New Family Members

Today was a blessed day; we added two new members to our church family. It was a bit extra special I suppose you could say because our new pastor had the privilege of “extending the right hand of fellowship” to them (that’s church-speak for ‘swearing them in’). These are the first new members in a while to add their names to the rolls. And it was a nice thing to see for our new pastor. Though new members, these folks aren’t new to Gethsemane. In fact I had wrongly just figured they were already members. I love them both and am very happy to have them as family, officially now.

Anytime a new person is added to the church it is a joyous occasion. The only more joyous one is when an unsaved person becomes a child of God. That is a much more momentous thing to any Christian to see I think.

It is my prayer that these two new family members are but the beginning of what God has in store for our little church. I pray daily that we will be the light for His kingdom that He’d have us to be. And I ask if you are taking the time to read this that you would remember our little church in your prayers, too.

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Totally Familiar

Isaiah's Lips Anointed with Fire
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One of the amazing things I can think of is how familiar Jesus is with each of us and the things we face.  Scripture teaches us He faced every kind of temptation and yet was without sin (Heb. 4:15).  It is such a comfort to know that no matter what challenges me today, tomorrow or next year, I have One that understands and empathizes with me.  Jesus Christ not only has compassion for what I face, He had such great compassion that He bore my burdens and my afflictions.  And He did the same for each and every one of us.  What a great and mighty God!

Isaiah 63:9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

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Is It Such a Small Thing?

A watercolor painting of a camp meeting circa ...
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On Sunday I offered to drive an older fellow to the camp meeting this week if he wanted to go; he is 89 and doesn’t drive after dark anymore.  He accepted my offer and Monday evening I picked him up and took him to the meeting.  When he realized that I lived above him, so it was a little bit out of my way to pick him up, he was upset that he had run me out of the way.  It was an extensive conversation to make him realize that if I didn’t want to do this, I wouldn’t have offered to in the first place.

Tuesday he called another church member for a ride, saying, again, he didn’t want to run me out of the way.  The fellow called and told me about the conversation, knowing that I was planning on picking him up, and I said I’d still go get him.  When I showed up the old guy was a little miffed at the other fellow for calling me.  It took some time trying to explain to him that it really wasn’t out of my way to get him and that I offered, he didn’t ask.

Even after all this, he was still concerned that I was “being put out”.  Finally I told him, “You appreciate someone taking the time to bring you the meetings and back home.  I, being physically limited, am not able to do a lot for other folks.  Driving 3 miles to pick up a brother who otherwise would not be able to get to the meeting was something I could do.  And it was a pleasure for me to be able to do this service, seeing how I can’t do much else to help out most of the time.”  I believe that it dawned on him then; to me it was a service that I was glad to be able to do, not a chore.

Although it was a little thing, driving down the road a couple of miles to pick him up, it was really a very big thing for us both: He got to go to a couple of meetings that he otherwise might not have and I got to serve a brother, a rare opportunity for me, in a way that I could be useful.  And in the end we both had a tremendous time I think.  On the ride there and back we got to rehash the high points of the services from Sunday through Tuesday, as well as chat about many other things.  And after getting back to his home both evening he invited me in for a visit.  Both nights I was blessed to visit, looking through old photos and talking about the Bible and many, many other things, for several hours.  In fact, I missed the meeting tonight because I am so tired; I stayed out so late with him I got my medications out of whack and was up all night last night with those neuropathic pains, though the time I spent with him was well worth a sleepless night.  I do wish I’d have been able to make it to the meeting though.  Incidentally, I reckon he was too tired to go tonight, too, as I didn’t hear from him.  If he’d have called, tired, achy and all, I’d have made it out to get him and to the meeting.  But he didn’t.  And I truly do need the rest; I’m not used to being out until 1am, visiting with an 89-year young brother!

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Our Cause

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Tuesday night we had another wonderful, Spirit-filled service at the Bethlehem Association’s annual week-long camp meeting.  The message was brought by Bro. Bobby Adams and was taken from the text of 1 Samuel 17:17-53, on the story of David and Goliath.  Bro. Bobby focused on the fact that David had a reason for his fight against the giant, as we, today, still have reasons for our fight as Christians; we still have a cause.

Bro. Bobby outlined the message with several points which I will sum up as this: We have to do what is right in God’s eyes, stand up for our Christian freedom and the Lord and His Word, fight to save people and, finally, be great warriors for God.  From this great message I heard one statement that really stood out to me.  That is what I’d like to share with you.

Bobby said something to the effect of Christians ought not to go along to get along.  That is a pretty powerful statement if you really think about it.  And it had so many applications in our lives.

How many times have you seen or heard (or maybe even been guilty of) someone not speaking up and out against something that is just a polar opposite of what you believe or know is said in God’s Word just not to not stir up any controversy?  I know I’ve head it, seen it and been guilty of it.  The direction our country, and Bro. Bobby asserted, our churches are going in is a direct result of God’s people not standing up for their beliefs on too many occasions.  I can not say that I disagree with him.

I have to say, if we are letting things slide by that are biblically wrong just to ‘get along’, we are doing a terrible disservice to our Lord.  And if we aren’t standing up for Him and His Word, how can we expect to fight for people to be saved, let alone be great warriors for God?  It’s simple: We can’t.

There’s an old song that says “onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war” and the Bible teaches us we are at war against the forces of evil.  Scripture entreats us to don “the whole armor of God” and to “fight the good fight”.  We need to stand up, suit up and speak up for Jesus.  After all He has done for us, it is the least we can do for Him.  But more so, if we love Him not doing so should deeply disturb us.  I am sure it does Him.

1 Samuel 17:29 And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?

Most Righteous God,

I pray You will grant me the courage to always fight the good fight and stand up for You and Your Holy Word.

Greg Wolford

©2009

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Our First Love

Monday night I was able to attend the opening night of our church’s Associating Revival.  It was great night of praise and worship.  And the preacher, Gethsemane’s own Bro. Steve Nida, brought a powerful, Spirit filled message.  I draw my thoughts for this writing from that message.

More than once Monday night the question was raised about why we don’t see our churches filled, lost people coming to church, and the children of God shouting and praising the Lord as we once did.  There were a few responses from a few different folks on these thoughts.  But I think Bro. Steve delivered the answer in his message that is most fitting: The collective-church has lost its first love, the deep love of Jesus.

If we, God’s children, aren’t deeply in love with and consumed by this love for our Lord and Savior, how can we expect the ‘world’ to have an interest.  If Jesus isn’t first and foremost in our lives how can we praise Him as we ought to?  If we aren’t seeking to be more like Him everyday how hard are we really working to build His kingdom?  There are many more questions we could raise here but I think you see where I am going with this.

Do we at times fall short of doing what we should?  My hand shoots up first on this question saying, yes, I do.  I am as guilty or more so than anyone else of not always doing what I should for His kingdom, not always putting Him first at all times.  Guilty on every charge I have mentioned and of ones not mentioned.  We all need to do more for Him.  In fact, given what He did for us, I don’t believe we can ever do enough for Him.  But we ought to try a little harder each day.

If we truly want to see revival, our churches filled and folks being saved, we, Christians, have to fall back in love with Jesus to the point of total submission to his call.  He didn’t save us to sit around and wait for his return.  He saved us for the next life and in this life we are to serve Him in what ever way He has called us.  And make no mistake; He has called you for a reason.  Are you working toward that reason? If you aren’t or aren’t sure what He wants you to be doing, I’d say dig into the Bible and put in some serious ‘knee-time’ (and ask someone to pray with and for you about this).  He will direct you to what He has for you to do for the up building of His kingdom.

Rev 2:4  Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Lord Jesus,

I can never thank You enough for the sacrifice You made for me.  I pray that I will have the fire of love for You burn hot and bright in my heart.  So hot and so bright that others can’t not see it in me.

Greg Wolford

©2009

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The Wretch

While doing a little online shopping the other day, I came across a t-shirt I’d never seen before.  It had a little phrase written on it that really portrays us all: I am the wretch the song refers to. What a simple yet profoundly true statement.

When we thin of ourselves in comparison to murderers, rapists, and other nefarious individuals we think we aren’t so bad really.  But God sees and judges by the thoughts of the heart not by action only.  By God’s holy standard we are just as bad as any murderer or rapist, for He do not see a lie as not so bad, compared to a murder, as we do.  He sees all sin the same: He hates it.

Were it not for His love for us we’d each one, a wretch, suffer the punishment we deserve.  But by His grace and mercy we are pardoned from our sentence and granted everlasting life through Jesus, if only we accept Him and turn from our old ways, living out a new live empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 5:19-21

19For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

20Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

21That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.


Lord God,

I am so thankful that You have provided a way for even a wretch like me to be spared my just punishment.  Thank You for Your truly amazing love and grace.

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Satisfaction

Prayer A Powerful Weapon

I sometimes have trouble sleeping.  Often this is from either back pain or from neuropathic pains in my legs from nerve damage I have.  Usually I’ll be jarred awake after an hour or two of sleep and up for the remainder of the night.  Those sleepless nights more often than not turn into miserable, long days.  I tell you this because these are not the only things that at times rouse me from my sleep.

Sometimes I am awakened by a thought or a person or a passage of Scripture I have recently read or even by the thought and melody of a song that we have sung during one of our weekly services.  These nights and times I don’t mind; in fact, I rather enjoy them.  They rarely result in completely sleepless nights and I can’t think of a single following day that has been ruined by these nocturnal events.

When this happens I usually turn to the Bible, looking at a passage or series of verses on the ‘topic’ that has stirred me.  Of course, if it is a thought of a particular person my response may be different; I might go to the Lord in prayer or even send out a crazy-early, wee-hours of the morning email to them, just to let them know I am thinking of them, what ever I feel God has put on my heart to do.

The wonderful thing about these times is the next day.  I am not discounting the time spent in prayer or reading Scripture when I say that.  But the next day I almost always wake with the very thing that roused me fresh on my mind but in a different perspective.  Often the answer, or maybe a question, that I was seeking or needing will be right there.

God knows what we need and when we need it.  If we will pay attention to His voice, even if it is at 3 am, He will supply.  And when He supplies He also satisfies what ever that need is.  We just need to listen for and to that still, small voice.  Or perhaps better stated, sometimes we need to “be still, and know that (He is) God” (Psalm 46:10).

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!  If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.  (Psalm 63:5-6; 139:17-18)

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