In Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical The Phantom of the Opera, a young chorus girl named Christine receives voice training from a mysterious musician she calls the “Angel of Music.” Christine believes this is the angel her dying father had promised to send to complete her musical training.
As the plot thickens, we find that her mysterious mentor is really a demented man who wants to carry her away into a bizarre underworld beneath the opera house. What the girl thinks is a supernatural agent sent by her beloved father is really a madman who wants to possess her for his own ends. The “Angel of Music” is evil masquerading as good.
The believer in Christ also faces an evil one who masquerades. One of Satan’s key strategies is to look like someone who is good. Paul told us, “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2Corinthians 11:14). The Greek word translated as “transforms” means “to change appearance, masquerade, or disguise oneself.”
In preparing us to face the evil strategies of the devil, God has provided all the equipment we need to stand our ground. Protecting ourselves with the armor of God unmasks the evil that opposes us and stabilizes our spiritual walk (Ephesians 6:10-18).
During World War II, a US marine was separated from his unit on a Pacific island. The fighting had been intense, and in the smoke and the crossfire he had lost touch with his comrades.
Alone in the jungle, he could hear enemy soldiers coming in his direction. Scrambling for cover, he found his way up a high ridge to several small caves in the rock. Quickly he crawled inside one of the caves. Although safe for the moment, he realized that once the enemy soldiers looking for him swept up the ridge, they would quickly search all the caves and he would be killed.
As he waited, he prayed, “Lord, if it be your will, please protect me. Whatever your will though, I love you and trust you. Amen.”
After praying, he lay quietly listening to the enemy begin to draw close. He thought, “Well, I guess the Lord isn’t going to help me out of this one.” Then he saw a spider begin to build a web over the front of his cave. As he watched, listening to the enemy searching for him all the while, the spider layered strand after strand of web across the opening of the cave.
“Hah, he thought. “What I need is a brick wall and what the Lord has sent me is a spider web. God does have a sense of humor.”
As the enemy drew closer he watched from the darkness of his hideout and could see them searching one cave after another. As they came to his, he got ready to make his last stand. To his amazement, however, after glancing in the direction of his cave, they moved on. Suddenly, he realized that with the spider web over the entrance, his cave looked as if no one had entered for quite a while. “Lord, forgive me,” prayed the young man. “I had forgotten that in you a spider’s web is stronger than a brick wall.”
We all face times of great trouble. When we do, it is so easy to forget the victories that God would work in our lives, sometimes in the most surprising ways. As the great leader, Nehemiah, reminded the people of Israel when they faced the task of rebuilding Jerusalem, “In God we will have success!” [Nehemiah 2:20]
Remember: Whatever is happening in your life, with God, a mere spider’s web can become a brick wall of protection. Believe He is with you always.
Just speak His name through Jesus His son, and you will see His great power and love for you.
Whenever there is an area of our lives that we want to keep hidden in darkness- that’s where the devil has a stronghold, and is wanting to destroy us. As we live in the light, as is God- that is where we find our breakthrough into freedom!
I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. — John 13:15
The qualifications for being a leader do not consist solely of sitting behind a desk and barking out orders for others to accomplish. If that were the case, life as we know it would come to a standstill, with lots of talk but no action. Successful leaders are able to delegate duties to others but are also willing to perform them if necessary.
I know of one grocery store chain where the CEO and his team of vice-presidents attend the grand opening of each new location. Instead of simply basking in the spotlight of another success, they get to work, helping the new staff. They can be seen stocking shelves, performing price checks, helping customers, and bagging groceries. They even gather shopping carts from the parking lot. Talk about setting an example for the new employees to follow!
Jesus set the perfect example on the night he was betrayed by Judas Iscariot. As the evening meal was being served, he got up from the table, grabbed a towel and basin of water, and proceeded to wash the feet of his disciples. Such a task was supposed to be done by a servant, but Jesus was willing to take on that role. Peter wasn’t sure what to think of this, rejecting the foot washing at first. He had to be convinced. Later, Jesus informed Peter and the other disciples that leadership equals servanthood. It’s not an easy truth for many leaders to apply to life, but Christ’s example that night makes an eloquent case.
So the next time you’re ready to tell someone what to do, think back to that evening meal when the Lord, on his knees, washed the dirty, smelly feet of those he loved–and for whom he later died. That’s leadership in its highest form. How can you follow that example?
Our Christian mission is to evangelize the lost and awaken the saved to live empowered lives by the Work of God and His Holy Spirit. We can make a difference for the kingdom of God by teaching and training believers how to be in God’s Word, how to pray and how to walk with Jesus every day, as His disciple.
Oh, bless our God, you peoples! And make the voice of His praise to be heard, Who keeps our soul among the living, And does not allow our feet to be moved. For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs. You have caused men to ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water; But You brought us out to rich fulfillment. Psalm 66:8-12
The Psalmist explains the real life version of receiving fulfillment. “For You, O God, have tested us,” God tests the hearts and intents of His people. He allows trying circumstances to squeeze us: As if we are “in a net”; we carry affliction “on our backs”, often while submitting to others whose motives and intentions are wrong. God brings us through terribly trying situations to test and grow our faith in Him.
These trials are confusing and difficult. But we can we see God’s love and care through them because when we have come through the fires of this life, and walked through the tests and trials, the crown of eternal life awaits us. Fulfillment and abundance have to do with the victory in overcoming the most terrible trials. That satisfaction comes when we know that we are still with the Lord regardless of the circumstances. There is a place of rich fulfillment and abundance on the other side of the tests. All the riches of the world cannot be compared with the love, joy and peace we get from God. Read through Psalm 66 and really praise the Lord for the trials of life. Praise and worship brings the greatest fulfillment and abundance of them all.
Christ rejects violence as a realistic means to reconciliation. He does so for at least two reasons. First, Jesus plainly stated, “all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matt. 26:52). The law of continuity is at work: fire produces more fire, hate produces more hate, violence fosters more violence. Second, violence does not address the real, underlying problems involved in any conflict. Violence is an attack against the person; it does not really deal with such underlying problems as fear, hate, and poverty. To assume that violence is the answer to personal, political or social problems would be a gross simplification. Violence eliminates understanding and, therefore, also reconciliation.
In May 1999, 51 Brethren in Christ men and women from across North America gathered to identify and restate the Core Values that most deeply resonate within our hearts and minds as a Church. At the end of three days of spirited and prayerful give-and-take, ten Core Values emerged.
In setting forth our Core Values, we declare our ties with true Christians of all times and every place. We confess with them the faith as embodied in the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. We recognize that these values are rooted in our history and doctrine. In broad strokes, they convey the essential beliefs of our denomination as stated in our Articles of Faith and Doctrine.
We present these ten Core Values to help you to better understand the values that touch our hearts, stir our emotions, and move us to action!
Experiencing God’s Love and Grace
We value the free gift of salvation in Christ Jesus and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
Believing the Bible
We value the Bible as God’s authoritative Word, study it together, and build our lives on its truth.
We value heartfelt worship that is God-honoring, Spirit-directed, and life-changing.
We value whole hearted obedience to Christ Jesus through the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit.
Belonging to the Community of Faith
We value integrity in relationships and mutual accountability in an atmosphere of grace, love, and acceptance.
Witnessing to the World
We value an active and loving witness for Christ to all people.
We value serving others at their point of need, following the example of our Lord Jesus.
We value all human life and promote forgiveness, understanding, reconciliation, and non-violent resolution of conflict.
We value uncluttered lives, which free us to love boldly, give generously, and serve joyfully.
Relying on God
We confess our dependence on God for everything, and seek to deepen our intimacy with Him by living prayerfully.