Archive for the ‘Trust/Faith’ Category

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“Blessed are the poor in spirit…”

September 2, 2010

A throne was created deep within the heart of man upon which none was worthy to sit but God. Mankind’s woes began when we forced God from His throne and enshrined in His place were the things which He created  for and to be used by man for good and the accomplishments of God’s purposes upon the earth. The pronouns “my” and “mine” are innocent enough, but their constant and broad use with reference to things is significant. They express the real nature of man’s fallen heart. They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease. God’s gifts now take the place of God on the throne of our hearts and the result is a watering down of the words of Jesus.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23, 24).

Jesus says that it is the “denial of self that saves life”. I believe this is what is referenced by Jesus when He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The blessed ones who will possess the Kingdom are those who have repudiated the external things and have uprooted from their hearts all sense of possessing. Though free from all sense of possessing, they actually posses all things…”theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

One of the great examples of this principle is seen in the life of Abraham. Abraham was an old man when Isaac was born. In fact he was old enough to have been Isaac’s grandfather. Finally the long awaited son he had been promised was born and no doubt became the delight of his heart. This child represented everything sacred to a father’s heart. Wrapped up in him were the promises of God, the covenants, the messianic dream and hopes of years to come. As he watches him grow up into a young man I can only imagine how close he became to his son.  What happens next is beyond our wildest imagination. God shatters the calm and blessed relationship with a command, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Gen. 22:2).

Our inspired scribe spares us the agonizing response and questions that may have come in response to this most unusual challenge. I can only imagine the agony of heart and soul that must have been experienced in coming to grips with God’s will. If only the choice was his to die instead of his son, there would have been no contest, for he is now old and death would be no great ordeal, but God had said, “Take your Son, your only son…”

What is the moral of this story? God allowed this old faithful servant to go through with this intended offering of his son up to the point where there would be no retreat, and then did not allow him to continue. In effect he says, “It‘s all right, Abraham, I never intended that you should actually slay your son. I only wanted to remove him from the temple of your heart that I might reign supreme there with out rival. “…now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”

After that emotion filled experience I think the words “my” and “mine” never had quite the same meaning for Abraham. Abraham had a lot of things, but he possessed nothing. Here is the spiritual secret to self denial. Laying up treasure in heaven sounds good, but we fear what we cannot see. It is easy to trust in bank balances, net worth, the next promotion, etc. I think this is the reason Jesus says it will be difficult for the rich to inherit the Kingdom. The poor have nothing of material value to hold on to, but the rich, that is another story.

We must learn with Abraham that everything is safe which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed.

A.W. Tozer said, “If we would indeed know God in growing intimacy we must go this way of renunciation. And if we are set upon the pursuit of God He will sooner or later bring us to this test. Abraham’s testing was, at the time, not known to him as such, yet if he had taken some course other than the one he did, the whole history of the Old Testament would have been different. God would have found His man, no doubt, but the loss to Abraham would have been tragic beyond the telling. So we will be brought one by one to the testing place, and we may never know when we are there. At that testing place there will be no dozen possible choices for us; just one and an alternative, but our whole future will be conditioned by the choice we make.”

“Father, I want to know You, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from You the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that You may enter and dwell there without a rival. Then You will make the place of Your feet glorious. Then will my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for you will be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Operation Dad 2008 A “Mustard Seed” Idea Blessed By God

May 28, 2008

Operation Dad 2008

Operation Dad 2008 all started with Shannon Brown, a soldiers wife and new member at Madison, and a conversation about doing something special for Father’s Day for a few of the men in her husbands unit. That seed idea blossomed into a project that only God could bring to success…and He did.

Operation Dad 2008 was not a statement for or against the war, it was a message to the troops that you are loved by those of us who are so far away.

Tom Haddon, our Involement Minister, along with Shannon spearheaded this effort that raised over 100,000.00 in supplies and cash. People from all over Middle Tennessee set up collections boxes. Over 8000 personal notes were written to the troops, many of them by children. 6000 small denim back packs were filled with everything from eye drops, chap stick to playing cards (David Hardin, one of our members drove all the way to Tunica to pick up 6000 decks of cards). Also in each back pack was one special Beenie baby toy to be given away with the back pack to a child as a gift of love.

We thank God for all of those who gave their time, money and material gifts. We trust God will take these seeds of love and plant them in open hearts for a harvest one day of His design.

Below is a picture of our Gym during Operation Dad 2008. Click on the picture to be taken to more pictures.

 Operation Dad 2008

Picures courtesy of Todd Hibbs, Madison’s Director of Media Operations.

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Operation Dad 2008 A Great Success!!!

May 27, 2008
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Tommorrow Is Packing Day

May 21, 2008

1500 boxes each containing 4 small back packs filled with goodies will be packed and made ready to ship on Friday. Each of the 6000 back packs will contain a small stuffed animal to be giving to a child. Over 31,000 dollars has been given to pay for the shipping and even the Post Office is finally on board. They will come to our building to do the paper work and then provide a truck to take all the boxes to the shipping point. Praise our Father who provides! Channel 5 did an on location shoot for their 6:00pm broad cast. Here is the video.

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Logan, the Sky Angel Cowboy!

November 28, 2007

My new friend, brother and minister for the Gallatin Church of Christ Noel Quinn lost his father on Thanksgiving Day. Shortly before his death a friend of Noel’s sent him the following video. This is real stuff that will touch your heart.

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Hendersonville Star News Article About The Blakes

October 29, 2007

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Missionaries to Nigeria put deeds ahead of words

By Candy Webb
For Sumner County

Published: Sunday, 10/14/07 When most Americans decide to do their part to improve the world, they usually choose something that doesn’t disrupt their lives too much. They may give money to an organization to utilize as needed. They may even take a two-week vacation from work to go on a mission trip.When Brad and Jennifer Blake thought about what they could do to help mankind, they took it all the way.For the past six years, the Blakes have lived and raised their children in remote areas of Nigeria, teaching people there how to grow food, save money and other important life skills.

“We believe that you cannot be as effective traveling back and forth as you can be when you live there,” said Brad, who recently returned to the states to raise funds to support the coming year’s humanitarian efforts.

“When you wear the clothing, eat the food, speak the language and live among the people, you can do so much more.”

The Blakes are founders of Arewa Aid, an organization intent on helping the people of Nigeria learn to help themselves.

Although their spiritual faith is what drives them forward, they believe they can reach more people through compassionate acts of kindness, than through preaching.

“We felt like the Lord called us to do this,” said Brad. “We saw so many children dying from poor nutrition, poor health care, lack of parent education, that we believed it was our calling to provide compassionate assistance in the real-life areas those families deal with.”

One example is what Brad refers to as the “Muslim Beggar Boys.”

“Typically a Muslim man there has four wives, and each of the wives has about seven children,” said Brad. “This means the husband has between 35-40 children that he can’t feed, so he sends the boys to the city to learn the Qur’an. ”

According to Brad, the children do study the Qur’an, but also spend 8-9 hours a day begging on the streets to take the money back to their teacher.

“We approached the teachers and asked if we could teach the children about dry-season farming, and they said ‘don’t just teach the students, teach us too.'”

Alhough Muslims and Christians have a long-standing difference in spiritual belief, Brad believes his approach works because of what it provides.

“We try to reach people through acts of compassionate service,” he said. “And if within that service, they seek information about our beliefs, we are more than happy to share our faith with them.”

The farming system being taught involves drip irrigation and allows food to be grown even in areas where water is sparse.

In addition to growing fruits and vegetables, the residents are being taught the importance of saving money through a market women’s program.

Conflict resolution, poverty elimination and human rights are also key goals in the foundation’s existence.

Each year, the foundation adds programs to its repertoire. Next year, Jennifer will teach the women more about food preservation by teaching them how to can, pickle and dry various foods for later use.

The Blakes are committed to staying in Nigeria at least through 2014 and plan to continue expanding the services the foundation offers.

“We want to move from the family-size kits for farming to the supersize kits,” said Brad.

Also included on next year’s wish list is a small stipend to pay a full-time farmer who can live on the farm and teach increasing numbers of residents how to successfully grow fruits and vegetables for sale and consumption.

Deep wells and solar pumps will be needed so the foundation doesn’t have to rely on purchasing water in tanker trucks, as it has been doing.

The Blakes have been providing assistance to a man who suddenly fell ill and is blind and crippled due to the illness. They would like to continue to help him with his living expenses.

There are many items on the list, but the work, programs and training will be provided by the Blakes and their volunteers.

Arewa Aid is a nonprofit organization, and the Blakes hope businesses will join with area churches to help fund its efforts.

“Children over there are not eating any fruits and vegetables, which can cause serious health problems,” said Brad. “Through drip irrigation, they can grow what they need to eat and also have enough to market and begin digging out of poverty.”

While Brad is here seeking funding, Jennifer remains in Nigeria and is approaching hotels as potential vendors.

“She is taking the zucchini around that was grown and giving them each a zucchini and a recipe,” said Brad. “If they can see what they can do with it, they might start buying it from our participants, and it is another step forward.”

For information about Arewa Aid, or to have Brad come and give a presentation about the foundation’s work, call 444-0999 or 615-299-7433. You can also email Brad at bradblake@juno.com
Published: Sunday, 10/14/07

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The New Atheism

October 25, 2007

John Allen Turner recently appeared in a taping for Coral Ridge Ministries concerning The New Atheism. Worth you time to take a look.