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There is no fear in love, But perfect love drives out fear…We love because he first loved us.
John 4:18-19

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Be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good.
Psalm 100:4-5

 
 
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Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

– Matthew 7:7-8 NASB

June 2017

Dear Members and Friends; 

From time to time, it seems that in the world in which we live, logic and reality escapes even our best and brightest.

A physics professor called on one of his students to list some characteristics of heat and cold.

“Things expand in heat and contract in cold,” answered the student.

“Give an example.”

“In summer,” answered the student, “the days are long and in winter the days are short.”

General MacArthur asked the Lord to build him a kind of son that would serve, follow and make clear his calling.

“Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat and humble and gentle in victory.  Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know Thee … and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge. 

“Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high, a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

“And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously.  Give him humility, simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom and the meekness of true strength.

“Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, ‘I have not lived in vain.” 

I think all of us can relate to MacArthur’s plea. 

Happy Father’s Day,

Merrill

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May 2017

Dear Members and Friends; 

With Mother’s Day only a few days away, I thought I’d share with you a
story about a boy and his mother discussing church.

“Do you like church, Mother?” said Jimmy, as they walked home from the Sunday services.

“Of course, I do.  I love my church.  Don’t you?”

“I like the singing and I like the friendly people and I do like the minister, but I don’t know what he says.”

“Do you mean that you don’t understand the sermon?” asked the surprised mother.  “I think he talks quite plainly.”

“Oh, I know the children’s story all right, but many of the words I don’t know and I start thinking about other things.”

“Tell you what,” said the mother, “next Sunday you write down each word that you don’t understand, as best you can write it and I’ll try to explain them.  We will make a game of it.  I will give you a nickel for each word that is new, but you can only collect once for that word because the next Sunday you should know what it means.”

Jimmy was right.  Strange words that go unexplained drive the hearer to thinking in other fields and the speaker loses his audience.  Difficult words may flatter the egos of those who understand them and may win some respect from the learned, but the price of sending the young folks away hungry is too great.

The burden placed upon any minister or teacher is a great one of bringing understanding, knowledge, truth and inspiration to all growing minds.  Parents also should help in the development of the vocabulary by learning and explaining new words in the family conversations.  A handy dictionary is a worthy tool.

St. Paul, as the most learned writer in the New Testament, was aware of the importance of clear and simple speech and followed the example of Jesus most of the time in simplicity.

Happy Mother’s Day,

Merrill

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April 2017

Dear Members and Friends; 

As we approach Easter, it is important for us to understand our responsibility as we serve the Risen Christ.  Each of us that know Him as our Lord and Savior, understands what His death and resurrection means.  In 2 Timothy, Paul is talking about our responsibility and the cost that comes with it.  He is also anticipating his being with Jesus in the near future.  This Easter, each of us needs to be prepared to stand up and be counted; just as Paul did in this passage. 

Stand steady and don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord.  Bring others to Christ.  Leave nothing undone that you should do.

“I say this because I won’t be around to help you much longer.  My time has almost run out.  Very soon now I will be on my way to Heaven.  I have fought long and hard for my Lord and through it all I have kept true to Him.  And now the time has come for me to stop fighting and rest.  In Heaven a crown is waiting for me which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of His return.  And not just to me, but to all those whose lives show that they are eagerly looking forward to his coming back again.”  (2 Timothy 4:5-8 TLB)

This Easter, are we eagerly anticipating the return of Christ and if so are we telling everyone we know how important it is that they are ready as well. 

Looking forward to Easter, Merrill

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March 2017

Dear Members and Friends; 

So often, people make assumptions that aren’t valid but they act on them anyway. This causes real difficulty in how they identify who they really are.

Parable of Association

Jerry went out to play in the barnyard and as he watched the pigs wallowing in the mud he seemed to envy the fun they were having and soon he himself first waded and then sat down slopping in the mud.  As some friends passed by, one said, “I see farmer Brown has another pig in his pen.  He now has ten pigs.”  But Jerry stood up indignantly and hollered, “Hey, I’m not a pig, I’m a boy.”

In this day of social mixing and down to earth living there is still a real need for marking yourself for what you are.

It is often difficult to tell Christians from non-Christians because people fail to identify themselves and the pig likes to drag others
down to his level.

There are some who say, “I can be a Christian without going to Church.  I can be a Christian without being charitable.  I can be a Christian and drink and gamble and do as I please.  I can be a Christian without teaching or rendering any service.”  They are only deceiving themselves.

The kingdom advances on the shoulders and in the hearts of those who give themselves to Christ’s cause.

Looking forward to Easter, Merrill

“So then, you will know them by their fruits.
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father
who is in heaven will enter.”
  (Matthew 7:20-21 NASB)

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February 2017

Dear Members and Friends;

In life, all of us have had experiences where we consider the results of something that we have done a win.  At other times, we’ve considered it a loss.  In our world today, political correctness wants there to be no winners or losers in the games the children play.

How can they be prepared for life, which is full of wins and losses; if they have no experience in outcomes that produce wins and losses.  Below are some suggestions on how winners and losers look at situations.

Winner Versus Loser

  1. A winner says, “Let’s find out”;
    A loser says, “Nobody knows.”
  2. When a winner makes a mistake, he says, “I was wrong.”
    When a loser makes a mistake, he says, “It wasn’t my fault.”
  3. A winner goes through a problem;
    A loser goes around it and never gets past it.
  4. A winner makes commitments;
    A loser makes promises.
  5. A winner says, “I’m good, but not as good as I ought to be.”
    A loser says, “I’m not as bad as a lot of other people are.”
  6. A winner tries to learn from those who are superior to him.
    A loser tries to tear down those who are superior to him.
  7. A winner says, “There ought to be a better way to do it.”
    A loser says, “That’s the way it’s always been done here.”

I’m sure that you found that within the losers attitude there is a sense that we won’t try therefore we won’t lose.  But in not making an attempt to accomplish anything, they have already lost.

Let’s Be Winners!  

Merrill

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January 2017

Dear Members and Friends;

I read this poem recently and wanted to share it with you
Another Year by Avis Christiansen

 

Another year is dawning – A path unknown, untried.
‘Twould fill me with foreboding; Had I no hand to guide;
But He who walked beside me; All through the yesteryear,
Whatever may betide me; Has promised to be near.

Another year with Jesus! Ah, then, no dread I know,
His love is ever precious; Howe’er the winds may blow.
E’en when the storm is fiercest; In Him my soul may rest,
And find sweet peace and comfort; Upon His loving breast.

Another year to trust Him – Yes, I can trust Him still,
Who never yet has failed me; As I have sought His will.
His rod and staff He giveth; To be my strength and stay,
And tenderly He leadeth; Along the homeward way.

Another year to serve Him; To labor for Him here,
E’en while the shadows lengthen; And night is drawing near.
I know not when He’ll call me; To lay my sickle by –
Oh, may I then be faithful; While now the moments fly!

Another year to love Him; Whom I have loved so long;
Another year to praise him; In glad triumphant song.
Whate’er the future holdeth; Of sorrow, toil or pain
His precious Love endureth; Forevermore the same.

 

Happy New Year,

Merrill

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Haiti Mission Trip September 10–20, 2016

Members from our church along with a few members from a church in Napoleon Ohio and members from a church in Port au Paix met at the Port au Prince airport.  We traveled about 2 hours away to Dubuisson, Haiti to repair a church that had been damaged in the earthquake and hurricanes.  This church was built in 1978 by the church I served in Oceanside, New York. 

On our work camps we are accustomed to doing all of the hard labor as we rebuild / repair whatever needs to be done.  But this time the Haitians that we met up with were skilled masons and they more or less took over the operation.  They are wonderful Christian men and our fellowship with them was fantastic!  A bonus in this mission trip was their ability to sing.  Each night for devotions, they would sing prior to the lesson.

As we looked over the church, they assessed the damage and determined it was necessary to completely replace the floor and to secure some of the cracks in the wall with rebar and concrete.  It only took them one day to completely bust up the floor.  The Americans helped where we could but they moved so fast and there was a language barrier.  The cooperation was excellent.  By Friday, the floor and the walls were finished.  The latter part of Friday and Saturday, they placed two supports approximately 10 x 10 under the floor where the altar and pulpit are.  By the time we left on Sunday, the church was secure.  The people were extremely happy but it was on a sad note that we left our friends. 

On a personal note, I reconnected with a number of individuals who had been a part of the church when we were there in 1978.  One of the ladies that cooked for us was a 16 year old girl back then and she helped us carry sand, gravel and water to the pit to mix mortar.  One of the men that helped was about 18 in 1978 and he helped us the whole 3 weeks in 1978-1981 when we were there.  He is now the principal of the school and an assistant pastor.  It was a wonderful trip.  God blessed the work and all of us.

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December 2016

jesusDear Members and Friends; 

Christmas has many different meanings to various people.  For some, unfortunately, it’s a secular holiday highlighted by getting gifts.  For others, it’s a time of giving.  There is no other season so special.  In fact, that first Christmas, God gave the gift of a child.  If you remember in the movie, “The Christmas Box,” the widow asks what was the first gift of Christmas.  It was a time of love symbolized by the Gift of the Child.  But I think the most important thing for us to remember at Christmas, is that Christmas is a time for doing and being all that God has created us to do and be. 

My prayer for you this Christmas is that you take time to allow the Light of Christ to touch your lives.  And that you will understand the promise that God kept to His people, when He sent His Son to that stable bed so long ago.  I want you to take time with your family, your church family and your friends to share the peace, the faith and the joy that symbolizes the Christmas season.  May your celebration be focused around the time that Christmas was born in your life through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. jesus-is-the-reason

 

Merry Christmas,

Merrill

 

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November 2016

ThanksgivingDear Members and Friends;

I would like to share this article on thanking God for all our gifts from the Prairie Overcomer.

It has often been pointed out that thinking precedes thanking. When we are presented with a gift, it is because we think of its significance and meaning that we are led to express our appreciation.

What are the thoughts that entertained by the Christian, lead to thanksgiving? Somewhere in our thinking there should be thoughts of God. Perhaps we should start there. God – what a train of thoughts should be started when we think of Him! Power, wisdom, goodness, grace, love, care: these are just some of the thoughts that cluster around the word God.

When Paul traces the downward path of mankind he begins by saying that men, “When they knew God … glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful.” (Romans 1:21) Men were not thankful that they had a revelation of God; indeed, they sought to suppress that knowledge and to evade its power. In addition to thoughts of God, there would be thoughts of ourselves. We should see our own insignificance in the light of the facts we know about God. We should see and confess our own frailty and failures. We should admit our commitment to earthly things. But we should not stop there. We should think thoughts about our privileges in Christ. God has loved us and made us in the Beloved Son.

In the light of these thoughts, we should be led to think of our responsibilities. We are now responsible to live for God’s glory. Redeemed, we should seek to serve Him faith-fully. We should recognize our responsibility to be thankful and from our lips there should come a daily song of praise.

Why is it then, that we are not more thankful? The truth probably is that we don’t stop to think. The cares and riches and pleasures of this life choke the plant of gratitude and our lives become unfruitful.
Thanksgiving is really the product of careful cultivation. It is the fruit of a deliberate resolve to think about God, ourselves and our privileges and responsibilities. By giving thanks we make manifest the fact that our lives are not controlled by the imperious cares and concerns of this life. We give testimony to the fact that material things do not dictate the horizons of our soul. (Prairie Overcomer)

In Christ, 

Merrill  

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October 2016

prayDear Members and Friends; 

The privilege of following Jesus requires a plan, a direction, determination and depth.  Achieving anything requires discipline — determined, deliberate, definable actions with a clear goal in mind. 

Many centuries ago, Paul coached Timothy, his son in the ministry, with the words, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7) 

I don’t want to shame you into walking a spiritual treadmill, nor do I want to convince you that a no-fun checklist of spiritual tedium will somehow pay dividends in eternity. On the other hand, I don’t want to suggest that becoming like Christ will be easy. Seeking intimacy with the Almighty requires focused determination; demands specific changes in attitude and behavior and will come with a number of heartbreaks and setbacks. 

This is merely an invitation to live life as Christ intended, which includes difficult choices, some hard work and an increasing capacity to enjoy all the goodness God offers those who come to Him. 

Paul chose carefully when he selected the Greek term gymnazo. (Most English transliterations spell it gymnazo, from which we get our word gymnasium.)  The New American Standard Bible renders it “discipline.” Look at how several other translations present Paul’s command: 

Paul has in mind the word picture of an athlete preparing for the day of competition.

I would prefer to translate it “Condition yourself,” which raises two points: 

First; conditioning involves repetitive training exercises so that the athlete’s mind and the appropriate muscle groups learn to work together reflexively and automatically.  Conditioning combines endurance and skill. Conditioning turns game winning abilities into habits. 

Second, no one can condition someone else.  An athlete can seek out a coach to help him with conditioning, but he cannot hire someone to do the work for him.  Condition yourself.  Check the Internet, look through the Yellow Pages.  If you ever find “Lease-a-Dieter” or “Rent-a-Runner,” let me know. I want the number! 

Conditioning is between you and God. 

Notice also that Paul has a goal in mind for the conditioning. Runners condition themselves by running. Weightlifters condition themselves by lifting weights. Each trains for a specific skill to compete in a specific event. Paul’s event is godliness. “Condition yourself toward godliness.” 

Paul uses the Greek word for godliness ten times in his writings; eight of  them appear in 1 Timothy.  Godliness is central to Paul’s advice to Timothy. 

One scholar defines the word this way:  Christian [godliness] is not moralistic, for it is rooted in the Christ event (1 Timothy 3:16). It is not just outward worship, nor a mere concept of God, nor a virtue, nor an ideal.  Over against a [Gnostic philosophy of self-deprivation] that regards creation as bad true [godliness], born of faith, covers everyday conduct in honoring God as Creator and Redeemer, even though it may expect persecution from the very orders of God which it respects. 

A “godly” person is one who ceases to be self-centered in order to become GOD-centered. Christ became a man and as a result of His earthly ministry; we see how God intended for humans to behave.  Jesus is our unblemished example of godliness.  Therefore, a godly person is a Christ-like person.  Our goal as Christians is to become like Christ. 

So why exercise spiritual disciplines?  To know Jesus Christ. They are simply a means by which you come to know Him experientially. 

So, you want to be like Christ?  Me too.  But that kind of godliness won’t just happen by  hanging around a church or thinking lofty thoughts three or four times a day or learning a few  verses of Scripture.  Disciplining ourselves will require the same kind of focused thinking and living that our Master modeled during His brief life on earth. 

Everything starts in the gymnasium of the soul.  Since this is true, let’s commit ourselves to these Eight Spiritual Disciplines. 

In Christ, 

Merrill  

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