Showing items filed under “Pastor Ralph”
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I’m watching the election coverage of the latest party convention and I’m just thinking to myself I just wish so and so would change a little...guess who so and so is? It would make my decision to vote just a little bit easier. Can politicians change?...they need to. And so do I. That type of evaluation always seems to lead me to introspection and the changes that need to occur in my own life, for the better; for the kingdom. To change means to become “different”. It happens all the time, some for the good and some for the bad. This is a good time of the year for some “good” change.

It is the time of the year where I begin to go through all the “stuff” in my office and the “stuff” in my life and throw out that which has become only clutter and keep that which will help in the coming church year. It’s been a really good summer, our church has continued to keep with its tradition of great summer attendance, we usually don’t drop off very much, if at all, during the summer, and meaningful ministry, whether it’s with the camps or missions or whatever, just plug in your ministry.

I believe that part of the reason that happens is because of the continuous work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to change us. The Lord continues, regardless of where we might be along our spiritual growth path, to mold us and shape us and grow us, yes, to change us, from who we have been into who we shall be. It’s amazing really, the more time you spend with the Lord, that’s just a nice way to say the older you get, the more awareness you have of your need of His direction, His guidance, and His power to change us...for the good.

So while we are changing all the time, whether its administrations of the government or a new grade level of educational instruction or a new football team with all of its uniqueness for the year, or hair style, or, in a more serious vein, our character and our habits, we need the power of God in our lives. His power is the key because it leads us to become more like Christ and thus a more useful and effective tool in the Master’s hands.

Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:21-22 (NKJV)

But change for the better can be tough because it’s so easy to become a slave to sin, to bad habits, to inappropriate behavior.

34 Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. John 8:34 (NKJV)

It was Paul himself who presented the struggle we encounter. Even Paul had a struggle, he found himself doing the things He shouldn’t and not doing the things He should. If you’re like me you can identify with the struggle.

For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. Romans 7:15 (NKJV)

I know that there are some areas in my life that need to change, how about you?

Here’s the deal...we have hope...change for the better can happen. Whether it’s a little temper problem or a deep anger that lies just underneath the surface. Or maybe it’s lust, or worry, or_____, you just fill in the blank again. We can lose it...we can change. Or maybe it’s not doing what you’re supposed to be doing. No ministry, no service of others, no sacrifice, or, you know, just fill in the blank______. We can start it...we can change.

How? Realize.

  1. Change starts in the mind.

2 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32 (NKJV)

You have to know the truth before you can find freedom. The Scripture tells us what’s right/wrong.

  1. You must believe what you know.

Not just intellectually. Judas knew the truth but it didn’t change him at all. It takes total commitment.

  1. Sin has to go...that’s the problem.

We can’t live in denial and continue to be deceived. We have to admit we have a problem and the reason we need to change is because of our sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8 (NIV)

  1. Sin must be replaced with godliness.

It’s not enough to just won’t last...we need to replace the bad with the good.

Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. Romans 6:13-14 (NIV)

  1. Trust Christ...for the power.

That’s what Paul did...trying...on your own...never need the power and it comes from give us forgiveness...and to change our hearts.

What an unhappy man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is taking me to death? Thanks be to God, who does this through our Lord Jesus Christ! This, then, is my condition: on my own I can serve God's law only with my mind, while my human nature serves the law of sin. Romans 7:24-25 (TEV)

  1. Christ changes us and empowers us to resist the temptation.

so that it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me. Galatians 2:20 (TEV)

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

I can’t really do anything about the changes that need to happen in the lives of politicians, but I know I can change and get rid of the “stuff” I don’t need and add the “stuff” I do. So can you.


Posted by Ralph Sawyer with
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I came into the office last Monday and started rolling through my daily schedule and my scheduled tasks for the upcoming day. I had moved the finishing touches of my Wednesday night Bible study up to Monday morning so that I could take the time to travel to Atchison, Kansas to spend some valuable time with the students from our student group that had travelled to that location on mission trip. I had never travelled to that part of Kansas before and I always enjoy any new sites or new experiences when on the road. I took my lovely bride with me and we both really enjoyed the scenic drive over. As we approached Atchison it became obvious that this small bustling eastern Kansas town had something to do with Amelia Earhart. We actually discovered that she was born there and they even had an airport named after her that was a historical marker of the famed pilot’s early beginnings.

But then, after a brief look over the area, we turned to the task at hand, discovering where the students and their leaders were canvasing the neighborhood with the gospel while handing out flyers describing a new church plant called “Celebration Church” that the students have been working with during summer missions. I wanted to surprise the team with a visit just to give them an encouraging word. After a few turns here and a few turns there with my trusty navigator at my side we spotted our church vans just around a corner... we knew we were close...and it wasn’t too much longer before we slowly and deftly rolled up on Pastor Jeremy Shirley and Associate Minister Alec Erhart along with the freshest and most determined students I had seen in a quite a while. Really, it was a sight to behold. These students and their leaders were excitedly and passionately, and did I mention tirelessly, executing their plan of evangelism and survey. I mean it was a hot day there and they were still at it. In fact, after we left them to go get a bite to eat, they just stayed out there until almost dark to get as much done as possible. Pretty impressive and very encouraging to watch that team at work for the glory of the Lord. It was neat to hear their stories of how the day had gone and how the mission was progressing.

You know, there’s so much bad stuff that goes on out in this old broken world it’s really quite refreshing to come upon some good stuff that you can share. I had originally travelled to attempt to spread a little encouragement their way and they ended up being the ones that were building me up and encouraging me. It was great. Our students have a lot of opportunities on the horizon. We, as a country, are in desperate need for young and passionate Christians who serve the Lord because they want to, not because they have to, to step up and infiltrate the world with the gospel and live a life that makes a difference. We need Christian scientists who are able to discover and articulate the scientific facts that bring down the godless theory of evolution, in whatever form it takes. We need doctors, and nurses, and police officers, and military personnel, and media personalities, and newsmen, and actors, and pastors, you get the idea...everywhere to be the salt and light of the world.

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16 (NASB)

You can put a smile on your face today because these students are anything but tasteless. And these students are stepping up. They are salty for sure and I see a commitment in their lives that demonstrates their genuine and meaningful relationship with Jesus.

What can you do to help these students? If you’re a parent of one of this fine young men or women let them know you’re on their team. That means do the tough stuff when you have to and continue to parent them with a focus to help them find what the Lord would have them do...and work on making that happen...and do it all with unmistakable love, no hidden message stuff...make it clear. You are the biggest influence on their’re doing a great job, don’t tire out...keep it up! If you’re like me and these students are not your own children it’s good to remember they are a part of our “family” and we should be there to help them, pray for them, encourage them, and support them whenever and wherever we can.

And we can love on their leaders. We should stand with them, appreciate them, and speak well of them as they serve the Lord and minister to our students.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. Hebrews 13:17 (NASB)

If someone starts to gossip from ignorance, stop them and turn the conversation into something positive. It brings our students comfort when everybody is on the same team.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; Philippians 2:14 (NASB)

I’ve watched these leaders and students at work for the Lord. Those that were saved during the ministry of our students are glad that they came. And those that are encouraged by their love and commitment to the Lord are glad that they were sent.

Maybe they could even teach us a thing or two.


Posted by Ralph Sawyer with