Monday, July 25, 2016


We had an ordination at our church recently. Four men stood with grace and dignity , committing their hearts and hands to serve as deacons . It was a solemn event. 

It brings my thoughts to the book of Numbers where God ordained the  sons of Levi to be the caretakers and the keepers of the articles of the tabernacle .  Each of Levi's sons and their descendents had responsibilities in caring for the sacred vessels .  Only the descendents of Aaron could be priests . One of Levi's son's responsibility included carrying the sacred articles of worship upon their shoulders when moving.  Each article had to be wrapped carefully by the priests only - the men could not even touch the sacred vessels . It was an time-consuming and difficult task.  One of the grandsons became weary in this responsibility and began to question why he or his clan could not instead be priests . His name was Korah – he led a rebellion of 250 men against Moses and Aaron. 

When Moses heard of the rebellion , he told Korah and the others to separate themselves along with anyone else who was with them .  That day , God opened up the ground and swallowed them, their households, and all their belongings as well.  That was the end of that rebellion .

But it was not the end of Korah.  Somehow , some of the sons of Korah remained . Perhaps they were little babies , or old enough to know they didn't want to follow in their father's rebellious ways.  The Bible doesn't tell us . But seven generations later, their responsibilities changed to being doorkeepers and custodians of the temple.  At that time , a young barren woman named Hannah came to the temple and wept and cried out for a son.  God granted her prayer  and from her thankful heart , she brought her son as a little boy to the temple to "give him back to the Lord". That child was from the lineage of Levi and descendent of Korah.  Perhaps Hannah gave her son back to the Lord to accomplish the menial task that was his God-given responsibility.  That child grew up to be one of the Old Testament's greatest prophets, Samuel.

Later, from the sons of Korah, came some of David's strong fighting, mighty men of valor in I Chronicles 12:6. 

Further, eleven of the Psalms were written by the sons of Korah . They became choral and literary expressions of worship and praise to God.  Countless generations including our own have been led in worship by these words .

Likewise, the elders of our church ordained four young men to be
"doorkeepers and custodians " of Emmanuel Christian Assembly . They too , like the sons of Levi may have ardous tasks to perform . They may grow weary in the mundane.  They may wish for greater works.  But as they are obedient to walk in their sacred calling, out of them may rise prophets like Samuel ; mighty men of valor like David's ; and those will create choral and literary expressions of praise and worship that may benefit generations to come !What an honor  - May our Lord Jesus Christ gives these men anointing , courage , and creativity as they glorify him in this God-given task.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Prayer Charge

Our church accepted a charge from Love Akron to pray for our surrounding geographical area or "cluster" as well as our nation and its leaders for the month of June. We have been faithful to gather weekly for this purpose . Personally I have always considered myself a woman of prayer, but in the midst of our corporate gatherings , I find myself at a loss . Either I don't have the words to say, or I say too much.  I want to make sure I've covered every topic : from the president, his cabinet, neighborhoods, families, schools,etc ... I have to ask myself honestly, "Are my words meant truly for the Lord, or for the people around me ?"  I want to sound good – after all, I am the pastor's wife .  It is then that I realize I must pray more fervently for a pure heart of intercession . 

I find it labor intensive.  It is!  It is a great responsibility – we must pray for our leaders . After all, we are Christ's and He ever lives to intercede. He calls us to join Him in His work . We must pray for our schools – the teachers and the students... for their protection, provision, and education . We must pray for our neighborhoods that they would be safe . We must pray against the influence of drugs and alcohol . We must pray against the evil ones who would want to harm men, women, and children . And we must pray with pure hearts and proper motivation.

Yet, if all the ungodly practices stopped, it would not bring about a lasting change in our cities . Colossians 3:23 says that if all the rules were followed they would "lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence ".  We must wait upon the Holy Spirit and cry out to Christ who is able to save the souls of unregenerated man . We must cry out for our cities that God would reveal Jesus Christ to the lost and dying and fill them with the Holy Spirit . For without the Spirit's sanctification and regeneration there will be no healing in our land . Salvation through Jesus Christ is what our hearts must cry out for as we pray for Barberton and Norton .  We must "wait" for the Holy Spirit's work in hardened and sinful hearts.  Our prayers must extend to those who are in Christ, yet are asleep - that He would awaken them once again...that revival would come to the Body of Christ. That we ourselves would have pure hearts and clean hands.

Restore us, God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name. Restore us, Lord God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.
Psalm 80:7, 18-19 NIV

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


I've been thinking about Balaam - (you know, the one who the donkey spoke to).  During my last teaching on the kingdom series I mentioned Balaam to be a "disobedient prophet ".  As I searched the Scriptures I realized that I was wrong – Balaam  was not a prophet of God at all . He was a prophet of Baal. He was a well-known soothsayer of his day who when he blessed others they were blessed, and when he cursed them they were cursed. 

Under Moses leadership, the Israelites were subduing lands .  In Numbers 22 they were surrounding Moab.  They had just defeated the Ammorites . Because the people of Moab were filled with great fear , Balak  their king, sent for Balaam (with promise of great reward) to curse Israel.  Even though Balaam was not a prophet of God, Almighty God spoke to him . God told Balaam that he could not curse what God himself had blessed .  And throughout the course of events Balaam ended up blessing Israel several times and even cursing Moab . King Balak was angry and sent Balaam back without his reward.

What happened next in the book of Numbers doesn't mention anything about Balaam . But I know exactly what he did . I'm sure he must've been angry that he did not get his reward nor could he do what the king desired of him. Maybe he thought, "I know what I'll do. I'll have the women of Moab entice the men of Israel ".  Numbers 25 tells us that the men of Israel began to eat food sacrificed to idols.  They were invited by the women of Moab to offer their sacrifices on their altars. They began to mingle and ultimately commit sexual immorality with those women.  God sent a plague among Israel because of it.  
How do I know that Balaam was behind this?  Because Jesus said so in Revelation 2 . He was speaking to the church of Pergamum saying that some of them held on to the teaching of Balaam, " enticing the Israelites to sin so they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality . "  

Balaam ultimately died at the hand of the Israelites in Joshua 13. His name is also mentioned in Deuteronomy, Nehemiah, Micah, II Peter, and Jude.  In fact , his name is mentioned 57 times in the Bible . That says to me that we need to know about him... More than being the one a donkey spoke to.

Peter warned the church of people among them who had "wandered off to follow the way of Balaam".  Jude said there were people who had "slipped in among them perverting  grace and denying Jesus as their only sovereign". Both Peter and Jude assumed the readers knew all about Balaam . Doesn't that tell us that we ought to as well? 

When we see the name Balaam, we ought to think about two things : 

1.  We are blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places.  The same blessing God gave Israel belongs to us. And nothing and no one can curse what God has blessed . 

2.  Even in the church are those who are living in error. The error of Balaam, I believe, is the enticing spirit of this age that says, "everyone's doing it . There's nothing wrong. " The truth is that premarital sex is sin, living together before marriage is sin, homosexuality is sin.  We can be enticed by those even in the church whom we greatly admire and respect to practice sexual immorality - being disobedient to God's word . God has given a beautiful place of sexual expression and that is in marriage .  We too, must beware of following the way or error of Balaam.

Oh, and here's another thing to think about when you think of Balaam...the GRACE OF GOD....God cursed Moab in such a way that a Moabite could never enter the congregation of Israel.  Yet one of the greatest and, I think, most beautiful love stories in the Bible, tells how Ruth (a Moabite!) became the wife of Boaz an Israelite of great integrity... and ultimately, the great grandmother of David! 

Balaam...definitely more than just a man who conversed with a donkey!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Withered Roots

I have always enjoyed keeping a journal. When the journal is full , I put it on a bookshelf and get a new one . Every few years  I gather those books up, glance through them , and throw them away . I've gotten into the habit of "dog earring " the pages that I wanted to return to . Recently I was cleaning out the bookshelf, gathering the journals of the past 10 or 15 years, preparing to throw them away .  I began leafing through the marked pages of a journal that was 13 years old . 

I was reminded of the intensity of that season of my life .  I remember it clearly . I was offering up long overdue forgiveness to people who had hurt me and my family.  At the very same time the Lord was revealing a deeply rooted sin of insecurity within me.  In one of my entries I had been reading about the life of King Saul. I made  note that Saul was insecure and that insecurity caused him to be a prideful, disobedient, people pleaser.  It revealed to me the sinfulness of my own insecurity. It seemed that that insecurity ruled every decision I made - I was no different than Saul. 

Later on in the journal I was reading in Mark 11 . Jesus was hungry and he saw a fig tree full of leaves.  He wondered if it had any fruit . But when he got to the tree he found nothing but leaves and he said "may no one ever eat fruit from you again " . The disciples took note of what he said and they went on their way . The next morning they walked past and noticed the tree that Jesus had cursed was withered from the roots . Peter said "look, the fig tree you cursed has withered!"  Jesus said, " I tell you , whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours ." 

My prayer entry that day was, " Lord there is a fig tree in me that bears no fruit.  It's a part of me, as if it's in my DNA.  I can't do anything about it, but I believe that you can speak to it just like you spoke to that fig tree, and it will never bear fruit again . I ask you to do it . And maybe one day we might be walking past and you could show me how it's withered from the roots ".

Here I was, 13 years later reading this entry, and God was still answering prayer.  It was as if the Lord and I were walking past and he showed me that fig tree withered from the roots . I can say with certainty that I no longer am ruled by insecurities . Oh, I get insecure . And yes, I can be prideful and disobedient - but that part of me is dead. It no longer has dominion over my decisions and actions . Jesus said that the father cuts off "every branch" "that bears no fruit".  How faithful he is! 

But that wasn't all. When Jesus spoke to his disciples about the withered tree he said " and when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them so that your father in heaven may forgive you your sins ."  The Lord was showing me that my obedience to forgive those who had hurt me aided in the miracle that I had asked for.  Here was God's word revealing itself as truth to me . 

We can be certain that the word of God is true - it is full of life-giving truths...and even death-giving life!

Monday, April 11, 2016

God's Perfect Love

Last fall, Joe and I listened to a book on tape about the Johnstown Flood by David McCullough. There was a scene in the book that described a crewmen on a train who was in charge of a  particular train car full of passengers . Somehow that train was caught on the tracks at the time of the flood . The train tracks were in a low place with hills surrounding it.  When that crewman saw the wall of water coming toward  the train, he ran as fast as he could and made it to high ground .  The passengers of that train car were frozen in fear.  Many lost their lives.  A reporter asked that man, "How is it that you made it to high ground and the others in your train car did not?"  He answered something like, " Well, I saw the water coming and I ran as fast as I could. I had to save my life, didn't I?"

That's scene troubled me, but not because of what that man did . No, I wondered how I would have responded had I been faced with such a life-threatening event . I can't say that I'm very courageous , and I know for certain that I am very selfish at times.  What is to keep me from having the same reaction as the man in Johnstown?  Paul says in Philippians 1:20, " I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body whether by life or by death ".  Paul faced death many times and had an eager expectation and hope that he would not be ashamed, but that God would give him the courage that he needed either to live or die . 

Over a month ago our dear brother Art Belcher faced a similar situation . Not allowing others to be endangered , he heroically protected them to his own hurt . He was stabbed several times and nearly died . Thanks be to the grace and favor of God, Art  is recovering and growing stronger every day . 

I thought it interesting on the first day Art came back to church – the testimony was that when he first took the security officer job , he confided in his friend that he wasn't sure if he really had the courage to do the job required .  The Lord proved to Art that he did have the courage – but that courage did not come from himself, it came from the spirit that fills him . 

This world can be a dangerous place and we can be tempted to walk in fear . John the beloved in I John 4:18 says this , " perfect love expels all fear . If we're afraid, it's for fear of punishment and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love ".  I think Paul must have experienced that perfect love that he could be so confident to eagerly expect and hope that he might be filled with courage . 

And, come to think of it , I can't say I know too many others who are more filled with the love of Christ than Art Belcher.  Perhaps his courage came from a deep experience of God's perfect love . 

I think that in the future I will not pray so much for courage, but for the experience of God's perfect love.  May the Lord grant us all the experience of his perfect love so that we may "eagerly expect and hope that we will have sufficient courage" … So that Christ may be glorified in our lives

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Fly Away

I'm going to be traveling soon.  The thought of flying on an airplane really troubles my mind. No matter how hard I try to understand it , I don't know how such a huge thing can carry so many of us through the sky and land safely.  You may tell me that the law of "lift and thrust" supersedes the law of "gravity" and allows the plane to fly.  But my imagination goes wild, and the thought of something interrupting the superseding law causes me torment.  

These are natural laws that CAN be interrupted , but I am reminded of another law in Romans 8:2 ..." through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death".  That law can never be interrupted because I have received Jesus Christ, and nothing can separate me from His love.  His spirit gave me life and set me free from the law of sin and death . Perhaps I should let my imagination go wild at the thought of the freedom that Jesus Christ has given me:  Freedom - not to sin... Freedom - not to fear... Freedom- to face the unknown - knowing whose I am...Freedom!  Yes, that's what I will do: I'll consider that freedom  on my trip - and I'm sure my worries will "fly away"!

Monday, January 11, 2016


I’ve been reading Psalm 90.  It’s a Psalm written by Moses.  I think knowing that it was written by Moses makes me stop and take notice.  I expect the Psalms to be written by David (most are) so when I see Moses’ name, I draw near in curiosity much like he did when he saw the burning bush.  I think to myself, “here’s something to pay attention to, it’s out of the ordinary.” 

It’s a prayer…by the man who communed with the Almighty God “face to face”…by the one whose face glowed with the glory of God after spending 40 days on Mt. Sinai…the most humble man who ever lived…a friend of God…who spent hours of time in the holy place before God.
Remember how Joshua would camp outside the tent while Moses communed with the Lord?  Was Joshua trying to hear what Moses said or how he communicated with the Awesome and Glorious Lord?  Probably so – I’ve wondered myself.   Yet we have a sample, right here in Psalm 90.
In the first 11 verses, Moses reveals his understanding of who God is.  God is a “dwelling place throughout all generations”...has “brought forth the whole world”…He is infinite: “from everlasting to everlasting”…He sees “our secret sins in the light of (His) presence”…”a thousand years are like a day” to Him…what great “fear is due” Him.

God is eternal and man is finite.  Moses was experienced with people – after all, he lead over a million stubborn, stiff-necked people out of Egypt and through the wilderness for 40 years!  He was aware that our days are “like the new grass…springs up new in the morning, but by evening is dry and withered”…”our days finish with a moan”…”even the best of our days are trouble and sorrow – they quickly pass and we fly away”…and that our “iniquities are ever before” God.
In these first 11 verses, Moses is saying, “If only we knew the Lord and His awesome power, greatness, and authority, we would live out our days in greater fear and reverence for Him. And if we consider the fleeting, troublesome years of our short lives, we would see our great need and the serious dilemma we face in this life.”

Yet, Moses gives us the answer to this dilemma: Prayer.  Here in verses 12-17 we have the privilege of entering into the secret place between Moses and the Almighty.  Let’s listen quietly and respectfully to the cry of Moses’ heart in light of the frailty of his life.  Let’s glean wisdom from one who spoke face to face with God.

1          1.V. 12 “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  The great sage, Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes that “death is the destiny of everyone” and “the living should take this to heart.” In Psalm 139 we read that “all the days ordained for us were written in Your book before one of them came into being.”  We live in greater wisdom when our eyes are focused on eternity – and the uncertainty of tomorrow.
      2. V 14 “Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”  Even though our lives are a “vapor” and “the best of our days are trouble and sorrow”, Our Lord will grant us satisfaction, joy, and gladness ALL our days.  Yet, we must ask.
      3. V 16 “May Your deeds be shown to Your servants, your splendor to their children.”  We must ask the Lord to show us His works, for when we see His working or deeds in our lives we are more aware of His constant care and provision.  Faith is built and His glory is revealed not only to us, but to our children or loved ones after us.
      4. V 17 “May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands.”  Moses worked hard to follow God’s leading and obey His word.  But he needed God to grant him favor and success to furthering the Kingdom.  So do we.

How amazing and wonderful God is to have given us a glimpse into the prayer life of a great man of God!
  Let’s follow Moses’ lead to pray more diligently in the light of our own fleeting lives.