Monthly Archives: March 2010

Barabbas

By Michelle Avery — Editorial Assistant, Herald and Banner Press

“And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection” (Mark 15:7).

Have you ever felt like Barabbas? Like you were about to be crushed by punishment you absolutely deserved when somebody came to deliver a message from the Judge — a message of full pardon. Really, there are few things more ridiculous.

No one knows better than you how rotten your actions were. What you did was wrong. Now somebody is trying to convince you that you can walk out free? It does not make any sense!

But no jail keeps people for free. The charges have been dropped, so you have to leave.

Incidently, I would recommend taking the main road heading west out of town. It will explain a lot. You will pass a little hill with an unusual amount of activity all around it. They call it Skull Hill, and that is the Man being crushed by punishment in your place.

“And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will” (Luke 23:25).

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Whose Job Is It?

A few weeks ago, three little girls stopped coming to the children’s services at a local church. Nothing had angered them or their mother, but things had changed slightly at home. The girls would be staying with their grandparents on the weekends for a while. No more children’s church.

Was it the pastor’s job to tell those little girls we missed seeing them every week. Perhaps, but I rather doubt he was the reason they came so faithfully.

Was it his job to call on their mother, who does not attend our church, to convince her it might be worth the trouble to let the girls keep coming? Maybe, but would he be as convincing as someone who could tell her twins apart?

You may not be the pastor. You may not even be the youth or children’s worker, but you are still important. God can use you to touch others.

The next issue of The Church Herald and Holiness Banner is just getting into the editing process, but in early April please join us for to celebrate how God works through the church — the people, pastor and laymen included — to bring people into His family. The Banner will feature several testimonies from new Christians, and here on the blog we will have exciting posts to share. (Coming Monday: “Barabbas” by Michelle Avery)

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Prayer Time

It is not possible to minister properly without great prayer support, so each day that is just how we start our work. In the print shop, the graphic designers and pressmen gather shortly after their shift begins. Before the bookstore is opened, the editorial, bookstore, and accounting staffs gather for prayer in the other building.

We pray for each other and the work we will be tackling in the next few hours. Churches and missionaries are remembered. We ask the Lord for His blessing. Sometimes we struggle with patience waiting for our prayers to be answered while other times we start the day with prayers of thanks.

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Give It Up

By John Scofield — Minister, serving on Herald and Banner Press Board of Publications

This year, I really missed the community Ash Wednesday service of which I had been a part for several years. What about you? Do you avoid it because it seems foreign? Too high church? Theologically, maybe the thought of an ash cross on your forehead seems like an unbiblical addition to salvation. Pragmatically, maybe you do not want to deal with ash stains in the carpet. Whatever Ash Wednesday may mean within various denominations, I am a firm believer that you get out of a service what you put into it.

The Psalmist wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”(Ps. 139:24). Ash Wednesday begins a forty day period of reflection, prayer, and fasting focusing on Jesus Christ’s life and suffering leading up to the Cross. This should be a time of self-examination. Hosea 6:6 says, “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” What will you give up this Lenten season? Steak? Rocky road ice cream? Your favorite TV show? Listening to your favorite CD? How cheap! Instead, how about giving up grumbling in order to be thankful. How about giving up some sleep to spend extra time in prayer. How about not looking at people’s worst points but instead looking to see what is good about them. How about avoiding criticism in favor of giving complements. Give up hatred; forgive. Release your fears, and learn to trust. Give up judging by appearances and search yourself. Perhaps most importantly (and this shows my Wesleyan heritage), give up the right to yourself. Give God your all — no reservations — completely consecrate and yield yourself to Him.

God is not concerned with chocolate and CDs. He is concerned with what is going on in our hearts. The apostle Paul wrote, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). Prepare for Easter by giving God the offering of yourself.

Prepare for Easter by looking deep into your heart to think about how you have been living your life. Has the Lord put his finger on some issue? Is there something you need to quit or give up? Jesus will forgive that sin and wash it away at the Cross. He promises to empower you with the Holy Spirit to live a new life that glorifies Him. I encourage you to incorporate Ash Wednesday into your schedule next year. Let the ashes be a reminder that you have died to sin and its excuses.

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The March Banner Is Out!

God had “created the heavens and the earth” but they were as yet empty. What a tremendous thought. Sometime you should take a preschooler to a zoo — just to re-experience the wonder. Can you imagine the fun God must have had putting the teeth and tail on a beaver? Or the neck on a giraffe? The emptiness of God’s creation was really just room for His extravagance.

It is almost Easter, so The Church Herald and Holiness Banner is “Celebrating Emptiness.” As Editor Mark Avery wrote in this month’s editorial, “While the empty grave was a shock to believers on the first Easter, Christians have celebrated its emptiness since.”

Come along with us as we take joy in the Resurrection of our Lord.

(Coming Monday: “Give It Up” by John Scofield)

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