The Ambassadors

by Eric Rank

The Bible reminds us that we need not fear what others think about us. We have only God to fear. Yet, the Bible also instructs us against becoming stumbling blocks to others by our behavior.

When we tell others that we are Christians, how do they respond? Do they nod as if to finally understand the things we do? Or do they become confused because our behavior doesn’t match the true virtues of Christianity? As Christians, we are called to hold ourselves to a higher standard — God’s standard of life. Certainly, some people we come in contact with fall short of understanding the full richness of this way of life, but they probably have the ability to discern some aspects of Christian virtue. The virtues of love and kindness towards others might be the most dominant and pervasive of those known to most people. Do people we come in contact with see these virtues in us, or are they caused to stumble — perhaps discarding Christianity as a whole because of the hypocrisy they might see?

Even though it is important to remember that other people’s judgment is nothing compared to God’s judgment, we must realize that we are here in this life, answering God’s call, as ambassadors of God. The most difficult part about being a Christian is making our actions match our beliefs. We are setting an example to the world around us of God’s way of life. If people see contradictions between what we do and what we believe, it not only reflects poorly upon our character, but more importantly, we let down God. Since we sit as lamps on a lamp-stand to the world around us, the gaps between belief and action are much more visible.

The most difficult thing I have done, and will ever do, is to continuously commit my life to God. By answering this calling, not only do I have a new standard to live up to, but I have a job to do in representing God’s way of life. Certainly, this is a challenge, but the God promises that the reward is great.

Pass the Test!

by Michael Link (26)

For the past several months, I’ve been in
more and more situations where I had to make the right decision. I can
certainly say that I have had my fair share of trials–some that I
could overcome easier, as well as those that were a bit tougher.

have been put on the spot several times, especially because of the
recent holidays and my refusal to celebrate them. Even though this
happens every single year, I have to explain to people why I don’t
observe Christmas. Since I’ve had to do this so many times, I know
better and better what I have to say, making the situation easier each
time. Sometimes, when it came to work or friends, I had to make a
decision whether I was going to compromise with the Sabbath, the
celebration of pagan holidays, or eating unclean foods. I can
undoubtedly say that I was being tested.

Just recently I had a
seemingly great job opportunity–one that would require a lot of time
and effort for it to become successful. My immediate response to the
job was required. It had its advantages and disadvantages. At the
beginning, all I could focus on was its advantages. I did not really
consider the negative aspects. There were many things to evaluate, but
the biggest challenge was the Sabbath, since a lot of the business
would be generated on the Sabbath.  Even though I would not work
on the Sabbath, I began to realize that due to the nature of the
business, the Sabbath could still be an issue for me in the future. If
called upon to choose, would I be able to pass the test?  I
counseled and prayed about the whole job situation. God knew that the
answer would be “no” for the time being.  For now, this job
opportunity is on hold, and I have God to thank since He knows best. As
long as I remain faithful and obedient on any challenge that is thrown
at me, I know that something even better will be the result.

American Idle

by Laura Harris

According to a recent report published by
Nielsen Media Research, the average American home has more television
sets than people.  Furthermore, the average person watches 4
hours, 35 minutes of television per day.  So what are people
watching?  Several of the top rated television shows for the past
month include:

— Grey’s Anatomy

— Desperate Housewives

— CSI (Crime Scene Investigation)

— Criminal Minds

many television shows, these programs glamorize murder, adultery,
fornication, greed, lying and deception. I am guilty of eagerly
watching several of these shows (or similar programs) on a regular
basis.  But I’ve recently begun to ask myself: How are these shows
shaping my thoughts? Does God want me to spend my time on an activity
that contradicts the Christian values I’m trying to live by?

husband and I recently got rid of our cable box in anticipation of
changing to a new cable service. Because of our busy schedules, a day
of not calling a new service provider turned into a week, and a week
turned into a month. We have been without cable service for more than
two months, which has significantly decreased our television intake.
Although unintentional, this newfound freedom has allowed me time for
more productive and rewarding activities such as spending more time
with family, reading and studying. It has made me realize how much of
my valuable time has been wasted on TV

activities, including TV watching, are fine in moderation; however, we
should choose activities that will enhance our overall life. As
ambassadors for Christ, our actions should reflect our beliefs–not
embrace or condone sinful behavior. As they say on “Who Wants to be a
Millionaire?”: “And that’s my final answer!”

The Silver Lining

by Cali Harris

We’re probably all familiar with the saying,
“Every cloud has a silver lining,” meaning that every gloomy or
unpleasant situation has a positive side to it.  Recently someone
mentioned this phrase in conversation, and I couldn’t help but think of
it in the context of my life as a Christian.  Certainly, I
thought, every “cloud”–a test or trial–has the “silver lining” of
growing our love and building our character as true Christians.

past August, I was faced with the dismal prospect that I would have to
postpone my graduation from college because I was financially unable to
enroll into my final year of school.  The amount I needed was a
seemingly impossible amount–the dark cloud in my sky.

I was on
campus two days before classes began, talking to various administrators
in hopes of getting enrolled, with no luck.  Driving home, I
decided to go to my bank on the unlikely chance they would give me a
loan.  So I said a prayer, walked into my bank, sat down with a
loan officer, and told him my situation.  Within a few minutes of
getting my information, he said that he could consolidate my bank
account and credit cards and give me a new credit card with a more
affordable interest rate–something I didn’t even ask for, but was a
blessing nonetheless.  Then, astonishingly, he told me that I was
also eligible for a loan–one that would cover the cost of tuition, and
even my textbooks!

In this test, God blessed me
tremendously.  The “silver lining” of this dark cloud was not only
getting into school, but also building patience and humility–as well
as a deeper faith.  Now, I attempt to find the positive side of
every seemingly sad or disheartening situation. 

As God’s
people, we are facing tests, trials, and sufferings more than
ever.  We must strive to be positive and see the silver lining in
our lives, knowing that in our ultimate future, there will be no dark

Each Day!

by Aaron Hooper (21)

Sometimes I stop and think: “Wow. I’m
actually alive. I… exist.” Pretty powerful when I think about it. All
the people that have come before us did what they did, died, and their
chance in this life is over. But I still have my chance.

A chance
to do what? To “make my mark on the world?” To be someone noteworthy?
Or an entertainer or writer worth recording? To live, reproduce, and
nothing more?


Other times I think: “Wow. Right
now, where I am, the opportunities that I have… I only get today
once.” Truly I have to imagine that 40 years from now I would give
anything to have it all over again.


So what am I trying to offer? I have no new philosophies. I have no special formulas on how to get the most from each day.

it has recently occurred to me that each day is a precious thing. And
each day we can choose what we do. Do we serve ourselves and our own
selfish desires, or do we serve and honor our Creator God? Do we live
for our own glory, or do we put God and others before ourselves?

These are questions that we cannot afford to stop asking.

when it’s all said and done, I think we’d all rather be someone worth
recording. But not in books or on CDs, but in God’s Book of Life.

Military Service

by Simon Akl (17)

This past summer there have been, and still
are, on-going conflicts in the Middle East and other parts of the
world. Being at an age where I might soon have to be confronted with
the pressure of serving in the military, should there be a mandatory
draft, I have been thinking a lot about war and if God’s people should
be fighting and participating willingly or unwillingly in it.

we look at and analyze the many existing conflicts, we see that they
always lead to more division, destruction and even death. Most wars are
only fought because of political interests and benefits, and as a
result, many innocent lives are being wasted purposelessly on both
sides. God’s people have been commanded not to kill other human beings.
We have also been admonished, however unpopular and rejected by humans
in general, to love, respect, and pray for our enemies. God has
equipped our hearts, minds, and souls with a creativity and imagination
to communicate, negotiate and resolve issues diplomatically and in a
Godly manner, based on love, respect and charity. 

In this
world, people rush to war first before even resorting to any sincere
peaceful dialogue to resolve their interests in a respectful way.
Hence, we can see that God’s way of life is not being implemented and
followed, but it is neglected and rejected by the rulers of this age.
God’s people know that their citizenship is in heaven and that God’s
Kingdom is not of this world. Therefore, we must not give in to what
this world is erroneously asking or commanding us to do, whatever the
consequences are or might be. We are not to take part in these
corrupted wars which are being fought and should refrain from any
participation in them–while looking forward to such time when Jesus
Christ returns to this earth to bring peace and restore all things,
according to the decree of the Father since the beginning of this world.


by Manuela Link

There have been many times while growing up
when I have competed for a specific place in the hierarchical ladder of
success. As a physically active person, I competed in races for my
school. Always winning, I didn’t know what it would be like to lose,
until I did. I didn’t like that feeling, so I made it a goal that I
would continue to work my hardest each time I trained for running. I
much preferred the finish line behind me rather than just in front, so
I broke my track record every year.

In high school, grades were
my greatest concern. I didn’t want to be close to passing, I wanted my
4.0 grade point average (GPA) to remain with me, so I worked hard at
maintaining that by doing my assignments and studying. I may have been
close to being good, but I always sought improvement and better
achievement. Now I’m close to being finished with my formal education,
but I won’t feel like I have completely succeeded until it’s over.

close to something means that a person has to relate to what it is they
are trying to improve. Without daily contact or interaction, the talent
or education, or even the bond with a friend will start to fade and
eventually disappear. It takes a lot of effort to become close to
something or someone. God is never distant and I know that with
practice and boldness I will become closer to Him, and one day, be
right there. Giving up can never be an option, but staying the course
and keeping the faith will take me to where I want to go–closer than
ever before.

Grow in Responsibility

by Shana Rank

I wasn’t always as responsible as I am today.
Responsibility grows as I grow. When I was very young I was taught to
straighten my toys and make my bed. As I got a little older–emptying
the dishwasher, doing homework and taking care of myself were among
some of the added duties–none of which were very difficult in the
grand scheme of things.

Now as an adult I juggle many
responsibilities, one being my 3 month old son. I try my best to meet
all of his needs and wants because he cannot take care of himself. It
is a joy and pleasure to watch him grow.

As a Christian, it is my
responsibility to grow and challenge myself in all aspects of daily
life. It is also my responsibility to nurture and care for the Spirit
God has granted me. I often contemplate the hurdles I’ve encountered as
a youngster until now—serving as a measure of steady progress. With
God’s help I can learn more about His master plan and how I will
someday fit into it; but I must be the one to move forward, and
especially to grow.

The Plan

by Shelly Bruno

When I was in college I formulated ideas about
what I wanted to do with my life after graduation. It wasn’t too
detailed—just a basic timeframe for what I wanted and when I wanted to
achieve it. It goes something like this:

Graduate, focus on career
Marry at 28
Have kids around 30
Raise kids
Resume work when kids are in school
Focus on artistic career for retirement

So far my timing hasn’t really worked out—things didn’t happen when I
planned. The older I get the more I realize that my timing isn’t as
important to God as it is to me. He hears my requests, but He grants
them according to His plan for me. That was the case with having kids.
I had almost given up on the idea of having children even though I
continued to ask. And when I was starting to think the answer was no—it
turned out to be a surprising yes! This happened later in my life than
I imagined. And I have to wonder what crossed Sarah’s mind when she was
expecting a child much later than she had thought. God had a definite
plan for her life, and I take comfort in the fact that He has a plan
for mine.

So as I continue looking ahead to the rest of my
list, I’m going to focus more on God’s plan and timing for my life. He
knows far better than I do what is best for me and when the time is
right. I can be sure that with God in charge of the plan, everything
will work out.

Moving Isn't Easy!

by Eric Rank

As I write this, I’m in the midst of moving my family 1000 miles away from the place we call home. The other night I lay awake, quite overwhelmed, reflecting on the impact of this decision to move. All I could think about were the things we’re leaving behind. We’re leaving my loving parents and family; I’m leaving a good job; we’re moving away from a comfortable house in a neighborhood we enjoy; and we’re leaving some very dear friends. With all this in mind, I summed up my feelings with a single, emotionally charged, frightened, anxious and melancholy sentence. I said out loud to my wife and companion in this adventure, “I’m really happy here.”

At this last minute I realized that I’m giving up a life that I truly enjoy to move to a place where just about everything will be different and few things certain. It’s very scary.

It reminds me of the story of Abram, when God tells him to leave his home to a land to be shown to him by God. When this happened he was 75 years old, and well-established in his life. Yet, because God made a promise to him, he faithfully packed up his household and moved, knowing only that it was commanded by God and that he would be blessed for his obedience.

In my family’s move, the one thing that I am certain of is that we’ll be blessed with the opportunity to grow spiritually. We are moving to an area where we will be building relationships with other brethren, challenging ourselves to grow spiritually in ways that we cannot in the place we’re moving away from.

When I become overwhelmed by the immense changes right now, I find comfort knowing that moving 1000 miles away from here is the best spiritual move that we could possibly make. But that still doesn’t make it easy.

What does make it easier is remembering that Christ told us not to love this life to the death. I have to apply this by always attempting to put spiritual benefits above physical comfort. As God promised Abram, He promises us, that if we succeed in obeying His commandment to live according to the way of His Holy Spirit, we too will be blessed.

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