The Church Model – Weekly Inspiration

By Ryan Kelly –

There are thousands of Christian churches across the US, and millions of people that claim the name of Jesus. However, it’s my belief that only a small number of these churches and believers are following a genuine example of what God tells us is His model for the church in Acts 2.

Let’s take a look at this church model, which formed shortly after thousands came to the saving faith in Jesus following Pentecost:

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

‭‭Acts‬ ‭2:42-47‬ ‭

A Biblical church does several key things:

1. Fellowships with each other

2. Love’s each other

3. Worships the Lord together in one place (i.e. A church building)

4. Shares individual resources to help one another

5. Witnesses to non believers and guides them to salvation through Jesus

Are you lacking in any of these areas? Are you helping fellow brothers and sisters in need? Are you attending church each Sunday and spending quality time with fellow believers with meals and/or small groups?

If you are, great! If you are not, there is good news. Today is a new day and a new opportunity. You can take steps at being a quality member of the body of Christ for the glory of the Lord.

If I or anyone with the American Christian Association can help you to better understand how to follow an Acts 2 style church, please reply to this post or contact us anytime.

Together, we can be THE CHURCH. Let’s help each other to follow the model that God has given us and make a profound step at building Gods kingdom in our great nation.

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This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Isn’t it wonderful when our week clicks right along without any distractions?  If you are like me, distractions come and go throughout the course of the normal day.  Sometimes those distractions are just that — things that take us away from the necessary task at hand and that prevent us from focusing on what is most important.  But sometimes those distractions are meant to take us away from the everyday take-it-for-granted routines and make us see or spend time with something (or even someone) else.

This beaver dam didn’t just pop up over night.  This structure likely appeared gradually and then grew in size over the course of several days or even weeks until what began as a small interruption in the water’s flow has now brought the flow to a complete stop.  But this beaver dam – this hindrance, if you will – has also done something else.  It has created two resting pools of water where insect populations now thrive.  These insects have attracted more birds, more frogs, and more turtles into the habitat.  Each creature is now depending on another to help sustain its existence.

All of this activity – all of this life – began with the introduction of one hindrance.  As you begin a new week, greet your hindrances with an appreciation for what new things or people they may be bringing into your life.  Enjoy the hindrances.  Those very things that “block” your progress today may very well be keeping you from some greater harm further down stream.

Just a thought.

Weekly Inspiration – Loving Our Enemies

Our world today is not only empowered to mock, ridicule, and attack Christians, but in many cases the people of the world are encouraged to do so. The god of this world, Satan, takes Scripture and twists it in the minds and hearts of non-believers to make it seem silly. He blinds the eyes and binds the hearts of non-believers so that they enjoy the fifth by which they live and have no desire for the gracious love by which God abounds.

So we as Christians should do two things:

1. Understand that Satan is actively blinding non-believers to truth.

“Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:4

2. Love those that mock and persecute us because God loves them despite their sin (and ours):

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” Matthew 5:44

It’s not easy to follow the teachings of Christ. But who said it was going to be easy? We do it because we love our Lord Jesus with all of our heart and have an active desire to follow His commands. And besides, weren’t we an enemy of God before we put our faith in Jesus?

Let’s work to love our enemies this week.

Ryan Kelly

Hattiesburg, MS

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Oh dear, it’s Monday again.  Admit it.  You’ve said or thought that already today.  Why do we sometimes dread Monday?  Perhaps it’s because most of us hate the possibilities of the unknown.  We know what our plans are for the week, but we don’t how those plans will change, and we don’t know what else God has in store for us along the way, either.

As children, we feel safe in the watch care of our parents.  As long as Mom or Dad is nearby, we are ok.  So why aren’t we that way as adults?  These two deer – mom and little one – explored the area behind our house not too long ago.  Mom’s ears were perked up, alert for any danger or unforeseen harm.  As Christians, why can’t we be as content as the baby deer, relying on our Parent to guide and guard our way this week?

No we don’t know what’s ahead, and that makes us uncomfortable at times.  However, we do know that God is already there, He is ever alert and protecting His children, and we are safe in His presence.  Instead of “Oh dear, it’s Monday”, how about “Oh dear Father, I trust You to lead me through the unforeseen dangers of this week, spiritual and physical.  May I remain as close to You as this tiny deer is to its mother.  And may I grow to pant for You as the deer pants for water, longing for more.”


This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Is your cup half full, or is it half empty? One of those two perspectives is ultimately how each one of us look at things. Are you a “Woe” person, or a “Wow” person? Are you thankful to have opened your eyes this morning, or are you moaning that the day is too long already?

I believe our perspective makes a world of difference in how we see things. Take these two little turtles, for instance. Look especially at the one on the right. What do you see? Is that turtle hanging on for dear life? Is he about to give up on things and jump off? Or does he seem to be stretching in order to enjoy the sunshine?

Of course, neither turtle has done anything quickly, as is evidenced by the moss growing on their backs! But they have been on the move. No turtle reaches the top of any tree stump without making the effort to climb up. He must look up, and then climb up, in order to enjoy the sunshine.

This week, look up! Climb up! And even if the rest of the world thinks you look like you’re just hanging on, stretch toward the Son, basking in His warm embrace.

How does your week ahead look? It’s all about perspective. Keep it that way.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

The picture I would like to share with you this week is one of grass. Not just any grass, mind you, but a tall stalk growing on a sand dune at the beach. I’ve never made a habit of photographing grass, and I didn’t intend to do that on this occasion. So why the picture?

Well, I was on an outing alone, snapping pictures of the birds scrambling in the sand for their breakfast, sailboats slowly cruising by the shore, and people out for a leisurely stroll. I raised my camera to take a picture of something I’ve now forgotten, and I snapped the photo. Only then did I realize that my camera had chosen to change the focus from what I was watching to this lone stalk of beach grass that stood nearby.

As we begin another week in our always busy lives, perhaps we need to have our focus changed. What are those things you are watching, the things that take the most of your valuable time, those things that are always going on all around you? Raise your weary head, look directly at the people and the world right in front of you, and change your focus.

See that neighbor who longs for a “hello” or a hug. Visit that coworker who feels he/she is drowning in looming deadlines and offer a hand. Shift your focus and see what’s truly important. So, you ask me to explain what is so important about that grass. I have no idea. I just know my focus was changed that morning. And as long as I am open to the changes the Lord shows me, the better my focus will be.

Refocus your lens for this week.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Happy New Year!  The year 2018 has arrived full force.  Temperatures at my house this morning hovered around 19 degrees with a wind chill of 3.  I’m not a fan of cold weather.  Sixty degrees is too cool, as far as I’m concerned.  However, it is January.  It is wintertime, after all.

My picture here shows a bright and sunny day on the Alabama Gulf Coast.  No, I’m not there, but I look forward already to warmer days with the sun shining.

I wonder.  As we begin yet another year by the grace of God, do we long for the Son as much as we are longing for the warm sun today?  Are we excited, knowing that the Savior who came that long Christmas ago as a baby laid in a manger will one day be coming back again?  Do we long for the warmth of His embrace?  Are we ready for the dark cold days of this world to be a thing of the past?

Until that great day arrives, we must persevere through the cold dark world, being the representatives of His great light and love to those who so desperately need to feel the warmth.  This week, share the warmth.  Enjoy your time in the Son, and share Him wherever you go.  For whatever His reasoning may be, He has let us see the dawn of a new year.  We have a new chance.  We can make a change, and we must make a change, not only in our own lives, but in the world around us.

Stay warm!  — Just a thought.

Love More in 2018

By Ryan Kelly –

There is one thing that I urge all brothers and sisters to do as God blesses us with a new year in 2018. This one thing is the very fabric of our faith, as it is the gift that has been given to us.

This gift is love.

God so loved us that He paved a way to rid us of our sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Through Him we gain new life and are made perfect in the eyes of God.

This great love should flow overwhelmingly from Christians as we follow His example.

“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other…This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters…Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John‬ ‭3:14-18‬

We should love not only those that love us, but also those that hurt us. God tells us to love our enemies, and this is because it follows the example of Jesus as He loved those that persecuted Him.

We should love with action, meaning that we should speak, listen, pray and give with and to those with need.

We should love all, not just those that look like us or live near us.

Let’s make it a goal for each of us in 2018 to love more deeply. Share the gospel, share your resources, and invest in the lives of others. Show the love of Jesus and let His light shine from within you!

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

I met this fellow (or lady, as the case may be) earlier this month as it was perched alongside a sandy beach of Alabama’s eastern-most gulf coast. The bird was very large, and I could see it quite a ways back as I walked toward the sand. It was aware of my presence, too, stopping momentarily two or three times to glance in my direction. The closer I got, the slower I walked. First of all, I wanted to get close enough to catch some good pictures, one of which you see here. And secondly, I did not want any bird with a long very sharp beak getting mad at me. Besides, this bird was at least two feet tall, and it was sitting atop a fence railing that made it taller than I am. I would have had to pass within inches of that sharp beak in order to step onto the beach.

Here I was – a grown man – and yet I didn’t wish to be attacked by a bird, of all things. An older couple strolled up behind me not very long after I stopped to snap some pictures, and it was as far as they dared go as well. So we stood and talked about the bird. We talked about the beauty of the ocean and the dancing dolphins our for their morning feeding, about the surrounding areas and the little towns nearby, and about our respective churches. We talked about our worship styles and the sizes of our congregations. We talked about the beauty and the goodness of God. All of this with complete strangers. But we had the same focus that morning – a very large intimidating bird.

If God’s people could only focus on the same things – the goodness and grace of God in this world, then how much better off we would all be. I can’t say how the rest of the day went for that older couple, but I left that spot that morning knowing I had been in the presence of God, and I had a beautiful day. Had I not stopped, partly in awe, partly in fear, partly in amazement, to watch that very large bird, I would have missed my encounter with those lovely people and quite possibly with the One Who designed that all of our paths should cross that day.

The very large bird had a beak with a very sharp point. And God certainly has a point to all that He does and to every path on which he places us each day. May He show you the point this week as you continue to prepare for Christmas day. May your path be crossed by some beautiful creatures and some lovely people, and may you realize just how much you have in common in God’s plan.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

The events of the past few days have brought upon our area of west-central Alabama some of the deepest and prettiest snows we have seen in several years, with as much as 8 inches of the stuff in places and hundreds of folks without electricity for over 48 hours with temps in the twenties.

My brother-in-law and I had to make a trip to Birmingham in it.  Suffice it to say we do not recommend doing that – ever.  You can see an example of just one of our county roads in my picture.  Trees were bowing to meet each other in the middle of the road.

One of the neatest things about snow is that it blankets everything dirty and makes it look new, bright, and beautiful.  But one difficult thing about the snow is that it can become very heavy, causing things to bow and break, and bringing on new burdens of uncomfortable and perhaps dangerous situations.

We are now just two weeks from Christmas, the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the One Who came to wash us white as snow and cover a multitude of dirty things in our lives with His forgiveness, grace, and mercy.  He also comes to ease those heavy burdens, even the burdens of those who have already been washed white as snow, but who some days feel bowed over beneath the weight of the world’s responsibilities on their shoulders.

When the sun shines, the snow melts.  When the Son shines in your life, those burdens melt away.  As you enjoy your Christmas season, thank God for the beautiful snow, but also for the fact that the Son will shine again!

Just a thought.