am today if God hadn't used him in my life.

A little over three weeks ago, I received the news that this great hero of the faith was dying. It was hard to believe because Ron Merrill had the energy of about ten men. He was this upbeat, joyful, passionate man who lived and breathed ministry and loving people. It was soon clear though, that God was calling Ron Merrill home. He told his son a few days before he died, “I believe I've done what God has called me to do, I'm ready to go.”

A little over two weeks ago, the Lord allowed me to see him before he died. One of the last things Ron said to me was, “Be faithful.”

God has been doing a great work in my heart these last few weeks. The thought that keeps ringing through my mind is, “There's only one life twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last.” I'm too prone to live for myself. I too easily give my heart to things that don't matter for eternity. I don't love people like the Bible commands because I'm filled with thoughts of myself or things that have no value.

My prayer and desire is that the Lord breaks me and molds me into a man who gives his all for Christ, the gospel, and others, like the man who trained me and died having given his all for Christ.

Farewell
Goodbye dear loved ones, I'm going to stay
in that beautiful HOME not far away.
My journey here has been marred by sin,
But the blood of Jesus will carry me in.
He loved me. He kept me. He guided my way.

-Jared Mitchell

   

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