An Encouraging Word
1 John 4:19 says, "We love Him because He first loved us." (NKJV)
John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son...
Romans 5:5 tells us how the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
When we accept Jesus Christ into our hearts as Lord and Savior the Holy Spirit comes into our spirit. With that all the attributes of Jesus Christ are in us. His love is in us. It is there. We just need to believe, receive and step out in faith displaying and using that love towards others.
I believe one of the biggest hindrances to receiving the love of the Father is that many of us have never received love from the humans we have in our life. Maybe you grew up in a family that never displayed love towards you. Maybe you grew up without one of your parents or both parents and all you feel is rejection from them not being there for you. You may have grown up in an angry environment and you always felt they were angry at you.
As a result of the environments we grew up in, that often becomes how we view our Heavenly Father. Our earthly father is supposed to be the spiritual example that leads us to the Heavenly Father. If our earthly father is angry and unloving we may think our Heavenly Father is angry and unloving. The relationships we have on earth often affect the kind of relationship we have with God.
We must study the Word of God to see the true character of God and come to know that He is LOVE. His love is unconditional. Jesus died when we were in the midst of sin. He doesn't expect perfection, but He does want us to accept and receive Him and His LOVE and be obedient to His will.
Vicky Gentry - Administrative Assistant
Brothers and sisters are we Relevant, Real and Raw specifically are we being mindful that we have turned the corner towards a downward slope to major developments in our city, state and our country? We as the Body of Christ are about to feel the labor pains of Matthew 24 in our city, from my perspective, up here on Harvest Hill. There are unsettling racial tensions, irrational understanding about how to get ahead in their social lifestyles and economical situations. Brothers and sisters there are many people living in Price Hill feeling very discouraged, hopeless frustrated, depressed and suicidal. Believing that their situation will be forever this way and what's the point of trying to press forward?
My response to their reasoning is not to down play their issues but with the help of the Spirit assist them with tearing down some of the strongholds spoken of in 2 Corinthians 10:4. It speaks of pulling down "strongholds" which Paul defined as reasonings, arguments, philosophies, theories, and constructs that exalt themselves against what the Lord says is the Real Truth! In these times we need to give them the Relevant, Real and Raw Wisdom of the Lord. People all over this city regardless of economic or social status are searching for some way to obtain peace because of the anxieties and worries in their lives. We must intercede on their behalf before God via The Holy Spirit following the passage found in James 1:5, “Let’s access heaven for Divine answers for the natural problems that are developing into nightmares.”
I leave you with this encouraging passage, Galatians 6:9!!
Your fellow brother in the fight for souls,
Larry Spellman – Chaplain, Family Activity Center Price Hill
What did you learn from people growing up by observing their behaviors and habits? Chances are likely that you still observe people today. Who over the last decade have you observed who has made a difference in your life just by being around them? Maybe your parent was a stickler for being organized, well-groomed, articulate, kind, or other _______ you fill in the blank. As you look at your own life you see that you have picked up some of the same good (and bad) behaviors.
Philippians 3:17 says, “Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.” (NIV)
Simply put here, Paul was an example to the early church leaders and converts. Here he is being so bold as to say follow my example, imitate me, mirror the behavior of other believers.
Ask yourself if you are you comfortable with saying the same thing? Should people be imitating you? It’s a great question. Hopefully the answer is yes and that we are growing in our witness before the Lord on a daily basis.
Don’t stop here. God gave us an Old Testament full of great examples to observe – complete with the lessons to be learned from. In some cases it is not doing some of the things they did. Also, pick up some autobiographies to read and reflect on them for further spiritual growth. May God grant us a witness that glorifies Him.
Scott Bowers – Executive Director
We know, as children of God, we have a Heavenly Father that loves us and will make sure that our needs are met every single time. So we shouldn't be a worry wart about things. We are going to look at Matthew 6:25-34 and see what Jesus says about worrying.
Jesus focused on three needs not to worry about:
Jesus expressed how the Heavenly Father feeds the birds and dresses the fields. He expressed that we are more important than they are (Matthew 6:26-30).
Jesus is reassuring His listeners not to worry about these things and have faith in our Heavenly Father (Matthew 6:31).
Jesus wants His followers to put things in prospective by seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness while putting Him at the center of our lives. With that everything else will fall in line (Matthew 6:33).
We don't need to worry for our Heavenly Father will always take care of us!!!!!
Rob Dothard – Chaplain Lord’s Gym Queensgate
Have you ever wondered why Noah built the Ark? For years, I believed that Noah built an ark to save the world. In fact, for the past 20 years, I thought my number one mission was to save the world. It wasn't until the past few years that I had insight on the importance of family, even above the ministry.
We are told in Hebrews 11:7 why Noah built the ark. “It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood”. Noah got up every day, for 120 years, to build an Ark to save not the world, but to save his family. He received a game plan directly from God to save his family. He knew that the days were evil and that judgment was coming and that it was up to him to save his family.
We also are living in times just like the days of Noah. We are living in an age where the earth is full of violence and the thoughts of man are evil continually. In fact, I believe we are living in the last days and judgment is imminent.
So knowing that we are living in parallel times as the days of Noah, and knowing that judgment is imminent, what are you doing to get your family into the Ark (Jesus Christ). It's going to take hard work and a daily commitment from you, but your family is worth it. Just as God gave clear direction to save Noah’s family, if you pray, I believe that God will give you a game plan to save your family.
Jim Turner – STORM Chaplain
The scriptures tell us..."...our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."
As we look around today so many things are wrong and not pleasing to us. The danger is that we get angry and attempt to correct things carnally.
But we who have been given life anew and are living spiritually must fight...not as the world...but as is pleasing to the Father
His ways of fighting the good fight include:
- Speaking truth in love...
- Intentionally involved in the world as ministers of reconciliation.
As I listen to the news and watch the craziness...I get so frustrated. I'm almost tempted to yell and throw things...but ah...I know better.
So...I stop and realize to fight the good fight...I must do it from a spiritual perspective using spiritual weapons.
Bob Clarke - Director of Ministry Operations
Galatians 6:9 (NLT): So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up!
You shall know my disciples for the LOVE they have for one another!
The times that are approaching are very challenging, but very beneficial for those who fall in love with the Holy Spirit, continue to trust the Holy Spirit, cling to, rely on, and desperate to know every word that comes out the mouth of the FATHER spoken through the Son's voice and demonstrated, revealed via the Holy Spirit. Once again the word of the Lord is Preparation! We must come to a place of MATURITY and CONFIDENCE in Him. EMBRACE what He has deposited in YOU and Us! (Selah)
I end by quoting this passage for strength and comfort: Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (Psalms 133:1)
May the Holy Spirit continue to lead us and guide US to the LORD'S truth! (Selah)
FAC in Price Hill aka *** Harvest Hill****
Your brother in the struggle for SOULS!
Larry Spellman - Chaplain
Ephesians 5:1 (ESV) says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
As born-again Christians we are new creatures in Christ. We are to follow hard after Jesus so we can become like Him. He is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We can become like Him by renewing our minds with the Word of God. We need to do this so others will see the light and love of Jesus within us. We need to be a good example to the world and to our children. People are watching us and what we do and say. Our children do not do what we tell them to do. They do what we do. We are their model to follow. So, if we want our children to act in a Godly manner, we must act in a Godly manner. We must treat them with love, grace and mercy. We must lift them up and encourage them and not tear them down. We are all human and we all make mistakes. When our children make bad decisions, we must continue to love them and show them grace and mercy while teaching them that their actions need to change if they want a better outcome. When we do this it draws them closer to us instead of pushing them away and causing them to rebel. When you treat them with respect and communicate openly with them, they will be more open to communicate with you. They will know that you will always be there for them.
May the peace of God be with you!
Vicky Gentry – Administrative Assistant
Did you know what prompted the Pilgrims’ exodus from England?
Bill Federer published, in his Sept 18, 2015 newsletter an excerpt from Dr. Marshall Foster wrote in "A Shining City on a Hill (February 27, 2013):
"Four hundred years ago the conflict between tyranny and liberty was red hot...
When King James died in 1625, his son Charles I ascended to the throne with the arrogance of a Roman emperor. He was the quintessential 'divine right' monarch. He declared martial law and suspended the rights of the individual...
The king's inquisitors at his 'Star Chamber' in the tower of London used torture techniques to 'discover the taxpayer's assets'...
A turning point in public opinion took place on January 30, 1637. Three prisoners were locked down in the pillory in London before a huge crowd...
...These men included a Puritan minister, a Christian writer and Dr. John Bastwick, a physician.
What was their crime? They had written pamphlets disagreeing with the king's religious views. The sheriff began by branding the men with red-hot irons on the forehead with an SL for seditious libel...
The tyranny of the king...finally aroused the Christian sensibilities of the people. They would no longer tolerate burnings or mutilations for matters of conscience on religious views...
The persecutions drove tens of thousands of liberty loving believers to follow the Pilgrims to New England where they laid the foundation for the world's most biblically based nation."
That said, let us be mindful of our rights to publicly disagree, with vigor, and especially mindful of our right to disagree based on our religious freedoms.
Our government, including the high court, has been wrong before those decisions were overturned. One just has to consider the infamous Dred Scott decision and the Kansas/Missouri Pact that sought to continue slavery. Sadly, these decisions were reached after the Northwest Ordinance was created in its attempt to eliminate slavery from the United States expansion eastward.
We’ll continue to disagree, but we must remember it’s our right to express and exercise our disagreements based on our religious freedom.
Scott Bowers – Executive Director
It’s been 5 years since I began my relationship with FOCAS Ministries/The Lord’s Gym and I can say without a doubt, my life has been radically impacted and changed in the best way possible. Before joining the team, I had begun ministry in the late 90’s as an Elder at my home church, New Hope Christian Center and would later become an assistant Pastor in 2008. This being said, I had no idea of how much my faith would develop through the pain and suffering of the people this ministry is called to serve. Of all the vices that trap the hearts and minds of the men and women we minister to, substance abuse has been the most prevalent foe. There are many forms of addiction gripping the precious souls that break the threshold of our doors daily whether it be for a plate of food, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on or to get a membership to the gym and to sit in on a devotional. Whatever the reason, this is where the in-between for many begins.
Time and time again, I’ve heard these words from the people we love on, “this place is a refuge”. The Covington Lord’s Gym has become inadvertently an intervention (in between) for those struggling with heroin addiction. There are no easy fixes for this deadly drug but there is hope beyond the addiction at the Lords Gym. Often men come in with desperation in their eyes and a longing to be free from the mental anguish that accompanies the physical debilitating grip of the drug. I’ve seen hopelessness crushed at the door of the gym by the presence of God demonstrated through the men who work and volunteer at the Lord’s Gym. It takes a willing heart, patience, and most of all love to take the journey with broken men daily. It is fitting that a passage from God’s word be considered.
1 Corinthians 13New King James Version (NKJV)
The Greatest Gift
13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Kevin Johnson – Chaplain Covington Lord’s Gym
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new."
I want to emphasize three things in this scripture: 1) Christ, 2) Old things and 3) New things.
When we accept Christ into our life, there is a transformation that is going to take place, if we allow it. Old things are going to pass away. Let us name some of the old things: 1) Resentment, 2) Bitterness, 3) Un-forgiveness, 4) Fear and 5) Low self-esteem. We can go on and on. These are the things that are passing away, if we allow it. Christ went through a physical death, for these things to be put to death.
What are the things that are becoming new?: 1) Purpose, 2) Godliness, 3) Holiness, 4) Love and 5) Knowledge of God’s Word. These things continue to grow in us more and more, if we allow it. In order for us to become who the Heavenly Father called us to be, we must go through this transformation in Christ. On that note, KEEP TRANSFORMING!!!!!!!
Rob Dothard - Chaplain Lord's Gym Dalton
Recently I went running in a large park. Walking back to my car I noticed a little girl making quite a fuss with her mother. She was crying rather loudly...I believe because she wasn't ready to leave the park but her parents were. Then I watched as her father stepped into action. He got down in her face and began to speak quietly to her. What he said I don't know...but she calmed down. Then he threw her on his shoulders...and asked her..."do you want me to skip or gallop?" "SKIP" she said gleefully...and off they went with giggles. The Daddy with all the adult authority he carried allowed his little sweetheart to give him direction...because he loved her so and wanted to make her happy.
It was a powerful moment for me. I remembered doing the same kind of things with my three little girls, all grown now. How I delighted in them. I got a little teary eyed. And then it hit me...God delights in me. My Father delights in me.
All week that truth has been brought to my attention again and again.
Sometimes He even lets me call the shots because of His love for me and wants me to be delighted.
"God is so good"...we sing sometimes. Do we really believe it? Does He really delight in us? What a joyful, freeing thought.
Bob Clarke - Director of Ministry Operations
It is so important that we are able to not only remember what God has done for our ancestors, but also what God has done for us. We are commanded to not forget and to pass those things down to the generations to come.
In the Old Testament, the people of old would set up a memorial whenever God would do a miracle on their behalf. This memorial would not only remind us of what God has done, but will also help us pass those stories down to the generations to come.
It's sad to say, but America is quickly forgetting our roots and our history because we have failed in accurately passing down our deep Christian inheritance given to us by our ancestors. Christmas is no longer about the birth of Christ and the memorial of the manger has been removed. Good Friday and Easter is no longer about the crucifixion and the empty tomb. The memorial of the cross has been removed from our governments, schools, churches, and our homes. The memorial of the 10 commandments has been removed as well.
The other day I walked into Scott Bower’s office (our Executive Director) and I noticed a big pile of rocks on his office table where he has meetings. There are names and stories on every rock. Each rock represents how good God has been to our ministry and how God has been faithful to us. Anyone who comes into his office may ask Scott about the pile of rocks and Scott will be able to recount the goodness and the faithfulness of God by walking them through each and every rock.
I believe that Scott has hit the nail on the head and that this is what God wants us all to do for our own lives. I believe we all need to have a very clear memorial of the goodness and faithfulness of God, whether the memorial is a notebook of remembrance, a wall of pictures or a pile of rocks with stories. This will allow us to not only remember what God has done for us, but to be able to tell the story to generations to come or to anyone who may ask "what does this mean?"
Jim Turner – STORM Chaplain
I’m feeling led to share what’s on my heart and spirit. It is the word "preparation!” Preparation is defined as, “The state of having been made ready beforehand; readiness.” A couple of things come to mind. That state of having been ready. This implies a spiritual, mental and lastly an emotional state. One being filled with the Holy Spirit is the most important person in the earth. I’m reminded of John 16. Jesus said I must go so that He may come. It is to your advantage that I go. Prepare yourselves for His arrival. There are many things my brothers and sisters that are coming down the pipe that are thrusting us into the days of Noah in which our Lord said would be the wicked canvas before His arrival on the earth. I do not mean to come across gloom and doom but rather relevant and raw. We must prepare our spiritual foundation ...name of the game PREPARATION! ..stay tuned for part 2.
When I think of peace, this song comes to my mind:
Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above!
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray
In fathomless billows of love!
Oh what peace we can have because of the love of the Father. In this day and age it is difficult to have peace. If we focus on the things of the world and what is going on, we cannot have peace. We must keep focused on Jesus. He is where real peace comes from. We must give our cares and concerns to Him. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
One of the verses of this song is:
I am resting tonight in this wonderful peace,
Resting sweetly in Jesus’ control;
For I’m kept from all danger by night and by day,
And His glory is flooding my soul!
Vicky Gentry – Administrative Assistant
"Peace, Peace, Wonderful Peace"
Words: Warren D. Cornell, 1889, alt.
Music: W. George Cooper, 1889
I think we tend to look back in history at certain people or people groups and criticize them and think, "How could they?" One of those groups is the Hebrew nation that God led out from under the captivity of Egypt. They were slaves for over 400 years and praying for God to deliver them from their captors. Either we have read the bible or seen the Charlton Heston version of Moses leading his people out of Egypt and into the desert to the foot of Mt. Sinai.
There, God would beckon Moses to the mountain and give him the scoop on how He, God, had brought the Israelites out to “Set them Apart” for Himself and his own glory. Then, God gave His 12 tribes the law of what this behavior was to look like. In total the Israelites hung out with God for about 2 years learning what it meant to be “Set Apart”. This notion of being “Set Apart” was to be in line with God’s character of Holiness for all nations to see and envy.
We know our friends did not handle the new expectations from God very well as they complained, whined, and began to long for their old way of life in Egypt. As the saying goes, God got them out of Egypt; but, He could not get Egypt out of them. The new changes and lifestyle were too much and they rebelled resulting in God letting them wander the desert 40 years until that generation died off.
Are we any different? I see people come to know Christ or attempt to come off the streets; but, the challenges of adopting a Godly lifestyle or transformed thinking are too overwhelming. The old lifestyle, with its candy-coated sin, lures us back. The good news is that God waits patiently and desires us to return to Him.
Scott Bowers – Executive Director
If the ideology of racism is ever to be confronted, then let it be done so, with full knowledge of its precepts and concepts. Precepts are the original thought preceding the formation of a concept that becomes an idea. Ideas are the brainchild of individuals and or groups that establish social order, educational institutions, and governmental structures. When an idea is agreed upon by the various social classes as truth, ideas become laws both written and unspoken. Concerning the idea of racism, this is a problem because it is then that (ism) can be established in the consciousness of humanity. An age old proverb goes as such, “whatever a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” There is much truth to this principal because perspective and identity is a result of the mind. I have listed the following definitions of racism below.
1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.
1. a group of persons related by common descent or heredity.
2. a population so related.
a distinctive doctrine, theory, system, or practice:
This is the age of isms.
A close look and consideration of the socially agreed upon definition of racism makes clear, the belief in multiple races, is truth, therefore allowing segregation to exist among the social classes due to its nature, by virtue of its definition. History has proven that any division within the human race results in the downfall of any established society among the people. If the belief in racism remains established definitively as truth, without ever being redefined, in contrast to the commonality of humanity, hate will rule the heart and cause human genocide in every generation until humanity ceases to exist.
This is extreme however the course is true. You cannot destroy a bad idea, you can only replace it with a better one. As a Christian, I’ve found Genesis 1:26 to be a foundational point of reference to confront the belief in multiple races. Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” The answer to the racial divide is found within God’s blueprint for humanity. It does not take rocket science to determine the fact that every human bleeds red blood, has basic human structure such as two arms, legs, hands, and so on. The word of God says nothing of multiple races because He created one race, one blood, and He called us mankind.
Kevin Johnson – Chaplain Lord’s Gym Covington
My wife and I have been ministering to the homeless population for the past 9 years and have learned that there are numerous reasons why a person may become homeless. I can tell you about a woman that was homeless because she gave up when her 17 year old son committed suicide. I can tell you about a man who became homeless recently, after a tractor truck crossed the interstate after falling asleep on the road to kill his 13 year old daughter, his wife, his mother, and his grandma. I can tell you about a wife that became homeless after she came home one day to find her husband hanging dead in her bathroom. I can tell you about a man that became homeless after his family was killed in a house fire after he left for work one day. I can tell you about another man that gave up on life, living under a bridge, after his wife and daughter were run over by a drunk driver. I can show you numerous veterans that are homeless, without legs, and living under a bridge who fought for our nation. I can show you numerous people that struggle with mental illness, whom family and friends wanted nothing to do with after they were released from the mental institution and had nowhere to go but under a bridge somewhere. I can show you numerous teenagers who were released from the foster care system at the age of eighteen with nowhere to go. I can show you numerous senior citizens that are homeless, without social security, without medicare and without a place to go but in the woods or under a bridge.
The next time you see a homeless person, don't be so quick to judge. You have not walked in their shoes and you probably don't know their story.
Jim Turner - Chaplain STORM
I want to ask a question. What have we been created for? Many would say to praise and worship. That would be right, but I want to take the word "worship" and go a little deeper. Worship is not only by mouth, but it is with our life.
How do we show worship through our life? That is by doing His will on the earth. To do HIs will we have to know His will and to know HIs will is through His Word (2 Timothy 2:15). Jesus told us to pray for the Heavenly Father's will to be done (Matthew 6:10).
The Heavenly Father has created us to reflect His glory in the earth by doing His will (Isaiah 43:7). My prayer for you is that the Heavenly Father shows you His will for your life and that you do HIs will through your life!
Rob Dothard – Lord’s Gym Chaplain Dalton & York Streets
Jesus calls us to become His disciples. A disciple is a student or learner...and a disciplined one at that. A disciple has a teacher...and for the Christian the teacher is Jesus.
In a very real sense becoming a Christian (a follower of Christ) is joining a very special school. This present world is the classroom. Class is in session 24/7. You could call this school...the school of discipleship. We are being educated and trained and prepared for something very special. We are being made ready to rule and reign with Christ in the age to come.
Everyday there are learning opportunities. There are assignments and directives and challenges that build character and renew our minds. Our Teacher is intimately involved in each of His students’ lives. He conducts group sessions as well as independent assignments based on where we are at. This Teacher is the Teacher of teachers. He is a coach and a guidance counselor.
But as in any school, lack of attention can be a problem. Students may daydream, ignore their studies, be slothful, goof off or skip class. They may even drop out.
In the school of Christ...if class is everywhere and all the time...how does one skip class?...by simply not paying attention to the Teacher.
I know...so often I have not been a good student. But the revelation, the realization...that in the school of Christ that class is everywhere, all the time...has brought alive in me a new desire to pay close attention to the Teacher. This class is an adventure and I don't want to miss any assignments, quizzes or challenges.
Brothers and sisters...class is in session...are you paying attention?
Bob Clarke - Director of Ministry Operations