BELLPOINT BLOG: Grow in Christ

A Memorial Day Message

A MEMORIAL DAY MESSAGE

          Alfred Mendes enlisted in the British Army in January 1916 at the tender age of 19. He was soon sent off to France to train to be a signaller. Signallers were responsible for signaling communications from the front lines back to the command position and vice-versa. Often, it involved laying landlines down in dangerous enemy territory.

          On October 12, 1917, Alfred faced his most daunting test yet. Hundreds of British soldiers had been charged with reclaiming the village of Poelcappelle in Belgium from the Germans. It was an important location from a strategic standpoint and Allied forces resolved to have it back under their command. The British troops attacked on a day that poured down rain, suffering heavy losses. One hundred fifty-eight men in Alfred’s battalion of 484 were killed, wounded, or MIA. No one could locate the missing men as they were scattered across miles of sucking, waterlogged foxholes and craters in the mud. Stuck in the middle of No Man’s Land, they were unable to communicate their positions back to their allies in the safe zone without being killed.

          When Alfred Mendes’ commanding officer asked for a volunteer to do the almost certainly fatal job of running out to locate the positions of the surviving men and then reporting back to the troops – Alfred volunteered for the job.

          Miraculously, he survived and . . . located a number of survivors, enabling them to be rescued. It was an act that later won Alfred the Military Medal for bravery. His actions became the inspiration for the film 1917. In an interview, writer and director Sam Mendes explains the source of the film: “I had a story that was a fragment told to me by my grandfather, who fought in the First World War. It’s the story of a messenger who has a message to carry.”

          As Memorial Day 2020 approaches and we pause to remember those who gave so much that the blessings of freedom might still be ours, it is appropriate to pause and give thanks for the One who volunteered to leave the safety of Heaven and traverse a different battlefield every bit as threatening (And more so in many ways!) as the one described above, for the purpose of delivering the most important message anyone could hope to receive: 

          “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that

            Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”(John 3:16,

            NIV)

          It is a familiar message to most, probably the one verse that nearly everyone has learned by heart.  Some find it too familiar, even tiresome.  Yet, I never tire of hearing it.  I hope you feel this way.  Most of all, I hope and pray that you have received this message and all the more importantly – received the messenger, Himself. 

Your Servant in Christ, Pastor Paul


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Influence

The famous preacher and abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher once said:

“The humblest individual exerts some influence, either for good or evil, upon others.”

Just think for a moment about all the individuals during the course of your life who have influenced you for good or bad. In my personal testimony that I like to share, I highlight five people who all played a part in shaping me, in particular steering me toward a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

 

Parents
From a very early age, my parents read to me from my children’s Bible. They prayed with me each night at dinner and before bed, and regularly took me to church on Sunday mornings for worship and Sunday School. There was Ruby Davis, an older retired woman who taught my fifth grade Sunday School class who encouraged me to be diligent in prayer, and to get a good Bible to read, one that I understood. I remember one of my peers, a boy named Jeff Lindeman, who shared with me on a number of occasions about his coming to faith in Jesus Christ and how that made me want what he had, a close relationship with God.
 
Speaker
It was Jeff who invited me to hear a speaker with Student Ventures when I was in seventh grade. His name was Roger Hershey. It was Roger who clearly presented the Gospel to me and invited me to pray to trust Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
 
Your life
Each of these had a positive spiritual influence on my life. I would invite you to think through all the people who’ve had similar influence upon your own life. Pause, and celebrate the fact that God caused their lives to intertwine with yours. Offer a prayer of thanksgiving for them. Maybe, you might even give them a call or write them a note expressing your gratitude for them and the influence they’ve had. During this time of being locked down they’d probably really appreciate it.
 
Influencer
Now, take a moment to consider if there are those who would call you, if so prompted. How have you been an influencer and are you an influencer even now? As followers of Jesus Christ, it ought to be something we intentionally aim for – to influence people for the good and especially for God. Jesus invites us to when He says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NIV) As He influenced people to enter into His Kingdom we continue to do the same. And He empowers us to do it!
 
Challenge
Let me challenge you, if you know Jesus as Savior and Lord to strive to be an influencer. Ask the Spirit to strengthen you for this purpose and look for and pray for opportunities to influence those around you for Jesus, even if in some small way. We underestimate small things, but let’s remember that small things add up and significant things often have small beginnings. Jesus’ teaching about the mustard seed has application here.
 
Yours in Christ, Pastor Paul

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A Call to Prayer

“The number is down because we brought the number down. God did not
do that, fate did not do that, destiny did not do that, a lot of pain and
suffering did that.” (New York Governor. Andrew Cuomo on the reason for
the plateau in the number of people being hospitalized because of COVID-19 in New York.)
 
Arrogance?
There is certainly no shortage of arrogance on either side of the political isle, but this statement kind of took my breath away, made me shake my head, and raise my personal lightening rod for my own protection. The spiritual blindness reflected here is reminiscent of the thief on the cross that ridiculed Jesus and demanded: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:39) He was completely unaware, that in fact – Jesus WAS in the very throes of saving, not only that criminal and his companion (if they would accept it), but the entire world.
 
Ignorance?
While ignorance obscured this man’s understanding his friend came to see things in quite a different light and he rebuked him, “Don’t you fear God since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

“Jesus,” he then said, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And the Lord answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:40-43, NIV)

You couldn’t have two more contrasting points of view, could you?

Certainly, there have been important, helpful steps that our country has taken to combat this crisis before us now and, I have no doubt that they have been beneficial. However, to not even consider the possibility…no, the likelihood, that God is intervening on our behalf because millions of believers across our nation are praying for deliverance and healing is compete hubris.

God’s hand

No, I’m convinced that the relief we have begun to see and even now seek ultimately comes from God’s hand. How we need Him, not only for physical protection and healing but for mercy and wisdom and grace to rise above all of the other ancillary problems this virus has brought to us. We have a very long and difficult road before us and I am greatly encouraged as the believing felon was to have the Lord at my side.

 

If you are so convinced, would you do me the honor of joining me in prayer for the needs of our country on The National Day of Prayer (Thursday, May 7th, 2020)?

 

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and [I] will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV)

In Him,
Pastor Paul

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A Time for Everything

 
       One of my favorite Bible verses

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God and Government

“The obligation of human beings to support and obey human governments,

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God’s Oxymoron

          Do you know what an oxymoron is? 

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Worry or Peace?

We are living in a very interesting time. This is for certain.

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I Didn’t See This Coming

In St. James’ Letter, toward the end of The Bible, James gives this bit of instruction

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Why?

The question on many people’s minds today runs something like this:

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NO FEAR

Given the current circumstances we find ourselves in,

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