The United States of America – Still Blessed


flagIt  has become increasingly faddishto pontificate on the shortcomings of our great country. From the White House on down those who believe they alone hold the moral high ground and are so much smarter than the rest of of us, they have created a cabin industry of blaming America for everything imaginable. I cringe each time President Obama gives yet another “blame America first” talk while skillfully reading from a teleprompter. Fortunately the facts do not support the rants of socialist leaning pointy heads who think government is the answer to every question and America in the genesis of every world problem.

The hope and promise of America still is alive and well. Not only is it burning in the hearts of most Americans but people the world over still dream of being able to come to our shores to experience the opportunity of a better life and to share the freedoms that is our national birth right and history.

We, American citizens, are still the bravest, hardest working people on planet earth. Our common creativity and work ethic has given the world invention after invention and products and services that have made countless lives better.

The harshest critics of U.S. government policies and our American culture still pay the big bucks to send their children here to have them educated. From the whole earth those who can afford it come to the United States for the best health care on earth.

We are still the most generous people in the history of the world. Our giving both as a national government and privately is unrivaled in human history. Just in the last few weeks several people I know have gone abroad to help the less fortunate in amazing ways. And I just read in Christianity Today that charitable giving is still very, very strong in the face of the gloom and doom that is piped into our homes by the hour.

Our men and women have paid with life and limb to liberate millions from the tyranny of evil men and their oppressive regimes. We have done what no country has done that I am aware of and rebuilt the countries of our former enemies to the tune of trillions of dollars and the sacrifice of our people.

And, from our shores the good news about Chrsit has gone out to all the world and continues til this day. I am very aware things are changing, but we American believers have been the light on the hill for the worlds masses. We should never forget our history and the possibilities of our future.

Although our freedoms are eroding, we are still the freest people on earth in the history of man and our hopes and promise we still hold out to the worlds masses who will come here legally and with good intentions.

Do I think we are perfect as a people or deserve better than the downtrodden of other lands, absolutely not. Over the decades many of our citizens have adopted the morals of dogs and the erosion is growing. We, like all people, have made huge mistakes both in U.S. policy and implementation and as citizens. While that is true, I am weary of the constant barrage of nay sayers  whose delight is to innumerate all of the perceived ills and flaws of our people and our government.

Do we deserve God’s blessing for these past 233 years? NO! Are we somehow God’s chosen people? NO! Are we, or should we be a Christian nation? NO! No, we deserve what we have not received, that my friend is called God’s mercy. How long will this national experiment  that was dreamed by our forefathers survive? Only God knows.

With all of our faults, our warts and bumps, mixed with our good, there is no people on earth who are more free, more blessed, and have more to be thankful for. America is truly the home of the brave and the land of the free.

May God bless America.

A proud American,
Royce

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Hemley Rd Church Puts New Baptistry to Use.


blb_bldgThis past Monday I received an excited phone call from our partner in the gospel, Daphne German from the Hemley Road church of Christ. On last Sunday they had their first baptism of the year, and in the church’s brand new baptistery. A 51 year old widow was baptized by brother Billy Spalding. What joy the church shared as they witnessed this event.

The baptistery is not trimmed out yet, but it held warm water (a very positive thing since the church has no heat, or A/C for that matter) and this was the first of what will be many, many baptisms at HRC. The baptistery was a love gift from a sister church at La Place, Louisiana. When they learned that their brothers and sisters in Bayou La Batre were in need they responded. Many thanks to the church in La Place for their expression of charity.

Since its inception after Hurricane Katrina, the Hemley Rd church has had no less than 10 baptisms each year. For a congregation with only a few mature believers they are doing a wonderful job of getting out the gospel and loving the people of the Bayou. They have an on going food pantry, still repair citizens houses and give tons of clothing, food, and furniture each year, facilitate an on going Grief Share ministry, and put the gospel in shoe leather in their community.

Never have I met any Christians who are more determined, live more sacrificially, and are more filled with faith than Christ’s ambassadors at HRC. Against overwhelming odds and in the face of severe opposition they have continued straight ahead. They live by faith and are bringing hope and deliverance to the folks of the bayou through their Christ centered ministry and message.

I thank God for our friends at Hemley Rd church in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. They have many needs, not the least of which is an air conditioning unit for the church building, the fellowship building, and the house on the property. Last summer when the temperatures were in the high 90’s they fed children, had classes, and worshiped with only a couple of fans to move the air. They have ministered all winter without heat, but have continued because of the warmth of their hearts.

Do you know an HVAC contractor who loves God? Tell him about the needs at HRC. Why not stop fretting about the decline of the DOW index and invest that money in something with an eternal benifit? At a minimum, please put these dear people on your prayer list and lift them to our Father.

I couldn’t be prouder of my forever family at the Hemley Rd church of Christ in Bayou La Batre. Many thanks to them for being examples of what a church should look like. May God continue to bless them and you.

For the very good news about Jesus,
Royce Ogle

How’s Your Love Life?


If I do all the religious stuff expected of a faithful Christian, and don’t love others I have failed. If I attend every church service, take communion every week, say my prayers daily, do my daily Bible reading, give more than 10% of my income, and am not a lover of men, I wasted my time. If I am respected in my community, good to my wife and kids and don’t care about the needy, I am lacking.

Even if I surpass the usual church member and become a skilled orator, and give great prophecies, understand all mysteries and have all knowledge, become a favorite on the lecture circuit, and become known as a man with great faith, I have accomplished nothing unless I am a lover. If persecution comes and I become a martyr for my faith, I have really done nothing unless I have loved along the way.

This is the bar set by Jesus, the fleshing out of the two greatest commandments, Love. It is pretty clear that loving God is more than being a model church member and being right about doctrine, giving more than others, and doing more than is expected by others. It is a very high standard indeed but is intended to be the “normal” Christian life.

Am I patient and kind?
Do I envy or boast?
Am I arrogant or rude?
Do I insist on my own way?
Am I irritable or resentful?
Do I rejoice at wrongdoing?
Or, do I rejoice with the truth?
Do I bear all things?
Do I always believe the best?
Do I hope all things work out for good?
Am I one who endures anything?


Does my wife think so?
God knows the truth.

If I, with God’s enabling, am able to become one who loves unconditionally I will not be a failure, ever. How am I doing? Ask those who know me best. I give myself perhaps a C+. God is at work in me though, both to will and to do His good pleasure. There is hope for me and there is hope for you.

Because the Spirit of Christ lives in us, who have been born again, we have the potential to be the person God wants us to be. Because He is in us the following should come out of us in our daily living.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”

The whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

How is your love life? The answer is not “try” harder, but rather “rely” harder.

Learning to love,

Royce

 

 

The body of our Lord


“A body you have prepared for me”

In God’s scheme of redemption the Law was never sufficient to deal with man’s most basic flaw, sin. The Law and the sacrificial system were not able to make a sinner whole. The sacrifice of bulls and goats and the law that required them were but a shadow of the only sacrifice that would take the sins of man away, the body of Jesus.

It was a real human body. Jesus, like us in every way, except for sin, got thirsty, hungry, tired, sleepy, and the pain he experienced was just as real as when you feel it. When he was hit with the hands of his captors, beaten with sticks, a thorny crown pushed into his flesh, and finally the nails and the spear… All of these horrors were experienced in a human body.

And, in his spirit, like us he experienced anguish, sorrow, and shame. When  blood thirsty men spit on him and mocked him he hurt just as you might in similar circumstances. When finally he died as a common criminal and was taken to the tomb, it was a body that was laid in the tomb.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree

What religion could never do, what the law and the sacrifices were impetent to accomplish, he did by the once for all time offering of his body, once for all men. He walked the dusty roads, worked as a carpenter, preached, healed, ate with his friends, and spent hours at a time on his knees, in a real human body.

He did not sin, not once, not ever. And, he always perfectly obeyed. Thus, he alone could become the perfect sacrifice. A human sacrifice in a body that would experience the very wrath of God against sin and know the sorrow of the Father turning away from him because of sin. It was your sin he bore, and mine. The wages of sin is death and the only innocent one died in my place and in your place so that together with him we might live.

Now because he sacrificed his body God can declare a sinner like you “right” and adopt you his own dear child, and never compromise his holiness or his justice. His demand for perfect obedience to his law has been fully met and his fierce anger against sin fully executed upon this body, the body of Jesus.

He appeared to five hundred brothers at one time

Just as he said, after three days he came out of the tomb very much alive, in a body. It was a different body, but it was his body. It was a glorified body fully operational on earth or in heaven. He walked with his friends, he suddenly appeared in a room, and ate meals with them. When one of them, Thomas, just was not sure, he showed him the scars in his hand and his side and he touched his body. It was a real, material body, different than ours, but not for ever!

The followers of Jesus were beaten and thrown into jail for telling others that Jesus was alive again! The fact of the once dead now eternally alive body of  Jesus is the victory for every man who faces death, who wants the power of sin defeated in his life. He is not here, He is risen! Satan, death, hell, and the grave could not stop the body of Jesus infused with the Holy Spirit of God.

This same Jesus you saw ascend into heaven will come again in the same way

As witness stood looking into the clouds open mouthed they were told by heavenly messengers the story was not over. He will come back, in his body. And, when he does he will sound the signal and every man and woman who died in faith will be raised from the dead and have a body like his glorious body, made for heaven and earth but without any hint of the curse of sin. No imperfections, no missing limbs, no aging, no need to be satisfied because by the body of Jesus man has been fully redeemed.

When one day the redeemed stand in their glorified bodies in righteousness, as pure as he is pure, God will be glorified and praised and forever he will be worshiped and adored. We, once wicked sinners, will be the trophies of his amazing grace!

This is my body given for you

As Jesus ate with his friends he took some bread and said “This is my body given for you” and when he had given thanks each of them ate. He said “Do this in remembrance of me”. He wanted them to remember that he sacrificed a real body for them. Paul said “as often as you do this you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes”, and he will come.

Anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself

It is obvious that God takes remembering the body Jesus, his death for our sins, very, very serious. Paul warned the Corinthian believers of how dangerous it is to take the Lord’s Supper flippantly. He said some were weak and ill, and some had even died because they had not thought about and appreciated the body of Jesus. These are pretty strong words. It is a good idea to remember this warning when next the bread is passed to you.

I hope we have a renewed apprciation for the great sacrifice that was made for us when Jesus was excecuted in your place and mine that we could live forever. By grace are you saved.

His peace,
Royce