Monday, October 16, 2017

Back from "Break Every Chain" Conference in Nashville!

A couple of weeks ago Dianne and I attended the AACC (American Association of Christian Counselors) World Conference 2017, In Nashville.  This was the most amazing conference I have been to.  Can you imagine: 7000 Christian counselors in one room for the purpose of sharing updates on counseling methods!  There were hundreds of workshops from which to choose the ones most relevant for your practice.  These workshops were very instructive, and I will be using things I learned there to include in my counseling methods.  I am so thankful to be a member of this association!  The conference itself was exhausting, back to back presentations and workshops.  At the end, we stayed with some new friends David and Becky Gould (Kainos Haven, Cottonwood TN - 615-613-3244) for a couple of days to relax and unwind before flying back.  All in all, an amazing experience!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Is Jesus God? - John 14:6

Is Jesus God?
July 2, 2017
John 14:6

INTRODUCTION

  • There are many different religions, each with their own way to the after-life.
  • Often you hear the claim that it doesn´t matter which choice you make - all religions get you to the same place in the end.
  • People say, all those religions, surely they can´t all be wrong!
  • Is that true?  Is it possible for them all to be right?  Could they possibly all be OK?
  • Logic tells us however, if one viewpoint is correct, then all other differing viewpoints have to be incorrect.
  • This is more than a philosophical statement.
  • Following the wrong viewpoint could have disastrous consequences for our eternity.
  • The Bible teaches accountability.  We are accountable for what we know (Acts 17:30).
  • Many cults and some religions believe in Jesus.  Some atheists even believe in Jesus.  Angels and demons believe in Jesus (James 2:19).
  • But the key question is: Is Jesus God?
  • Only true Christianity believes Jesus is God.
  • Today we are going to see that there is only one way to heaven, and that is through surrendering to Jesus, and that this is only possible because Jesus is God!
DOES GOD EXIST?
  • Today we are going to lay a logical foundation for our belief system.
  • The first question we need to know the answer to is: does God exist?
  • Though at first glance the answer to this question could seem outside our reach, it is actually quite simple.
  • We look around us and see all kinds of things.  They are made of matter, substance, in many shapes and forms.
  • Before matter came on the scene, there would have been emptiness.  Nothing.  Zilch.
  • How could something suddenly appear out of nothing?
  • This would require a Creator.  The Creator would by definition need to be greater than his creation.  So we are saying, there has to be a Creator God.
  • We look at the sky, and see stars.  Through a telescope we see that these stars are mostly spiral galaxies.  Lots and lots of them.  10 billion in fact.  Would we say these are just random structures?  Or would we say they display the handiwork of a Master Designer?
  • We look at the cell structure in wood.  There is a cell wall, a nucleus containing the DNA, a nucleotid, protoplasm, mitochondria, and many other parts to the cell.  Now we look at a cell in the human body, or in a fish, or in a dandelion plant.  We see the same cell parts in each of these entities.  Once again, are these random?  Or do they display the work of a Master Designer who is way greater than his creation?
  • The universe operates in a finely tuned manner, which is defined by laws.  The universe is by no means chaotic or random.  Without these laws, planets, galaxies and other heavenly bodies would spin out of control and crash around like a monstrous dodgem car experience.  Where did these laws come from? Someone had to have created these laws and set them all in motion, and also maintain them.  A Supreme Lawgiver. Another evidence for the existence of God.
  • This is how we know that God truly exists!
IS THE BIBLE TRUE?
  • Millions of books have been written.
  • What makes the Bible special among all these books?  What makes it different from the Qu´ran, the writings of Mao Tse Tung, and any number of other religious writings?
  • The Bible is actually a collection of books.  66 of them, in fact.
  • These books were written by over 30 different writers, over a 1600 year period stretching from 1500 BC to 100 AD.
  • They were written in 4 different languages - Hebrew, Chaldean, Greek and Aramaic.
  • The authors largely did not know each other.  They were shepherds, kings, a doctor, fishermen, government officials, priests, and even an army general.  Some were educated, some not.  Some wrote, themselves, some employed people to write as they dictated.  Some wrote on papyrus, some on clay tablets, some on leather.
  • Collecting all these books together in the Bible, from such a variety of sources, cultures and backgrounds, would normally be expected to lead to a disjointed, contradictory finished work.
  • In actual fact though, the Bible gives a cohesive, organized and understandable message.
  • This message is radical, yet all 66 books agree, with a central thread running throughout the books.
  • The Bible prophesied certain future events in detail, even to naming key figures before their birth!  The Bible named Cyrus 600 years before he was born.  Cyrus uncle was ruler of the Medo-Persian empire before him, and was paranoid of usurpers so he commanded that the baby Cyrus be killed.  Legend says that Cyrus was placed on a hillside to die of exposure, but a passing shepherd saw him and raised him to adulthood.  He then later became emperor of the Medo-Persian empire, and conquered Babylon.  Even the method of entry into Babylon was prophesied in the Bible, in detail.  The prophecies were fulfilled, exactly as written down centuries before.
  • God says that it was He who inspired the writings of the Bible authors.  (2 Peter 1:20-21, 2 Timothy 3:16-17).  Inspired means God-breathed, through the Holy Spirit.  He says his word is truth (John 17:17).
  • We can rely on the Bible as being Gods word for man.
THE THREAD
  • The thread that runs through the entire Bible, from Genesis through Revelation, is that God created man to have eternal relationship with Him.
  • The Bible teaches, and each of us knows from personal experience, that man rebelled against God.  Not just Adam and Eve, but us too.
  • Our rebellion disqualifies us from having relationship with God (Isaiah 59:2).
  • Our rebellion has a consequence.  That consequence is death (Romans 6:23) followed by eternal separation from God.
  • That penalty has to be paid.  God is a God of justice.
  • Doing good deeds today, does not make up for the evil things we did yesterday
  • Lets say we murdered someone ten years ago.  Since that time we have been living on the right side of the law, and have been feeding the homeless, giving to charities, and being a model citizen.  When we are tried for the murder, though, we end up on death row.  The only thing that can save us now, is a Governors pardon.  All the good things we did, does not remove the requirement that the murder be punished.
  • Our rebellion needs to be pardoned.
  • God is a God of justice, but also of mercy.
  • His justice requires that the penalty - death and eternal separation from him - has to be enforced.
  • Someone has to pay the price.
  • Now here is the thing, though:  no one man, however sinless, could pay the penalty for all mankind.
  • Even if that man was totally sinless, he would only be able to pay the price for one single person.  No more.
  • In Charles Dickens novel ¨A Tale of Two Cities¨, a French doctor is caught up in the French Revolution and is locked up in the Bastille prison in Paris.  He will be executed along with many of the aristocracy, by beheading by the Guillotine.  John Carton considers his past life to be worthless and decides that he will die in his place.  He arranges for the doctor to be smuggled out, and takes his place.  He is transported to the square in a cart, bows his head onto the chopping block, and the guillotine ends his life.  However, John Carton could not pay the price  for more than one individual.  
  • If Jesus were a mere mortal, however holy and good and sinless, he could only pay the price for one person, lets say the thief on the cross next to him.
  • We however, would be without hope.
  • If Jesus is not God, he could not pay the penalty for all mankind, and we cannot be pardoned!  And we will die, separated from God for all eternity in a place we would not wish on our worst enemies.
  • The thread that runs right through the Bible, though, is that God himself, in the form of Jesus, would pay that penalty.  
  • As Creator God, his death would have more value than the entirety of his creation.  Jesus could die, and pay the penalty for the sins of the whole world.
  • In order to do that, he would have to become a human being.  Because spirit cannot die.  So he became flesh, was born as a human being, lived a sinless life, and submitted to death on a Roman cross.
  • Now Gods justice has been satisfied.
  • Now there is room for Gods mercy, so that he can pardon our sin and we can be restored to eternal relationship with him.  Because the penalty has been paid.
  • This is only possible because Jesus is God!  
SO: IS JESUS GOD?
  • Some say Jesus was just a man, a good man, a teacher, even a prophet.
  • The Bible however says that Jesus was much more than just a spiritual individual who lived and died 2000 years ago.
  • Having proven to our satisfaction that the Bible is true, the following statements show Jesus is God!
  • John 3:16 - Jesus was Gods son, but was also God in human flesh (1 Tim 3:16).
  • Colossians 2:9 - Jesus was fully man, but also fully God.
  • John 8:58 - Jesus existed before Abraham, and called himself by Gods name, ¨I AM¨.
  • John 10:30 - Jesus claimed that he and the Father are one, and he claimed to be equal with the Father (John 5:17-23).
  • Matthew 25:31-46 - Jesus claimed to have the authority to judge the nations.
  • Mark 2:5-12 - Jesus claimed to have the authority to forgive sin, which only God could do.
  • John 14:13-14 - Jesus has the power to answer prayers.
  • Jesus promised he would indwell us (John 14:23), and be with us forever (Matthew 28:20).
  • He is the Creator of the universe (John 1:3), and all that belongs to the Father is his (John 16:15).
  • So Jesus is God! Not just a spiritual person, a teacher or a prophet!
CONCLUSION
  • It makes a difference, what we believe.  There is truth, and there is error.
  • Jesus says, I am the way, the truth and the life!  No one comes to the Father except through me!
  • We can be perfectly clear, that Jesus is God, and that he died to pay the penalty for our sins!
  • Because of this, we can have hope, and God is ready to forgive us as we turn to him in repentance.
  • Let us pray.

Friday, April 7, 2017

A Life Well Lived - Pastor Bruce Ingle

Loving Pastor and Chaplain Bruce Ingle unexpectedly passed away Tuesday evening April 4, from a heart attack.  He has gone to be with the Lord, leaving his wife Debbie, children Sherry and Nathan and their spouses Matthew and Heather, numerous grand-children, siblings and extended family.  We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family, grieving with them over their tragic loss.  We look forward to the day when we all will see Pastor Bruce again, at Jesus´ return.

Pastor Bruce was a man who walked closely with his God.  He was an inspiration to me personally, when my wife and I became pastors here in Susanville.  Shortly after our arriving here, I asked to meet with him, and he told me about the early years of his pastoring at Gospel Tabernacle.  The Lord told him it would be five years before he would start to see the results of his labors.  Pastor Bruce accepted this and persevered through an extended period of hardship in the church.  It was five years to the day before growth became apparent.  God was faithful to His word, and Gospel Tabernacle today occupies a meaningful place in the Susanville Christian community, a testimony to a faithful God and a faithful servant.

You see, Pastor Bruce knew Jesus as his personal friend, as well as his Lord and Savior.  In this relationship, God gave him a vision not only for pastoring Gospel Tabernacle, but also for reaching the community.  Pastor Bruce asked the Lord to show the way, and not long after he received a letter from Sheriff Bill Freitas, inviting him to become the chaplain for Law Enforcement in this area.  He was happy to accept, seeing it as God´s calling, and he served our law enforcement community gladly.  This meant he would spend countless hours standing by our police and fire department personnel, sharing their grief for fallen friends, listening to their stories and extending the love of Jesus by being there for them in their times of need.

Pastor Bruce lived life well.  His life was interwoven with his relationship with God.  His legacy lives on in his family, his church and every single life he touched with God´s grace and compassion.  He fulfilled the call on his life, to pastor, and make a difference in the community.

Thank you, Pastor Bruce, for a life well-lived.  Till we meet again.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Welcome

Welcome to Healing Shepherd Ministries!

Dianne and I started this ministry in 2003, when the Lord was making it abundantly clear that He was sending us out to bring His healing to the broken.

There are so many broken people out there.

People who have suffered loss, people who are experiencing pain and sorrow.  Perhaps that special person has gone, through whatever circumstance, and now we are on our own.  Sometimes we have brought things on ourselves.  Sometimes we seem like a victim of the world's ugliness. 

Jesus says to us, "Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28).  He says, "... He has anointed me to preach the [good news] to the poor, he has sent me to heal the broken-hearted ..." (Luke 4:18).

This is the starting point.  

We try all kinds of ways to deal with broken hearts and lives.

Alcohol, drugs, sex.

Each of these has its own hell of torment.  It looks attractive at first, but then it swallows us up. Until we break down and recognize it is not the answer.

"Come to me and I will give you rest."

Jesus is the answer.  He is the one commissioned to go out and heal the broken-hearted.  He came to bring healing into your life.  Sometimes he touches us and instantly we receive healing.  Other times there are things we have to do, to receive his touch.  

Things like turning away from our sin, surrendering ourselves to Him, being willing to be obedient.

But it is worth it.  He offers us rest.

If you want your life to be different, pray this prayer:

"Dear Lord Jesus, thank you that you paid the price for me, a sinner.  You died and gave Your life, so that my sins could be forgiven.  Would you please forgive me for my sins, whatever they may have been.  I realize that nothing is too big for you to forgive.  Please remove my guilt.  I need a fresh beginning.  I need your rest.  Thank you that you have not given up on me.  In Jesus' name, amen."

You may have prayed this prayer before, and later turned away from God.  No matter what has happened, no matter what you have done, or where you have gone, it is never too late to turn back.  Jesus heals the broken.

Have a blessed day!

Pastor Gerry