Partnering with the One

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Back in the late 1990s, I needed to earn some extra income on a part-time basis, but I wanted my hours to be flexible.  I desired to be able to set my own hours and work as little or as much as I wanted.  I became a Licensed Realtor®.  I didn’t quite know how to go about it, but thought that this would be a good way to earn money and meet new people.

The process to be licensed as a realtor is actually pretty easy.  You find a broker who will sponsor you and then you take the necessary classes to be able to pass the state exam.  Fast forward to the end, I passed the state exam and became a realtor.  As I said, the process is easy.  Once you pass the exam, reality sets in and you’re now going to have to put the education to work.  I needed to list and sell houses or find houses for others to buy.

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Let me just say, there are A LOT of realtors.  The numbers were staggering and we were all after the same prospects and clients.  How does a realtor make themselves different from everyone else?  How was I going to set myself apart? I didn’t have a clue or a plan!  But, I did have ears and eyes so I listened and watched.  To make this story shorter, I found that a lot of the realtors engaged in small partnerships.  These partnerships allowed the realtors to expand their impact on the market and allowed the individual realtor to work using his or her particular strength.  Thus was created “The Georges of the North Coast”.  Yes, that was our team name.  We marketed our own names as well.  I was “King George” and “Buy George” was my good friend and partner.  When we worked together, great things happened in our business.

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Like my partnership with George, our relationship with Jesus Christ is empowered by our partnership with the Holy Spirit.  Upon our acceptance of Jesus as the Lord of our life, the Holy Spirit comes into us and makes us spiritually alive.  We become Born Again.  Reborn spiritually.  The power of the Holy Spirit is released as we respond to Him.

Our partnership as “The Georges of the Northcoast” was most effective when we responded together towards a singular goal.  Likewise, when we act with the Holy Spirit in faith, something really powerful happens. The Holy Spirit moves upon us and we act with Him.  My relationship with the “Other” George was sometimes pressure filled.  We both had to perform at our best. The Good News? Our relationship with the Holy Spirit is not so much about the pressure to perform.  Actually, it’s not about that at all.  Rather it is about partnership.  My partnership with the Holy Spirit can be defined as “my desire to listen and hear the Holy Spirit and His wisdom for my life as He guides me”. His desire is to enable me to live a Godly life.  It’s the ultimate partnership.  When we act in faith with the Holy Spirit something incredible and powerful happens every time.  But there was more that I desired from God.  I wanted to be used by Him to reach a world for Jesus.

When I was a realtor, I had to rely on my education and the knowledge of the State Real Estate laws.  I was on my own.  I made mistakes. Actually, I made a lot of mistakes.  Some of those mistakes cost me income and were painful to swallow.  In the real estate business it’s all about image.  You don’t want a reputation of making mistakes following you around.  In my life with Christ, the Holy Spirit empowers me to get through the tough times but also He gives me wisdom and understanding to make better choices.  He works with me and is always there. I’m never alone. I don’t want to live a life outside of the Holy Spirit.  I desire to live out of the overflow of His power.

I need His power to witness to a world that needs to know that Jesus was tortured in our place, that He hung on a cross for our sins, died, and rose from the dead.  Jesus defeated death and sin and is alive forevermore working through His Holy Spirit to enable me to tell the world this amazing hope!

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Friend, I had a very important real estate partnership and “The Georges of the Northcoast” were a successful team.  But that team partnership ended after many years.  We went our separate ways. Now? Now my life is enabled and empowered by the Holy Spirit to live a life in Christ and to proclaim to the world that Jesus Saves.

Below is a link to a powerful and high-impact message from Pastor Aaron Taylor entitled, The Power For Life – It’s About Partnership.  Click on the link and learn about the most powerful partnership you can have.  http://painesvilleag.com/power-for-life  It’s definitely a partnership that will impact and change your life forever!  Activate the power of the Holy Spirit in your life today.

God bless and have a powerful rest of the week!

George Leonhardt,
Blogger

Nobody Likes A Dead Cell Phone

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By now I am sure you have heard all about the Holy Spirit. Last week, my fellow sister in Christ, Jenny Gallion, shared about waiting on the Lord to receive the power of the Holy Spirit and how that empowers us to be Christ’s witnesses. But what exactly does that mean? What kind of power are we talking about here? What kind of witness? If we’ve been waiting so long to become spiritually alive when we receive the Spirit at Salvation, how do we know what to do with this new life?

First, let’s tackle the concept of “power”. When you read that word, what do you think of? I immediately think of higher authority, maybe my mind wonders to a scene of kings and queens having the ruling power over a whole kingdom. Power, in my own minute definition, is something that comes from a higher being… no, THE higher being. Power gives us the ability to do things that we cannot do with our human selves because we simply are not God. Power is what opens the door to being used by the Spirit.

Now, let’s look at the word “witness”. What do you think of when you read that word? If you’re anything like me you’ve watched too many investigator type shows like Law & Order or Dateline and think immediately of someone that watched something happen- in these cases it is typically bad. The “witness” knows the story, believes what they say is true, and is willing to confess it to others to “prove their point” or “share their perspective of the account”. In essence, this is how we are supposed to witness to the world for Jesus. We are witnesses of the Gospel – we know the “story” and we believe it to be true because of first-hand experiences of what we’ve “seen and heard”. The next step is to share it with the world who often put Jesus and Christianity on trial. They want “proof” from Christ’s witnesses that this good news is indeed GOOD NEWS. In Acts 1.8 when do we become witnesses? “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes to you and you will be my witnesses in all of Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”. We become witnesses when we receive the power of the Holy Spirit who enables us for this task.

Think of it this way, when there is a big storm outside with 60mph winds, lightening, thunder, hail, the works, you might come home from work and realize that you have no electricity. Sometimes we would then say: “the power is out”. In other words, you are lacking what you need to use items like the microwave, television, washer/dryer, and heaven forbid, your cell phone charger. If you have no power, you cannot do certain things. Simply put, if we do not have the power of the Holy Spirit, how can we do what Christ has called us to do? How can we be a witness to the nations and those that have not yet heard the Good News of Jesus? Just like your home in the middle of a big storm when the power is out and not operating at full capacity, we are not functioning at full capacity.

That, dear Church, is why it is so important to stay charged up with the power that our Heavenly Father has promised us. Staying connected to the power-line of Christ through the Holy Spirit is like the charger to our souls – it gives us life and power. It gives us the power to function and do what we’ve been called to do. When we receive the Holy Spirit, it is an everlasting battery of power that runs through us. The more we abide in the Spirit, the more we will operate in His gifts so we can minister to others. Think of it this way, when your cell phone is at 99% are you more likely to use it than when you get that little notification that it is at 20%? How can the Spirit use us to perform miracles and powerful acts when we are operating at only 20%?

To continue my infamous cell phone analogy… when you got your cell phone, the gift of communication, how excited were you to use it? Didn’t you want to test it out? Play games, call, text, download apps, take pictures, listen to music, the list goes on and on and on of the things you can do with a fully charged cell phone. When we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, we should be just as excited and ready to communicate with others the greatest news on the planet!

Church, have you received the gift of the Holy Spirit? If you have not, I encourage you to ask the Lord for this wonderful gift! If you have, what are you waiting for? Go and let the Holy Spirit within you be a witness to the world! Pastor Aaron, in his sermon series, “Power for Life,” shares some incredible truths that can happen through us when we allow the gift of the Holy Spirit to operate in our lives. You can check out his podcast here: http://painesvilleag.com/power-for-life  Never forget this amazing gift the Lord has made available to us. Why? Because we can’t live and function without it!

Jenny Bushnell,
Writer/Blogger/College Student

High School Dreams

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When I was in high school I always wanted to be involved in student activities.  I wanted to be a sports star.  I was a fan of baseball and football.  I watched plenty of it on TV, but the reality was I was not gifted in athletics.  It was a dream to play a varsity sport, but I just didn’t have the necessary physical skill.  That didn’t bother me so much because I knew that in advance.  But there were other student activities.  There was student council, student clubs, office aides, and library aides.  None of these really interested me.  I dreamt of being an athlete.  I wanted to be on the field with the crowds cheering.  I wanted that validation that I was somebody.  Our high school was very large.  There were 715 students in the senior class when I graduated.  Those other student activities didn’t excite me.  I thought that there was no way I could fit in with the people that already had positions and served in these activities.  They were “Brainiacs”.  They appeared far smarter than me.  Their skill and intelligence intimidated me.

Here is my point.  I was scared to be in a student activity that was not part of a team.  In a large school, the athletic teams were huge.  The football team included over 100 young men.  I figured if I could participate on that team, I could get lost in the crowd in case I made a mistake or did something wrong.  It was a team sport.  We all would share in the good and the bad.  Being a student admin would put me out front by myself.

Well, God has a way of using less qualified people to serve for His purpose.  Or better yet, God worked in my student life to show me that His plan was not what I thought.  I didn’t have a relationship with God while in high school.  I was pretty quiet.  Just did what I was told.  I had my circle of friends, but I wasn’t very recognizable.

Opportunities began to open up in a young man student club called Key Club.  I looked from the outside and thought that these guys again were too smart for their own “britches”.  I thought for sure I couldn’t fit in.  Until one of my friends, Paul, asked me if I would like to come to the next Key Club meeting.  I thought why not.  I attended and liked it.  I found out this group was very active in the school and the community.  I enjoyed helping others. I enjoyed working with outside organizations to reach the less fortunate in my community.  I was happy.  Well, soon I was finding myself in the Key Club leadership and after 1 year was elected Key Club President and served two years.

God called me into an activity even though I didn’t know it.  God created me and shaped me with a purpose.  God has things planned for us that we don’t always know but we can be assured it is for our good and His glory.

I had a lot of failures in my high school years.  I didn’t live a life at times that anyone would say was good.  “If you knew me, you wouldn’t like me” is something that I would say.  Though I found success in student activities that wasn’t the life I was leading.

The Bible tells us in Exodus that Moses also felt unqualified when God spoke to him from a burning bush.  God called Moses to deliver the Israelites from 400 years of slavery.  Moses had some failures.  He killed an Egyptian soldier who was mistreating one of the Hebrew slaves.  He took matter into his own hands.  But Moses was part of the royal family.  How could he do that?  Moses fled to the wilderness.  (Exodus Chapters 3 & 4)

Had Moses’ failure disqualified him from being used by God?  Absolutely not!  The parting of the Red Sea is pretty spectacular!  Failure is not a disqualification to be used by God.  I too thought my failures outweighed my abilities.  I was quiet and just did what I was told.  I couldn’t play varsity sports because of my physical inabilities.  My dream was shattered.  I thought I wasn’t smart enough for the student clubs.  These fears were real to me.  But thanks be to God, His plan was in fact to use me in life to impact others in a far greater way than I could’ve imagined.

God had His hand on me when I didn’t even know it.  Looking back to my high school years, I see a very quiet and defeated young man being used to touch other’s lives.  What?  That doesn’t make any sense.  In the world’s view, it doesn’t.  From a heavenly perspective it makes perfect sense.  It was always God’s eternal plan.  It was God’s incredible Mercy.

The Apostle Paul explains this very clearly.  Paul wrote, “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are” (1 Corinthians 1:26-28 NIV)

 So what’s the secret to being used by God?  I had no idea what it was.  But I have learned some things along the way.

  • It’s all about God’s Mercy. Mercy is undeserved forgiveness and unearned kindness.
  • I don’t have to prove my worth. It’s God’s plan.  It will be fulfilled.  God says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
  • I don’t have to sit and wallow in my mistakes. We all make mistakes.  Because of God’s Mercy, I know I can move on.
  • I must be real. I have to be myself.  I can dream but need to realize that maybe my dream is not God’s dream for my life. It simply may not match who God created me to be.
  • It’s NOT about me. “Me. Me. Me” is pride.  The Apostle Paul said that the message was not about him, but rather Jesus Christ.

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  • Use my plan to help others. That is exactly what God did.
  • Stay focused on eternity. I must remain usable to God.

Friends, God continues to lead me in His eternal plan.  I have been used to lead ministries, to speak to large groups about Jesus, to touch a community both here and abroad, and to be a part of impacting lives for Jesus.  Who knew that it all began with the quiet kid in high school?  God can use anybody.  My mistakes and failures didn’t disqualify me, rather they were equipping me when I didn’t even know it.

If you want to hear a tremendous and impactful message by Pastor Aaron Taylor on The Miracle of Mercy – God Can Use Anybody, click on the podcast below.

http://painesvilleag.com/the-miracle-of-mercy

God didn’t want me to lead our high school football team to victory.  He had better plans.  Which is good because I would have had a hard time beating Tom Brady in the Super Bowl.  He’s pretty good. 😉

Have a great rest of the week!
George Leonhardt,
Writer, Blogger

The Storage Room of the Heart

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Do you have a storage room? Or maybe it’s a storage closet? If you are like me, you also have a storage desk drawer and sometimes a chair that is deemed the “storage chair” – unintentionally, of course. What do you keep in your storage room? Right now, I have my items for college, an old dresser, old toys, a keyboard, and even some cob webs. In my desk, I have a few decks of cards, coin wrappers, old birthday cards, and some art projects from elementary school. These places hold things I’m not quite sure what to do with. When I am cleaning and find something that does not have a dedicated place, it is thrown into the storage drawer/closet.

When I was packing for college this past school year, I decided to go threw this storage drawer. After I got started, I immediately regretted it. The only items it was storing was junk that I really did not need anymore, but had a hard time getting rid of. About halfway through, I realized that my “storage” drawer had actually become a place for me to hide the junk that I did not want to look at constantly. It bothered me that, for all this time, I was using this space for clutter when I could’ve been using it for something else. After I cleaned out the drawer, I felt so relieved. It was difficult to throw away some of the keepsakes I had in there, but I realized they were holding me back from utilizing the space I had more efficiently and productively.

Our hearts can sometimes relate a lot to our storage rooms. When something happens, we store it in our hearts, either good or bad. Sometimes we store a lot of “junk” in our hearts that can be toxic to our relationships; both with others and God. This stuff does not come from just anywhere though. It does not just appear. It’s usually when we have been wronged or when we’ve given into sin. Things like bitterness and anger are examples of the toxic things that can be stored in our hearts after being wronged.

In more case’s than not, when someone wrongs us, our first reaction is to hold it against them. We end up holding the hurt in our hearts, the ultimate storage room. The longer we hold the hurt, the sooner it turns to hate. It then rapidly increases to anger and bitterness.

The heart is such a vital organ. Through it, the rest of our body receives the oxygen it needs. When it is cluttered with too much toxicity, the heart is contaminated and can often result in a heart attack or other medical problems. It’s prohibited from functioning like it was created and designed to function. It’s the same with our spiritual hearts. If we allow “junk”, such as anger, bitterness, and hate to be stored in our spiritual hearts, it will begin to create more problems.

Proverbs 4.23 tells us to, “guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life”. Church, we need to guard our hearts. One way of doing that is to not store up the negatives in our heart. You may say: “but it’s hard to not let myself get angry, or hurt, about something someone did to me”. That is why we are commanded to forgive,  just as Christ has forgiven us (Ephesians 4.32).

Allowing the bad things to be stored in our hearts gives the enemy a foothold to do more damage. When we forgive, as Christ has forgiven us, we are actually releasing the hurt to God and allowing Him to begin a healing within us.

As Pastor Aaron has been preaching about The Miracle of Mercy these past few weeks, we have to recognize that the definition of mercy includes “unearned forgiveness”. Pastor shares what forgiveness really is and how to apply it to our lives in the message preached this past Sunday.  http://painesvilleag.com/the-miracle-of-mercy  I encourage you, set aside some focused time where you can check it out and allow the Holy Spirit to work in the storage room of your heart. Remember… it begins with mercy and forgiveness.

Jenny Bushnell,
College Student, Blogger, Writer

MOM! He hit me!

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Growing up, we all have this theory of forgiveness embedded into our heads. It’s like when you were playing with your sibling and it broke out into a name calling fight because he won the game of battleship. When mom finds out, you know what she made you do. You each had to apologize and respond by saying: “I’m sorry, I forgive you.” If you didn’t, well, you were either threatened to be put in the corner or mom would tie you to your sibling until you made up.

It was such a simple thing to say… “I forgive you” as a kid. We didn’t look into how being called a mean name by our sibling affected us. We didn’t dwell on the mistake that they made after they apologized. And quite honestly, we probably forgot all about it and went back to playing battleship like it never happened… except now you know not to do it or else you’ll get in trouble.

That is kind of how Christ’s forgiveness towards us works. But in a much more sincere and greater way. God is not One who harbors our sins and mistakes; quite the contrary. The Bible actually says:  “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103.12 | “Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!” Micah 7.19

Listen, our human nature is imperfect. We are sinners. Even once we’ve come to Christ we find ourselves approaching God quite often for His mercy and forgiveness. We are a people who NEED Jesus and who NEED the Mercy and Forgiveness of God. Period.

Similar to our childhood arguments, when we confess the wrong that we did against God, our Creator, He forgives us. Not just because He can, but because He wants to – no strings attached. We are His creation and He longs to see us prosper in the things that He has put before us. He paid the price for our sin when He was on the cross. Not only that, He experienced the full wrath of God and separation from God in that moment when He cried out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken (abandoned) Me? ” (Matthew 27.46)  For a Savior to do that?! That’s MERCY. That’s forgiveness at its pinnacle. Because of that singular act, now we never have to experience that same separation and wrath from God. Mercy… what a gift!

In today’s culture we think of forgiveness as something that has to be earned. That we have to go through some type of “punishment” in order to truly receive it. Or we have to do some “work” to merit God’s forgiveness. But there is no cost to receive the forgiveness of Christ. There is no punishment waiting for you. There is no work you can do to ever earn it. God is the God of second chances.. and third chances.. and fourth chances.. and so on. It is all free. I’m living example and recipient!

Not only does Christ want to give us His forgiveness, and give it to us freely, remember… He also forgets our sin. He does not hold us to it. When you were 16 you may have asked your parents for a car. Let’s say they gave you one. A really nice one… a brand new one as a matter of fact. You loved it. But one night you weren’t paying attention and lost control of the vehicle. You spun out and hit a tree. You are perfectly fine, your new car on the other hand, is totaled. If you were to ask your parents to give you another brand new shiny car, they are most likely going to say no and you’ll get a hand-me-down, or no car at all. Why? Because they’re keeping in the back of their mind your car wreck.

The forgiveness of Christ is just the opposite. When we “wreck” or mess up and are forgiven and ask for another chance, the slate is wiped clean. We get to start fresh. He doesn’t hold it against us that we sinned in the first place. Isn’t that such a gracious thing for Him to do? Who else does that? What other God is doing what Jesus does?! He is seriously AMAZING!

We serve a gracious God who offers forgiveness at no cost. He holds no record of wrongs. There is no file in Heaven that has every sin we ever committed at the exact date and time it was committed – those would be some pretty big files.

So be encouraged! As we continue to learn about the “Miracle of Mercy” it is important to understand how our God is merciful and forgives us. Check out pastor Aaron’s sermon this week “Mercy Forgives” to learn why it is important to understand and accept the forgiveness of Christ.  http://painesvilleag.com/the-miracle-of-mercy

Remember Church, just like with your sibling, God is going to forgive you and go right back to playing… well, you know what I mean. All with no cost to you and all in the name of love. WOW.

Jenny Bushnell,
Writer, Blogger, College Student

Pity IS NOT Compassion…

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I have been blessed to live without need due to having a good job for most of my life.  But I have also been blessed to live “in need”.  There was a time where I had no place to live, I had no food, and I had expenses beyond what I could take care of.  I have had much and I have had little.

You may ask how I can say that I’ve been blessed in both cases.  Certainly when we live in abundance it’s easy to say that we are blessed.  But when we are in dire need, can we say the same thing?  I have learned that we can.  Years ago I was at a point in my life where I had lost everything.  I won’t go into that story, but I had made choices that led to my destruction.  But there was a reason for me to be in need.  The reason was so that I could see the blessing.

Sometimes it takes the hardest situations in order for your attention to be captured.  That was me.  When I lived in abundance, I felt that I could conquer the world.  And unfortunately I lived like I could too.  Then the day came when I realized that the world had hit me with its best shot and I was down for the count.  I was knocked out.  My undefeated record was shattered.  When I woke up, I had lost everything.

I was at times pitiful.  Yes, the successful young man was now down and out.  The world would call me a loser.  People around me said that they felt bad for me.  People even said that they would never want to be in the place that I was in.  Maybe some would even said that I “had it coming”.  I don’t know. I was pitiful.  The friends and family that I had around me found great pity for my situation.

Have you ever thought of what you would do if all you had were the clothes on your back with no place to live?  That was where I was.  I had two beautiful children.  My situation led me to a place where I couldn’t see them any longer because I had no place to call home

There is a difference between pity and compassion.  I had heard a lot of pity in people’s voices.  I didn’t know that there was even an attribute called compassion.  Until it happened.  Mercy was poured out on me and over my circumstance.  Out of nowhere, compassion came into my life.

A friend of mine at work heard of my situation and was moved with compassion.  You see, mercy is compassionate.  It’s not like pity at all. Mercy stepped into my situation.  This man found it important to see that I would recover.  He gave me a place to live.  Well, I had a bedroom and a bathroom in a house that was being refurbished.  I didn’t have to pay for anything right then, but when the house was finished, I would be given the chance to rent it and continue living there.  If not, I would have to leave.

It was unbelievable to me.  Someone cared enough to act.  Someone looked beyond my situation and saw the greater need.  I had learned something of great value that day.  I realized that compassion was real.  It was so much more than pity.

Compassion is to enter into someone else’s pain, to enter into their suffering to relieve them from that pain and lift them out of their painful situation.  This reminds me of the story of the leper in the Book of Mark, Chapter 1, verses 40-45. “A man with leprosy came to Jesus and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’  “Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.   “Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: ‘See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.’ Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.”

This leper lived a life where everyone had pity on him.  The Bible says that he had to announce himself to everyone as “Unclean” upon seeing someone, as written in the Law. (Leviticus 13:45) But no one would show him compassion until the day the leper came to Jesus.  Jesus, filled with compassion, reached out His hand and touched the leper and he was healed.  The leper asked if Jesus was willing.  He knew that no one else was willing.  The people had pity but kept away.  Jesus not only told the leper He was willing but touched him.  Jesus stepped into the leper’s pain, his humiliation, his circumstance and immediately changed it.  My coworker stepped into my pain, humiliation and circumstance and immediately changed it.

More importantly, Jesus did the same thing for you and for me.  He took upon Himself our sin so that we could live again.  Jesus took upon Himself our pain, our humiliation, our circumstance and changed it when He died for us and rose from the grave.  Jesus looked upon each of us and was moved with compassion.

If you would like to hear the powerful message from Pastor Aaron Taylor on the Miracle of Mercy – Love in Action, please click on the podcast link below.

http://painesvilleag.com/the-miracle-of-mercy

Friends, who are the ones you see that need compassion.  Are they physically challenged?  Are they financially challenged?  Have they lost everything and need a place to call home?  Who are the ones who think that they don’t belong here or they’re not worthy of anything?  The leper asked Jesus a question: Are you willing?  The question today is are we willing?  Can we care enough to act?  The Bible says this, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

George Leonhardt,
Blogger, Writer

The Test.

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As a college student, I am very familiar with what a test is. I am going to break it down in a way that I have never done before. Imagine you are back in school (pick any grade you would like!)… Each day you go to class and you know what is expected of you (i.e. – take notes and pay attention so that you understand what you are learning). Whether it be math, history, science, or even art, there were new things to be learned each day. An average class would look like this:

The teacher would come into the room, silence the class, and begin. He would stand in front of everyone and teach new concepts, theories, equations, and methods. Sometimes (on the lucky days) he would even give an example on how to apply these concepts. Some of these concepts you understand, some of them are not as easy to understand, or they take a little more effort. Right before the bell rings to go to the next class, the teacher would call out some page numbers or hand out a worksheet for homework. The whole class would groan because all of you knew that the homework was going to be based on what you had just learned in class. You get home and mom gives you a glass of milk and a few chocolate chip cookies and you get started on your homework assignment. While you do not have the teacher at your house with you to help you through the assignments, you do have your notes (which you took very well in class). After about three of the problems are completed you get the hang of it and put the notes away. By the end of the assignment, you feel like a pro. Now, you go back to school the next day, hand in your assignment, and the teacher marks it as a completion grade (not if it is right or wrong). This time, before the bell rings, instead of yelling out a homework assignment, the teacher announces there will be a test the next day. At home, you spend hours studying and preparing, making sure that you understand all the material covered in class. You finally feel prepared to take this test head on and conquer it with a passing grade. When you take the test however, you don’t feel as confident as you did when you were studying at home. You knew all the material, but are now having a hard time applying it to the test. You wanted so badly to raise your hand and ask the teacher for help. At one point, you even considered looking at your neighbor’s paper to see what he wrote down. It’s now the following day. When you get your test back, the grade is not as terrible as you thought it might’ve been, but it’s not the grade you wanted either – an 83% or a B-. On the last page of the test, the teacher wrote, “great job, but could use some improvement on some of this”.

Did you ever get a B- on a test? Especially a test you feel so prepared for, but feel like it wasn’t as easy you expected? I have!

Here is my correlation: in life, we are taught certain things, whether it be through Sunday school, Church, Bible studies, a mentor, or just your own personal time with God. God teaches us lessons and opens our eyes to see things we had never known before. For me, throughout the week I am usually more aware of what was talked about at Church on Sunday morning and catch myself “doing my homework” and putting into practice what was preached (sometimes… I don’t always have my notes there to remind me how to do it)!

There are, however, times when we are put to the test. In these times, it feels like we are on trial. We are sitting in a room taking a test and we know the teacher (Jesus) is there, but we can’t just raise our hand and ask Him for the answer – or at least if we do, he most likely won’t give it! Because how many know that during the test the Teacher is always quiet? Sometimes God tests us on whether we will be obedient to continue to practice the things that He has taught us. Sometimes, it’s a pop quiz and He wants to see how much we truly know on the subject. Or maybe the test is in preparation for what He’s called us to do for His kingdom.

Church, tests (even academic tests) were created to build one’s character and integrity. A lot of times when God is testing us, the devil is also right there tempting us. But the question is why? Why does God allow this to happen? Pastor Aaron shares two conclusions that we can apply to our lives on why God might allow these “tests” or seasons of wilderness to happen in our lives.  http://painesvilleag.com/wilderness-a-lenten-series

“Remember, the teacher is always silent during a test.” – God’s Not Dead 2

Jenny Bushnell,
Writer, Blogger, College Student