Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Christmas Story - by Unknown


Merry Christmas!

I wanted to wish you and yours a very Wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

As a "gift" for you I decided to record a story I've seen floating around via e-mail the past few years.

It's a story essentially about "It's better to give than to receive" involving one family helping another and you can listen to it by clicking on the following link:

A Christmas Story

Hope you enjoy it! Feel free to share it with others if you like.

Looking forward to serving you in the new year!

God Bless, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Randolph Koch

Monday, December 18, 2006

Mary Did You Know?


The Word:

Read: Luke 1:26-38


"Mary Did You Know?" by Randolph Koch

I often wonder if we can fathom how Mary must have felt, or what was going through her mind as the angel came to explain what God had chosen her to do? Then he departed from her and she was left to take in all that she just heard. This angel, sent by God, came to tell Mary that she would bear a son, God's Son to be exact. He would be conceived by the Holy Spirit. Isn't it amazing that God chose to do such a thing for us so we would have an opportunity to be with Him for an eternity through His son? (see John 3:16)

I think it is safe to say that Mary didn't understand one hundred percent what having God's Son implied to herself and mankind. Just think about it for a moment, she was to have "God's" Son. The One and only true God's Son. This Son was and had been from all eternity. He was to humble Himself to become as man to enter this world as a lowly baby that Mary would give birth to and care for. He was the one whom the prophets foretold would come. She would have to change Him, feed Him, love Him, and keep Him warm. He would grow up not only in size and age but also in wisdom and knowledge. This child would one day perform many signs and miracles from feeding 5,000 people with a few fish and loaves of bread to walking on water and calming the raging sea with His voice. He would heal many people and reach out to those who would normally be rejected and ignored. He would prove that He was the way the truth and the life. This was the Messiah, the One that everyone had been waiting for. He would be rejected, mistreated, ridiculed and finally killed at the hands of the people whom He came to save. He would die on behalf of Mary and all mankind because of the wages of our sin and separation from God. He was the one who had come to save all of mankind. I can’t help but wonder if Mary had any idea that this baby she gave birth to came to give her new life? He was her deliverer and yours and mine. He is the indescribable gift from God that the scripture spoke of.

No, I don't think that we can humanly comprehend all of what God has done and neither could Mary or Joseph for that matter. Even knowing this, look at what Mary said after the Angel was done speaking to her in verse 38. She may not have understood all of the implications but she was obedient to do what God wanted her to do. No matter if we completely understand or not, I pray that we would have the same willingness to serve Him. What a glorious time of year that we can give glory to God for what He has done for us as He entered the world as a lowly baby.

Questions To Get Started With:


No Questions. Instead I suggest spending time giving glory to God in your prayer times, re-reading this weeks passage, and read Luke 1:46-56 focusing on what Mary says in these verses.



Friday, December 15, 2006

The Long Awaited One


The Word:

Read:
Luke 2:21-35
Additional Reading: Micah 5:2-4


“The Long Awaited One” by Randolph Koch

Imagine if you had to wait an entire lifetime to attain a goal. This would take patience and determination. Today, in the “I want it here and right now” world we live in, this might not go over too well. Personally speaking, even as I write this, many things come to mind that I've waited for and with some of these things I’ve honestly been waiting for many years for God to open the doors He’s clearly been preparing to lead me through. Let me say, this hasn’t been easy at times and has been very frustrating sometimes. Yet, I keep waiting and keeping my faith and trust in Him as I know He’s preparing the way. He keeps reminding me that it will happen in His will and in His timing- not mine. I look forward to the day when the door swings wide-open for me.


Now, place yourself in Simeon’s shoes for a minute. He was an older and very devout man that the Holy Spirit was working through. It was revealed to him through The Spirit that he would not die before he would see the Messiah. Simeon had literally been waiting his whole life to see Jesus Christ, the Son of God come to Bethlehem as the prophets of old foretold. Then after Jesus was born and circumcised and the days of purification were completed according to the Law, Mary and Joseph made their way to the temple to present Jesus to the Lord. Simeon saw the baby Jesus and took Him with joy into his arms, held Him and said the following words:

"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel."
-Luke 2:29-32

The long awaited One had arrived! Simeon’s wait was over! We can only imagine the sheer joy, wonder, and awe he must has experienced as he held in his very arms the One whom God had sent as Savior of the world!

Possibly you’ve been waiting your whole life for something that you just couldn’t place your finger on? Jesus is the One who you’ve been missing and honestly, He’s been waiting for you to realize your need for Him. Please seek Him now while you still have time to receive His gift.

Maybe you have Him now and have received Him but have forgotten what a gift He is? It’s not too late to enter back in re-committing yourself to live for Him, His purpose and plan. It’s never too late to turn away from complacency and bad habits. Even if you feel that you’ve forsaken and completely turned away from Him, it’s never too late to return to Him as His arms are wide open waiting for you to come to Him.

Whatever your situation is, run to him and cling to Him because the long awaited One, Jesus Christ, is waiting for you and came to earth on your behalf for your salvation!

Questions To Get Started With:

-Have you received His gift of salvation yourself?
-Have you been missing something in your life that you can’t quite place your finger on? Have you considered that Jesus Christ is who you’ve been missing?
-If you’re a Christian, have you become complacent in your faith and relationship with Him? If so, do you know what you need to do to get back what you once had with your Savior?
-This Christmas, will you celebrate the true meaning and reason for Christmas?



Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving


Read: Colossians 3:15-17

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday each year in the United States it provides us with a time to reflect on God’s goodness toward each of us, and gives us time to offer thanksgiving to Him. If we were to put ourselves to the task of focusing on what we are thankful for, I am sure that the list would be endless. Think about this for a minute and look at your life and all that is around you. What can you thank the Lord for? It seems a lot easier to focus on what we don’t have or our circumstance than simply thanking God, doesn’t it? You may be reading this from somewhere other than the United States, but you can still have a day (really everyday) that you set aside to thank God.

In America we tend to forget that the first Thanksgiving, and the history surrounding that time period, is vital if not the most important part of our country’s heritage. So important that we need to teach our children, family, friends, etc. about the importance of it. I really believe that Thanksgiving represents the beginning of our freedom to worship the Lord our God along with many other freedoms we have here in America! I know that at times it doesn’t seem that we have total freedom, but we do. This is especially true compared to those in other countries. We can own a Bible to read, study, and share with others. We can attend church pretty much anywhere we please. The list goes on and on. I also think of the true hardships that the Pilgrims went through in order to flee persecution and to make a new start here in what was to become a new nation! Every time we open our Bible and worship in freedom we should do it with thanksgiving to the Lord and in a sense in memory of those that fought for what we now so easily take for granted: freedom. It is not what we deserve but we have been blessed with it from the depths of God’s amazing grace and love. Let’s not forget that we have freedoms that others have not been blessed with. Let us be grateful and not misuse these blessings. I often wonder why sometimes it takes a holiday for many of us to remember to thank God for what we have been richly blessed with. This holiday isn’t merely a day to indulge in the wonderful feasts. It’s not just another day to spend watching sporting events on TV or the many parades. It is truly a day we can take advantage of and use to focus on thanking God. Globally as believers, we all can have a "Thanksgiving" everyday as we remember all that God has done and is continuing to do in our lives. I am grateful as a believer who lives in America, that we have a day set-aside in remembrance of Thanksgiving. I pray that everyone will come to know the true meaning of Thanksgiving and that we’ll show our gratitude to God everyday no matter where we may be.

Now for everyone that might be facing hard times and feel that you have nothing to be thankful for, or that you are alone; always remember that there is someone facing those hard times with you. Jesus is always there in the good and the bad times so you are not alone! I know first hand that this is very hard to remember when we are in the midst of our struggles. It is so good to know that the Lord is always with us. Let it also be a reminder for us that we are to be thankful in all things. Again, no matter what our circumstances. This Thanksgiving I pray that you’ll have a wonderful time reflecting with much thanksgiving and joy. I also pray that you’ll come away with a renewed and fresh perspective on God’s great love and goodness that He has for you and everyone on the face of the earth.

Questions To Get Started With:

-Do you have an attitude of thanksgiving?
-Do you have a grateful spirit?
-Do you make thanking God a priority?
-Do you lift up praises to Him on a regular basis?



Thursday, November 16, 2006

Do You Need Sharpening?

The Word:
Read: Proverbs 27:17


Do You Need Sharpening? By Randolph Koch

Many times we may have gone to use a knife to cut something. It may have been a pocketknife to carve something; or maybe a kitchen knife to carve your Thanksgiving turkey. When you went to use it you may have found that the knife was so dull that a butter knife would have probably been more effective. We then would have to sharpen the knife; or maybe taken it somewhere to get it sharpened. Then, sometimes to our amazement, even after we have sharpened the knife, it becomes dull again, and eventually ends up in the trash. Like these knives, we need sharpening. As believer's we seem to have a built-in ability to sharpen each other as long as we will utilize the tools and relationships that God has given us. What a joy and privilege it is to sharpen others and to be sharpened by others. It is sad though, that many choose to remain dull just because they don't want to put out any effort.

I tend to think of a "sharp" Christian as a believer that is actively growing in their relationship with the Lord, helping others grow. One that is on the alert against Satan's attacks. On the flip side, I think of a "dull" Christian as a believer that has become ineffective or stagnant in their relationship with the Lord and others and may have become Satan's prey as they have given in to this world.
I think that one of the most wonderful things about our walk with the Lord is that He uses people around you, right where you are, to sharpen you. Strive to be sharpened and to help sharpen others.

The choice is up to you. I pray that you will let Him sharpen you.


Questions To Get Started With:

-Are you a sharp Christian? Or are you dull?
-What would you like to be seen as?
-How do you become sharpened?
-Do you help sharpen others?
-Do others help sharpen you?
-Is all of the above important to you?
-As a Christian why should this matter and why should this passage matter?



Tuesday, October 24, 2006

David Harsh's New Album - Available 11/18/06!



At the end of July you may recall a post where I shared with you about a phenomenal minister of music named David Harsh.

I'm excited to let you know David has a new Album being released on 11/18/06!!

David is an independent minister/artist and in support of his ministry I wanted to forward the following information on to you with hope that you'll also pray regularly for his ministry!

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Click here to read about how the album was recorded:

http://www.davidharsh.com/NewAlbum.html

Click the following link to pre-order until October 31st:

http://www.davidharsh.com/PreOrder.html

Hear Sound clips from the new album via the following link:

http://www.davidharsh.com/SoundClips.html

Come to the CD Release Concert on November 18!

To celebrate the release of the new album, David will be performing a one-of-a-kind full-length concert, where he will play all 14 songs from the album. Here are the details for the concert…

David Harsh CD Release Concert
Saturday, November 18, 2006
6:00 p.m. – CDs available for the first time
7:00-9:30 p.m. – Concert

Sammamish Presbyterian Church
22522 NE Inglewood Hill Road Sammamish, WA 98074

A freewill offering will be taken, and all ages are welcome.

Childcare WILL BE PROVIDED for children under the age of 5, but you must pre-register with Karen Smith by November 10, either via e-mail (karensmith@spconline.org) or by phone (425) 868-5186, ext. 116. There will be a $5.00 charge per child, with a maximum of $10.00 charged per family. Children ages 6 and over are encouraged to attend the concert with their parents.

The release concert is not a ticketed event, but we anticipate a packed house. If you want to get a seat, please arrive early. The sanctuary doors will open at 6:30 p.m., and there will be a 20-minute intermission.

More information about the CD release concert, as well as a MapQuest link, can be found by clicking here:

http://www.davidharsh.com/CDreleaseConcert.html

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Again, please pray and support David and Whitney Harsh's ministry as God leads.

God Bless, Your Brother and Servant, R.L.Koch

Thursday, October 19, 2006

12 Ways to Appreciate Your Pastor

I ran accross the following list of "12 Ways to Appreciate Your Pastor."

The list includes some practical ones to get you thinking about it and then a link to a list for further ideas on the Focus On The Family Pastoral Ministry web site.


Don't forget to encourage your pastor's this month!


12 Ways to Appreciate Your Pastor

When we look at our pastor or minister what do we see? A spiritual giant? Someone who can go it alone? Someone who works a day and a half a week? A servant of the congregation? Someone who does it all?

The truth is that clergy are real people with real families, dreams, needs, desires and gifts. And like all of us, they shine best in situations where they are appreciated and supported.

Here are a dozen ways you can bring out the best in your pastor:
  1. Write a note of appreciation
  2. Pray for your pastor regularly
  3. Stop the rumor mill
  4. Invite him or her out to lunch, golfing, or some other shared interest, without an agenda
  5. Offer to babysit the kids so pastor and spouse can have an evening together, even better, offer them a gift certificate to a restaurant they enjoy
  6. Honor his or her day off – allow time for rest, personal renewal and family time
  7. In times of loss, offer sympathy, care, practical help
  8. Consider holidays and other family days – if the pastor is far from their family of origin, invite them to your celebration – no strings attached
  9. Ask him or her how you can help and then follow through
  10. Tell him or her what you’ve learned from their sermon
  11. Go to http://parsonage.org/cam/index.cfm for ideas on how to celebrate your minister during Clergy Appreciation Month
  12. Consider a sabbatical time for your pastor and find a way to provide one as needed


Why not post this list somewhere and practice one a month? And pass it along to a friend.
As you get to know your clergy family, you’ll be able to add to this list.

Monday, October 16, 2006

OCTOBER is Clergy Appreciation Month!

Don’t forget to encourage the Pastoral Staff at your church during the month of October as it’s Clergy Appreciation Month!

Why not make time to simply send a note of thanks and encouragement to them?! This could be a huge encouragement to them as many times they only hear criticisms from people and we need to do all we can to help build them up instead of tearing them down! Or, maybe you can invite them out to lunch or dinner or bring them lunch or dinner sometime to bless and encourage them? The simplest of things can go a long way to encourage these faithful servants!

Many of our shepherd's numerous hours in service to you and the Lord so - please remember them this month.

Here’s a link to some of the information about this:
http://www.parsonage.org/cam/index.cfm

Seek The Lord today and ask Him to help you find a practical way to encourage and bless the Pastoral staff at your home church!

Friday, September 22, 2006

C.H.A.R.A.C.T.E.R. (Part 2 of 8) – Honesty













The Word:

Read: Acts 5:1-10
Additional Reading: Luke 8:17, Proverbs 10:9 (Read and Memorize both)

“Honesty” By Randolph Koch

There’s an old saying that goes, “Honesty is the best Policy.” This saying rings true and especially for those who are followers of Jesus Christ. If we’re dishonest, then we will definitely dishonor and misrepresent the Lord. We’ll also bring shame upon ourselves if we’re perpetually dishonest as our reputation will be built upon this. Once you lose trust from others it takes a lot of time to rebuild that trust.

Honesty and Integrity go hand in hand but time and time again maybe even in your own family, at work or on the news we’ve seen the broken relationships, the crumbling businesses, and even church splits all because of dishonesty and a lack of integrity. Then there are the infamous political seasons where you’re bombarded by candidate advertisements. You know, the constant mud slinging, some of the candidates twisting their background or the issues at hand for their own benefit and most of all they try to malign the character and credibility of their opponent as they spin a web of dishonesty. I personally loathe those seasons as it’s appalling and makes you wonder who you can really trust!

You may have heard of churches where someone on the staff or the board has embezzled money from the church and left the church in financial ruins. You may have also heard accounts of churches or specific ministries that have made false claims or promises of healing if “you’ll only send a certain amount of money” or they’ve performed supposed healings to later be found out to be a fake. This is tragic, and not only does it make the Church appear to be some kind of cheap side show but it also gives people false hope that is later dashed and ultimately these false profits and “healers” dishonor God! Whether they realize it or not, (although they should know because of the Word of God), they will be accountable to God for these things. Don’t get me wrong, God does heal people but we ought not cheapen this or misrepresent healing especially for our own personal gain!

There are many more examples that could be mentioned and maybe several come to mind for you but, the bottom line is that you need to understand that God knows your heart and sees all things so let us not think for a moment that we can fool Him or conceal anything! We can try to conceal it from man, not that we should, but we can’t conceal anything from God. That should really sober us up, especially if we’ve stepped into the habits of being dishonest.

In The Book of Acts God gives a clear example and instruction of honesty versus dishonesty regarding Ananias and his wife Sapphira. (See Acts 5:1-10.) People in the early church were selling some of their possessions including land and more and bringing the proceeds to the Apostles to use for the Lord’s work. Ananias and Sapphira devised a plan to sell their land and then secretly withhold some of the proceeds for themselves. Ananias brought the “offering” to the apostles and “somehow” they were found out. The Bible is clear that sin will be brought to light and in this case it was. The result of there dishonesty was that within the same day, within about a three hour span of time, both Ananias and Sapphira separately fell dead! It should be clear to us that God does not accept dishonesty and ought to be reminded of this and learn for the lesion in Acts. In other words, don’t be like Ananias and Sapphira. Stay honest in all you say and do and don’t withhold anything from the Lord that you know He tells you to give or to do for Him. Ananias obviously didn’t understand this and they paid heavily for it.

As you can see the character quality of honesty is very important especially for those who represent the Lord Jesus. Honesty, integrity, and love as well as many other qualities should be earmarks of the believer as others should associate these character qualities with us and we in turn should strive to reflect these qualities for the glory of God.

Questions to Get Started With:-Are you honest in your business practices?
-How about your tithes and offerings? Are you honest about these before the Lord? (Do you even need to think about whether your offerings should be off of Gross or net amounts?)
-Are you honest in your finances and do your best to live within your means?
-Are you honest on your resume about your experience and or education?
-Are you honest in what you say and do in your speech and how you represent or misrepresent yourself or others?
-How about taxes - do you cheat on your taxes?
-Do you have to confess to the Lord for areas in your life that you’ve been dishonest?
-Are there relationships or situations where you need to make amends for your dishonesty?

For Reflection:
Remember, God loves you no matter what! Because of His Holiness as well as His love and forgiveness that only He can give, He desires you strive to live a Holy and devoted life for Him! You need to be honest with Him and others no matter what!

For Further Study:

1- Do a Bible study on honesty and integrity.
2- From your Bible study, select a few verses about Honesty and Integrity and memorize them. (Then review them on at least a monthly basis as a great personal tool and reminder of the importance of Honesty and Integrity)
3- Pray and ask God to help you always be honest and live in integrity in every area of your life.




Monday, August 14, 2006

C.H.A.R.A.C.T.E.R. (Part 1 of 8) - Courage



C.H.A.R.A.C.T.E.R. (Part 1 of 8) - Courage
The Word:
Read:
1 Samuel 17 and Matthew 14:22-32
Additional Reading: Psalm 31:24 (NASB)
“Courage” By Randolph Koch
In this day and age it’s become evident that character is being taught less than in past generations. Children used to commonly be taught from an early age the importance of character even in secular environments.

In recent days however we’ve witnessed corporate scandals and presidential scandals that have been blatant examples of a lack of character and a clear example of sin.

Fortunately, there’s been a resurgence of character training especially in the many Christian homes around the world, where parents are training their children in character that is grounded in the Word of God! There is hope for the generations to come as these children grow up and become a vital part of society.

Now, when you hear the word courage, what is your first thought? Or, who is the first person that comes to mind? What Biblical person(s) come to mind?

This word may solicit many thoughts or reactions and as a believer you know that this is a character quality that God desires you exemplify. You also should know that you will be more successful in your walk with the Lord and your life if you live with character, Biblical character. Furthermore, you will make a greater impact on this world for God if you are a person of character.

Here’s a short list of some of the things that come to mind that take courage:

-It takes courage and faith to put God first in all things.
-It takes courage to stand firm in Faith.
-It takes courage to stand for God and for what is right even when it’s not popular.
-It takes courage to love those who hurt you.
-It takes courage to speak the truth in love.
-It takes courage to do what’s right, especially when no one else will.
-It takes courage to forgive others.
-It takes courage to not deny Christ even if it may cost you everything – even your life.
-It takes courage to live by faith and reject what the outside circumstances and influences tell you.
-It takes courage to do the right things in your business practices even if someone wants you to do something unethical.

It takes courage to do a lot of things in life and as a Christian you are not alone because it’s God who strengthens you.

We need more Christians courageously standing on the Word of God and living it out in their lives. We also need our Pastor’s courageously teaching the truth of God’s word from the pulpit, on the TV, on the radio and via the other electronic technologies such as e-Mail, and Internet broadcasting.

We also need to pray that our spiritual leaders do not back down from or water down the truth because they want the approval of man. Now I’m not suggesting we stop speaking the truth in love and become hard nosed, rather, I’m saying we need to make no exceptions when it comes to the truth! This takes courage and it takes the power of the Holy Spirit to live this out.

Of the many people God teaches us about in the scripture two stand out in my mind. They are King David and Peter.

Look at the Life of David, he did what no one else would to and he rose to the challenge and God strengthened him and used Him to slay Goliath. He didn’t stop and say, I’m too small, I’m just a simple shepherd boy, no, others did doubt but the fact of the matter everyone else was too scared to do anything. David wasn’t! He showed great courage that day as He knew God was with Him and God made Him victorious in battle.

Next, look at the life of Peter. He was the man that Jesus chose to start The Church with. Peter was passionate and seemed to talk and act before he thought sometimes, but none-the-less God used Him! Peter for the most part was a man of courage and you’ll remember the time when they were in the boat and off in the distance the disciples saw a figure out there walking on the water toward them! As you’ll recall some of them thought it was a ghost or something and Peter was the only one to stand and say, Lord if it is you call me to yourself and I’ll come to you!

As much of a bad rap Peter gets from people, we have to see that he was the only one who had the courage and faith to get out of the boat and step onto the water to meet Jesus. No matter the circumstances or people around him, he stepped out because again, he had the faith and courage to see Jesus Christ before him and then go to Him.

I only hope that you and I have that kind of courage because there are a lot of people, circumstances, and influences around us that can make the path ahead of us seem cloudy. Furthermore our adversary the evil one himself would like us to be uncourageous and to also be lacking in character in general. Let’s be clear, we need to pay no attention to him whatsoever because we’re here to live for God and not him!

I don’t know about you but I’ve been reminded on several occasions as a follower of Christ to stay strong and courageous in faith no matter what circumstances come our way. Let me exhort you to do the same. I received one such reminder when I was going through a tough circumstance and a friend simply stated, “do not allow your current circumstances to dictate your walk!” In other words, stay strong, don’t change just because things look bleak, rather, stay strong and courageous.

We need to saturate our minds and hearts with His Holy Word and as we live out our lives and see Jesus for who He is and how He’s working in our lives, (and in the lives of numerous others around the world) then courage and character will become less of a struggle. With this, we need to remember that it is God that is working these things in our lives and shaping us and molding us for service unto Him. The more we do things His way, the better, so let us be willing to allow Him to work in our lives. May we live our lives to honor Him and may we be committed to being people of Biblical Character.

This is a call for every Christian, we are to be people of character! Not just any supposed character, but the character that God builds in our lives and teaches us through His Word and through the lessons He teaches us in the life He’s given us.

We need to be people of courage and may The Body of Christ continue to be vigilant (through the Holy Spirit’s strength) to turn the tide and never stop teaching character.

Finally, may you have the courage to speak the truth in love each time God calls you to do so!

Questions to Get Started With:

-When you hear the word courage used, what is your first thought?
-Who is the first person that comes to mind?
-What Biblical person(s) come to mind?
-In what area of your life do you need courage?
-Or, where in your life do you need the Lord’s help to have courage?
-Do you think that God and others would see you as a person of courage and Biblical character?

For Further Study:

1-Make your own list of courage: What were the times in your own life that you had to have courage?
2-Do a Bible study on people of courage in the Bible.
3-From your Bible study, select a few verses about Courage and Character and memorize them. (Then review them on at least a monthly basis as a great personal tool and reminder of the importance of character.
4-Pray and ask God to help you have courage and character throughout your entire life.



Wednesday, August 09, 2006

On Call for Christ

The Word:
Read: Psalm 121:1-5, Hebrews 7:23-27

"On Call for Christ" by Randolph Koch

In the depths of despair, or in wonderful times of joy, He is there for us. If we need to praise Him or are in dire need of prayer, He is there. He is there for us 24 hours a day 7 days a week and then some in the scope of eternity. The scriptures teach us that He never sleeps or slumbers and that He's always interceding to the Father for us. He's always "on the job" so to speak. He is so faithful to His children, and models for us characteristics that we need to develop in our own lives. His faithfulness alone should speak volumes to us.

Knowing that Jesus is available to us all the time, I would expect that He'd want us to do our best to be available to Him all of the time. Lets take this one step further by saying that I'd suspect that He'd want us as believers to be available for each other as we live out our faith 24 hours a day. Think about it for a moment, your doctor is usually on call 24 hours a day or some one from their office is 24 hours a day. Police, Fire and Paramedic personnel are basically on call 24 hours a day. Cab drivers, some grocery and convenience stores are open 24 hours a day. Aren't we Christians 24 hours a day? I know we need sleep and have to be careful how much we can realistically do because of our jobs, but shouldn't we be "on call" for each other 24 hours a day as needs arise? What if you needed serious prayer in the middle of the night? Wouldn't it be great to be able to call on a faithful Christian Brother or Sister or your pastor that would take the time out of their schedule to pray as time allowed? Yes, I know, that seems counter-culture because society stresses selfishness rather than selflessness. I just wonder though if we could all incorporate this in our own lives, to become more available to minister to the needs of others. And yes, we know that we ultimately have God with us in every situation but He desires that we be there for each other. God has called us all to be ministers and minister to others through sharing the Gospel and practical Christian love and community care. Reach out to others around you; don't be afraid to do so.

Yes, take refuge my friend in our faithful Savior who is always on call for us! May each of us in return be on call for Christ to serve Him faithfully reaching out with His love, ministering to and meeting the needs of those who don't know Him yet, and to our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.

Questions To Get Started With:

-What does it really mean to follow Jesus Christ?
-Is the Lord always available to us?
-Are you available to Him?
-Through His example, do you personally see the importance of being available and ministering to others?
-What changes do you need to make in order to be more available?


 

Monday, July 31, 2006

David Harsh

I wanted to make a quick entry to let you know about a ministry my family and I were blessed by last night.

David Harsh was in concert and we fortunately were able to attend the concert and meet him in person! He is a humble servant who is glorifying God through music in a very special way.

He sings, plays guitar, (even two at the same time) as well as uses ordinary things like pencils and other things as percussion.

I’d highly recommend you support his ministry and go see him in concert and better yet - encourage your home church to book him for an evening, etc.

He really blessed all who attended and was very, very, entertaining!

He would also be a great person to have for an outreach event as well because his music would draw people to come that wouldn’t normally attend church in your local community. He’d also really bless your congregation!

Go check out his web site for more information about his ministry. You’ll see a very nice site loaded with information and even some video examples of some of the phenomenal things he does on guitar - all to the glory of God.

Here’s the link:
www.davidharsh.com

In Sum, I highly recommend that you see David in concert, or better yet, encourage your home church to book him! He's a skilled musician and would be a great person to have for an outreach event because his music would draw people who wouldn’t normally attend church. David was a blessing to my entire family! He is bringing Glory to God in a very special way!

God bless

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

It’s VBS – Vacation Bible School Time!

It’s VBS season and as Christian parents my wife and I enjoy sending our kids to VBS during the summertime. Actually, we send them to several. We send them to the VBS at our home church, as well as a few other Christian Churches we trust in the area.

It’s not only great for their education, socialization and fellowship it’s also good to build unity in the body as they fellowship with children from other Christian fellowships. Plus, it’s just plain fun for them and they come back tired yet energized at the same time as they enjoy the fun and FULL days of activity! (It also feels like a full day even though they're typically only half a day!) :-) The kids love it!

VBS is a great outreach opportunity for churches to reach out to the kids that come to the VBS as well as to their families. This is especially true as they may or may not know the Lord yet. Parents send their children and the children come to VBS even when they and their families don’t regularly attend church and this is another reason why VBS programs are great.

It’s a wonderful opportunity to share God’s love in a fun, full of energy, non-threatening environment.

Over the past few years I’ve found it interesting that most of the small churches and some large churches don’t charge which is great but some of the larger churches do charge as much as $10 per child.

To charge for CD’s and T-Shirts is of course reasonable as long as the cost is as low as possible however, to charge a fee on top of these things seems a bit unwelcoming and may be out of reach for those who are on a fixed or low budget.

Don’t get me wrong by saying this because I don’t have an axe to grind and it’s definitely not to discount all of the hard work, the time and resources that go into putting on a quality VBS!

Rather, it’s that the Church body ought to do their part to give sacrificially and joyfully offering to God throughout the year so the children’s ministries have adequate budgets for this important work. The staff and volunteer workers will have what they need to fulfill their ministry and outreach!

Granted, there are so many ministry areas and needs in God’s local church ministries however, as an outreach as well as an important service to the community, churches should make VBS a summer priority and make it as free as possible so it’s available to all.

Praise God for all of the VBS programs that are being offered this summer! Praise God for all of the staff and numerous volunteer workers and hours put into each VBS!

As a parent as well as a minister who cares about the Body of Christ locally, Globally as well as those who don’t know The Lord yet, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic as well as how you’re church ministers through VBS.

Maybe something you share might help or ease the organization and planning of another church’s VBS next year? Wouldn’t it be great if what you shared made things easier, better, more effective for the Body of Christ?

~Blessings in Christ

Thursday, June 08, 2006

He Sustains Us

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve been able to write as there’s been a lot going on at work, in ministry, and of course at home. Plus for my family, May is a busy month anyway with my wife and 3 of my children having Birthdays as well!


"Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken." ~Psalm 55:22 (NASB)

"Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul." ~ Psalm 54:4 (NASB)

I’ve been reminded of the truth that God is the great sustainer, provider, deliver and that He knows and sees all things that are taking place in the world and in our lives.

He’s also faithful to allow circumstances to occur in our lives so we can grow – we’re the clay and He’s The Potter. I like to call them the “here we GROW again times”. (-: He spins us on the potter’s wheel of life and as life progresses He develops us, as we seek Him, into a hopefully more mature believer. Through this process as you know He also smoothes out the imperfections in our lives.

As a side note: If you’ve never experienced pottery before, I’d encourage you to go watch someone who regularly pottery and takes a lump of clay and then slowly shapes it into a thing of beauty or of great use. This illustration will come to life for you.

Even last weekend we were provided a real reminded of all of these truths.

Let me explain:

A little over three years ago we purchased our first home, a 3 bedroom townhouse in the city of Hillsboro. It was exciting of course to purchase our home and we’ve really enjoyed the home God has provided especially as we’ve given it to Him since day one to use as He please and He’s definitely used it!

Unfortunately about 5-6 months into living in the house we began to notice water in the master bedroom carpet. At first we thought someone had spilled something but it turned out that we had 5 separate roof leaks to do a workmanship issue with the largest leak manifesting itself through the common wall between our townhouse and our neighbors that ran from the master bedroom down to the garage below.

It was a big mess as not only did the leaks require roof repair and complete renovation of the master bedrooms wall, carpet, etc, it also created a bad mold problem in the house in the same wall. In sum, after several months of literally battling to have the builder make it right, the repair was complete and we moved on from there learning a lot!

Flash forward to 2006, and specifically last weekend. For a couple months we began noticing an odor in the master bedroom and then last week we noticed the carpet in another location in the front of the room was wet!

By the grace of God, we’ve been blessed with great neighbors. One such neighbor does gutters and roofs for a living and he offered to come over and check out our roof on the weekend and tell us what needed to be done.

After inspection he found several issues and stated one of issues was that during constructions the building company failed to install about a dollars worth of diversion flashing in the roof where the water drains down toward the front of the house and gutter. Because of this, there was a sizeable space in that area and apparently this is where the water has been flowing into the wall.

He was concerned about this and said it needed to be fixed that day! It was supposed to rain that day as well but during that time it was partially sunny.

As he went to work he removed a section of siding so he could install the flashing that was missing and noticed how wet the wall was. Then he removed another piece of siding and then another as the wall was literally water logged and rotting way. The entire section had to be replaced including the siding, the insulations, the board that goes over that, and then the section, roughly about 8 feet tall and about 3 feet wide, had to be resealed.

A small section of the inside wall of the master bedroom has to be repaired as well and the sub floor in that section is currently drying out after being water logged and also cleaned due to mold and mildew that began to grow on the surface.

We have a few more repairs needed to the roof and we’ll have to repaint, etc. but the emergency job was taken care of thanks to God and our neighbors!

My neighbor did pretty much all of the work, His dad who is also a neighbor who lives next door to him also came over and did a bunch and I supported them wherever possible and cleaned up. They are such generous and giving people of whom we’re very blessed to know!

I’ll have to admit, it was a trying day, but emergency repairs aside it was also a very wonderful day to work together with my neighbors, get to know them more, and most of all See God at work! He orchestrated the right person to come assess to roof and then that same person blessed us with repairing it as well without charging labor and he even drove me to the local home improvement store to help me pick up exactly what was needed!

Another incredible thing was that it was supposed to rain but it stayed dry while the repair was being done and slowly clouded up over the day. Then as soon as the outer wall was complete with new siding, insulations, etc, and all the tools were put away, it began to rain!
My wife and I were praying for God’s guidance, protection, and help and He provided in a very big way! He sustains us and provides for our every need!

Maybe you have a need today or you need help with something? Have you been seeking God about this? Or have you been trying to accomplish things on your own? Let me exhort you that you can’t do it alone, you need His help!

My hope is that what I shared in this post will encourage you to seek God and trust in Him for your every need. He will provide for you and give you strength, His strength, to help you through every challenge, trial, every circumstance and need.

I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail me or post a comment sharing what God is doing in your life, how He’s sustaining you and providing for you.

In closing, be encouraged that God knows your every need and will sustain you every step of the way.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The DaVinci Code

I’m not trying to jump on the “bandwagon” here but with the DaVinci Code opening this weekend I can imagine there is some concern over the untruths in the movie and the book. Prior to this the media blasted us with things about the supposed “gospel of Judas” and now we’re being bombarded once a gain in Hollywood style about the movie based on Dan Browns book, “the DaVinci code.”

Untruths and false teachings and teachers come in many shapes, sizes, and forms, and it is important that you understand the truth from the fiction to the plain old lies.

Listen to one of the examples in which God’s Word warns us about this.

"But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up.* Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping." ~ 2 Peter 2:1-3 (NASB) *(Emphasis Mine)

This sounds awfully familiar to me especially in regard to recent topics including the before mentioned books and now a movie as well.

This isn’t the first nor will it be the last time untruth is promoted even within Christian circles. People make up stuff all of the time and hawk it as “truth” even though it’s proven to be untrue later.

Even in “Christian Churches” today many untruths are taught and sometimes they’re taught as a way of essentially controlling those who attend their church. For instance, I’ve heard from friends that attended a church that said they weren’t allowed to fellowship with Christians outside their church nor could they marry Christian outside their church. So much for unity in the body!

They even went as far to say that they were told they weren’t a Christian unless they were baptized in and an active disciple with in that specific church! So much for John 3:16 and Ephesians 2:8-9!

Now these are extreme examples but what typically takes place are subtle and steady untruths and of course the blatant ones take place as well. Even this week a prominent leader said God may do this or that to the USA and even pointed to one thing to the Pacific Northwest.

Now, in all due respect, I hope for his sake that what he said is true, (although I don’t think anyone wants to see another Tsunami anywhere in the world) but if he’s wrong then he misrepresents the Lord and does a real injustice to God’s kingdom. A true proof of a profit is that what they say has to come true and if it doesn’t then you only have to look into the Old Testament to see what God thinks about false profits.

An earlier post “Apostasy - Many Shapes and Sizes” is just a short reminder that Apostasy and False teachings are around us and we need to put the things we’re presented with under the magnifying glass of God’s Word. Stay in the Word and the real truth will be revealed.

Check out the following link to help educate yourself or others about the DaVinci Code. It’s called The DaVinci Code: A Quest for answers by Josh McDowell. It contains a links to more information and links to MP3 files helping separate fact from fiction regarding the DaVinci code.

Here’s the link:
http://pcgmedia.org/davincianswers.html

My heart is to serve you and God with integrity and if it seems that I’m hitting hard on this topic, let me state that untruth needs to be flushed out of the church and the media as well and we can have an impact on that by learning and upholding God’s Word and for this I can offer no apology.

Apostasy - Many Shapes and Sizes

The Word:

Read: 1 Timothy 4:1-5, Acts 10:9-16 & Colossians 2:16-17

"Apostasy - Many Shapes and Sizes" by Randolph Koch

As we continue to wait and prepare for the return of Jesus Christ, we will continue to see many forms and methods of apostasy.

Basically apostasy can be defined as doctrines or beliefs that reject the trinity, Jesus Christ and His teachings and generally go against the truths of the Bible as a whole. Any teaching that goes against or tries to tear down what Jesus Christ said and the Word of God is Apostasy. Apostasy usually tries to present its doctrines and teachings of lies as the truth; or misapplies or misassigns an Old Testament Old Covenant principle to the New Testament New Covenant Believer. The cults fall into this category and sadly there are many in so-called Christian circles that have become apostate. They tear at the very fabric of the truth to deceive and be deceived.

One form that I was confronted with recently was the teaching that believers need to be living by the Old Testament Law. Specifically, abstaining from certain foods and conforming to the law. This person went as far as to say that if you don’t then you aren’t a part of the Church. As believers we can learn a lot from the Old Covenant and the Jewish laws; but I think you’ll find that the proponents of the before mentioned form of apostasy, don’t really have much to stand on once you stack their teachings up against God’s Word. When confronted with apostasy or any untruth we need to seek the truth of God’s word. In the end, Apostasy will crumble when the truth of God’s Word pierces it and holds it accountable for the lie that it is perpetuating. The apostasy of abstaining from foods and living by the Old Covenant laws are just one look at the many forms of untruths that are being taught and accepted by many Christian circles. Apostasy usually doesn’t take the Bible as a whole. Instead, it takes a portion of it, as little as a verse and twists it into a doctrine or belief that leads many astray. It also denies or tries to explain away the truth in order to meet its own sinful needs.

In order to know when you are confronted with Apostasy or any false teachings you need to arm yourself with the Word of God so you will know the truth. If you don’t stay in the Word you won’t see the deception and may fall prey to the destruction and judgment that usually will follow as a result of Apostasy. I pray that God will let us know the truth and give us the wisdom from His Word to always be prepared and able to combat the falsehoods that we are daily being bombarded with. Apostasy- it does come in many shapes and sizes so prepare yourself for battle by putting on the full armor of God. I am glad that God gave us His Word so we may know the truth.

Questions To Get Started With:

-When confronted with false teachings how do you know what the truth is?
-Are you dressing yourself daily with the full Armor of God? (Eph.6:10-18)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

His is Eye on the Eagle

There has been a lot of traffic recently regarding a web-cam that has been placed over the yearly nesting spot of two eagles in Canada.

Apparently these eagles have been coming back to this same spot for over 17 years now and the owner of the land decided to mount a web-cam so anyone interested can see what the eagles are doing in real time. It's pretty incredible and for those of us who enjoy the beauty of God's creation, it's interesting to watch the eagles take turns tending to their two eggs and soon to be young eagles - eaglets.

Here is an article about this: Eagle Web cam

Here is the link if you’re interested in seeing this for yourself: Eagle Eye


In considering the technology used to make this happen and that fact that you can see them at pretty much any time, it brought to mind the Biblical truth that God is always watching over us and tending to His children. He is a loving Father who can always see what we're up to whether we recognize it or not.

I'm reminded of the chorus of the hold Hymn, His Eye is on the Sparrow (Words by Civilla D. Martin, 1905. and Music by Charles H. Gabriel, 1905)

"I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me."

This hymn was derived from Matthew 10:29-31 where we're reminded that:

"Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. "So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows."
~Matthew 10:29-31 (NASB)

Furthermore I'm reminded of 2 Chronicles 16:
"For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His." ~2 Chronicles 16:9a-b (NASB)

Are you free in Christ today? Do you recognize that He supports you?

His eye is on the eagle, the sparrow, and more importantly His eyes are on you! May this truth bring you comfort today. You are not alone and if you're heart is His then He is supporting you each moment of the day.

In contrast, if you're a believer and maybe you're not exactly living for Him these days, may I encourage you to turn back to Him, confess your sin and then move forward with your life in line with His will for you.

In either case, may you see God's hand on your life and trust fully in Him as your support, your strength, your Father who loves you unconditionally.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Vapor


The Word:

Read: James 4:13-15
Additional Reading: Hebrews 3:12-15

All Scripture references and quotes are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation unless otherwise noted.

“Vapor” By Randolph Koch

As quickly as the spring rain evaporates from the ground once the sun shines on it, so does life itself evaporate. Life is short and we don’t know if we will see tomorrow. Why? Because mankind does not know the number of our days, only God does. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow let alone five minutes from now. Our lives, our own bodies are temporal and will not exist in current form forever.

In most cases we live in a fast paced world where our priorities can easily become out of balance and we may not have time or make time for the important things and people in our life.

In reality, we may not have time to repair the broken relationships or correct the mistakes we make although; we should make every effort to repair these things if at all possible. We may not have as much time to serve and bring more glory to God, as we’d expect, yet, we should make every effort to do so. We may not have another chance to tell our family that we love them and that they are important to us or more importantly show them we love them, which is so important! We may not have a second chance to tell a loved one, a friend, or even an acquaintance about their need for the Savior even though Jesus commissioned us to do so.

With all of these things said, we shouldn’t shrink back from the challenge, from life and say, “so what’s the point in doing anything if life is so short!?” Rather, we need to cherish the days our gracious Father gives us and live the life He gave us to the fullest – for Him!

As a believer, your life should be characterized in such a way that you build and leave behind a godly legacy where you’ve made a real difference in this world for God. Wouldn’t it be great to be marked by others who see you and proclaim, now there’s a person of integrity, they were friendly, they cared, they loved, and they lived their life well!

To be even more transparent for a moment, let me share some of the things I'd like to be remembered by through an excerpt from a plan I wrote as part of a class several years ago:

At the end of it all...

Randolph L. Koch
Born July 9, 1970 - Died?

Remembered by his friends and family as . . .

  • A faithful Servant.
  • Someone Known by God
  • Someone who truly loved God
  • A dedicated and loving Husband and Father
  • A true friend
  • A Man of Integrity, Character, and Hope.
  • Someone who strived to make a difference in this world.
  • Someone who strived to help himself and others live up to their potential and most importantly to be and live in the center of God’s Will, Purpose, and Plan.
  • A Man who lived, built, and left a legacy for his family, friends, etc.
These may seem almost lofty but my prayer is that at the end of it all, I will have attained most of these goals and be remembered at least by those close to me in this way.

What about you? How would you want to be remembered? What would your plan, your memorial look like?

Life is a vapor and from one vapor to another, let me encourage you in the remaining days you have to live, to live your life to bring glory to God and share His love with others.

Questions to Get Started With:

-How should you live your life according to the scripture?
(See selected scripture as well as the many other references in God’s Word.)
-Do you share His love with others through your words as well as in how you live your life?
-How would you want to be remembered?
-What changes will you make starting today so you can make better use of the life God gave you?

If you're reading this and have put off thinking about what will happen when you die, don’t put it off any longer, as you don’t know what tomorrow brings. Give your life to Christ. Click on the following link to find out more about how to do this.

The Bridge to Life



 

Friday, April 07, 2006

Be His Light

The Word:
Read: John 5:14-16, Ephesians 5:8-13
Additional Reading: John 8:12, John 1:1-14, 2 Corinthians 4:4-6, John 5:31-35


"Be His Light" By Randolph Koch

"This little light of mine, I'm gonna let is shine, this little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine."

The simple words of a child's Sunday school song ring true. No matter if you came to the Lord as a young child or as an adult the message it communicates is sometimes forgotten as we grow older in years and in our faith.

Just like the song, "This Little Light of Mine", we're called to be a light in this world.

Although there are many great and good things happening we live in an often-dark place where bad things happen because sin is prevalent in this world. This may seem like a broad generality to some but you can simply turn on your local TV New cast or read your daily paper, (not that I'm recommending either) to see the evidence of the evil things that are taking place. To be honest, we needn't look any further than a mirror in front of us to remind see the reality and effects of the past and present sin in our own lives. Praise God that we've Jesus died for our past, present, and future sins. Praise God for our salvation!

This world is in need of a transformation and peace that only God can bring and we can be and are agents of His light or maybe we can simply refer to ourselves as "Agents of Light," or "Beacons of Light and Hope?"

Maybe you remember as a child that you were scared of the dark when it was bedtime? Maybe you'd turned on a night-light or a flashlight and light came into the darkness and the fear went away? Jesus did the same thing because He brought His light into your life, shined it on your sin, the darkness in your life making you aware of your need for His forgiveness and salvation. He then came into your life, He saved you, and the fear and uncertainty of your eternal future was gone because He secured your future!

Jesus Christ is the true light and He is the way, the truth, and life that came into our world and pierced the darkness of sin. He in turn calls those who are Christians to be the lights of and to the World. We're called to shine His light out before all men and we're not called to hide his light either!

So, if you're having a bad day, try to let your light shine anyway!

The evil one would like nothing less than for a believer's light to be "snuffed-out" by ungodly living. God has a more excellent way as we are charged to live as children of light and have nothing to do with deeds of darkness. (See Ephesians 5:8-13)

The challenge rests in your hands now; will you live to be or not to be His light?
Let's pray for each other that we'd go and shine out His light in our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, churches, or anywhere else we are. Be His light child of God, Be His light!

Questions to Get Started With:

-Have you received His salvation?
-What does it mean to live as "Children of Light?"
-Do you actively live to be or not to be His light?
-Why is it important as a Christian to shine His light?


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Extreme Makeover, God Edition

The Word:

Read: 2 Corinthians 5:17
Additional Reading: Romans 6:4, 2 Corinthians 6:18, Galatians 3:26, Romans 12:2, 1 Corinthians 15:40-44, 1 Corinthians 3:16, John 14:2-3

“Extreme Makeover, God Edition” by Randolph Koch

As you’ve flipped through the channels on your TV, (yes, we all know you do sometimes) you may have come across two programs that promise “extreme” change for the recipient. I confess I enjoy one of them because it does some really great things for people, the other, I’m not so thrilled about because it tends to make you accept yourself less when God already accepts you and created you just the way you are.

The first show promises an extreme makeover, which includes a very regimented eating and exercise program to maximize weight loss which is good for the health of the individual. On top of this, there’s major plastic surgery. The goal there is to change the physical features and look of the recipient. Most of the changes are vain yet some, like repairing a cleft pallet or orthodontic need are really beneficial things for the recipient. Then to finish the physical make over there’s a wardrobe, hair, etc., makeover to “polish off” the transformation. Then the grand finally is the “big reveal” in front of family, friends and other loved ones.

The Second show promises an Extreme Home Makeover which includes building a new home for the recipients, typically in tough circumstances, in 7 days while they send the family off for a week’s vacation. The homes are usually amazing and filled with everything new from furniture, appliances, sometimes even cars or specific healthcare items related to the specific health condition of the people in the home. They literally work around the clock for seven days, which leads up to the “big reveal” where they bring the family back into town to see their new house. The reaction to the blessing of their new homes, etc. is priceless and their lives are changed because of the generosity of those who built the home.

One show offers a “new and supposedly improved body” while the other offers a new house.

In addition, with both programs, anyone can submit an application video describing their situation and asking the show to come renovate their homes or their physical appearance.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad to want some of these things but the thought occurred to me that quite possibly if people would focus on what God says about self worth or their identity in Christ and their ultimate home in heaven, maybe these physical needs would not be as important as our society says they are?

As I turned to God’s Word the thought occurred to me that what people strive for physically via these shows or on their own, is something God has already done for us spiritually!

Take a look:

-He’s made you a New Creation: 2 Corinthians 5:17
-He’s given you a New Life: Romans 6:4
-He’s made you a part of His family: 2 Corinthians 6:18 and Galatians 3:26
-He’s given you a way to have a new or renewed Mind: Romans 12:2
-He’ll give you a New Heavenly Body: 1 Corinthians 15:40-44
-He’s made your body a Temple of God: 1 Corinthians 3:16
-He’s gone to prepare a New Home/Mansion in Heaven for you. John 14:2-3

There’s much more the scripture says He’s done for you and I’d encourage you to take a look and see what God has done and what He’s promised He’ll do. At the end of the day, what is most needful is a renovation of the Heart - an “extreme makeover” of the heart and life of every man, woman, and child on the face of the earth. Hearts and lives changed from darkness to His light.

Also, maybe as you read this you’re struggling with something that you’re trying to overcome about yourself or your circumstances? Let me encourage you that there is absolutely nothing that God cannot change or help you over come in your life or your circumstances!

To top all of this off, He “Extremely” Loves you, a love that’s for an eternity! If you want an Extreme Spiritual Makeover, then let me tell you, turn to God and He’ll show and give you an Extreme Makeover, God Edition!


Questions to Get Started With:
-Are you looking for a change in your life? Have you talked to God aboutit or are you relying on yourself?
-There’s no doubt that there are some things everyone needs to change, like a bad habit or something of that nature but do you find that you’reoverly critical of yourself?
-Do you accept yourself for who you are in Christ?
-On the flip side, do you accept others for who they are in Christ?
-After reading the selected scriptures, are you encouraged regarding howmuch He’s already done for you - on top of salvation?
-After reading the selected scriptures, which of the Biblical truthsencouraged you the most?
-Did you learn anything new about what He’s done for you?
-Do you realize how much God loves you?

Responding to God:

In response to the truths the scriptures teach you: take time, as soon as possible, to worship God and praise Him in your prayers and through lifting up a song to Him. He deserves your all so take time to worship Him!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A Little Laughter Goes a long way….

Someone said once that, “laughter is good medicine” and I tend to agree. We need laughter as it does minister to us in a way, especially on a particularly stressful day. It breaks the tension in a tense situations, it helps us “lighten up”, (Which I need to do more often, I’m told) :-) and it does much more.

If you could use a laugh or two, visit the following link and play the video “Baby Got Book” by White Boy DJ.

http://www.whiteboydj.com/babygotbook.html

Be forewarned, If you use dial-up this may take a while to load.

I laughed when I saw this via a weekly newsletter I receive from a blog.(
http://www.mmiblog.com ) This has to be one of the silliest things I’ve seen! Take it for what it is, Humor. This is the only reason I'm posting this. :-)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Lesson In Stewardship

We give back to the Lord because He first gave Jesus Christ for us for the Purchase of our Sin so we can have salvation. It’s an honor to give and we should give thankfully and sacrificially and although stewardship is an often-avoided topic we should realize that it’s an important one to study and evaluate in our own lives.

I’m not going to go into much detail regarding Biblical stewardships because we may share more later and honestly there are a lot of great books, devotions, sermons and Biblical passages that you can study if you desire.

My purpose in writing today is that I simply wanted to share something my family and I did for the first time this year from our (my wife and I) desire to help our entire family get involved in something more special and different with funds we designated as an offering from our refund.

Let me be clear, giving should be in secret between the giver and the Lord so I won’t go into detail about the amount but I believe it’s appropriate to share, in general, our experience so it may encourage others to give to God for His Kingdom work and for His glory. Hopefully our experience will help your “creative thinking” on stewardship begin to flow, as there are so many good and honorable ways to specifically give from your finances.

Each tax season if we’re blessed with a refund we designate funds that the Lord puts on our heart in order to give as an offering to our church and other ministries as He directs for His Kingdom work. This year we decided to allot a portion of this to do something different.

We took the portion we allotted for an offering and downloaded a giving catalog form Samaritan’s Purse which included practical things like, providing clean water for families through clean water projects, help towards building a hospital, help build housing, help purchase goats and dairy animals and much much more. We involved the kids by asking them to review the catalog and choose what they would like to give towards. They each chose items where they most wanted to help minister through the offering and then we married this up with the funds we designated.

Once this was finalized we went online to the web site and initiated the giving. We also filled in information so that the ministry would send a card to our kids specifying what was given in God’s and their honor. It didn’t mention amounts but it did list the 7 ways or areas the offering was designated by them and serves as a reminder of the giving they were a specifically a part of. It was great to see them choose things that were so practical and useful to those who are in need!

It was a wonderful experience and prayerfully it made a lasting impact on our family that will stick with us each year and in each new opportunity to give to God.

We also gave to a few other ministries that we felt led to give including missionaries, and other ministries that have blessed us and we’ve seen God working through but this giving experience was the best, the most memorable of them all.

Samaritan’s Purse is just one example of the many organizations that provide giving opportunities like this that you can look into to find ideas where you can put your dollars to work for His Kingdom and Glory.

There are many ministries large and small that really could use your help to make a greater impact for eternity. There are also many people right in your own community that could use a helping hand through your resources, time, and talents.

I’ve shared one example from my families experience and now what about you? Do you make giving a priority either through regular tithing or special offering? Have you had experiences where God led you to give specifically to something or someone? What about in the areas outside of finances, your time and talents? Have you taken inventory of your giving habits? I’d love to hear your experiences so feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail. I’m sure others would love to hear as well. Please be sure to keep any specific amounts between you and the Lord but please share what God brings to mind.

What ever you do, please pray and ask God to help you be a cheerful, regular, and sacrificial giver. Then let me also encourage and challenge you to seek to give of your time, talents, and finances.


God Bless You!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Touching Jesus' Garment

Take a a few moments to read Mark 5:25-34

If you don't have a Bible Handy, You can read it online by clicking on the following link:

Mark 5:25-34

Do you need a touch of encouragement today?

Do you need reassurance that you do matter and that He has a purpose for you?

Do you need some healing of emotional or physical wounds or sickness?

Reach out to Jesus and know that He’s there and more than able to help you.

It's an amazing reminder through the example of the woman that touched Jesus’ garment.

It is amazing to know He noticed her out of all that was going on around Him and people pressing for His time - He noticed her.

This in itself should be an encouragement to know as well that with all that is going on in the world, in your life, He also notices you!

May you cling to Him every day.

May you in turn be Jesus to those who He places around you.

May you be a grace giver.

May you be a source of encouragement and genuine care and strength to the hurting, the sick, the directionless….

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Painter Of Our Lives

Wanted to post/share a devotion that came to mind that was published 5 years ago through my ministry. God always knows what is happening in this world and in our lives and I hope that you’ll be encouraged by this simple reminder via a simple devotion. Your Brother, R.Koch

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Devotional Starters- Hebrews 12:1-3/"The Painter Of Our Lives."

The Word:
Read:
Hebrews 12:1-3
Additional Reading: Romans 1:20

“The Painter of Our Lives.” By Randolph Koch

One autumn during early evening I was heading home from work. I stopped at a light and as I waited for the light to turn green I gazed up in to the sky. I remember seeing, as if for the first time, one of the most beautiful dusk skies I had ever seen. The sky was almost clear with only a few lines or rows of white clouds blanketing a section of the horizon ahead of me. The clouds were highlighted with yellow, pink, and orange hues with a sunset to match. It was almost as if a divine brush stroke had gone across the sky painting with colors that no human could duplicate. There was so much detail there that I’d usually most likely overlooked. I remember being awe struck at the work of our creator evident in the early evening sky.
This display made me think of how much detail God places in all of His handiwork. He is the painter of our lives. He knows each hair on our heads and each situation we may face. Every ounce of our very existence was created and formed by His hand and plan. This truth has amazing implications and cries out that He has a special purpose for each of us! Every stroke of the Masters brush has a distinct purpose and reveals a reflection of His love for everyone. Just in life itself and creation a cry and argument for a real, loving, living, and active Creator exists. Take a look at a Thomas Kinkade picture and you’ll see the reflection of God’s infinite love and divine handiwork. Don’t ever doubt that God has created you in His image and with a real and distinctive plan for each of our lives. As He “Paints” our lives look to Him to complete the final picture in every aspect. Spend time pondering the beauty of His Holiness even through the beauty of His everyday creation and praise Him for all that He is. He controls our present and future. Seek to please Him in all you do. Be sensitive enough to hear and see Him as He leads you. Look for the reminders of Himself He gives us everyday. Worship Him daily for He is the painter of our lives.

Questions To Get Started With:

-As the portrait of your life unfolds, what do you think He sees?
-Would He see a reflection of Himself?
-What do you want Him to see?
-What wouldn’t you want Him to see?
-What is God’s purpose for your life?
-Do you acknowledge Him and praise Him for the everyday reminders He gives us? (Things we many times forget.)

 

Sunday, February 19, 2006

McChurch

The Word:

Read: 2 Timothy 4:1-5
Additional Reading: 1 Timothy 4, 2 Timothy 2:15


"McChurch" By Randolph Koch

When you go to any of the local "fast food" restaurants you expect things to be fast, fresh, hot, and right now. After all, you want things the way you ordered and paid for them and nothing less, right?

It seems that many are taking this approach to the operation of the church and the weekly services. Sadly in the western church culture, "church" for many has become more about convenience with a "what can you do for me attitude." In some cases watered down truths are being communicated from the pulpit in order to appeal to the unchurched or to simply be popular with those who show up to listen. Then there's also a real emphasis in some churches or denominations on marketing for the sake of growing the numbers that fill the pews when the emphasis should be on filling God's kingdom and helping believer's grow in the faith and knowledge of God. We might call all of this and more the "McChurch syndrome". McChurch is a shallow imitation of the real thing where we typically want everything to be quick, right now and on our terms only. Or as one fast food chains slogan says it, "Have it your way!"


Another side effect of this syndrome is that the believer's typically do not function as the church or grow in relationship as God intended. The believer's tend to stay at a superficial level with one another when they should grow as the family of God. The more we allow this to happen the more we move away from Biblical Christianity and away from how God's church should operate.

As more western churches strive to have McChurch, it's evident that there's a simply a desire to be entertained. For example, some churches, although not all of them that focus on the "seeker sensitivity" movement, instead of having instruction in the Word they put on a production each week full of drama and music and that's what they call their worship or church service. It may be very emotionally moving and entertaining but unfortunately the Word and Worship are missing and not a priority of their "production" at all. This focus tends to aim on the experience of the individual in place of a genuine encounter with the Living God.

To clarify, drama can be an effective tool when used effectively to help illustrate a point in the sermon or the overall theme. However, If it's not used in this way it distracts from the preaching and instruction of the Word and can fall into the simply entertainment category Why? Because there's no focus or spiritual emphasis to it as it doesn't connect to the message from the Word.

Others in the new McChurch make it their task to make everything convenient to everyone. You may have heard of churches catering to people's schedules or need to spend as little time in church as possible by guaranteeing that the service will be 45 minutes or less. Wouldn't want anyone to miss their tee time or coffee run, now would we?! Now let's think for a moment, how much time do people spend doing other things like watching TV, working out, or doing nothing? We start to look at our watches and wonder when the service will be over if it goes a few minutes over an hour! Some of this may come across as condescending to some but let me state clearly, this is not the intention at all. Rather, it's to sadly state that the one-day we go to worship is the only day most believers spend doing anything for their relationship with God and with others in His family.

Another observation of the new McChurch is that you better not talk about things that have the potential to convict but only such things that make us feel good. Now don't get me wrong, we need to be encouraged but it has to be balanced. If you simply encourage and never challenge believers through the strong and tough things the Bible says as well, it doesn't profit the hearers, as they are never challenged to grow and be better followers and people for Him. The same goes to the other because if all someone hears is the strong and tough things - the perceived negatives, they will potentially feel oppressed or down but they should also be encouraged. Again, it's a balance that we need - a healthy balance of encouragement and challenge.

When McChurch takes place, church ends up being packaged in such a way that we end up glossing over the truths so no one is offended by what God's Word teaches. Furthermore, what's also happening more regularly is that some churches from small to the mega are feeding their flock junk food instead of the true regimen or full balanced meal, if you will, of God's Word. God's Word said this would happen and sadly we now know it is. This is perpetuated largely as many just settle for the cheap imitation that appeals to their own desire, feelings, comfort, and entertainment.

Don't trade the real thing for the wrong thing and if you're in a church today that simply entertains you, I pray that you hunger for more of God's Word and find a church that will provide this as the essential part of your growth and walk with God. Let me encourage you to find a Bible centered and Christ centered church. Don't settle for anything else. Let me also encourage you to establish and keep a personal study time in God's Word. Spend time with God regularly and make it a real priority.

Remember, Church has more to do with worshipping and meeting God and meeting the People of God, and simply actively being the church, than it has to do with being entertained or meeting in a specific building they meet in. There is absolutely no true church devoid of God, His Word or the people of God. We need to pray for the leadership in churches today and then hold them scripturally accountable to leading and directing God's flock under His authority and for His purpose and Glory.

Do you want fries with that? No thanks, lets take the real thing the way God instructs His Church in His Holy Word. Let's strive to resist the McChurch syndrome and instead be the Church and have Church the way God designed it.

Questions to Get Started With:


-How would you categorize the church you're currently a part of? Are they having genuine Church or McChurch?
-How do you think God sees the church you attend?
-What's the problem with the "McChurch Syndrome"?
-Is God's Word important to you?
-What motivates you to attend and be a part of church?
-What should motivate you?
-Do you go to weekly services to be entertained?
-Do you find yourself wanting to be only encouraged and never challenged?
-Do you go to weekly services to be fed and to be an active part of His Church?
-Do you uphold God's Word?
-Whose responsibility is it to uphold God's Word and sound doctrine?


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Dealing With Change

About a week ago it was announced that two of our Pastor’s at the church my family and I attend have resigned. They both are seperately being led on to other opportunities and will leave by the end of June. Two years prior to this the Senior – Founding Pastor was led to do other ministry for God after 18 years. In June, we will be without 3 positions until God and the various search committees find and call a Senior/Teaching Pastor, Worship Pastor, and Youth Pastor while other leaders, elders, etc. fill in the huge gaps that will be left.

Obviously, during these past two years and now on the heels of the news regarding more change, there have and will be a lot of growth opportunities or as I like to refer to them as, “Here we Grow again”, times.

During these times it seems a natural response for people to get anxious, nervous, possibly upset, or in some cases unfortunately they just give up and leave - none of which is healthy because God has a better way.

At times like these, I’m reminded again of the passage in Philippians where Paul encourages and instructs us with the following:

"Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 4:5-7(NASB)

Hang in there friend, pray, be thankful, make your requests known through prayer, and know that God will give you His peace! What an awesome lesson for us!

Through every circumstance God is at work. Through recent challenges whether through changes at church or trials in other areas of my life, I’m moved to pray more and more because God is at work and fretting over things doesn’t do me any good rather, it can make one down or depressed.

My prayer for those in this situation at our church or maybe you’ve stopped by to visit and you’re in the midst of a trial of life as well, I pray that you hang on and get on your knees and pray because God’s way is the better way.

Whether in the midst of what seems like a personal or other crisis, take it to God.

Then, get excited that God is moving and working things out in a way that you just can’t see yet. He allows change to happen for a reason and He’s bound to have bigger plans for you, your church, etc., with a result that will have a greater impact on you, the church, and the community He’s called you to live and serve in.

Don’t ever try to just “deal” with change on your own, rather, take it to God through Jesus Christ. He wants to hear from you and be the strength you need to help you through everything that life brings your way.

May His peace be with you now as you seek Him with everything that is within you. AMEN?!