Our Christian Duty

As our country faces unprecedented times, it calls  upon us all to take a closer look at life. The future is uncertain and basic values seem to be fading into   obscurity. Principles that were once taught in schools have been replaced with modern ideology, painting the dependence our founding fathers had in God as a mere fairy tale. The unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are gradually being washed away with new legislation.

Is this the opportunity to let your voice be heard in some march or display of protest? Or is it more appropriate to sit idly by and watch the downfall? Neither option is the answer.

Consider Ephesians 6:10-13 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

Today is the day to stand up for what you know is right, holding to godly morals and clinging to the Lord. Live in such a way that others have no question what you believe. “If we don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for anything.” – Irene Dunne on America’s Town Meeting of the Air, May 1945

At times, it may be easier to go with the flow, but what can this approach accomplish? Having a “coexist” attitude only gives silent approval to things you may contradict. Do you agree with all the things that are considered the new “normal” in our     society? What does God think about the wickedness that is   being approved, even legislated? As Christians, we cannot put our approval upon these things. We must remain faithful to the principles we hold dear, no matter what the consequence may be.

In Daniel 3, the three Hebrew children knew they would face the fiery furnace if they did not bow down to the golden idol. This did not change their determination to be true to God, whom they faithfully served. They held their ground and were marvelously delivered unharmed!

Follow the example of these men and have the same determination to be faithful. Standing up for righteousness is not a loud or showy display. It is having confidence in the One you serve. Yes, stay loyal to your country, but more importantly, keep your  allegiance to God!

“Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.”  – John Hancock

~  S. Shick

Consecrated to God

Do you know the full plan of salvation? First, it means to be saved from sin. The person you once were has been cleansed and you are made new. This transformation is so amazing it is almost like having a new identity. Bad habits and vices have been forgiven and you no longer wish to do those wicked things. “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17) Yet, there is more to this wonderful plan! The second work of grace, called Sanctification, is the culmination of the Christian experience.

Sanctification (or sanctify) means to set apart as holy, to consecrate. Some will argue that people cannot be holy, that perfection is reserved only for God. Yet, the scripture says, “…be ye holy, for I am holy.” (I Peter 1:16) The Bible would not set forth an unattainable guideline for man to follow. That would be like dangling the proverbial carrot in front of the horse’s nose.

Being holy does not mean you no longer make mistakes or errors, but that your heart is made perfect. Sin is no longer a part of it; the Holy Spirit enables you to stay that way, if you choose. This is the true evidence of the Spirit of God in one’s life. It is not to speak in an unknown tongue, as some will claim; but to have the power to live pure in the sight of God.

Pastor Karns often reminds us, God does not find pleasure in supposed holy water, beads or statutes; He delights in hearts that are clean and holy! Men and women that love God supremely and are truly dedicated to following His will for their life. That reverent dedication does not hide one away in a monastery or a convent, but uses the opportunity to be a light to those around them. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)

In a recent sermon, our pastor also likened the sanctified heart to clay in the potter’s hands. Physically, the potter molds the clay into the shape he needs. The clay does not demand to be made into a vase or bowl, but is submissive to the potter’s design. In like terms, God knows when, where and how you need to be used. He has a specific design that He needs you to become. The second work of grace brings a desire to “… be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” (II Timothy 2:21) After experiencing the miracle of salvation, the least we can do is willingly give our lives back to God, to be used in whatever capacity He chooses. To be as clay in the Potter’s hand requires Sanctification.

So many today have twisted values, “… and worshipped the creature more than the Creator…” (Romans 1:25) For this second work of grace to be truly effective, God must be one’s chief joy and main priority in life. We live in a society with ever-changing opinions and trends. Many prefer to chase their own ambitions and goals but forget about God’s opinion.

The sanctified heart considers God with every move, asking for His guidance and desiring to stay in His will. The song “Consecration” by Mildred E. Howard beautifully details the sanctified life.

~ J. Shick

Socialism’s Silent War Against America

The seeds of socialism were sewn in our great country many years ago and have sprouted into a radical political agenda today. From laws passed in state and federal government to accepted societal norms, socialism has latched onto the citizens of America. Our country is split in two halves; one half of Americans who are aware of the threat of socialism and the other half  who ignore the danger or support the socialist cause. Socialism has infiltrated almost every major avenue of life in the United States—leaving virtually no sector untouched. If left alone, it will drain our once God-fearing nation of all of its values.

Socialism is a political philosophy that Satan loves. It is his brainchild, a doctrine of demons chronicled by Karl Marx. A close examination of the teachings of socialism makes its diabolical nature readily apparent. Jesus said that Satan “comes only to steal and to kill and  to destroy.” (John 10:10) Satan’s favorite thing to steal is freedom and nothing robs freedom as efficiently as socialism.

Atheism is the commandment of communism, and socialism is the final step which leads to communism. (Communist Manifesto written by Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels in 1848.) The implementation of socialism involves empowering government to forcibly take wealth from the rich and the middle class and distribute it to the poor. As can be expected, a philosophy that denies the truth of God’s word will yield a result that is fraught with evil. Socialism has spread in the US because her citizens have been lulled to sleep. What used to offend the conscience is no longer much of a concern. Here are examples:

 Big Tech: We see this in the de-platforming of conservative apps, and the suspension or termination of conservative-leaning accounts.

Education: American History is not taught accurately or is taught with an anti-American approach.

Media: Main-stream media is no longer known as objective, but drives liberal agendas and at times decides policies.

Law Enforcement: Senior level police have retired because of purposeful budget cuts and loss of authority, new recruits are trained in more socially acceptable classes.

Corporate America: HR policies favor progressive policies and use termination as a consequence for opposition.

Entertainment: Broadway musicals and Hollywood movies promote sexuality and elimination of the nuclear family.

Religion: Clergy “dumb down” the gospel and congregants are taught to accept ideology.

Family: Many parents, especially fathers, acquiesce to teenager’s wishes on clothing, relationships and technology.

What may be thought as merely immorality is actually socialism in disguise. There are forces in the world that are intentionally asserting their progressive and socialist agendas over the concerns and ideals of conservative Americans.  

One may look no farther than a list of 45 communist goals (www.ecjones.org/1963_Communist_Goals.pdf) that were published in the book “The Naked Communist” and read into the Congressional  Record 1963, and how these goals were created to explicitly erode American values and traditions. What was a goal of the communist forces in 1963 has become reality.

Whereas capitalism fosters happiness and prosperity, socialism creates fear and oppression. Socialism misappropriates the compassionate intentions of Christians in meeting people’s needs while rejecting God’s expectations that adhere to the Christian faith. This may leave many feeling despondent because not much can be done to    overturn the powers that be. However, much can be accomplished at the family level.

Nuclear families are perhaps the largest target of Socialism. Two parents (husband and wife) who raise their own children at home is an offense to progressive philosophies but a credit when viewed in the eyes of God. It is important parents teach their children to obey God above everything else.

Children are losing their innocence well before biological  maturity begins. This is partially due to the digital age we live in.  Parents who allow young children to have their own internet devices or be babysat by them contribute to this depravity. This has been likened to the child being left alone on a New York street corner. In addition, this leads to children desiring something more entertaining than what is appropriate at their age.

Socialism creeps into society and takes families unaware. It is subtle and if allowed to take hold, it will rob a family of all things good and decent. Parents act as the children’s moral guardians. They need to be rugged in these times as we face this assault of socialist ideals.

If America is to continue to offer life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, her citizens must be cognizant of the threat of socialism and be willing to protect their God-given freedoms at all costs.

 ~ M. Karns

When It’s All Said and Done

As a nation, we have just completed a very complex and difficult year. Amid much turmoil, many changes have been faced collectively as well as individually. Looking ahead to 2021, what would you like to see happen? What would you like to accomplish? The key to true success is putting emphasis on what matters most. Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

Life often poses difficulties, bringing anxieties coupled with justifiable concerns. This causes us to expend time and energy trying to solve our problems.

But what should our first response be? To pray and ask, “Lord, what would you have me do? How can I best handle this situation while pleasing you? How can I bring glory to your name? Help me cast my burdens upon you.”

Some issues may be resolved quickly and    others may never see an answer. Oftentimes the outcome is not what we predicted or deemed best. Just remember it is most important that God remains with us. When it is all said and done, we will be accountable for whether or not we served Him. It won’t matter  whether we experienced good or poor health, how much material gain we obtained, or who holds certain political offices.

So what are your priorities? Where is your focus? Paul gives sound advice in Colossians 3:2, “Set your affections on things above, not on things of the earth.’’

Of course there is a certain care we must give: to make a living, secure a home and a future, and maintain good physical health. But even in all of this, our first priority must be given to spiritual man.

Daily taking time to pray and read God’s Word; making sure that we are living in a manner pleasing to Him. Attending church services to worship God and hear the preached word is also crucial. In the end, what we have accomplished for God is what really counts. Nothing else will matter. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36

~ A Roxbury


Lessons of the Run: A Change in Perspective

One of the greatest pleasures I have found in running is how different the landscape looks on foot versus driving in a vehicle. Some of the roads that I have traveled all of my years look completely fresh when I am running their berms. It is thrilling to find new things in the middle of the familiar.

One day I had gone out for a run on my usual route. My earbuds were in and the stopwatch on my running app was clicking. My eyes were fixed straight ahead. I was out for a maintenance run; I was not seeking to explore something new.

But a small rock abruptly rolled my ankle and I had to rest on the guardrail for a moment. As I stretched it out and made sure there was no injury, I glanced down the bank and across the field as I always did when I ran this stretch of road. Then I did a double-take. Directly below me was a tidy little house, with a white fence and gate. A well-tended garden sat next to the house. Behind that was a wooden playset and a clothesline that stretched across the backyard, waving a string of colorful shirts. I wondered how I had never seen this homestead before, as it was obviously an older home and not a new construction.

I stepped back from the guardrail and had my answer. From the driving lanes, you would miss this entire scene that sat at the bottom of the steep embankment. It wasn’t a major find, yet I was amazed to see something I had never noticed on this road which I traveled almost daily my entire life. When I looked closer, I learned something new.

Our walk with God is similar. We can all look back and remember the fresh eyes with which we saw life after repenting and being saved. 2 Corinthians 5:17 describes it as “…old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” This is a wonderful time in a young Christian’s experience, when everything is new. How easy it is then to see the great power of the blood and the change it brings to one’s life. There are many discoveries and changes in those first months of living for God.

What happens in a Christian’s experience in the following years depends upon their desire and choices. We can let spiritual things become dull if we fail to see and hear what God is showing us. We can maintain, but never grow. We can decide the direction of our path without considering God’s plan for us, His vessels. We can determine in our mind who the preached message is for and miss our own portion. We can think ahead, fretting about what is coming our way, yet never praying for God’s intervention. All the while, we claim to be walking with the Lord. We miss so much when we have nothing more than a “drive-by” experience.

We do not serve a one-dimensional God. His every facet ties together wonderfully, line upon line. Each part of His word serves an important purpose. No matter the changes of our lives, it remains constant and necessary. Yet there are undiscovered blessings laying in its pages. How thrilling for the child of God to find even the worn pages of their Bible fresh and relevant. Many times I have read a familiar scripture as though I was reading it for the first time. Some days, I read a scripture that I am sure I have never read before or rediscover a passage that saw me through past difficulties. What treasures they are to me. God promised to reveal truth to the redeemed who seek it.

The next few years will have its challenges, both old and new. Seek to get deeper in God’s Word, to both root yourself further in His truth and to find excitement in it. Don’t ask for the paths to change, ask God to help you see what you have been missing, through spiritual eyes!  “…ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.”  Jeremiah 6:16

We are privileged to sit under true gospel preaching each week; messages that are deeper than just words on the page. Our pastor is skilled in tying together those scriptures that lay out the foundations of faith, and those that add vivid color to the Word. The messages are alive, not a dead letter!

Don’t be satisfied with a drive-by experience. Get out on foot. Exert some spiritual sweat to find undiscovered gems. When you find them, tuck them away in your heart when you need them. Share their beauty with others around you. Go explore the paths of truth and enjoy all the hidden riches God has for you.

~ R. Smith

What Does It Mean To Be Saved?

When you think of being saved, what comes to your mind? Consider the one who has been lost at sea, floundering in the waves desperately hoping for someone to rescue them. Ponder the child who is stranded in the upper floor of a burning building, screaming for help. What torment there is for the one who is suffering in these situations! Yet, what incredible joy and relief when they are rescued.

At the Church of God, when the word “saved” is used – it means to be free from sin.

Similar to the physical examples above, an individual can feel mentally hopeless in life. Instead of joy, each day seems to be full of heartache and sorrow. No happiness can be found, although it is searched for in many places. Dishonesty, unfaithfulness in marriage, the vices of tobacco, alcohol, drugs or pornography can tightly grip an individual, just as if they were in prison. How can a man be set free?

Jesus came to be hope for the world, to offer new life. Matthew 1:21- “for he shall save his people from their sins.” Jesus, who was born the Son of God, died on the cross and arose again on the third day that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

A sinful life is truly unnecessary. Some will refute that point, stating that sin cannot be helped. If that is the case, Jesus’ death was to no avail. He did not die to just help man live a better life.  He died so that man could be holy, just as He is holy.

In the physical examples above, when they are saved – the lost one at sea is no longer in the water; the child has been removed from the flames. Jesus came to completely changes lives! “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17) This is the amazing wonder of truly being saved. The things that once held a person in bondage can be totally removed. The addiction can be broken, lives put back together and happiness restored through the power of Christ. We invite you to attend our services and find out more about this incredible gift of Salvation.

By J. Shick

A Country With Values

At a time when our country faces unrest, violence and rampant hatred, an important election draws nearer. The decision made by voters will undoubtedly affect the course of our nation, whether good or bad. Which candidate can best lead the nation on a course that preserves our liberty and keeps America the world power that she has been from her very formation? The key to America retaining her virtues is not in a single leader in one election, but in her people and their values.

In his book “Democracy in America,” author Alexis de Tocqueville wrote “America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.” Our pastor referenced this quote in a recent sermon. After touring the United States in search of its success, he found the answer. “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.”

How can America continue on a course that results in greatness? The answer remains the same: strong Christian values faithfully heralded from our churches.

Think back to the reason why so many flocked to this “new world” centuries ago. Men and women wanted the freedom to serve God as they desired, rather than be forced to follow the Church of England. They wanted to be true to their conscience without fear of what authorities would do to them.

Similarly, our righteous principles are being encroached upon. The political agenda which removes the very ideals that shaped our country’s beginning will cause America to fall from her glory.

Now, more than ever, it remains of utmost importance to cling to those godly beliefs. We need God’s help with our country, so our freedoms can be preserved and we can continue to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

By S. Roxbury