Congregate!

The latest results of a study from the University of Michigan revealed that college students have a 40% lower capacity to empathize with the feelings of others, as compared to college students 20 and 30 years ago. 14,000 college students participated in the study from 1979 to 2009. (Read more at US News & World Report)

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;he breaks out against all sound judgment.

Proverbs 18:1 (ESV)

Isolation destroys us. Isolation is associated with depression, suicide, poor mental health, and addiction. Isolation from the body of Christ destroys us spiritually. Could it be that the corresponding decline in church attendance in the U.S. is the cause of the reduced capacity to empathize with others?

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to die for us. (John 3:16) When that reality becomes a part of me, a part of you, a part of us, we rejoice at the opportunity to go to church. To fellowship with God over at His house becomes something we love to do. And spending time with Him, we become more like Him.

And He empathizes. He loves people.

He loves you.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:25

Go to church.

Goldman Sachs Ripoff — Reformation vs. Regeneration

Goldman Sachs Protest

Perhaps you’ve been wondering what all the buzz is about concerning Goldman Sachs. I recently heard it explained this way: Goldman Sachs put together investment packages, sold them to customers as a wise and promising way to spend their money, and then, Goldman Sachs invested in a way that “bet against” the success of those very same investment packages — because they knew they would fail. (read more in the Washington Post article)

It’s human nature to think that reformation can change a person, an organization, a country, or the world. We think, if only we could reform the government, or get our man or woman into office. If only we could reform the financial system with more regulation, or by appointing the right Fed Chairman. If only we could reform ourselves, turn over a new leaf, make resolutions and stick to them. In reality, reformation never changes much, regeneration is the answer. Not that Wall Street can ever  be perfect this side of heaven, but, without Christ in the hearts of the men running Wall Street, there’s no hope for Wall Street. Regeneration through the acceptance of Christ into your life is the answer. (see John 3:1-7) Without Christ in your life reformation will bring only temporary or superficial change. Without Christ in your life you’re likely to return to a state worse than you were before reformation. (see Luke 11:24-26) Without Christ in your life there is no hope because without Jesus you can do nothing. (see John 15:5)

…he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit

Titus 3:5

Pray for regeneration. Pray for the Holy Spirit, daily. Pray for Christ to fill up your life with Himself.

For more information see John Courson’s teaching from Sunday, April 25, 2010 at JonCourson.com .

Baby Survives Abortion

baby born at 1 poundA baby boy survived an abortion.

Twenty hours after he was aborted a priest who was praying over the child noticed that he was still alive. The priest notified medical authorities who rushed the baby to a neonatal unit.

Life saving measures were not successful. The baby, who was born on Saturday, died on Monday.

The incident occurred in Rossano, Italy. The abortion occurred at 22 weeks.

Unfortunately, the pro abortion mind goes through the necessary mental gymnastics, and rationalizes that if the baby is not visible the baby is not a baby, but rather a fetus, and the killing is not killing, but rather it’s aborting.

God have mercy on us.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”

Proverbs 31:8

References:

Baby Boy Survives Abortion

[Image via: | h.e.a.t.h.e.r | Creative Commons]

Tornado Kills 10 in Mississippi — Acts of God

A monster tornado that was nearly a mile wide ripped through Mississippi killing 10 and injuring more than a dozen more. Homes, businesses, trees, and churches were devastated by the storm that struck to the Northwest of the city of Jackson. (Read more about it in an AP article)

It’s interesting to me that these types of incidents are often called “acts of God.” Not that God couldn’t use a tornado for His purposes if He chose to but…

When the disciples and Jesus were making their way across the sea and a storm broke, they awoke Jesus because they were frightened. The Bible says that Jesus,  “…arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still.” (Mark 4:39) Why would Jesus, the Son of God, rebuke anything that was an act of God? It doesn’t make sense. (see Matthew 12:25) The word Jesus used to rebuke the storm, “be still,” is translated in the Greek to literally mean “be muzzled.” It is the same word that Jesus used to rebuke demons. The storm was initiated, not by God, but by Satan. When storms come our way it’s important to keep in mind that Satan is the prince of this world. (John 12:31)

During storms, it’s also essential to remember the words of Jesus,

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

For more information visit JonCourson.com and ApplegateFellowship.org

Cat Found — Video

Last summer Robin Alex left town to do some volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity. Alex made arrangements with a cat-sitting friend to take care of her cat, Charles, until she returned. Both Robin Alex and her friend live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Unfortunately while Robin was gone, Charles the cat disappeared.

As the days, weeks, and months passed, Robin Alex gave up any hope of finding Charles. But then last week she received some good news. Charles the cat was found.

In Chicago.

Charles was on death row, 1300 miles from home in a Chicago animal shelter, when a worker there noticed that Charles had a computer chip implanted under his skin identifying him as belonging to Robin Alex. Robin Alex was contacted and arrangements were made to fly Charles the cat back home to Albuquerque.

Wow, now that gives new meaning to the term ‘stray cat.’

Have you drifted away from your relationship with Jesus? Have you prioritized your time and energy toward other things in life to the neglect of your walk with the Lord? Even as Robin and her cat were reunited, you’ll be reunited with God, no matter how far you may stray. It’s just a matter of time before He makes arrangements for your reunification and reconciliation with Him.

Why fight Him? Return to you first love. Plug into church. Spend time in God’s word. Pray. Reconcile. He desires that you draw close to Him. He desires to draw close to you.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38, 39

Teens Find Dead Body During Easter Egg Hunt

In Des Moines, Iowa, a couple of teenagers were participating in an Easter egg hunt in Des Moines park. In their quest for eggs they wandered off a bit from the main group and found something they didn’t expect — a dead body. (see KCCI Des Moines for more)

On the original Easter Jesus’ followers were also surprised but for a different reason. They came expecting a dead body but found none.

Jesus has risen.

Praise God.

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Matthew 28:1-10

The Kitchen’s on Fire — How God prepares us

So my son, Gabe, is sitting peacefully on his couch a few nights ago when his wife bursts into the room and hollers something to the effect of, “Honey, the kitchen’s on fire!” He jumps off the couch and runs out to the kitchen to find that a pot of cooking oil is on fire. No problem, he just checked his fire extinguisher less than two months ago — he knows right where it is and that it’s charged and ready to go. So he runs past the stove to the room with the extinguisher.

It only takes a few seconds to grab it but by now the fire is climbing up the wall behind the stove. No problem, Gabe, extinguisher in hand, pulls the pin, aims at the base of the fire, squeezes the handle, and…

Nothing.

Oh the little challenges life throws at us… Here’s Gabe in his 100 year old house (no exaggeration, it really is 100 years old) that’s on fire, with a fire extinguisher in his hand that’s of no use, except perhaps as a boat anchor. As anyone in the fire service knows, 100 year old houses are tinder dry and burn like a pile of kindling. So by now the fire has climbed up the wall and is already starting to roll across the ceiling. Gabe grabs a cutting board and tries to cover the pan with it but it’s too hot. He can’t get close enough to the pot. He presses forward but suffers first degree burns to his forehead and hand in his attempt.

Plan ‘A’ no go, plan ‘B’ not working, hopefully Gabe can put this fire out before he runs out of letters in the alphabet.

He runs out the back door where the garden hose is, quickly he turns on the spigot, runs back into the house and instantly recalls something. As I listened to Gabe tell the story I’m thinking, “Something he learned from his firefighter father perhaps?” But no, of course not. Rather he recalled something he’d recently seen on TV. Some dramatic film footage of what happens when water hits burning cooking oil. It looks something like a miniature atomic explosion.

So very carefully, Gabe aims the garden hose stream at the wall and ceiling, avoiding flowing any water into the pot of burning oil. As the fire on the wall and ceiling are knocked down he’s able to get closer to the stove top. With the garden hose in one hand, and the cutting board in the other, Gabe covers the pot of burning oil with the cutting board.

Fire’s out, game over, house saved, thanks to God’s grace, and Gabe’s quick thinking and cool head.

I find it interesting that Gabe happened to see that film footage of what happens when water hits burning oil just a few weeks before he needed that bit of wisdom. God has a way of preparing us for the future He’s laid out for us.

Next time you’re enduring a trial or tribulation take heart. God is more concerned with your eternal condition than he is with your current comfort. He loves us enough to prepare us for what is to come. Consider how God prepared David for his battle with Goliath.

Before David slew Goliath king Saul said,

“You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.”

But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.

1 Samuel 17:33-36

Applegate Christian Fellowship

Toad Behavior Predicts Earthquakes

“In the quest to find an earthquake predictor, elephants, horses, wolves, snakes and fish have all been variously put forward.” (see Breitbart.com ) However the validity behind efforts to show that animal behavior can be used to predict earthquakes has been questionable — perhaps until now. Now it appears that toads, male common toads (Bufo bufo) to be exact, may actually give up to five days warning of an impending earthquake. The result of a fortuitous coincidence, a researcher named Rachel Grant happened to be studying the mating habits of toads ten days before April 6, 2009. That was the day when a 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit the town of L’Aquila, Italy. More than 300 people died as a result of the quake. (see the NY Times Article L’Aquila Earthquake 2009)

Rachel Grant, a biologist, noticed that while the male toads normally congregate at the breeding site and stay for the duration of the mating season, this time 96% of the male toads fled the breeding site five days before the quake. She also noted that numbers of breeding pairs of toads dropped to zero three days before the quake. (see Breitbart.com )

Want to know a good predictor for earthquakes in your life? When your numbers drop, when you’re no longer congregating — at church — you’re earthquake is coming. Over the years as I’ve observed Christians who fall out of fellowship, I’ve found that over time they become a different person, their behavior changes, noticeably, to those who close to them. But, like the proverbial frog in the pot of slowly heated water, the one who has neglected his or her fellowship doesn’t seem to notice. When you drift from God’s pattern of regular fellowship at church and regular fellowship with God through prayer and reading His word you likely won’t notice anything at first.

But slowly, almost imperceptibly, the earthquake will come.

Stay in regular fellowship with Jesus. Stay in regular fellowship with His body, with His people. Stay close to Him.

I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;

Psalm 91:2-4

Why Fish the Sea When You Know You’ll Get Seasick?

Went fishing yesterday, not as I usually do, on a lake, for largemouth bass. This time I’m on vacation with my family in Puerto Vallarta which is right on the ocean.  So we hired a local boat from a company called Monkey Business and our Captain, Tori, did what he always does — he took us to where the fish are. This particular day he took us out to the mouth of the Banderas Bay near the Marietta Islands. Wow, it was like we were in a washing machine on heavy duty cycle. The boat was tossed about until I began to feel just a bit queezy, so I took a dramamine and washed it down with some Coca-Cola. It wasn’t long after that, that one of our party lost their breakfast over the side of the boat then another, then another and then I lost my best fishing sunglasses. When I finally could no longer resist the urge to regurge I was so overcome that I had to push the last person whose head was over the side (fortunately he had just finished) out of the way so I could add my stomach contents to the surrounding waters. The taste of coffee, mixed with Coke, mixed with just a pinch of dramamine will be forever imbedded in my memory.

I’m a lightweight when it comes to motion sickness (even as I type this post a day later, the room is rocking and swaying as though I’m still on board Tori’s boat) Knowing this, my wife asked me afterwards,

Why on earth did you, the person who gets motion sick so easily, go out on that boat and fish in the ocean?

OK, so I confess that more often than not when my wife starts a question with, “Why on earth did you…?” it’s usually because I did something stupid. But this time I had a good reason.

Dr. George Vaillant led a Harvard University study that followed the lives of 268 men in great detail for 72 years (one of the men BTW was JFK). Vaillant has come to some very interesting conclusions after poring over the resulting data. George Vaillant says that one of those conclusions is “That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.” (see The Atlantic)

Yes, I knew I’d almost certainly get sick out there on the high seas, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend time with one of my sons doing something he loves to do, which is to fish. Neither of us had fished the ocean before so it was particularly appealing for me to be there when he experienced this first in his life.

Was it worth it? Yes. If I could do it over again would I still go? Yes. Will I go next time? No way!

My point is this: you and I sometimes become so task oriented that we lose our focus on what’s most important in our lives. I’ve spoken with men so focused on their careers that their wives left them unexpectedly, stating simply that, “you’ve been a good roomate.” These men were so busy getting the job done that they neglected their relationships with their wives who the Bible admonishes us to love as Christ loves the church. (Ephesians 5:25)

Another conclusion Vaillant came to after the Grant study: “What we do affects how we feel just as much as how we feel affects what we do.” Love is something you do more than something you feel. Love is a verb.

Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) “And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)

Love God and love people.

1 Corinthians 13

More Than 200 Christians Killed in Nigeria — Video

More than 200 Christians, many, women and children, were killed in Nigeria Sunday, according to Mission Network News. Accounts from neighbors of the dead say that Muslim herdsmen came out of the hills, shot pistols to draw people out of their homes, and then killed with machetes and bows and arrows. Some of the bodies had severed limbs. Many dead children were found entangled in the arms of their deceased mother’s.

Today the dead were buried in mass graves.

The area where the massacre occurred is a location where a predominantly Christian region borders a predominantly Muslim region.

Your Life:

Walk closely with God for it’s not a matter of if you’ll be persecuted for your faith in Christ but a matter of when. Jesus predicted this when He said,

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”

John 15:18-20

I’m not saying that you and your family will be brutally massacred however we all face trials and you and I won’t be exceptions — count on it. That’s why it’s so important to spend time with the Lord now so you’re prepared for the storm.

You won’t regret it.

Jesus also said,

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33