TO KNOW CHRIST AND TO MAKE HIM KNOWN

TO KNOW CHRIST AND TO MAKE HIM KNOWN

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Doing Right Wrong?

He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, "Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings." And he offered the burnt offering.
1 Samuel 13:8-9 (ESV)
 
Doing right, wrong is never right. It was right to offer a sacrifice. It was not right that Saul offered the sacrifice. It was a good idea that Saul wanted to do right. It was a bad idea that Saul did right the wrong way. Wanting to please God is a good thing. Wanting to please God, yet disobeying Him, is a foolish thing.
 
God cannot be impressed, so if we are trying to impress Him, we are trying to do something that cannot be done. God would honor those who obey Him, but He is not going to be impressed by those who obey Him. He is pleased with those who have faith, but not amazed by those who have faith.
 
When you know God, you have faith.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What Actually Matters?

My first response to Spike Lee declaring he won’t use Chrisette Michele’s music in his Netflix series was like the response I usually feel when someone in a prison declares a hunger strike. For some reason, I cannot see how it matters to anybody.

I do not know any of Chrisette Michele’s music and I could not name one thing that Spike Lee is involved in (Except for Netflix, I guess…) but I cannot help but wonder how this is different than someone who owns a bakery not selling a cake to a homosexual couple.

Spike Lee is refusing to use Chrisette’s music because she has chosen to somehow, loosely at best, associate herself with President Trump. The bakery owners were refusing to serve a homosexual couple because of how they associate themselves. Why is the media ignoring this “hate” talk by Spike Lee or is does hate talk only take place when conservatives challenge liberal lifestyles?

On the day of the inauguration I saw the windows of a Starbucks and a bank get smashed buy a crowd that was protesting Donald Trump. The breaking of the windows of local businesses accomplished nothing and would be considered hate crimes if a conservative crowd was involved but because it supported the liberal’s ideology it was a protest that got out of control. (When I looked at the television pictures of the crowd I saw more reporters with their cameras in the police line’s face than protesters.)

The day after the inauguration there was a women’s march in Washington and various cities around the world. I watched and listened so I could try and figure out what it was these ladies were trying to accomplish. I heard much hate speech and eventually  figured out that they must just need a channel to demonstrate their hatred. So, they did.

I do not think we as a nation are better off now that many ladies cursed, lied and marched and I think most of us who watched the demonstration have no idea what they wanted. It reminded me of the time a reporter interviewed a child that skipped school to protest the “evils” of Governor Walker, of Wisconsin. When he was asked what he was protesting he had to look at someone for the answer and eventually said something to the order of “he is a bad person,” not even knowing who “he” was.

These protests brought me the same feeling I get when I watch an advertisement on television and have no clue as to what they were advertising.

Sometimes people begin to forsake the very attributes that make them human and act more like a herd than a human.

This is the United States of America and children have the right to protest people they do not know for reasons they do not understand. Spike Lee has the freedom to use or not use someone’s music for whatever reason he chooses. Chrisette can choose to sing or not sing at anybody’s inauguration and bakery owners can serve or not serve people based on personal convictions.

Those who damage other people’s property should be held accountable to the damages and both sides should condemn such actions and reporters who are fueling the fires of dissent rather than just reporting should be disregarded.

Today, it seems like the latest “silent” movement in our nation is to bypass the media. If I am typical of the “silent majority” in this nation, then they do not believe anything the media reports. We need not get into a “Twitter” debate but we should look at why President Trump and millions of people find it fascinating and necessary.

Direct access to the news and news makers is more important than listening to the news. The media has lost its power and influence over the educated masses and now can only control those who live in their pretend world and there are less and less people who want to drink their Kool-Aid.

A Godless nation struggles to create “truth” and struggles with personal identity when someone disagrees with their “truth.” Truth is not dependent upon the masses acceptance of it to be truth. Truth is not dependent upon eloquence, feelings or the timing of the message. Truth is not available exclusively to specific genders, political parties, churches, races, or geographical areas.

Having someone agree with you or convincing that the masses are “right,” does not mean you or they are “right.”

We cannot make up truth we need to discover it and the only place to find it is God.

The problem in a Godless nation is that it is Godless and therefore they cannot live in the truth. If we, as a nation, cannot correct that, then we will live in confusion as each man/woman does what is right in their own eyes. When one does what is right in their own eyes, they, in essence, become a “god.” When there are many “gods” demanding that all things revolve around them we have mass confusion.

A nation that lives in confusion acts like they are confused and confused people make very little “sense.”

We are not a divided nation because of political ideology but because we have no basis for truth. The solution is not more debate, committee meetings or future elections. The solution is for our nation to recognize its sin, repent and come back to God.

There will be those who disagree with me and they are welcomed to do so in any respectful manner they choose. There are those who would disagree with God and, again, they, for now, are free to do so. However, they will one day wish they had humbled themselves before Him rather than challenge Him.  For now, the choice is ours.















Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sleight of Words

Ideas have consequences that affects what we consider normal today while framing tomorrow. For the past several years we have lost confidence in those holding political office to the point where those who lie, misrepresent the truth, scheme and connive are normative instead of the exception. Definitions have changed, opinions are more important or at least equivalent to truth and feelings more powerful than facts.

Those in the media love pointing the finger at figures like Donald Trump when he is just exploiting the system the media has created. Mr. Trump’s “tweets” are cleverly crafted to control the conversation and seems to have the media off balance and out of sorts.

Those in the media seem to be upset because Mr. Trump is controlling the conversation when, for years, they have had the freedom to control the conversation. Mr. Trump seem genius as a verbal “sleight of hand” artist or, if you will, “sleight of words” artist.

What is happening here is that the Godless are attempting to be in “control” for it is a characteristic of God that they are attempting to take for themselves. They may use money, authority or words to manipulate those around them and control the dialogue to create their own “truth.”

These attempts at the recreation of truth are at the core evil and depend upon rhetoric, belief systems and manipulation, Satan’s most effective tools of destruction.

If we want to successfully navigate in this environment we must recognize that nothing is true because somebody believes it’s true or because someone can eloquently defend their premise or because someone with power and authority says it’s true.

Regardless of the framing, sin is sin. Homosexuality is wrong. Gay marriage is unacceptable. Gender is determined by God at birth. Greed is not acceptable as the engine for economic growth. Divorce is wrong. Etc., etc., etc.

Rhetoric and belief are based on human wisdom and understanding. Truth is based on divine revelation and always trumps belief systems, rhetoric and human authority.

Those who know and love the truth do not try to manipulate it, they embrace it. Their words are not something they craft to cover truth but to discover truth.

The long-term result arising from those who have been fed many streams of distortion is confusion and those who are confused begin to ignore words and live life as they desire, as it is right in their own eyes.

There are not many Gods, there is only one and since there is only one God there is only one authority in all matters of absolute truth. Without Him, we have no capacity for truth, we only have capacity for manipulation.

The answer to a confused people is not more news or having more people believe as we do but to cut through the confusion by knowing God and giving Him His rightful place as Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of all life.

We must stop being a people that is influenced more by then news cycle than Scriptures.

Those who possess true power do not attempt to keep it or control the masses to protect it. In fact, they give it away and use their power and authority for the good of those they have power and authority over. The only legitimate use of power and authority is for the good of the people, not the good of the one in authority.

God, the ultimate authority, used his power and authority to ensure man an opportunity to be reconciled with Himself even though He did and does not need to do so to be God.

If we do not want to live confused lives, we need to know and submit to God. Without doing so, we will never get out of the constant fog of confusion that seems ever prevalent. For now, the choice is ours.


Friday, December 23, 2016

Moments added to Moments...


So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded her.  And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down.
Ruth 3:6-7 (ESV) 

It was dark, her presence was unexpected, and her actions were demonstrating a vulnerability that few would like to admit, much less demonstrate.

Boaz could have called her out on such an action, could have abused her throughout the night, or could have made an example of her. But he did not.

Life is made up of a series of moments that have built upon each other, just as a mason lays one brick upon another until the walls are completed. Each brick is dependent upon the previous brick, and when all are laid correctly, the wall stands firm throughout the ages.

Ruth had been living the moments of life in a way that each moment was laid correctly in anticipation of one day finishing the walls of her life, and then enjoying the strength and stability that comes from such diligence. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Stuff

Then she said, "I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants."
Ruth 2:13 (ESV)

Those who enjoy much do not have much so they can be self-indulgent. All good things come from God, and we receive them in order to use them, not in order to love them.

Many times we get things reversed, and we love what we should be using, and use what we should be loving. It is a terrible, terrible thing when that happens.

We have our interiors wired to love, and we can be most genuine or most perverted in that area. When anyone loves things that cannot love them back, they have opened the door to all kinds of troubles.

Jesus made it very clear in the Scriptures that no one can have two masters. In fact, you will love only one and actually hate the other. If we love "stuff," then those we love become a burden or bother to us, for they are keeping us from our "stuff."

Boaz had stuff, but loved people, and because of that all will turn out quite well

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste.

This could be true, the amount could be exaggerated or it could be an outright lie. The general public does not have a clue as to what is actually happening.

Yet, this is our government. These are our dollars. Who has been in charge?

When you rule from the bottom up you usually lose accountability. When you rule from the top down you usually get tyranny.

What is the answer?

First and foremost we need to address the idea of there being a right and wrong for without such terminology we have no way to correctly evaluate any information. If we are guided by our feelings, or what would benefit us or whether or not we would get “caught” then we have no way to evaluate whether or not something is right or wrong.

For those who are looking out for themselves, waste is acceptable when spent on themselves or spent to enhance relationships that will later be beneficial to self.

Leadership is only valid if the leader uses his/her power, influence, position, etc. for the good of the people. In fact, good leaders are givers not takers. Good leaders understand that they have been given a ‘trust’ and not a mandate.

As God’s Word so clearly states. We were made to love God and love each other. What this means is that we were made to obey God and to make each other successful.

What can we expect from a culture that ignores God and uses each other? Perhaps we are fortunate to have gotten this far.

If we continue to choose to ignore God we will have no basis for right and wrong and must live in a world dictated by “good” and “bad” which are words that are relative at best. We will then be at the mercy of the rich and powerful and be able to be persuaded by the eloquent even though being rich, powerful and eloquent are not the basis for truth.

We need to come back to God. 


2 Chronicles 7:14-15 (ESV ) if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.


(Title taken from an article written by:Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward for The Washing Post.)

Saturday, November 26, 2016

We will see what God will do....

Throughout the years God has demonstrated His faithfulness in many ways. One of the ways is through the ministry of Silver Birch Ranch.  Silver Birch Ranch started as dream and a borrowed down payment in November of 1967. We then offered our first summer camp in 1968 and now host multiple ministries geared towards helping the local church know Christ and make Him known. 

It has been, and remains, truly amazing to see how God has supplied the necessary resources throughout the years. The staff at Silver Birch Ranch has been able focus on their mission, “To Know Christ And To Make Him Known,” rather than focusing on raising the resources for the mission. For fifty years, God has made known the needs of this place and His people have risen to the challenge of using their resources to Honor our King and serve His people in the majestic north woods of Wisconsin. (silverbirchranch.org

We know that God does incredible things. With all the uncertainty in the world the things that are certain are getting noticed. In the last year, Silver Birch Ranch has experienced the tragedy of losing our maintenance building as well as the joy of seeing God provide for our every need. We, like other businesses and ministries are dealing with the escalating health care costs, the uncertainty of new wage laws and ever increasing prices of doing business. 

In the midst of all that is happening….the cleaning up, restoration and infrastructure strengthening….we remain focused and energized and are expanding. 

This summer we will celebrate our 50th year. It brings tears to my eyes even thinking about it. God has been and is faithful and our mission remains steadfast…to know Christ and to make Him known. 

One of our goals, with the years God will yet grant us, is to give away our experiences and to prepare the next generation to hold tightly to the things that will not change while challenging the things that must.

The infrastructure is almost complete. This past summer, God seemed to orchestrate the installation of a fiber internet connection. We are currently attempting to get our utility providers attention in order to begin the process of getting natural gas to our facility. 

In the last few years God has given us the resources and personnel to build a new gym, chapel, and storage facility. We should be finishing our new maintenance building before the end of his year as well as a new recording studio. 

The recording studio was gift and we are beginning to see how God will use this, now and in the future, as a tool to reach our nation. 

We are now looking to see how God will provide for the equipping of His work. Here are some of the challenges we face.

We will be ordering the equipment we need to equip the new studio as well as bring some of our staff up to speed in their tech needs. The cost will be approximately $30,000.00.

We have asked Dan to replace our dump truck and at least one van. (Our dump truck is beyond repair and our vans are our “work horses” and are well maintained but older and have up to 300K on them.) We would like to buy new but realize that it may not be feasible. We have asked Dan to find the two vehicles we should replace and  have asked him not to exceed $50,000.00. (This would mean that we keep using 4 older vans.)


During December we will be needing to replace our phone system. Our system is old and there is no support for it any longer. This is a $12.000.00 project that needs to be done, so we will march forward and trust God to supply our needs. 

During December we also need to replace our servers. I am told that our servers are too old to service and the programs they are running are out of date. If our current servers go down we will lose much. We have hired a company that will do what is necessary to fix, repair and bring us into the future at a cost of $13,893.00. We also are looking to replace several of our staff’s computers at a cost of around $10,000.00.

Our housing and other buildings have been constantly upgraded. The next cabins to be replaced will be our tent cabins. We will be building some multipurpose housing that can be used as dorms for NBI during the year and family camp/youth camp housing in the summer. We hope to break ground on the first building in August of 2017 and are thinking that each building will cost approximately $185,000.00. 

After that we will address the entrance of camp. (The Lodge, Guest House, Texan and Maverick all need replacing.) The plan will be to raze these structures and put a new meeting room, the size of the Lodge, with cabins attached to them at the ridge of the hill overlooking Sawyer Lake by the current Lodge parking lot. Then we can rework the camp entrance and make things a bit more secure.

We also need to raze and rebuild a new lodge at our Wolf River Refuge property. We need the resources to begin the planing stages for this project. (We should raze part of the old lodge as soon as funds are available.)

These plans sound and are ambitious. Silver Birch Ranch is entering its 50th year and we have seen thousands of young people come to Christ on these grounds. It is obvious that we are here and able to minister because of God’s faithfulness and we continue to be in a great position to show the world who God is and how He works and look forward to seeing how He supplies for the next steps and who it is He includes in the solution. 

There are some Scripture passages that we are looking to for guidance throughout the next few years. They are:

Exodus 33:13-15 (ESV)  Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.”  And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”  And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.

1 Samuel 17:46-47 (ESV)  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israeland that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand.”


1 Kings 18:37 (ESV)  Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.

2 Kings 19:19 (ESV) So now, O Lord our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.”



Acts 20:24 (ESV)
24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV)
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Philippians 3:8-11 (ESV)  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.


We remain thankful beyond words that God has granted us the privilege of serving His church here at Silver Birch Ranch for the past fifty years. We have seen some very tough times and some very fun times and we are certain there are both in our future. 

We would ask that you pray for us. Please pray that we would be faithful in these tough times and that we would take advantage of every platform God gives us to speak and act boldly on His behalf. Pray that it is obvious to all who examine how things work here at Silver Birch Ranch that God is God and that we are just His servants. 

Along with praying I ask you to help us identify those who would travel with us, those who God has chosen to use to meet the many financial challenges we face. It is our great desire that we would be able to continue to spend our time working the mission and not working for the resources that provide for the mission.  

We are about knowing Christ and making Him known and are excited to set the stage for this to happen on these grounds for decades to come. Thanks for praying and helping.