Notes To a Young Intellectual

Notes To a Young Intellectual

As I scan across the internet and see what people are saying, I find certain themes are prevalent. Many – especially young people – are questioning the existence of God. Is He real? Does He speak to us? And what about Jesus? What is He all about? Is He a myth?

These questions are sometimes posed outright, but more often implied in the views which are expressed. Furthermore, peoples’ actions give them away. It’s obvious that the many distractions of our age, whether they are career achievements, sports, or social life, can dull the nudge within a person’s heart. Often it seems that people don’t care.

This saddens me, but doesn’t surprise me. There have been so many mistakes by those of us in “organized Christianity.” Hypocrisy, apathy,and in-fighting sometimes have made us poor role models. But the faults of others don’t have to determine your life. (more…)

Take Your Place in God’s Kingdom: Jesus and You

Take Your Place in God’s Kingdom: Jesus and You


What does it mean, exactly to be a part of God’s Kingdom?

In an earlier post we talked about being Born Again. That is the Foundation upon which we build our lives as Christians.

It’s also what distinguishes Christianity from all other religions. All religions have rules of good and evil. Principles for the supposed “Good Life.”

Only Christianity brings us a Savior who died for our sins, and who sent His Holy Spirit to live inside of us. We are changed from within our hearts. Truly a miracle!

Though Abraham wasn’t born again, he can give us a picture hinting at our truth.

By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going…For he was looking forward to the city with foundations whose architect and builder is God. Hebrews 11:8 (NIV)

Something similar happens to us when we receive Jesus. We realize that we have been called to a new “place.” A new paradigm. We don’t know exactly what to expect, but we know that we need to know our God. And we know that His plans are better for us than our own plans.

St. Augustine, who lived in the 4th and 5th centuries had this experience in a dramatic way.

He had lived a raucous life until he was born again. His life was drunkenness, fighting, and unruly living in general. After his born again experience, he changed completely, and went on to be one of the most important Christian leaders — greatly influencing early Christianity.

He was a prolific writer, grasping the significance of the Christian life.

Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.

Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions, 400ce

Every person on earth is looking for love and acceptance. Especially from God.

The interesting thing is that often people don’t know it. They may think that money will satisfy that restlessness. Or fame. Or beauty. Or sex. Or one more vacation.

But none of these fill the void. Otherwise, you would see all the famous rich people living joyful lives. Yet we know that this isn’t the case. Often they drink and drug themselves in order to dull the pain and restlessness they are experiencing.

There is only one thing which will fill that void. Or one Person.

When we meet Jesus — and receive Him as our Savior — we are changed. From the inside out. Not looking to outward things to bring happiness, but looking to inward, as our spirits come alive.

Several things change…

  • We become aware of God’s great love for us. We realize that He is not holding our sin against us, because Jesus paid that awful price for our sins.
  • We realize that Jesus is indeed alive — and His Spirit has come to live in us.
  • As we read the Bible, no longer do we merely see words on a page. These words seem to be written just to us and for us.
  • As we read and study, we come to know that we have entered a whole new realm. The Kingdom of God.
  • We will sense God directing us as we walk with Him.
  • We will be aware of God’s presence and His voice. Sometimes this voice will be audible, but not often. Usually it will be what we refer to as a “still, small voice.” Something like a gentle “knowing” from Him.
  • We will desire to share our new experience with others.

We have become citizens of a new country. The Kingdom of God.

In II Corinthians 5:16–20 (NIV)

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do no longer.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.

All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. That God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting peoples’ sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

We are therefore, Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. God has made Him who knew no sin to be made sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. The old is gone. The new is here.

We are Christ’s ambassadors. Ambassadors of the Kingdom of God.

If you were to become an ambassador of your country, you would have to go through training. You would be expected to learn many things about your country as you prepare for your mission. The history. The methods. The plans.

It’s the same with God’s Kingdom.

God has given us a manual: the Bible. And an instructor: the Holy Spirit within us. As well as other teachers who help us glean the truths from God’s Word.

As born again believers, we read, listen, and learn about our Kingdom.

Just as any good ambassador, we don’t want to represent our own personal interests to others. We want to represent our country — and our King.

We present His plans, and not our own plans, to the world.

Instead of hate, we show God’s love. His mercy. His forgiveness.

Instead of selfishness, we show an attitude of giving.

We are ministers of reconciliation — sharing the love of God with the world.

Over the years, I have seen some of the meanest people turn into the most loving. Some of the most troubled changed to the most stable. Some of the most depressed turned into happy, productive individuals.

God is real and His Kingdom is real. When you and others enter that Kingdom, there are many benefits waiting for you. They are treasures we must dig from His Word and apply to our own lives.

In John 17:14–19 Jesus is praying for His followers down through the ages. He says, They are not of this world, as I am not of this world. But then he says, Don’t take them out of the world, but protect them from the evil one. (John 17:14–19)

He wants us to stay and be His representatives — His ambassadors — to the world. To represent His plans and purposes to those we know.

Thus, we must be listening to God, obeying his word, and allowing His Spirit to be big in us.

With Paul, we say…

II Corinthians 1:12 (NIV) We have conducted ourselves in the world and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and Godly sincerity. We have done so, not relying on worldly wisdom, but on the grace of God

We are representing a Kingdom which will never end. One which is higher than any earthly Kingdom. And one whose King will reign forever — with love, goodness, and power.

What a privilege!

Let’s do this!

Note: This series is an adaptation of a series Ambassadors for Christ, taught by Mickey Estes at Good News Church in Blue Mountain, MS.


A Good Friday Reflection

A Good Friday Reflection

Note from Suellen: This faith-inspiring reflection is perfect for today. Insert your name instead of Mary Ann’s. Let the faithfulness of Jesus be real to you. He did this for you!

 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

Galatians 3:25-29

God’s promises never fail!!!  Oh Lord, it is so true. Your promises never fail!

The blessings of Abraham, all God’s promises to Him, are mine!

I am a child of God.  He is my forever Father.  I am the daughter of God Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

I am clothed with beautiful white raiments of Christ Jesus’ Righteousness, all by faith.  Simply believing and receiving His word as perfect Truth. I am one with Jesus and the Father! I am a part of the royal priesthood.

And  my Great High Priest, Jesus, ever lives to intercede for me, Mary Ann Wolfe. For me, the joy set before Him, Jesus walked the Via Della Rosa all the way to Calvary.

When everyone else ran away, He stayed.  He stayed on course, stumbling beneath the weight of the cross. His breath was labored. Blood dripped into His eyes. It tickled His nose, but His hands firmly on the cross couldn’t wipe it away.

The thorns on His crown itched His head. A face so marred it did not appear human anymore. His mouth was dry, His lips cracked. But He stayed the course, one step at a time in total agony.

His destination: not His healing or even help for the pain.  No, His destiny was to be hung on a cross for me.  With help from Simon of Cyrene,  He finally made it to the hill of skulls with the cross.

Crowds  jeering and mocking Him all the way.

Guards threw the cross down and He stayed. They laid Him on the cross and pounded nails into His hands and feet. And still He stayed. He stayed for me! They pulled up the cross and dropped it with a thud into the ground. Pain ricocheted through the body of Jesus Christ the Son of God Almighty. And yet, He stayed.

He could have called one thousand angels and it would all be over. Instead He said, “Father, forgive them they know not what they do.” He stayed with His arms outstretched for me!

He saw me, His joy, and said, I’m staying, I’m staying. I will never leave her or forsake her. I will save her so she can be a daughter of  the One True King. I will save her, so I can present her to My Father at the wedding feast of the Lamb.

I will stay, I will stay, I will stay, until I die and rise again defeating sin and death forever. Why? So all of Abraham’s blessings and promises can belong to all of God’s faithful children.

I will stay to make Mary Ann a joint-heir with Me to all of heavens glories. I will stay because I love Mary Ann Wolfe with a love that passes all knowledge or understanding.

And I say, all I know is this. I love You, Jesus, because You first loved me.

To God be the glory for the great things He has done!

He Is My Rock

He Is My Rock

Suellen’s Note: I want to share with you  the testimony of a very special lady. The first time I met Candice, I knew that God had His hand on her in a mighty way. I could immediately see such a sweet spirit, and her desire to fulfill her purpose in God… Little did I know that her growing up years were so filled with turmoil and pain.

Guest Post by Candice Fowler…

I guess my story begins as a young child.

I was born into a family with lots of problems. From the time I was a baby, I was tossed back and forth from  family member to family member.

There was a lot of abuse, drug abuse and neglect.

I never really felt safe and secure.

As I grew older, I began to walk that same path. I was heavy into drugs and lived a life full of sin and rebellion. The loneliness and hurt within me caused me to seek unhealthy relationships.

I could see my life spiraling downwards.

Yet even as an adult, I continued on that path. I only really thought of myself, and did whatever I wanted to. I was trying to cure my despair with momentary pleasures of drugs and promiscuity.

Around 2008, God started getting my attention. I knew that there was a better way and I felt drawn to God and His love for me. It was a hard road and It took me a couple years to completely straighten up my life, but God was still faithful and patiently waited.

I began to go to church and serve in the church, but something was lacking, and that was a relationship with him.

In 2016, I fully gave my life to God. I received Jesus, I learned what surrender was and I laid it all down. Totally surrendering my life to Him. It truly takes giving Him control of it all, allowing Him to change you.

On a daily basis, I pray and ask God to create a clean heart within me. For Him to  search me and find any wrong way within me, and burn it up.

I can’t imagine living a day without him. He truly is my Rock, my Redeemer, my Fortress, my Strong Tower. Those are not just words to me, that is who my God is!

He takes us out of the pit of destruction and places us on firm foundation.

I look back at my life and I can see that I have a great purpose. There were several times when I could have ended up dead, but he protected me through it all.

He has completely changed my life.

I know without a doubt there is a God. I never thought in a million years I would be the person I am today, but GOD!!

The End of the World As I Knew It

The End of the World As I Knew It

People who know Mickey and me today, know us as ministers. We’ve pastored a church, written books, have been speakers and missionaries. We also have a terrific family with 4 married children, 14 grandchildren, and one great grandchild.

We love life and love each other.

Many people know that the source of all of these blessings is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What many don’t know is that each of us had very dramatic encounters with Jesus which turned our lives around.

I want to share my story here…

 

It Was the End of the World As I Knew It…

I was lying face down on the floor of my suburban Atlanta home. Shattered. Exhausted. Afraid.

I had a good job and three adorable daughters. But I was overworked, trying to take care of everyone and everything. I was tired, emotionally drained, and constantly worrying about the well being of my daughters.

You see, two years before, I had gone through a very painful divorce that had left me feeling ashamed and lonely. My family didn’t believe in divorce. I didn’t believe in it. But there I was.

The world I had known had ended. The world that had started out seeming so good…

That world had started in college, when I wanted to think of myself as an intellectual. So when I read books written by a leading “scholar” from Yale Theological Seminary, I believed them. After all, he was from Yale. He must know what he’s talking about, right?

Not necessarily.

And when this “scholar” attempted to remove all of the miracles from the Bible, not much was left. I began to doubt my faith.

It seemed the fad in those days was to denounce or “modify” Christianity. I was attending a Liberal Arts College with a supposed Christian orientation, and one of our courses was on the Bible. So we analyzed and looked for “myths.” And one of the professors with lots of charisma pointed out many concepts which he considered to be myths.

Once again, I thought the professor was smart, and I believed him.

The outcome was that I continued to consider myself a Christian, but with modified beliefs. I no longer understood what the life of Jesus had accomplished. I began to think of Him as a good man. Like many other Good Men who headed up other world religions.

Soon after college, I married a like-minded man, and we began our lives together. I loved decorating our home and entertaining friends. Over the next thirteen years, I gave birth to 3 beautiful daughters, and  loved being their mother.

It started out as fun. Lots of ballgames. Plays. Concerts. Travel. Parties.

The Bible had been moved back from the frontlines. Society began to dictate my thoughts and my lifestyle. I wanted to be up to date on the latest styles and topics. To know what was going on in the world. To read the latest books.

After all, my active social life required that I would be up to date on these things.

Oh, did I mention that this social lifestyle also included lots of social – and maybe not so social – drinking? Well it did.

And arguments. And more and more confusion.

In fact, things got so that they weren’t much fun anymore…

Then came the crash…and a crash it was!! A bitter divorce.

Depressed, lonely, angry, and afraid, for the next two years, I attempted to put together a single life that made sense to me. But all I could find was overwhelm. My job provided most of our needs, but I was exhausted.

So the night came when I had had enough. As my adorable  girls slept, I fell face down on the floor of my den and I prayed.

It wasn’t a traditional prayer.

Forget all the books. Forget all the intellectual rhetoric.

I had a tremendous need for help.

Who cares what some professor thinks now?

I was desperate…

Jesus, if you are real, I need you. And I want you in my life.

What happened next was astonishing. It was almost instantaneous. The tears left. The fear, the sadness, the overwhelm disappeared. What was left was overwhelming joy.

It was shocking. Could this be real? What’s happening?

In an instant I had changed. I knew that Jesus was alive, and I knew that He had impacted me. I felt a warmth like liquid love being poured out on me.

I had no idea of the adventurous life He was about to lead me into. I just knew that everything was going to be O.K.

The next few days are memorable because I could tell that I wasn’t the same. My attitude – toward people – toward my own life – was different.

And I had a hunger to read the Bible. I threw off the concepts which I had borrowed from others, and began to allow the Bible to speak to me personally. And it was speaking volumes.

I ran across the verse which says,

If any man be in Christ he is a new creation. Old things are passed away and behold all things have become new. And all of these new things are of God. (II Corinthians 5:17).

That obviously had happened to me. I could tell that I wasn’t the same. Amazing!

I remember that encounter with Jesus as if it happened yesterday, but really it happened to me many years ago.

The end of my world was the beginning of a new one. A world with more clarity. More understanding. More courage. More love and faith. And true happiness – which can only come from our Father God.

A few years later, I met my current husband who also had had a dramatic encounter. His story is different, but he too met Jesus personally while alone in his home. And he too had a dramatic change in his life. Soon after our marriage, we had a son to go with our three daughters.

We have spent the last few decades on an adventure with God. Never  boring. Many times challenging. But always filled with a knowledge of God’s love and care for us.

We’ve seen many miracles along the way.

Now your own personal encounter can happen for you also. You don’t have to be in a church. It can happen in your home – or anywhere.

Here’s the thing…

With every other religion the purpose is to follow a certain set of rules – or a certain philosophy. They all sound good. They all promote compassion toward others and doing good deeds

What I had never understood before my salvation was that with Jesus, it’s not about believing a philosophy or following a set of rules. It is about literally receiving His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to come and live inside of us. Making us new. Fresh. And Alive. Truly being Born Again.

You see, the other dead philosophers are not living in our realm. Jesus is. He was resurrected and is alive. He is in heaven, but His spirit is here living inside of us when we receive Him. Right here. Right now.

My prayer is for you, as you read this, to have your faith strengthened, If you are a believer.

If you are not a believer, let me encourage you to seek Jesus. Ask Him to show you the truth. Is He real? Yes, He is. And He is eager to turn your life around also.

Your story won’t be like mine. Every one is different.

But Jesus will begin a new life which you never knew existed. A life of love, peace, and great joy.

And as you continue, you will grow in your understanding of who He is and who you are in His Kingdom.

You’ll read the Bible with fresh eyes. Verses will leap off the page and you will know that your Heavenly Father is speaking to you personally.

My prayer is that you, too, seek Jesus.

Do it! The love of God is waiting for you.