Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Southside Life Station a Summary and a Plea

The South Side Life Station is doing an amazing work in and around Toledo, Ohio. Please spread this literally everywhere as we need all the help we can get. 

http://churchtoledo.com/life_station.aspx Donate Here: http://churchtoledo.com/donate_now.aspx Volunteer Application: http://churchtoledo.com/volunteer_application.aspx Are you in need of Encouragement? Sign up for encouragement Calls Here: http://churchtoledo.com/encourage_me.aspx Need Food in the Toledo area? http://churchtoledo.com/food_pantry_delivery_during_covid_.aspx Buy books from Fog and Moon? http://churchtoledo.com/store.aspx?act=search&list=0&order=-1&index=1 Visit Amaldan Inc. for other interesting ways to support the kingdom advance: http://churchtoledo.com/support_amaldan_inc.aspx Listen to Life 4 Toledo Podcast: https://rss.com/podcasts/life4toledo/ Listen to New Heights Fellowship Baptist Church Podcast: https://rss.com/podcasts/newheightstoledo/ Give via text: LSGIVE to 419.419.0095 to give by credit or debit card. Regular Mail: Checks can be mailed to: Life Station Po Box 962 Toledo Ohio 43697 Or New Heights Fellowship 255 Heffner St. Toledo Ohio 43605

Friday, August 20, 2021

Faith over Fear

 We are individually equal because we are individually unique. You can actually be different from every other person by letting the power of God flow thru your experiences, background, and borders. God set these things up so that you might look around for Him. (Acts 17) and having found Him realize He was never far away at all. 

Courage and wisdom are the two sharp edges of a mighty sword that will carve a swath through the enemies of justice and mercy in this day. Flowery I know, but the bottom line is: God's people are supposed to be courageous and wise. Fear Not. Do what you have to do but set the standard as what God says you have to do, not what someone-anyone else says.   
Whether it is New Heights Fellowship Baptists Church of East Toledo or not, you are meant to function as part of a local body of believers. One of our Personal Trainers may be able to help you sort out which body, what is a body and what isn't, or you may just want to listen to the voice of God and let Him point you in the right direction. We are willing. He is patient. But it's time.  

 Worshipping with other believers is just one of many things that we simply miust do and the fact is that wearing a mask all the time, praciticing social distancing, and other COVID enforced activities has caused a side effect of people becoming more distant and less friendly. We MUST not go down that road. 

We must be the embodiment of our father's love and we must be actively learning better how to do so every day. He will bless us as we pour ourselves out for kingdom causes. We must brook no excues and instead choose to live with complete adn unwavering loyalty to our Go adn one another. Love! HUgs must happen, be careful if you must, but hug. Gifts must happen, be cautious but give. Service must happen Be cautious if you want but never, ever quit Denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following daily after Jesus!
Please accept the truth about Jesus Christ and begin anew today to live your life for Him. Then be wise and Courageous in Christ with response to Covid-19 and every other threat that comes along.

Hope to See ya Sunday,

Pastor Daniel R. Stevenson

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Already at work

As I wake up in the morning with the sun streaming through my bedroom window I hear the birds chirping. They are already hard at a day's work finding worms and twigs for nests. They have already eaten breakfast. They do not judge me for having slept in which is good because maybe in my book I am rising early. 

It's the notion that they are already hard at work that catches my mind. I vaguely remember a movie, a John Wayne movie. It seems that at the end of the movie they weren't sure exactly how to close it out. The Hero had triumphed and the wagon train was continuing West. John Wayne told the director he knew just what to do. 

In the final scene of the movie created by John Wayne's authorship, John Wayne's character is sitting at a small round wooden table in the corner of some bar. And unseen character, a voice familiar to those who have been watching the entire story, asks the question, "So, what now?" John Wayne's character stands up and monologues. The gist of that monologue is this.

I don't know for sure where we're going now or what's going to happen but one thing I do know for sure. When we get there we will find God has already been there and is already hard at work. Fade scene. 

So, that's the beginning of my day. I can't say I know exactly where it's going to go but I know I'll find God there already working. If God eats breakfast then it would be safe to say he's already eaten. If I simply follow his leading and trust him and his preparations then I can know in my heart of hearts that everything has been taken care of. 

I thank Him as my head leaves my pillow. I have a lot to thank him for and I can never do a good enough job but he seems to like it because every time I get up and head into the unknown of my day I find he has already been hard at work and I am always pleased with his craftsmanship.

So, let's get up and see what God has been working on. Ooh, maybe He'll let us help.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

 It's true the church has a number of issues-not the least of which is we all come from bad stock. Well, not really. We come from Jesus now but before that we came from bad stock.

 Okay, so, sorry Mom and Dad. It's not that you are bad or that you were not good for me. Well, actually it is that you were bad but don't take it personally. I mean, we were all bad, right? 

So, maybe my parents were absolutely perfect and I'm just a dirt bag that fell far from the tree. But, the bottom line is-I wasn't a good man. How I got there doesn't matter all that much but it seems to be the disposition (the Bible calls it flesh nature) of all people. 

Since coming to Christ, Since believing and being recreated, we're better. Still, it seems like having come so far, we have so far to go. We are complete but even in our completeness we seem to find every way to emphasize our lack. 

Our righteousness is found in Him alone and as the door to the sheep fold he guards us but we still have in here with us what we brought in - which is us. An old us and better- a new us but 'us' none-the-less. 

The problem with the church is people. That's why we needed to be born again. Well, in all fairness it is only one of the reasons but here we are born again and fondly reminiscent sometimes of who we were. Be new, we teach. That old guy though, he wasn't so bad was he?

Your righteousness is as filthy rags. Yep, that's bad. 

The church is the people among whom people are authorized to leave their old self behind. It is us cutting out the bad behaviors one at a time and if there are some we never get around to, well, so be it. It is us knowing that we are better together than alone. It is so easy to buy the lie that you are better off alone. But, it is just that. It is a lie. 

We are precious living stones, flaws and all, being built into a precious temple in which He lives. 

Let us mess up. Let us fall, fail, flirt with temptation when we shouldn't, and barely make it another day to do the kingdom work. Let us do all that and more as a bunch of screw ups who love God back as we have discovered He loves us. That works for me. 

It's His righteousness that saves, not mine. 

Thank God for the church. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Righteousness video

This short video on Righteousness might interest someone who is actually trying to live for God. Praise God He allows us to walk uprightly before Him with His assistance. His Grace is amazing.

Thanks for turning your ear in my direction but of course my real desire is that we should all turn our ear in the direction of the Lord. Lead us Lord, we pray, In Jesus' name, Amen,

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

50 years old and considering time

So, now I'm 50.

I don't see how it matters much. Even though things on my body sag more than they used to and I've got hair where I don't even think hair should need to grow from, I really don't think it matters all that much.

I've got a pretty good idea where I've been as much as a an whose eyes have been opened by God and who thinks about such things can. I mean I think so. I have a pretty good idea where I'm going even I can only imagine what it will be like when I get there.

Jesus as master craftsman.

I have a very full life with lots of activity and very real choices that have to be made about getting down on the floor and playing with my daughter or letting the kids and grandchildren (her nephews) do that. She wants them more than she wants me at times like that but I think it is important and so here goes...

Ironically, something about energy conservation, better diet, hydration and sleep I think makes me more qualified to "get down" than I was when I was in my twenties. My legs shake less now. My bones definitely feel more brittle and I am stronger (perhaps that should have been -but I am stronger-but I am reluctant to edit it.)

Time is the single rarest commodity, cannot be purchased, no matter the amount of wealth that is offered, it is like love in that, but is dispensed with at a whim-unlike love.

Love goes the wayside all to often, primarily because at that time something else seems more important. IE, I broke up with her for another girl or I broke up with her because she was smothering me....Time on the other hand.

We dispense with time like no amount of waste matters when the opposite is true. It is the single rarest commodity there is and yet we waste it. Perhaps that is part of why it is so rare. If you've got a dream your busy but so many people don't have dreams, only pipe-dreams. Many humans have things they would like to see come true but are not interested in putting in any efforts to make sure they do come true unless those efforts are at the finish line (and they are still strong like at the start line.) However, finish lines come at the end of long races with much racing already done.

Life is not a sprint. Accomplishing significant things that you've dreamed of-also not a sprint.

If you spring a marathon you lose. Worse, you may lead others to do the same and there ya go...

So, let's guard our time and spend some of it on things that really matter like investing in our kids, while we also invest the appropriate amount in make a dream come true.

Oh, and by the way, a real dream, a dream that is worth investing in, helps others, loves, and encourages greatness in those around us. A real dream advances the kingdom of God. Any other dream is destined to turn into a nightmare as we face God and answer that all-important question, what did you do with the time I gave you?

He already knows the answer as things stand now but He is willing to help us change it if we cry out to Him.

God, help me use my time wisely, In Jesus' name, amen


Pastor Dan

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

okay,So New Heights is in the middle of a six month emphasis on writing a Journal and I'm realizing that as a writer I am really bad at writing a journal. I love writing and I can make stuff up on the fly, but I just never seem to get around to writing in my journals consistently. As a reader of my blog you probably already knew this. want to. I know I can. I just don't get around to it as often as I should. I have resolved to do better. Along with a lot of people at New Heights.

This journey with God has been an incredible one. He has done so much. I feel like l would be hard-pressed to do justice. But the reality is that writing a journal is a spiritual discipline and if I wasn't putting in some serious effort I doubt it would do me or anyone any good.

 So, as I sit here trying out new technology wishing that it would be an excuse for overcoming the hurdle, I realize instead that there hurdle is the very thing that I stand to gain from the effort. I am to be reminded that I am able. Because I am able and because God wants me to-I shall.

 The spiritual discipline of writing a journal is putting something down, It is an effort to encapsulate the thoughts of the day in words that make sense to me now and that may help me get an overview later as to what is really happening. Since it's not over yet and I can see the basic value of better understanding what's happening I cannot deny the logic.

 So I will set parameters as is done with all disciplines and of we go...

Friday, August 30, 2019


This morning I find myself contemplating the concept of resistance. There's a million places my mind can go on this topic and I feel reasonably certain that return from most of those places could be safely accomplished. :)

However, I am lead to think first about a particular incident that seems to provoke me.

The details of the event are a little painful to recount and the Internet is unforgiving and some form of long lasting and so I will not recount them. However, I will tell you that they lead me to thinking about how we think we are in charge even when we aren't.

With God, it is that we are able to make seemingly every day to day decision and expect that we are only doing what we think is right even when in fact we are not even doing what we think is right. Did you get that? Did I get that?

We make the decisions based on the day to day impetus which usually includes our desires and we don't take into account the unknown which is not actually unknown by God and actually cannot truly be taken into account by us because it is by its very nature, unknown. But some of that right there isn't entirely true, is it?

Not taking into account the unknown when it is unknown by us and known by someone else is actually not taking into account that the someone else knows the unknown. It is defined as not deferring to them. So, for example, if our enemy know ours weak spot and we do not, we must guard that which we do not know. We know that our enemy knows what we do not know and that to guard what we do not know is not really doable and so we should choose to avoid the fight if at all possible. To not avoid it would be to more than risk getting hit where it hurts, rather it would be to guarantee the outcome.

Ah, here's the rub. By the great complexity of the human mind, we are actually able to take into account that which we do not know. We can plan for the unknown to jump up and bite us in the behind. We have become so good (or some would say bad at it) that some people spend their entire time embroiled in the effort. This we call anxiety.

It is also called anxiety to face with indeterminate resolve the fact that you do not know the unknown. People panic. They panic because they do no know what will happen in a certain eventuality when in actuality if there ever was a time to panic it would be just the opposite time- when we do know with certainty the outcome and wish with all our heart to avoid it and know that we cannot avoid it. This is entirely different from stressing over not knowing the outcome.

Why is all this writing talking more about anxiety than it is about resistance which was the beginning topic? I was just thinking that and so I typed it. :) You read it and accordingly, you were just thinking it right after you read it.

Oh, if only life were that easy. But while we are making day to day decisions there are those who both want to and can actually be effective at swaying those decisions. The truth is that the more someone can sway the decisions of another the more they may be able to get what the desire. So, manipulating someone else becomes one possible road to the success of meeting your own desires. Still not there yet?

So, everyone has desires (1 John 2:6). Then, everyone inherently learns that manipulating others is one of the fastest ways to fulfill their own desires. If everyone has desires one of the easiest ways is to persuade them that a course of action will meet the demands of their desires. So, then the desires of an individual become the motivation for swaying others (get what you want) and the swaying is done by bringing to light unfulfilled desires and persuading them that their unfulfilled desires can be fulfilled by taking the steps that you propose.

Human desire becomes the motivator, the arena, the weapon, and ultimately, the master.

That which a man gives into essentially masters him. At least for a time. So, both the man who is doing the manipulating and the man begin manipulated are mastered by their desires. It's a vicious cycle that stops almost nowhere. The very same person that is manipulating his kids to get them to behave or to get them to get good grades which he determines will be good for them is in turn being manipulated by his boss, coworkers, etc. Moreover he is being manipulated by the desired outcome, feeling compelled to take whatever steps are necessary to entreat his children to do what they should. He will be distraught when he thinks his efforts are bordering on futility and delighted when they seem to be panning out.

Some, many, in fact, figure out that others are trying to manipulate them and they become cynical, jaded. They determine not to listen to anyone about anything but the best manipulators have tactics for that as well. They organize and can set the scene so that those who encountered by a genuinely nice person who wants to help them are so cynical that they won't give them the time of day. But the same resistant person will one instance later be persuaded to by something that they don't need in order to fulfill some desire that they have or haven't even realized that they have. They think they know and thinking they know becomes their downfall. They have a need to think they know and that need like all others can be manipulated.

Being a bit skeptical isn't necessarily a bad thing. If someone or something is leading you toward some inappropriate course of action you must resist. OOOp, there it is. We are finally getting somewhere.

Should we resist? Are their healthy things to resist? Can we submit and resist at the same time? Resist one and submit to the other? Resist and submit to the same person at the same time?

I'm not really going to answer any of those questions. They were meant to be food for thought and then I was tempted to take them as an outline and answer them but I'm going to resist.

Here's what is true. We were created in the image of God and so are by nature rulers. Rulers govern their surroundings. However, due to original sin and the resulting depravity we are at odds with creation. We want and sometimes go without because we are at odds. Without getting into it too deep-I want to, I really do, but I'm going to resist- the original sin of mankind was when man ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil when God told them they shouldn't.

Here's a side question for thought: Was it that Adam and Eve were going to be allowed to eat of the tree after, later? Or was it always going to come down to a choice between the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. No evil in heaven so no need of knowledge of it there...follow?

So, they ate, had their eyes opened and recognizing their nakedness, were ashamed. Needs, beyond the provision of God were now felt. These needs would now become the driving motivators for life (life outside the garden, life away from God, and life struggling to master that which now threatens to master them and had never before been a problem. Fast forward and here we are.

So, if unfulfilled desires have become the arena, the tool, and the object of resistance all at the same time then we MUST resist. However, its almost impossible to resist as I showed in the example of the vigilant skeptic that I shared above. Well planned or consistent resistance only results in giving in to those who have a much better tactic for overcoming your resistances. Most people seem to come down somewhere on the side of passive resistance blossoming occasionally into passive aggressive resistance.

By this I mean-and I don't want to get distracted here- they work to resist without making resistance a big deal and then occasionally become actively resistant while trying not to become overly obviously resistant. They feel justified in doing things that are almost aggressive to show that they are resistant but not things that are flat out obviously opposite. Slam the pots and pans, huff, make snide comments while on the surface giving in so that the person they feel is responsible "gets a hint" that they disagree strongly and are only supposedly giving in because they have no choice. This vaguely satisfies their need to feel like the are in charge and wars in the arena of desires in an effort to make the other person feel like they have an unfulfilled desire even while they are getting their way.

All this programmed resistance stems at least in part from the break between us and the world. God, and each other that was the outcome of the original sin. People are in depravity. They are driven by their desires. The only solution, the only chance of winning this war, the only chance of walking away from this conflict, is to do just that.

Deny yourself, daily take up your cross, and follow after Christ.

How do we make the big leap from being mastered by (as a tool or as a tool being used against you all the while living in the arena of it) your unfulfilled desires?

God knows the outcome. Remember, how I said, its a fool who doesn't take into account the unknown? I know I didn't say that exactly, but you got that right? It's also a fool who gets wrapped up in trying to take into account the unknown which they don't know. God does know.

So, submit the unknown to Him because He knows it. It removes the anxiety.

Submit the outcome as to whether your desires are fulfilled or not to Him. Deny yourself daily.

Most of what we have been programmed by the world's system to think we need we don't actually need anyway.

Then as we are mastered by Jesus we master the arena of our desires. We are focused on our cross. We take it up, not the bad things in life that we have to deal with but the end of life always in view as we live our daily lives. After the cross I'm going to be with Him forever and in light of this suddenly I'm free here and now.

His will, not my will be done takes on real meaning for me. Its what Christ prayed and as it becomes my prayer, I finally leave the arena, I drop My weapons, and I experience real victory.

You are not defined by your desires. They just outline and entrap a you that was not the you God intended for you anyway.

Be free. Resist everything else by NOT resisting God. Turn over once and for and again and again if necessary the anxiety that rises within you. Come follow Him and then you shall know that truth and the truth shall set you free. John 8:32

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Other Ways to Connect With Me or Our Ministry

Here is a grouping of information that someone might find useful.
Please connect up with me by any and all of these ways. P.Dan

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Psalm 111 Acrostic Paraphrase

Psalm 111-English Acrostic
(Written by NHF attendees August 18, 2019)

All of my heart gives thanks to the Lord,
Before and between the company of the upright and in the assembly.
CONSIDERABLE are the works of the Lord;
Delightful are they which leads to studying them.
Each of His works are splendid and majestic;
Forever His righteousness endures.
God made His wonders to be remembered;
He is gracious and compassionate.
In response to their fear of Him, He has provided for them;
Jesus will remember His covenant forever.
Known to His people, He has made the power of His works,
Leaving them the heritage of the nations.
My God’s works are truth and justice;
None of His precepts are unsure.
On and on they are upheld forever.
Performed are they in truth and uprightness;
Quittance He has sent to His people.
Really, He has ordained His covenant forever!
Sanctified and awesome is His name;
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Untainted understanding have all those who do His commandments.
Verily I say to you, His praise endures forever.

Psalm 112 Acrostic paraphrase by the Body of NH

Psalm 112-English Acrostic (Written by NHF attendees August 25, 2019) Hallelujah! A man who fears the Lord is blessed, But this man greatly delights in His commandments. Children of his will be mighty on earth; Deemed blessed in the generation of the upright. Extreme wealth and riches are in his house, Forever his righteousness endures. Guiding light arises in the darkness for the upright; He is gracious and compassionate and righteous. It is well with the man who is gracious and lends; Just in judgement He will maintain his cause. Kept unshaken he will always be; Likewise, the righteous will be remembered forever. Messages of evil, he will not fear; Naturally, trusting in the Lord, His heart is steadfast. Oh, his heart is upheld, he will not fear, Persevering until he looks with satisfaction on his adversaries. Quite willing He has given to the poor, Righteousness of this man endures forever; Sovereignly, His horn will be exalted in honor. The wicked will see it and be vexed, Ultimately, gnashing his teeth and melting away; Villainous desire will perish.

Being Depraved is Like Thinking You Are or Will Be Okay (Without Jesus)

So, it turns out I am his workmanship in Christ Jesus. In actuality, it was always that way. i was His creation but I was misusing that power. I was His invention but I had strayed from the blue print. Hmm, blue prints... Do engineers still do that? There was a time when the color of the paper meant a lot. Now, with the advent of computers, is it still like that? Anyway, God had a plan for Him and I to be in right relationship. That plan was screwed up a long time ago-before i was ever born, in fact. I mean, theoretically, I could have been righteous. Anyone could have. All the had to do was believe God, take Him at His word and believe that He would make a way. I didn't do it. Nope. My depravity was total. I had no way to get back from where I was. Neither did/do you. See how I did that there using the "did/do" thing? It's because I don't know where you stand. Do you? Anyway, My depravity was total. I could no more get back than if I had been shoved out of a submarine at the bottom of the sea. Now, looking back, I think that's not a bad analogy. I was like that- completely without hope. But, there I was, thinking that Christians were the one's who had been deceived or that there actually was hope beyond hope and that by some stroke I would pull it out in the end. This indomitable ignorance is a gift from God. Hopelessness hurts. Getting used to not doing as well as you had dreamed is a defense mechanism. It's not a good one. It will lead you to being okay while your drowning. It will lead to a moment of death and a living hell. People in hell know only that it was better to be alive where there was still some chance left. So, it makes sense to bale on the ride before it takes you all the way down. You don't climb in the creepy stranger's van, pet his puppies, or take his candy but the problem that the real enemies of mankind come well disguised. They look safe. They look like an authority or a logical choice. You run to them (and away from God) over and over again. And over and over again they take you for a ride that you didn't want- to an end that you hadn't hoped for. Ultimately, that will be the same. Creepy enemies taking ignorant people for a ride right up to the throne of judgment. By God's grace, that won't be me. If you still think that you have another way out, rather than clinging to the Risen savior, the way I read scripture, you're going to eb right there when it comes to light that there was no other way and that you kept choosing the things that looked like another way and then-well that's it. That's total depravity. Turn to Christ today. If you don't turn to Him and only Him, no one is going to call you crazy. The world will even invite you right back in, welcoming you to the ride like any other alternative wouldn't have made sense anyway. C'mon, you wouldn't be reading this if you weren't ready for the next step in Christ. Recognize that as His creation you off design and repent and turn to Him and Him alone. Get saved, get busy in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

What if you can actually do it?

We push ourselves to do what we really want to do. At times, when we are sick, when our kids are sick, when some project or another requires us to go without sleep to meet a deadline... We get done what we really want to get done at the expense of sleep, rest, recreating, or whatever. 

So, why can't following God, doing the things that we are supposed to do for Him, be like that? Break the bank, trap the well, scrape the bottom of the barrel, do it at all costs, and never quit until He authorizes another course. 

Seriously, are we afraid we will snap? Is it unhealthy of us to push ourself to the limit to be obedient? Maybe. Maybe it's unhealthy of us to need to push that hard to be found doing what we should have been doing all along. However, that is exactly what we do when we really want something. 

Maybe it's because we procrastinated, failed to plan or prepare, or because we don't have the necessary skill or clarity of thought that someone else has to do what we need to. But it has fallen to us to do anyway. Then, we do it, that thing that we have that much passion about...

So, if you are not going to take steps to get better and better at following Christ, then that is exactly how you are going to have to do it. You are going to have to spend the resources you do have because your didn't prepare. 

So, get tired. Spend on obedience as you would on a Christmas gift you just have to have or on a project you simply must see completed. Don't convince yourself that living for Jesus can be done later. The deadline is exactly every minute. It must be done now and now and be done now as long as now is now. 

Urgency, passion, determination- these things translate into diligence. They arise out of faith in a God who is pleased to bless those who seek Him. He is your prize Pearl hidden in a field just as you are His. He did not pull up short on His passion to reach you and you should not go at it half-heartedly or in truth maybe you are not going at it all. 

Love Him with the kind of love He loves us with and we can actually do whatever He has called us to do. If we are not faithful it might hurt us to work at it this hard so prepare. Read, study, pray, love, give, serve, meditate, witness, and more until you get good at it and God can call on you as a skilled disciple and you can answer confidently, "I can do it."

P. Daniel Stevenson
Reaching New Heights in Jesus
Overcoming evil with good. 
The Moment: Blood Bowl

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Present, Ready, Relevant

2018 sure flew by. It seems like every year goes by faster and faster. I suppose it could be because I’m older and older but that probably isn’t it because a lot of our church members are younger and they say the same thing. The fact remains, when we reached December, half way through the school year again, with Christmas in tow, it came as somewhat of a shock. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? What follows are some prediction based primarily in Scripture. People will continue to chase after that which makes them feel better. Some will go after speed of service or the praise of others, money, members of the opposite sex… a host of other things. Some will mock those who have found true meaning in Christ. Some will challenge the very fiber of proper living, arguing that fundamentals should be reinterpreted in light of a modern age. Some others, with the best of intentions, will become defensive and preach a truth that is only for this present age but will fade and die when the current dilemmas are replaced by new and future debates. Some things will stay the same. God’s people will remain firm. They will believe Him for His promises despite what appears to be a universal moral drift toward wickedness. God’s true people will do what God’s people have always done. They will wait for Him to act in His way and at His time. They will strive to walk in Righteousness. They will learn to walk closer with God. Do we change or do we stay the same? If we are not careful we are in danger of becoming the old guard, resistant to change in the face of reality. On the other hand if we are not careful we could be whisked along with a large part of conservative Christianity into, “fighting for what we believe in.” The fact is that the lies of this generation-the lies that they have swallowed and the lies that they have concocted- are not original, just repackaged. We must be new and being made new daily but we must not fall into the trap of fluctuating so much that historians could rightly dismiss our efforts as limited to this context. We must cling to the solid truths of Scripture while increasing our understanding of its application so that we are not left answer-less for a searching people. We must overcome the challenge of connecting with the people around us- a people more and more willing to allow division to exist. We must reach out to neighbors in a day when neighbors never see one another and willingly accept and embrace the distance between them. We must speak in a language that can be understood without changing the subject matter to be for or against the specific falsehoods we face. God does not care about, nor did He write the Bible to be, a good answer for the challenges of the opposition. The Bible is simply the truth, the truth about what happened, the truth about what happens, and the truth about what will happen. As we go into 2019 then, let us remain the same in the face of the tactics of the enemy AND become progressively better at applying Scripture to our everyday battles. Dozens of generations before us have had to adapt and to open themselves to God and His way. Far smaller numbers were successful than might have been hoped. Let us endure patiently and at the same time work diligently. In this way, we will be present, relevant, and ready.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Does a Christian Need Church?

I had a dear friend of mine disagree with me sharply as to whether the Christian needed to be in the church or not. We quoted some verses and the end of our conversation was that he was unconvinced. He went his way which didn't work out all that well and I went mine. He's working his way back into the church now. That doesn't mean I was right or that I am smart or anything like that. I am an ordinary person with a lot of flaws. I tend to believe that that is who God wants working for Him. We are supposed to bring our stuff and let Him deal with it. We are supposed to lay these things down at His feet so to speak. That being said, I could get some very important things wrong in my life time and indeed in my walk with Christ. Still, whenever you quote the New Testament or whenever you think about the actions of the apostles realize that these things were done in the context of the local church. These things were written to, preserved by, and enacted by the local church. The universal church was the the universal church because it was the sum of the local churches and those who were finding their way into the local churches. Each of us has Jesus to help us get along in life. But I don't read that He died for all of us and suddenly convert to Universalist theology. The church is the "it" that the gates of hell will not prevail against (Matt 16:18) and we are in this together. The church is not an organization and rules and democracy can easily screw up what God is trying to do in His people especially if people are not walking with Him in the first place. No amount of rules or democratic processes can make a group of people into a church. Jesus has to do that. Incidentally, Jesus seems to have the complete control over what church remains a church if you think about the "putting your lamp out," statements in revelation. That bottom-line is this, if we are His body and He is the head then we had better get working together under His direction. There's a reason why God did not put your parts in mason jars and connect them by long-range circuitry. You are meant to be a cohesive unit and so is the body of His people. These and other truths lead us to be loving, forgiving, merciful, and kind toward other members of the church while His holy nature leads us to subject ourselves to the accountability of others. He is a great God and Has designed a great system in which you may deny your need to participate (and that you are needed) and He allows that freedom. However, while He allows freedom, He has expectations. Whether it is New Heights Fellowship Baptists Church of Toledo or not, you are meant to function as part of a local body of believers. One of our Personal Trainers may be able to help you sort out which body, what is a body and what isn't, or you may just want to listen to the voice of God and let Him point you in the right direction. We are willing. He is patient. But it's time. Please accept the truth about Jesus Christ and begin anew today to live your life for Him.

Friday, October 26, 2018

The Imaginations of Men, The Destruction of Men

Where does all this destruction come from? Humans, like God have been imbued with the ability to create. We are sentient like He is and need our imaginations, something that animal kind pretty much does not have. Man is also imbued with the ability to destroy. That too, requires imagination. I do not mean, consume, all animals do that and men have become better and better at that. So much so that in some cases it has become the driving force in people's lives. Also, on a side note this force (consumerism) can be a religion of sorts and men have this force provoked in them to manipulate them to do things that they might not have otherwise done. Anyway, where does all this destruction come from? Ariana knows. Yep, she's four and she knows. We go to the library on Daddy Day. This is what Ariana calls my Sabbath. While I am resting and in between the occasional mopping up of some project that nags at my mind and time spent seeking God, we go to the Library. I fully know by the way, that I should be spending more time on the seeking God part. Anyway, we were playing at the library at the Lego (TM) table and a young boy, maybe age eight or so, joined us. Ariana was making a house with a pool. I was making her name in letters and a maze. The boy made a man laying in a pool of blood and a figure representing his murderer. It seemed odd. After a few minutes he had also constructed a tree he informed us was the murder weapon. He informed us that the murderer had pushed the tree down on the man killing him. When he first constructed the victim and the pool of blood Ariana told him that a pool of blood was a scary thing and he simply said, "yeah." and that with a smile on his face and a sort of sinister kid chuckle. When he completed the murderer and the tree she asked him why the man would do that. She said, why would he push the tree down on the man and kill him? The boys answer was interesting but Ariana's assessment of his answer was interesting as well. I'll tell you about it after a brief message from our sponsor... God loves us and sent His son Jesus to die for us. He crushed Jesus as an atoning sacrifice to pay for the sins of men. God, could not/would not in His infinite righteousness and justice ignore sin so He made a way for it to be paid for. He came in the flesh, because yes God is God the Son as well as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit and yet He is one God. And He came and died so that we could be found innocent if we will accept and follow. Trade your life so far for that life that God intends and on into eternity with Him. It's not only grace that you don't deserve but also a Good Deal. Back to the story So, the little boy says, "I don't know," indicating he doesn't know why the murdered would push the tree down on the other guy and leave him in a piled of blood. That makes sense. He wouldn't know and at the same time he's the one who brought it up... I commented that it was a little strange. And in a moment of wisdom beyond her years Ariana said, "He should know cause it came from his imagination." She looked at me and said, "He's the one who made it that way from his imagination because that's where people do that kind of stuff." I don't know that she understood the ramifications of what she said. Still, she was right. She was right and the fact is that the same imagination that allows a young boy to come up with a murder scene can accept that destruction is within in its ability to devise. Also, and on a much more pleasant note, that same imagination can imagine that there is a God who loves and rewards those who seek Him. In an instant of appeal to that "unknown" God ask for His presence and receive the salvation offered. Thank God we are a people with abilities far beyond that which stands right before us but Lord let us use that incredible ability to dream of ways to make the world a better place, ways to advance God's purposes of Love and Peace here on earth. In the mean time the enemy will continue to warp and pervert in us the powers we have been entrusted with us. Until we desire God above all thru His son Jesus there is no redeeming back from the darkness of ignorance the greatness that is our imagination. God bless, P. Dan Pastor Missionary Author

Friday, October 19, 2018

Four year old incentives

So, first my daughter asks for milk and then asks for strawberries. To keep the whole thing fairly short she asked her mother for the milk and her dad for the strawberries. Both parents lovingly rose to complete the task. In the midst of a genius moment she says let's have a contest and see who can serve me the fastest. Whoever gets what they get for me the fastest wins. Four year olds are smart. Incentives like winning are the best, don't ya think?

Why Spiritual Disciplines?

Spiritual disciplines are essential for the Christian walk. There are things that one person may say are essential to the Christian walk and there are things that people may say must be cut out. The Bible makes the statement GAL 5-6 that in embracing the things of the Spirit we choke out the things of the flesh and in embracing the things of the flesh we choke out the things of the Spirit. So, if we desire to walk with the Spirit of God rather than against we must embrace the things of the Spirit and these things are disciplines which produce the intended fruit. Intentionally embracing them is disciplining yourself to embrace them. It is not that anyone should get so wrapped up in disciplining himself or herself that the discipline becomes the most important thing. The process as a god of sorts would be a huge mistake and so falling into that trap must be avoided. Ironically, the Spiritual disciplines and their nature of being subject to the Spirit have a built in defense and serve as a defense against idolizing them. This book is about growing. When you were born again you began to learn again to walk, to talk, to eat, to work, and to play for the Lord Jesus Christ instead of yourself. If you have not as you read this accepted Him as Lord and savior you have that process ahead of you. Perhaps it is that very thought that intimidates you and causes you to take this risk with your immortal soul. You don’t want to experience the, perceived as painful, process of learning the basics all over again and so you hold back from a commitment to follow Christ. This growth is not really painful. It is done without regret. We are not to dwell on how poorly we learned the first time or on our failures as we discover and work to overcome them. Rather, we continually rejoice in our ability to grow and learn. As it was when we were children, the world is a new and seemingly very large playground once again and we rejoice in the thrill of experiencing it through un-blindfolded eyes. God has taken the shackles off and as we grow, with each new step we realize the excitement of what we are now capable of and what is made possible in us by our new relationship with Christ. This relationship remains new. Even as we grow and become those who can handle a larger portion, a deeper teaching, or a harder to digest call to repentance and progress, we realize we will always be young in the faith on an eternal scale. God has made us new and continues to regenerate us so that our pains do not scar us and our past mistakes do not accumulate to haunt us. We sleep the restful sleep of the new born exhausted after a day’s play. We lay our head on the very shoulder of God and enjoy our rest as He carries us. But while we are awake we are at the fight. We apply what we know and that to which we have thus far attained to advance the kingdom of God on earth. We take our play very seriously indeed. We know that it is He that will determine the outcome but that the effort that is requested of us is never in vain and never undertaken alone. This fight is the discipline that God has called us to and while its victory may not be based on our proficiency it is definitely tied to our willingness to fight. We can do this. We can listen, study, learn, and obey. With the ease of changing clothes, we can engage in the acts of righteousness we know and put off the works of the deceitful lusts that we have identified. We can listen to the sermon, listen to the word, read the word, study its meaning, searching for and finding those applications that speak directly to us. We realize that even as we do this collected together in one room the Lord may work differently in each of us. We have as our ultimate goal each of us growing to maturity but we know that there is an immense variation in the context of every individual life. Only God may manage all these variables. It is to Him that we submit and trust that He will see us through to the other side in complete victory. To that end, we will be disciplined. We can do this in Him.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Ten Spiritual Disciplines

Ten Spiritual Disciplines: Bible Intake (This is getting more Bible in you by a variety of means.) Evangelism (The evangelist is a gift but for all others evangelism can be a discipline.) Fasting (This is going without something you value (IE. food) for the purpose of walking closer with God.) Journaling (This is writing something down regularly-The events of your day or your studies, whatever.) Learning (This is enhancing your personal knowledge. Biblically learning is not the only time this is used.) Prayer (This is talking to and listening to God.) Service (This is doing something that benefits someone else and not yourself.) Silence and Solitude (This is being quiet, seeking, quiet, and being alone with God.) Stewardship (This is ensuring efficient use of the resources (any kind) that God has entrusted you with. Worship (This is declaring the worth of God and most often accomplished by giving praise.) As a very basic step right now, go down the list above and write in a step you will take. Remember these are disciplines so the step should be intentional, measurable, and correctable if things are going as planned. Corrections should involve arranging other aspects of your life to emphasize the steps planned to utilize the discipline even more. Examples: Bible Intake: I will read five minutes in the Bible every day and keep a journal of what I have read with some notes on what it meant to me. This would be an action step utilize Bible Intake and journaling. After a week of limited success you can adjust to, I will do this every day first thing, or every night before I turn the TV on. You could buy yourself a special journal, sign up for on-line devotionals sent by text as reminders. Even if you did all these things successfully you would want to continue to add and increase ALL disciplines in your life. Make a plan and fail? Repent, ask God to forgive you, re-plan, and implement. New Heights gas a six month emphasis on one discipline at a time. This is nowhere near enough but it serves to highlight the disciplines and to remind us to get busy.