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How do we grow stronger in our relationship to God?

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God has given me a goal. I need to keep in step with Jesus. Jesus kept on track. Jesus does everything His Father wants Him to. Jesus is obedient.

We need to be obedient. That is how our relationship with God grows. Growth comes from discipline and obedience.

Make sure I’m fit inside and out so I never lose sight of your love, but keep in step with you, never missing a beat.

Psalm 26:2-3

Christmas IQ Quiz — How well do you know the Christmas story?

Dr. Ray Pritchard is the president of Keep Believing Ministries, an Internet-based ministry serving Christians in 225 countries. He is the author of 29 books, including Stealth Attack, Fire and Rain, Credo, The ABCs of Christmas, The Healing Power of Forgiveness, An Anchor for the Soul and Why Did This Happen to Me? Ray and Marlene, his wife of 39 years, have three sons – Josh, Mark and Nick, two daughters-in-law- Leah and Vanessa, and four grandchildren – Knox, Eli, Penny and Violet. His hobbies include biking, surfing the Internet, and anything related to the Civil War. 

How well do you know the Christmas story?

Most of us know the general outline because we’ve heard or sung it or watched it being enacted in the Christmas programs that most churches offer during December. We know about the shepherds, the angels, the “Wise Men,” the star, the innkeeper, the long journey of Mary and Joseph, the baby in the manger, and we know about the gold, frankincense and myrrh. But how much of what we know is tradition and how much comes from the Bible?

What a mother does to get Jesus moving.

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Water into Wine

Mothers, you have to love them. They want us to do something. We might as well do it. Jesus understood that.

It was a wedding. It is a special time for family and friends. They didn’t plan well. They are running out of wine and that is going to be a problem. The mother of Jesus intercedes.

The mother of Jesus steps in. She knows her son Jesus can take care of it. While He hasn’t done any public miracles yet, she has probably seen the power of God on Him. She knows this is no big deal.

Is God light and love?

Sonny Ramsey takes us into the 1 John, the epistle from John the Apostle.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him.  If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth.  If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:5-10

Preparing your millennial and Gen Z leader for the digitized decade

How important is it to embrace a digital perspective? Danita Bye, M.A. is an executive leadership coach and author of Millennials Matter: Proven Strategies for Building Your Next-Gen. She’s served as Forbes Coaches Council contributor, Harvard Business School MBA sales coach, Board of Trustees for several Christian universities, and as a TEDx speaker on Millennial leadership. She will be releasing a series of Christian Leaders Guides in 2020. Connect at www.DanitaBye.com

Being a leader in today’s world of digitization, robotics, and artificial intelligence poses a myriad of unfamiliar complexities. One day, the top news story is about the necessity of installing the latest technology to reduce costs, save time, and develop innovative business models, so we focus our attention on keeping up with digital demands. The next day, the bold-lettered headlines highlight the war for talent, so we take up that challenge – to attract, engage, and retain top-tier Millennial talent, the fastest growing segment in our workforce.

What is pretentious? Are we showing off for others?

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Here is something for me to assess.

Am I being pretentious?

Am I pretending and showing off what I have trying to make it more important than it really is?

Am I a happy with the simple life?

A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life.

Proverbs 13:7 (The Message Bible)

Did God abandon Jesus?

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Did God abandon Jesus? It is a stunning question.

From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. Around midafternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” | Matthew 27:45-46

Reasoning Rightly About Biblical Inerrancy: Five Questions You Need to Know

Here is a great overview of biblical inerrancy by Dr. Doug Potter. Dr. Potter is with the Southern Evangelical Seminary  which was co-founded in 1992 by Ross Rhoads, former evangelist and then Pastor of Calvary Church in Charlotte, NC, and Norman Geisler, long-time Seminary professor and apologist.

Does obedience lead to happiness?

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Jesus asks very penetrating questions of us. Jesus is patient. Jesus is waiting for our answer. What will we say?

Why do you call me, ‘Master, Master,’ and do not do what I say?” ~Jesus | Luke 6:46

Jesus continues on. “As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Judgement, promises and blessings. History changes when people pray.

JUDGEMENT, PROMISES, & BLESSING. History changes when people pray.In session 2 of this 5 part series, president of Intercessors for America, Dave Kubal, discusses the second of 3 biblical themes from the book of Isaiah and how they relate to the United States today.

How do we protect ourselves against greed and materialism?

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Greed is very insidious. It creeps into my life and I don’t recognize it at all some days. I have grown up in a materialistic culture. Who knows how many commercials I have seen touting things I should want. I am told I need them.

Do I? Do I need them? Will they really help me?

Someone out of the crowd said, “Teacher, order my brother to give me a fair share of the family inheritance.”

He replied, “Mister, what makes you think it’s any of my business to be a judge or mediator for you?”

Speaking to the people, he went on, “Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.” | Luke 12:13-15 (The Message Bible)

10 Verses to Include in Your Christmas Cards This Year

Here is a great idea. I love this one: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Christmas is such a wonderful time of year when so many take time to gather with family and friends, share gifts and meals, make memories, have fun, and worship together. It’s also a great time to reconnect with those you may not see through the year, or just send a heartfelt sentiment to those you care about with a Christmas card or simple greeting. Maybe you’ve sent family photos and Christmas cards for many years; it’s your annual tradition. Maybe you include a note of a few of your family’s highlights from the year. Or maybe, like many in today’s world, you choose to send a greeting through email or social media so that you’re able to reach more of those you love.

What does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness?

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Jesus continues with His radical Manifesto (Matthew 5-7). We all know what it is like to be hungry or thirsty. We can’t think of anything else until we take care of the hunger or thirst.

It consumes us. Nothing else matters!

What about my spiritual hunger and thirst?

“Happy (aka Blessed) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” | Matthew 5:6 (ESV)

What does it mean to be a man?

Train to Reign Day 3 Larry Pons Men’s Talk

One evening, while in my latter 20’s, I was watching Johnny Carson on TV. For those of you who don’t know or remember him, he was (and forever will be, in my opinion) “the king” of late-night television. Burt Reynolds was one of his guests on this night, and they were talking about various topics, including what it means to be a man.

What is Baptism? Why does Jesus set the example?

Baptism

I came to Jesus and decided to follow Him at the age of 12. I was immediately baptized in water. Being a part of the Baptist denomination at the time, I was immersed. I consider this good news. I am a new creation in Jesus. I have been born again to newness of life. w00t!

We rehearsed how it would all come down with the minister before hand. They gave me a folded handkerchief that I was to give to the minister right before it happened.

Stapled to the cloth was my name, so he wouldn’t forget who I was or say the wrong name. It was quite the ritual but it meant something to me.

It still does!

You Can Have a Healthy Family (Even If Yours Wasn’t)

Here is an encouraging message from Jim Daly. Jim is president of Focus on the Family and host of its daily radio broadcast, heard by more than 6.6 million listeners a week on more than 1,000 radio stations across the U.S. The show has been honored as Program of the Year by the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB). In March 2019, he celebrated his 30th anniversary with the ministry.

When you think of a family tree, you think of strong branches that represent generations of your family reaching to the sky.

What is crucifixion? Why did the Romans use it?

A crucifixion is a most painful, cruel and protracted form of execution which involved the victim being roped or nailed to an elevated wooden cross. This form of execution was favored by the Romans, who regarded it as a deterrent to political rebellion against the authority of Rome at the time of Jesus the Messiah.

A lot is going on. Jesus just died. The Temple curtain rips in half. His disciples are scattered. A Roman Captain is trying to keep things in order.

What is atonement? What roles did Jesus death play in it?

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The dictionary definition of atonement is satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury or making amends. Jesus has paid the price for our missing God’s goal (sin). Jesus made atonement for me. Jesus made atonement for you. Now that is good news. That is worth a shout out.

In dying for our sins, Jesus the Messiah fulfilled and replaced the old covenant (aka agreement or testament) sacrificial system, so that when we believe in him, we are restored to fellowship with God. The Messiah Jesus is the true high priest, who finally liberates his people from the guilt of missing God’s goal (sin), by offering himself as the supreme sacrifice.

Four Marks of a Kingdom-centric Church

Here is some great insight from Jeff Christopherson. Jeff is a church planter, pastor, author and Missiologist at the Send Institute – an interdenominational church planting and evangelism think tank.

What is important and what we find ourselves doing are often two very different things. We get that. We often drift away from significance in many realms of life. Drift is easy to start and hard to stop.

But what seems more troubling is when we actively measure our drift as calibrated metrics of success. Like an adolescent proudly declaring how many days he has not eaten a vegetable, the evangelical subculture still finds itself comparing and competing on frivolous metrics while neglecting that which is spiritually substantial.

What does it mean to have a big mouth? Can we control what we say to others?

Fools

Scripture portrays fools as those who have rejected God and/or his ways and are unable or unwilling to appreciate the wisdom of knowing and obeying him.

In this verse from Proverbs, fools are portrayed as having big mouths. There are consequences to saying foolish things. We don’t like to think about it. We will reap what we sow.

What will I do about my big mouth? Will I save my soul?

Fools are undone by their big mouths; their souls are crushed by their words. | Proverbs 18:7 (The Message Bible)

Is it duty? Is it intimacy? What does God want?

Susan Pons – Train to Reign Family Program Day 2 Week 1 

I and the Father are one. (John 10:30)

For this reason, a man shall leave father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. (Matthew 19:5)

…For the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. (Revelations 10:9)

Is gentleness the character of love?

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What is my attitude? How should I act? What do I think God has in store for me?

Jesus calls on us to be gentle. Gentleness is the character of love.

God’s gentleness is not always evident; God’s gentle dealings are not always appreciated. God is in a good mood. God is love! Love is kind.

10 Bible Verses that Prophesy the Messiah’s Birth

As we begin the season to celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us consider God’s plan all along.

The Bible tells us that long before the world began, God had a plan to bring redemption through Christ to all those who would choose to believe and follow Him (1 Peter 1:19-20). God knew we would need a Savior. He knew we would need to be set free. And He made a way, by sending His One and Only Son, so that we could receive forgiveness and find new life and hope through Him (John 3:16).

What is mercy? Why is it important?

God’s mercy

Mercifulness is an attitude of compassion and care, grounded in the nature of God himself, made manifest in the life and ministry of Jesus the Messiah, and expected of us as believers.

I want mercy in my life. Compassion is a wonderful gift from God. I am challenged by Jesus to replicate it in all of my relationships. I am to be a person of mercy. It will bring me happiness and mercy in my own life. Now that is some very good news.

Happy (aka Blessed) are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” | Matthew 5:7

Two Near-Death Experiences that Can’t Be Explained Away

In this clip, historian and philosopher Gary Habermas recalls two highly-evidenced Near-Death Experiences that can’t be explained away.

A near-death experience (NDE) is a personal experience associated with death or impending death. When positive, such experiences may encompass a variety of sensations including detachment from the body, feelings of levitation, total serenity, security, warmth, the experience of absolute dissolution, and the presence of a light. When negative, such experiences may include sensations of anguish and distress. NDEs are a recognized part of some transcendental and religious beliefs in an afterlife.  | Wikidpedia

The Three Wise Men – Myths & Facts About Who They Were

Who were the Magi who visited Jesus? Dwight Longenecker sorts it out for us. Dwight is a parish leader, award-winning blogger, and speaker. A graduate of Oxford and Bob Jones University, he has written sixteen books on different aspects of religion. He is the author of a new bookMystery of the Magi: The Quest to Identify the Three Wise Men, available in bookstores now.

Everyone knows the legend of the three wise men’s visit to Bethlehem as retold every Christmas. Three Arabian princes followed a star to find baby Jesus, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. They presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This story has lived on over the centuries as a key part of the birth of Jesus. But is it truly factual?

Jesus has something to say. Will we listen and act?

What does Jesus want from me? Jesus wants me to listen. Jesus wants me to be a good and faithful servant. Jesus wants me to obey His commands.

Our mission is to do what Master Jesus wants us to do, today and every day. Listening involves doing. Loving our neighbor involves action.

What is the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit of God?

In part one of this series, CTCI Director Larry Pons begins taking us through 1 Peter and explains how grace and peace go hand in hand.

1 Peter 1:1-2 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)1

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ:To those chosen, living as exiles dispersed abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient and to be sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ.May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

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There is power in prayer. We see it every day. Let us join with you in tapping into the Power of God. Click here to make a request.

Check out our upcoming ministry programs for young adults and families. Please click here.

Our programs are like an immersion into a new language – the language of living in Jesus.  The goal is fluency in the language of relationships.  Programs share a sequential vision, building an understanding of relationships and family culture.  The foundation is an encounter with Jesus.  This encounter is the means for both insight and vision.  Encountering Jesus leads a radical change in living and relationships.

Heroes Semester is a 10-week residential, “family style” living experience like no other! | Participants ages 18-26 come with one purpose – to go deeper with the Lord. Learn more about our programs here.

Strengthening & Restoring Family Relationships — Train to Reign Program | Family is the most vital relationship and the one under the most pressure and attack. Come strengthen your family in a strong relationship with God. Learn more here.

If you would like to donate to the Christian Training Center, please click here.

Why is rest so important? What does Jesus think about our needs?

God will give us rest

How important is rest?

God needed it and got it.

Jesus needed it and got it. Even in the middle of a huge storm, Jesus could get rest. This was shocking to the disciples. They were stunned.

Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” | Mark 4:38 (NASB)

What Does Noel Mean?

What does Noel mean? Check out this great article

Noël is “Christmas” in French. Joyeux Noël is French for “Merry Christmas.” Noel can also mean good news, coming from the French phrase bonnes nouvelles (“good news”). Noel can even mean birthday. The French noël comes from the Latin natalis, meaning birthday.

Finally, noel can also refer to a Christmas carol. So, it makes sense then that noel is a word we use in English to celebrate or share the good news of the birth of Christ! It is no wonder that one of the most beloved Christmas carols of all time is “The First Noel.”

Is hell real? Should that reality affect our choices and how we live?

Can we choose not to go to hell? The answer is yes. Hell is real.

The punishment of the wicked in hell is as never ending as the bliss of the righteous in heaven. Jesus Himself indicates that punishment in hell is just as everlasting as life in heaven (Matthew 25:46).

The wicked are forever subject to the fury and the wrath of God. We want heaven, not hell. We get to choose! Now that is some VERY good news!

I Want That

I Want “That” by Bob Mumford In this video Bob wants to impart to each of us some principles that will help us hold steady as we journey through life. Worse than failure is to be a success at something that doesn’t matter. No one wants to be a success at something that doesn’t matter and knowing what “that” is informs our life journey in many profound ways. God calls us for His purpose, not ours!

The Atheist Trolls Pretend to Know it all, but are Illiterate Regarding Life and God.

God is God

God is in a good mood but God is God. As humans mistrust God, justice and judgement cries out for action. There is a consequence to mistrust and acts of wrongdoing and lying. As this behavior continues and accumulates, God will, as a matter of justice, deliver a verdict.

There is a reality that is very plain. It is the reality of God. God Is. Jesus Is. They are both the “great I am”. When I say reality, it is plain. It doesn’t have to “be proved”. It is known. Open eyes see it. Closed eyes don’t. The one who has ears to hear should listen to their heart and conscience.

What is Slacktivism?

Here is a guest article from Mandy Sweigart-Quinn. Mandy is known as the Blue Collar Theologian (www.bluecollartheologian.blog)! She loves Jesus, His Word and encouraging His people! In May 2019 she graduated from Capital Seminary and Graduate School with a MA in Biblical Studies and is now pursuing a PhD in Biblical Studies from Capital. 

For the last four weeks my church has been doing a sermon series called “Slacktivism.” Truth be told, I thought this was a made up term. For those who are like me and never heard this before, the word “slacktivism” is defined as “The act of supporting a cause or desiring to see change but putting forth minimal effort, commitment or risk.” Slacktivism is also known as “armchair activism” and “clicktivism.”

What is kindness? How is it demonstrated in the good news of Jesus?

Compassion for the world

I desperately need more kindness and compassion in my life. I need to judge less and love more. That is the way of Jesus.

That is what Jesus calls us to do. We know we want others to be kind to us.We need to be kind and compassionate to others no matter what.

Kindness is the quality of compassion and generosity, characteristic of God’s dealings towards the weak and poor, and demanded of believers. The kindness is also shown in the words and deeds of Jesus the Messiah.

Does joy come in the midst of suffering? What does that look like?

Does joy come in the midst of suffering? What does that look like? Sonny Ramsey leads us through examples from scripture.

This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and the one you have sent —Jesus the Messiah.

John 17:3

What is justice? Is God just in His judgement?

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How is God’s justice declared? Justice is a term used for what is right or “as it should be.” Justice is one of God’s attributes and flows out of God’s holiness. Justice and righteousness are often used synonymously in the Bible. Since righteousness is the quality or character of being right or just, it is another attribute of God and incorporates both His justice and holiness.

Did I mention that God’s justice is a good thing? God is not mean. Justice is required and God is blameless in His approach to justice. Is God fair? Yes. God’s justice is without any partiality. We can trust God completely.

How to Celebrate Christmas Like Mary and Joseph

What is the meaning of Christmas? How should we celebrate it? Here is some great insight from Author Sheila Alewine. Sheila is a pastor’s wife, mother and grandmother. She and her husband lead Around The Corner Ministries, which serves to equip Christ-followers to share the gospel where they live, work and play.

Do God’s actions, like the sudden appearance of Angels, surprise people?

Guardian Angel

When I scan the biblical story, I can’t help concluding that following Jesus brings a life of surprises. Whatever plans God makes and however I’ve tried to figure out God’s plans, I’m constantly greeted with surprises.

I face turns in the story that I never would have anticipated. God’s plan again and again included things that would not have been included in the story if I had been doing the planning.

One of the reasons for this is that I tend to focus on outcomes. I simply want things to go well and turn out right. God surely does care about the end of all things, but he is graciously at work in the process as well.

What is the fear of God all about?

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Fear of the Master

Proverbs 1:7 declares, “The fear of the Master is the beginning of knowledge.” Until we understand who God is and develop a reverential fear of Him, we cannot have true wisdom.

True wisdom comes only from understanding who God is and that He is holy, just, and righteous.

The fear of God is the basis for my walking in His ways, serving Him, and, yes, loving Him.

We need more compassion in our lives. Jesus shows us the way.

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Compassion is an attitude of care and concern, grounded in pity and sympathy towards others, given to us by Jesus. Our compassion towards others should reflect the compassion of God for his people.

In the Greek, σπλαγχνίζομαι it means to be moved in the inward parts, i.e. to feel compassion. It is said of Jesus that:

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.”

Matthew 9:36

Become a Hero Champion

This video is about how to become a Hero Champion.  See Madison and Dustin’s story. God is in a good mood.

The Christian Training Center is looking for individuals to serve as social media ambassadors. This is a vital volunteer position for us.

What does it involve? The following is a menu of opportunities. No one is expected to do them all.

  • Follow our content on https://ctcilife.org/
    • Like the articles
    • Comment on the articles (these can be very short)
  • Ask friends to help
    • Ask your friends to like our page on Facebook
    • Ask you friends to follow us on Twitter
  • Promote the articles on your social media accounts
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
  • Follow our social media accounts  and  like/comment  on  posts

That is it. It won’t take much of your time but it will make a huge difference to our ministry as we spread the good news of Jesus.  We’ll keep you up to date by email with tips and suggestions.

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What is patience? How can we learn it from Jesus?

Jesus the Messiah’s life was lived under the shadow of the cross. He was concerned that people should understand his ministry and so he exercised great patience, being directed by the Father in the priorities and timing of his work. We need to understand God’s timing and be patient.

Jesus teaches us the Way. We are His disciples (learners)

So Jesus said to them, “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune.” | John 7:6 (NASB)

Jesus knew why God had sent him into the world. Jesus was going to complete every task that God had given Him to accomplish. There was an hour where that became real. Jesus is very patient.

7 Questions That Will Make You Ready for Advent

Are you ready for Advent? Here are some questions that will help.

As the autumn leaves dance and twirl, I’m reminded that it won’t be long before we celebrate the holidays. To avoid the last minute hustle it is good to think ahead.

Many shop early and get their Christmas cards ordered and signed. Others bake Christmas cookies for weeks to prepare for guests and gifts. Whatever we do to prepare for the holiday, when we are intentional it can reduce stress.

Preparing our heart and keeping our focus on Jesus takes planning too – otherwise the weeks fly by in a blur before we rein in what’s important. Using an advent devotional or activity is a wonderful way to engage the whole family with the central message of why Jesus came.

Having a plan for your family celebrations minimizes stress and helps you to focus on the things that are important to you. Begin by adding the events and traditions most important to you and your family.

Asking yourself these questions during this season of your life will help you to focus as you celebrate from the heart. Questions like:

Read the article here: 7 Questions That Will Make You Ready for Advent