Calling Out to My Praying Friends

Hello dear friends!  September was a busy month for many reasons, some good and some bad.

In  addition to dad, Shawna and Blaine having their birthdays; Sara gave birth to her first child, Sebastian Lee, weighting 7# 1oz, 19″ long, on Sept. 17th.  She and her fiance are thrilled with their little cutie pie:



That was the good news!

A week or so after that we found out that Mark’s dad has a fast growing cancer in his throat.  Specifically, in the lymphnoid just below his esophygas which feeds all the others below it.

I am asking everyone to say a pray for him, please. 

The first of October I lost my best friend, Penny!!  Those of you who have been with me for a while know who she is and just how much I loved her.  It was a total shock and I am still processing  it.  The grief has been overwhelming to me.  I am praying that if God intends to take Al from us too that he waits for a minute or two so I can get my breath.

When things like this happen, always ask God what it is that He is preparing me for that requires me to be so strong?  With everything happening in the world right now I’m not sure I want to know the answer to that question, but that’s a discussion for later on.

Please keep us in your prayers!
Love and blessings to you all!

You Give Us

Oh Mother of Earth
on you we rely

Who cares for us
though you we try

When you break down
in rage we cry

Yet because of us
you live or die

Each year in Spring
is new life born

And with vibrant colors
the earth you adorn

When new green foliage
by trees are worn

 It’s not the Winter
for which we mourn

Oh Mother, oh Mother
of Earth in all

The Winter, the Spring
the Summer and Fall

You care for us
both great and small

The return be done
by us one and all!

Teresa Marie  1/15/12

Poetry Picnic Week 22: Spring, Colors, Trees, and New Lives



Yesterday’s Sermon From The Ranch – Being Freed From Sin

(This Day’s Thought is pleased to bring you Eric Elder’s new sermon series, “Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind.”)

The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration

Being Freed From Sin

Lesson 14 from Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind

By Eric Elder

One of the best depictions I’ve ever read of the tragedy that took place when sin entered the world was in a fictional book by Ted Dekker called Black.  Ted spent the majority of his book describing a world where no one had ever sinned.  They knew there was a forbidden fruit across a particular bridge, but no one went there to eat it.  

Instead, they lived out their days doing incredible things with each other and with their God who created them.  They had children and built homes and gathered daily to enjoy time with each other and their Creator.  But one day, one of the men gave in to his temptations.  He crossed the bridge and ate the fruit.

The moment he did, evil was unleashed from the forrest beyond.  Huge black bats swarmed out of the forrest and covered the land in a dark cloud, devouring people and trees and everything in their path.  Only those who found shelter of some kind or another escaped the death and destruction that came upon their land.

Through one man’s sin, evil was unleashed upon everyone.  

Reading about this horde of evil that covered their world was one of the saddest moments I’ve ever felt while reading a book.  I couldn’t believe it happened.  I couldn’t believe this guy ate the fruit.  I couldn’t believe how utterly tragic it was for everyone and everything on the planet.

The story didn’t end there, though.  You’ll have to read the series of books for yourself to find out what happened next.

Ted’s story was a powerful retelling of another old, old story, one that the Apostle Paul talked about in his letter to the Romans.  In chapter 5 of Romans, Paul described what happened to the world when the first man, Adam, sinned.  He described how death entered into and reigned over the world as a result.  But that story didn’t end there either.  Here’s what Paul said:

“… sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned… But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” (Romans 5:12,15).

I’m sharing this story with you today because I want to give you God’s perspective on the world around you.  While there was once a time when death reigned over the earth, you’re now living in a time when life reigns over the earth—life that has come through God’s abundant grace through Jesus Christ.  As Paul went on to say:

“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17).

You now live in a colorful, life-filled, and joyous world—if you have the eyes to see it.  I know that it sometimes takes eyes of faith, but it’s the Truth.  Life reigns because Christ has come.  If you’ve put your faith in Christ, death no longer has mastery over you.  You’re no longer a slave to sin, because God has sent you a new Master you can serve, Someone who loves you, cares for you, and has given His life for you—Jesus Christ.

I had a friend who died a few years ago, and when he did, a strange thought crossed my mind.  As sad as I was for his death, and the loss of his friendship here on earth, I was thankful for one thing.  I thought:  “You lucky guy.  You’re finally free from sin.”  

You see, he had a tremendous ministry that touched the lives of many people.  But he also had a private battle with sin—one that he fought valiantly and victoriously, but still a battle nonetheless.  When he died, I knew his battle with sin was finally over.  It seemed like a strange thought to me, until I remembered that the Apostle Paul talked about this very thing.

In Romans chapter 6, Paul said:

“… because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Romans 6:7).

Paul wasn’t advocating that people should die in order to be freed from sin!  On the contrary, he was saying that people who had put their faith in Christ and were baptized had already died with Him, in order to be raised to live a new life with Him, both here on earth and on into heaven one day.

You don’t have to die to be freed from sin.  You just have to put your faith in Christ, being baptized into His death, and rising again to live a new life—a new colorful, joy-filled life.

When I thought about my friend’s death in these terms, I realized that He wasn’t freed from sin on the day he died physically.  He was freed from sin from the moment he put his faith in Christ and was baptized, which was many, many years earlier.  From that point on, he had a new view of life, and God had a new view of him.  

Sure, he still had battles to face, but he faced them with confidence, knowing that Christ had already freed him from those sins.  Temptations would come, as always, but now he knew he could resist them because now he had the power of Christ.  He went on to make the most of the rest of his time here on earth, living victoriously and sharing Christ with many others, being a truly positive force in the world for good.

In your battle against sin, you may think a dark cloud surrounds you, a cloud of death and destruction that is constantly hanging over your head, like the swarm of bats from a Ted Dekker novel.  

But that’s a lie.  The truth is, that cloud of darkness was pushed back when Christ died for you on the cross.  On that day, color was restored to the world.  Joy became available again.   Freedom from sin became a reality for everyone who would put their faith in Him.

God doesn’t want you to sin.  Sin separates you from Him and from those you love.  But if you’ve been baptized into Christ, you’ve been freed from sin.  Sure, you may still have to fight off temptations, but now you can do it from a position of strength, not from a position of defeat.  

If you’ve never been baptized into Christ, I’d encourage you to do so as soon as possible.  Being baptized into His death will allow you to be raised with Him to a new life with Him.  Baptism can renew not only your mind, but your heart and soul as well.  It will change your outlook on life.  And it will help you to be freed from sin.  You may still have a battle to fight, but you’ll be fighting it with Christ, which makes all the difference in the world!

As further encouragement that you can be freed from sin, here and now, let me close with the words of the Apostle Paul on the subject.  Then count yourselves as “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?  Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

“If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him. The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God.

“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:1-10).

Will you pray with me?

Father, thank You for setting us free from sin by dying for us.  Help us to see that death no longer reigns over us, but because of Christ, we can reign in life.  Help us to put our faith in You anew today, trusting that the world is gloriously new because of You.  Help us to see it the way You see it, so we can enjoy it as You intended us to enjoy it, living valiantly and victoriously while we’re here.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Awakening 2P.S.  If you like peaceful, relaxing music, I’ve uploaded another song to The Ranch website that you can listen to for free anytime from Craig Prest’s instrumental CD, “Awakening 2.”  Craig and I both hope you enjoy it!  If you’d like to get the whole CD, whether on a physical disc or as downloadable MP3’s, I’d be glad to send it to you for a donation of any size to our ministry this month.  Here’s the link to listen to another one of Craig’s songs, and a link below that where you can make a donation and request the whole CD.  Thanks in advance for your gifts… they really do help to keep us going!

Questions for Reflection

1.  Read Romans 5:12-6:10.  Why does Paul say “the gift is not like the trespass” in comparing the effects of Adam’s sin with the effects of Christ’s death and resurrection?
2.  What can we do to “reign in life,” as Paul says in verse 17?
3.  Have you ever thought of baptism as a way of dying to your old self, and being raised to new life?  What about this idea might be attractive to you?
4.  Have you ever been baptized?  If so, what difference does being baptized make in how you view your battle with sin today?  If you haven’t been baptized, what difference might baptism make in your own battle with sin?  If you need further encouragement to be baptized, here are a few more verses you might read:  Acts 2:38, Matthew 3:16-17, Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21, John 3:5, and Acts 8:35-38.

To read more from this series, Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind, please visit:
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