Lessons of the Run: Set and Fueled

Early one Saturday before sunrise, I awoke to the blaring beep of my alarm clock and remembered why I was getting up at such an hour. It was my long run today as I geared up for another half marathon. Every reason why I should go back to sleep went through my mind. I did not want to go. My finger hovered above the snooze button.  Then my mind sharpened into focus. This was the last long run before race day. In order to have endurance on that day, I would have to prepare now. So I put on my gear and gathered provisions for the road. I took time to eat and stretched for a long while. By the time I walked outside, my mind was set to do the task and I was fueled to endure.

As I ran that morning, the words “continue on” kept coming to my mind. We all have moments we wish to relax or rest when there is more work required. Sometimes life even offers good reasons why we should take a pass and get around to our responsibilities at a later time. These feelings can affect our spiritual life as well. Paul’s exhortation to Timothy came to my mind, as he too was facing that decision to press on in the work of God.

II Timothy 3:14-16, 4:3-4, “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them… All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

This warning in Paul’s last letter to Timothy is a pertinent message to us because of the end times in which we live.  It strikes the heart with its urgency because we can look at our society and see how people have created their own narrative for how to live righteously. The effects of unchurched families and lazy Christianity have led souls from truth to false ways. Over time, men and women have compromised the    message of the gospel,    softening the teachings of Jesus and turning the cross into a mere symbol of morality. They have done away with sacrifice, fear of God and consequences for wrong-doing. Sadly, there are so few ministers today who preach the power to live free from sin. False teachings have lulled many into unbelief or self-deception.

But Paul’s warning also tells us that even the Church, us who sit under true preaching of God’s word, could end in the same sad way if we do not keep disciplined in our race. Weak people often start their race with great intentions, but along the way they make excuses not to continue. A true runner goes out and runs, in heat or cold, rain or sun. A  half-hearted runner finds a reason to stop.

So setting your mind is half the battle, but what good is determination if you do not fuel yourself properly? As Paul said, the time will come when many will not endure sound doctrine. They don’t endure it because they don’t know how to digest it. Their diet consists of quick, sweet fixes of select scriptures. They consume the parts of the Bible they enjoy, verses that soothe and inspire them. We often refer to those things as the “milk” of the Word. While these scriptures are important and full of     nutrients, they only support growth and stamina to a certain point. The “meat” of the Word consists of the passages and preaching that deepens our understanding, challenges us,     corrects us, settles us and changes us. Eat all of it in order to grow. Our strength comes from what we feed on, so turn more to His Word and spiritual thought.

Mature saints learn to eat and digest all of the Word. Digesting is the process of breaking something down to pull all of the benefits from it. This takes time. Give yourself plenty of time to meditate on the scriptures and preaching to receive their full benefits. After years of studying the Bible and sitting under the gospel, we can still find it rich and full, nourishing to our souls! Once you are fueling yourself with truth, you will take judgment in stride without stumbling. Your legs will be steady and sure under you because of the strength you gain through Him. What an excellent race we can run when we are eating well!

Those who pick apart God’s Word or reason to themselves a more convenient way are walking toward unbelief. They are weakened spiritually. In Romans 3:3, Paul asked “What if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid.” The scoffer cannot change God’s eternal Word or the power of it. We who do believe and gain our strength from it must not lose sight of that truth. Let the Word settle and strengthen you. Setting your mind and  fueling your body works hand in hand. We cannot declare     ourselves determined and then go on empty, neither should we waste the nutrition of the Word by failing to apply it to strengthen our minds. In either instance, the runner will not finish the course.

In this last time when evil is called good and good evil, continue in the way. Seek after God’s principles and His       wisdom. Live the standard as it is preached. Lean on sound counsel and not your own thoughts. Receive warning and be quick to respond to admonition. Let your love for God burn so brightly that it leaves no shadow of doubt where your allegiance lies. Set your mind and heart in defense of His gospel and fuel yourself by it.

By R Smith


Today, a fast-moving ideology that silences free expression, shuts down debate, and destroys lives sweeps across America with alarming intensity -cancel culture. Those who oppress any conflicting philosophy or speech are part of this dangerous cancel culture. They are not content to rationally debate contradicting ideas or fairly persuade the masses that their views are indeed correct. Instead, they brand those who disagree with them as ‘bigoted’, ‘hateful’, and ‘on the wrong side of history’. To disagree with this branding is to, in their assertion, try to erase their existence. Fundamental freedoms that protect freedom of speech, expression, and religion are truly in jeopardy.

Sadly, the politically correct culture of the progressive movement has moved so quickly to attack practically any view or value contrary to their own. Stray at all from the accepted limits of radical thinking and you will earn labels like racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic.

Quickly the zero-tolerance culture has become the cancel culture. It is not enough to merely smear the opponent’s reputation; progressives demand that an “enemy” lose their social standing and even their job and livelihood for deviating from what is their acceptable thought. Anyone who disagrees with a progressive view is driven out from society and if they grovel for forgiveness, they may be allowed to re-enter. A hateful, bitter social media mob will make sure that you pay a heavy penalty for your opposition.

This leads to a question every true Christian should ask: what does Christ and the Bible say about this? Should Christians be tolerant? The answer is yes, we should be, however tolerance has been redefined in society and by religion to argue that Christians should accept everyone’s sinful behavior to achieve social justice.

The Bible does not permit personal sin or the acceptance of sin in others. The apostle Paul gave a clear understanding of Christ-like behavior in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

But he also writes in Ephesians 4:31 of things to lay aside or not tolerate: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.”  Paul then goes on to explain in verse 32 of the Christ-like attitude that we should show to each another, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Those who subscribe to the cancel culture movement are often unforgiving, lacking any sense of grace and are full of pride. They offer very little means of forgiveness or repentance. From a Christian perspective, this society strikes at the core principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus came so that our sins could be forgiven, not perpetually held over our heads. Ephesians 1:7, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins,” Christ came to cancel sin, not our fellow man.

The audacity and pride of those who wish to cancel men and women due to past failings, ill-timed words, or simple disagreements with their philosophy has reached new heights. Seeking to re-write history and degrade our country’s founding fathers is rather hypocritical. Those who wish to do the cancelling are not being held to the same standards. Moreover, herein lies the danger of cancel culture; it is not a level playing field.

Those who dare to speak up with a dissenting Christian view are quickly snuffed out and labeled insensitive haters, while the cancel culture mob seemingly are free to say and do whatever they please with little societal consequence. The Bible warned of this culture in Isaiah 5:20; “Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil.”

Simply put, the underlying goal of the cancel culture movement is to promote evil while silencing good; to push society into darkness by extinguishing the gospel light, to fill its followers with bitterness rather than the sweet things of Christianity. Education, government, business, and religion do not have the power to stand up to this movement. They will eventually succumb to its pressures and fall in line with its evil ideology for fear of being eliminated.

But there is one thing that can never be canceled or eliminated: the Word of God. The truth found in the pages of the Bible has been forever established in heaven, undeterred by the philosophy of man, and will never be eliminated by a cancel culture movement.

By E Kline

Divine Creation

Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Maybe you sew or cook, garden or build, paint or make music. These are all ways we create things of beauty, or things to use and enjoy. However, we start with fabric and ingredients, seeds and wood, canvas and instruments. We can’t make something from nothing, unlike our own Creator.

The first five words of the Bible in Genesis say “In the beginning God created”. In Hebrew, the word for create is “bara,” used only for divine design, to shape, to fashion, to create. ‘Bara’ is used three times in Genesis the first chapter. The first time is for the origin of matter, “God created the heaven and the earth.” The next is the origin of life, “God created every living creature that moveth,” and third the origin of man’s soul, “So God created man in His own image.”

Only human life, by God’s divine design and plan, has His image. It is more precious and unique compared to any other life, worthy to be nurtured and protected.

What God spoke into existence in the beginning has continued to this day. The more we learn about the universe in which we exist , the more we    marvel at the miracle of life. Amazing God that formed the planets and the stars, the seas and the mountains, also created our bodies with intricate physiology and with all the systems functioning as a whole. Our bodies move and breathe, think, see, touch and taste; performing processes every second, many of which we are not even consciously aware.

All of us have learned about the human body in school and some have gone further and studied in greater detail in preparation for a vocation. This knowledge does not prove the truth of God’s Word, but rather confirms our faith that only God’s divine design created life.

One such example is the protein laminin which is part of our extracellular matrix. Laminin are cell adhesion molecules, an integral part of the structural scaffolding of cells inside our body’s tissues and organs. Essentially it ‘glues’ one cell to the next and holds us together. Without laminin we would literally fall apart. This is amazing in itself, but then if you look at the molecular diagram of laminin – we see a     familiar shape: the shape of a cross. God’s Word tells the story of creation, of choices and the plan of redemption He had from the very beginning. Psalms 139:14 says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. In Colossians 1:14-17, it tells of creation and redemption, all part of God’s perfect plan.

The very powerful God who created us and knit us together in the womb, has that same power to redeem us and sustain us, and hold our lives together through His grace.

By R Trauger

To Trust In Jesus

“‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His Word; just to rest upon His promise; just to know, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!  Oh, for grace to trust Him more!”

We are living in perilous times in this great nation. Daily, we must apply strength, courage, and an unbreakable trust in the Almighty God. We must keep the principles and virtues that made us a great nation if God is to continue favoring us. One of those principles is unwavering trust in Him. Proverbs 3:5 encourages us to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

Louisa M.R. Stead composed the lyrics to the above hymn during the lowest time in her life. Accompanied by her husband and 4-year-old daughter Lily, they traveled to Long Island, New York. During a family picnic near the banks of water, they heard a drowning little boy’s cries for help. Her husband quickly swam out to rescue the little boy. Tragically, they both drowned as Louisa and Lily looked on in horror. It was from this tragic experience that she penned these words: “I’m so glad I learned to trust thee, precious Jesus, Savior, friend; and I know that Thou art with me, wilt be with me to the end.”

Do you have the courage to place absolute trust in God like the songwriter?  It is easy during pleasant times, but how about when it is time to stand for what we believe? The Bible tells us that we will suffer persecution – but to be of good cheer. When we live pleasing to God, we can wholeheartedly place our confidence and reliance in Jesus.

Another verse in the hymn says, “Yes, ‘tis sweet to trust in Jesus, just from sin and self to cease.”  He cares for us, but we are expected to do our part. I John 2:28 “And now, little children abide in him; that when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” Full trust in Jesus is built over time and comes from a life that trusts Him not only for the little things but also for life’s larger issues.

Isaiah 26:3-4 – “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” Indeed, it is so sweet to fully trust in Jesus.

By C Smith

Unity Through Christ

The Church of God at Connoquenessing is made up of many members. We attend services and take part in many activities together. However, we are not “cookie cutter” people. We have come from very different walks of life and have a variety of interests and opinions. Yet, the beautiful part is that there is perfect unity between us. Unity is more than going to the same church or acknowledging a love for Jesus. This sacred oneness with Christ is only possible through the full plan of redemption.

One cannot be unified without first being holy. The divine power of Salvation and Sanctification, the two works of grace taught in the Bible, are the bond that joins us together. It makes worship and service to God more than a ritual as it joins members together into the  family of God. A person’s personality, race or gender makes no difference– for it is salvation that makes an individual a member in God’s church. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

An onlooker might assume the combination of so many variables would lead to chaos within the pew, but that is not the case. There is no debate over what we should or should not  believe each year, for we share the same beliefs. The ebb and flow of society’s morals do not cause rifts in the congregation for we are fixed upon one faith. Our doctrine is forever settled for it is founded upon the unchanging Word of God. “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6)

Unity causes us to work together for the cause of Christ. We are not pulling in multiple directions or in competition with one  another but rather combine our efforts for one purpose: the gospel of Jesus Christ. Unity through Christ gives us a genuine love one for one another. When one person suffers or goes through difficulties, they are faithfully carried to God through our prayers. On the other hand, when one member rejoices, we also share in their joy.

Each member contributes to the service of God in different   capacities. Some sing in the choir, some are prayer warriors, some are teachers and some take care of the church property. One is not more important than another, nor is one less useful than another. The Bible compares the family of God to the   physical body in I Corinthians 12:17-18 “If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.” Each person is valuable to the work and success of the congregation.

Consider the job of a songwriter who brings multiple elements together to produce beautiful music. If we only heard one part it may not sound like much at all, yet the end result is a lovely  harmony. This is a wonderful parallel to the Church of God. We are many members blended together to glorify God! Our children’s choir sings this chorus describing the beauty of unity – “Living in harmony, part of God’s family, singing a melody of praise to the Lord. Traveling this narrow road, helping to bear the load, ‘til we are safely home in heaven’s reward.”

By J Shick

The Gift of Life

Life is a gift that we should always view as precious. There is nothing more sad than a wasted life. By  reading God’s word we come to realize the value that God places upon each soul. We live in a time when so many simply do not value life as He does.

To understand the value of something, we often look at its cost. Our souls were so valuable that God gave His Son to buy us back from the power of the devil. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

When we think of the number of lives ended by abortion, cut short through suicide, or totally wrecked by sin, we can only imagine the God’s frustration. “Hell and destruction are before the Lord: how much more than the hearts of the children of men?” (Proverbs 15:11). These things do not go unnoticed by God. Every soul is valuable to him. In Matthew 10:31, Jesus tells us that God notices even the birds of the air by saying, “Ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

What is the measure of a life? There are many philosophies regarding how life should be spent. Some say, “You only live once! Do what feels good!” For some, this is their whole purpose. They are constantly chasing the next thrill, until they realize this never brings lasting satisfaction. Sadly, many of these lives end in depression and sometimes suicide.

Pro-choice advocates insist that life is a choice of the mother, rather than a gift from God. They feel they have the right to accept or refuse the gift of life. They view life as something a mother can choose to terminate out of convenience. So many mothers have chosen this path only to find their conscience haunts them for years.

Those who chase careers, money or fame will not find true happiness. A reckless attitude toward life is always a disgrace.

We need to look to the Word of God, rather than man’s opinion. Acts 5:29 says, “…We ought to obey God rather than men.” In Genesis 4, we see that God was very grieved and punished Cain for murdering his brother. In the book of Exodus, we read the Ten Commandments which include, “Thou shalt not kill.” No matter how you reason it, abortion is murder, and is not approved by God.

A life with heavenly purpose is the only one that will satisfy! In John 4:14, Jesus says to the woman at the well, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Thank God for the gift of life. Let us always view it as something precious that we dare not waste. Every soul has value. Ecclesiastes 12:14 makes plain our purpose: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

by C Karns

Are You Keeping Your Promises?

The blue-collar work ethic of Americanism remains a virtuous strength of our land. The drive and desire to achieve and accomplish has long fueled the machine of human progress. Someone waxing poetic and patriotic fails to see that unbridled ambition can easily become an indulgence. While dreaming, working, and conquering are evidence of those who envelop American spirit, can a focus on personal accomplishment blind us to the purpose of our Creator?

One such man whose ambition caused him to fail to follow God’s purpose was Samson. A Nazarite from birth, he had taken a vow to abstain from immorality and to conform to a strict code of conduct. This oath included not shaving any hair on his head, abstaining from wine and alcohol and avoiding being near a corpse. As long as Samson was faithful to this vow, God showed him his divine favor – and he accomplished many wonderful acts as a judge of the Children of Israel.

Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Our ways can seem right to us as long as we get what we want. But getting our own way is never a true indicator of God’s approval.

As Samson matured into a young man, his appetite for pleasing himself increased. His abilities and strength spoiled him into expecting only the result of his will. As the appetite of his desires grew, Samson’s vow and God’s purpose soon had little influence over the decisions he made.

Samson’s decisions established a path that led away from God and toward a road of broken vows and disappointments. On this road, he found honey in the carcass of a lion. Breaking his vow, Samson found sweetness amid that which was dead and crawling with maggots. He found love among his enemies and he lost his eyesight as he lost his vision of God’s plan for his life. He also lost his life.

This way of self-will remains a well-travelled road. Too many decide to traverse this path and ignore God’s direction. They give little thought to God’s will or to the promise they gave to serve God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength. The vows of serving God, being faithful to a marriage or honest with their fellow man are quickly abandoned because a more convenient, self-satisfying option is made available. Therefore, many decide, and go and do with little thought for God’s purpose or approval.

James 4:15 reminds us that we “ought to say, if the Lord will, we shall live, and do this or that.” When was the last time you bridled your ambitions and considered God’s plan for you? It takes time to consider, listen, and wait upon God. This solemn time of seeking God exhibits a pure desire to please Him and not ourselves. In finding and doing His will we will find “the blessing of the Lord maketh rich and he adds no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22)

by M Karns