GODSPIRATION

 

Godspiration is an arts outreach organization dedicated to bringing high quality and culturally diverse performances, workkshops, and prodjects to schools, seniors, communities, and special needs populations throughout Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia. GODSPIRATION Ministry - We believe that we are each called to respond to God's love by serving God's people.

 

April is National Sarcoidosis Month

 

You might ask what or who is sarcoidosis and how do you pronounce it?

For the record, sarcoidosis is pronounced SAR-COY-DOE-SIS. Many people have this disease and some of the names might surprise you.

Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that can and does affect almost any organ in the human body. This means hearts, lungs, eyes, etc. Because of this situation, most patients have a compromised immune system, meaning they are more susceptible to other illnesses. Sarcoidosis can affect anyone, but in the United States it is more prone to show up in people ages 20 to 40 years old. The disease also seems to be more prevalent in people of African American or European heritage, especially those of Scandinavian heritage. It also seems to be more prevalent in women than men. But it is important to share that the disease is often misdiagnosed for years.

 

I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis in 2002. As soon as the doctor showed me my x-ray, I knew something was wrong. I never heard of sarcoidosis before that day and the name of the disease alone made me uneasy.  Satcoidosis is not a cancer. It is not contagious, and your friends and family will not catch it from you. Although it can occur in families, there is no evidence that sarcoidosis is passed from parents to children.

Sarcoidosis is currently thought to be associated with an abnormal immune response. It is not known whether the trigger that initiates the immune disturbance is a foreign substance, chemical, drug, virus, or some other substance. No one can predict how sarcoidosis will progress in an individual patient. The patient's symptoms, race, and the doctor's findings can give some clues. For example, a sudden onset of general symptoms such as weight loss of feeling poorly are usually taken to mean that the course of sarcoidosis will be relatively short and mild. Dyspnea and possibly skin sarcoidosis often indicate that the sarcoidosis will be more chronic and severe. White patients are more likely to develop the milder form of the disease. Black people tend to develop the more chronic and severe form.

The Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research (FSR) is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving care for sarcoidosis patients and to finding a cure for this disease. Since 2000, FSR has worked to position sarcoidosis as a growing problem on the U.S. health care agenda, fund research and establish itself as the authoritative resource for patients, health professionals and the public.

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                7 Last Words of Jesus

What Were the Seven Final Phrases of Jesus on the Cross and What Did They Mean?

Jesus Christ made seven final statements during his last hours on the cross. These phrases are held dear by followers of Christ because they offer a glimpse into the depth of his suffering to accomplish redemption. Recorded in the Gospels between the time of his crucifixion and his death, they reveal his divinity as well as his humanity. As much as possible, given the approximate sequence of events as portrayed in the Gospels, these seven last words of Jesus are presented here in chronological order.

1) Jesus Speaks to the Father

Luke 23:34
Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (NIV)                                                                            

In the midst of his excruciating suffering, the heart of Jesus was focused on others rather than himself. Here we see the nature of his love—unconditional and divine.

2) Jesus Speaks to the Criminal on the Cross

Luke 23:43
"I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (NIV)

One of the criminals who was crucified with Christ, had recognized who Jesus was and expressed faith in him as Savior. Here we see grace poured out through faith, as Jesus assured the dying man of his forgiveness and eternal salvation.

 

3) Jesus Speaks to Mary and John

John 19:26-27
When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." (NIV)

Jesus, looking down from the cross, was still filled with the concerns of a son for the earthly needs of his mother. None of his brothers were there to care for her, so he gave this task to the Apostle John. Here we clearly see Christ's humanity.

4) Jesus Cries Out to the Father

Matthew 27:46 (also Mark 15:34)
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (NKJV)

In the darkest hours of his suffering, Jesus cried out the opening words of Psalm 22. And although much has been suggested regarding the meaning of this phrase, it was quite apparent the agony Christ felt as he expressed separation from God. Here we see the Father turning away from the Son as Jesus bore the full weight of our sin. 

 

5) Jesus is Thirsty

John 19:28
Jesus knew that everything was now finished, and to fulfill the Scriptures he said, "I am thirsty." (NLT)

Jesus refused the initial drink of vinegar, gall and myrrh (Matthew 27:34 and Mark 15:23) offered to alleviate his suffering. But here, several hours later, we see Jesus fulfilling the messianic prophecy found in Psalm 69:21.

6) It is Finished

John 19:30
... he said, "It is finished!" (NLT)

Jesus knew he was suffering the crucifixion for a purpose. Earlier he had said in John 10:18 of his life, "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." (NIV) These three words were packed with meaning, for what was finished here was not only Christ's earthly life, not only his suffering and dying, not only the payment for sin and the redemption of the world—but the very reason and purpose he came to earth was finished. His final act of obedience was complete. The Scriptures had been fulfilled.

7) Jesus' Last Words

Luke 23:46
Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. (NIV)

Here Jesus closes with the words of Psalm 31:5, speaking to the Father. We see his complete trust in the Father. Jesus entered death in the same way he lived each day of his life, offering up his life as the perfect sacrifice and placing himself in God's hands.

 

 

 

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                        Tragedy in the Church

Do you know why churches are dying?  Evangelism is dying in many churches today.

No, that’s not an overstatement. I am not speaking hyperbolically. Evangelism is dying!

Look at the data. Measure almost any group of churches today versus 30 years ago. You’ll likely find only one person is being reached with the Gospel for every 40 to 60 church members. You will find that conversions have declined precipitously. And where you find numerical growth, you are more likely to find the growth is transfer of Christians from one church to another.

That’s not evangelism. That’s sheep shuffling!

 

Pastors and other leaders must fall on their faces before God and ask Him to reignite their congregations with an evangelistic passion. When evangelism dies as a priority in the church, the church has already begun to die.

 

So why should evangelism be one of the highest priorities in your church?

Though the reasons are many, allow me to share seven of them.

 

1. Because Christ commanded it.

We typically refer to the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 as our evangelistic and disciple-making command. But there are many other places in the New Testament where the priority of evangelism is clearly evident. Christ commanded it. We must do it.

 

2. Because Christ is the only way of salvation.

There is no way around it. Salvation is exclusive. There is only one way. Jesus could not have made it clearer in John 14:6: “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” Jesus had an urgent message. He had an exclusive message. We must be conveyors of that narrowly defined hope.

 

3. Because Christ died for the world.

There is a reason John 3:16 is the most familiar and most quoted verse in the history of humanity. Jesus died for the world. He is the only way, but He has provided a way for everyone. That is a message that is urgent and worth telling. Indeed it’s the greatest message ever.

 

4. Because churches that are not intentional about evangelism typically are weak in evangelism.

Many pastors and church leaders will affirm this article. They will give mental assent to the priority of evangelism. But they do not practice the priority of evangelism in their churches. What are you doing today to make certain evangelism is a priority in your church?

 

5. Because churches tend to obsess inwardly when they fail to move outwardly.

Where has a lot of your church’s energy been expended lately? Rancorous business meetings? Expressions of petty church preferences? Worship wars? Power struggles? Those are inward obsessions. Lead your church to an evangelistic priority and watch the focus shift for the better.

 

6. Because churches become content and complacent with transfer growth.

Some churches are growing. Others are adding members without significant numerical growth. But many in both categories are growing at the expense of other churches. Some may be reaching un-churched Christians. That’s good, but that’s not evangelism. We can fool ourselves into thinking we are evangelistic when we are simply recirculating the saints.

 

7. Because evangelistic Christians actually grow stronger as better disciple Christians.

Those who are evangelistic are obedient to Christ. Being obedient to Christ means we are following His teachings and becoming a better fruit-bearing disciple.

 

Most churches are busy with activities, programs and ministries. Few churches are truly sending out their members to evangelize those in their communities. The Great Commission has fast become the Great Omission.

 

Evangelism is dying.

 

What are you doing to lead your church to become more evangelistic?

 

 

 

           

Strong Leaders Are Broken Leaders          by Frank Damazio 

“Transparency, an authentic openness to others about one’s feelings, beliefs, and actions, allows integrity, or the sense that a leader can be trusted.” –Daniel Goleman

We all desire to be leaders of strong churches that will impact culture, change atmosphere in the city, transform lives and win the lost. This is a heavenly calling and it is the right pursuit. The strong leader raises the passion level among the church and leadership team for building a world-impacting church.

Strength in ministry is not optional. Ministry today is a complex and difficult profession and it is always changing. It demands a continual pouring out of virtue, and herein is the difference between being a pastor and a professional. Spiritual leadership must have a spiritual flow, a virtue that is ever-present.

That virtue flows from a relationship with Jesus and the empowering energy of the Holy Spirit to lead with the all-important and necessary quality called brokenness. Looking through the lives of the leaders that God has highly honored and blessed beyond anything they could have achieved on their own, we can see that their secret to success and their leadership strength is brokenness.

Brokenness can be defined as the right response to God when life’s mysteries and unfair circumstances arise, destroying those things in us that hinder the working of God’s will and purpose. Brokenness in the life of leaders is desired by God. Leaders of influence and leaders of the future are those who are broken.

Here are some signs of a broken leader.

Broken leaders know that they must decrease and God must increase.
Like John the Baptist, they choose not to exploit people for their own goals, they are not competitive and driven by comparisons and they do not treat people according to how society ranks them.

Broken leaders do not take themselves too seriously.
They live a life of wonder that God is using them at all. They have a sense of humor and can laugh at themselves. Because they don’t take themselves too seriously, they can handle criticism instead of blame-shifting and they don’t try to “outsmart” others by taking shortcuts.

Broken leaders have the reputation of approachability.
They are easy to talk to and they listen and care deeply. They serve without a motive of moving up and moving on, not serving themselves and their own interests but rather serving the interests of others.
Broken leaders are leaders of strength! Let us be such leaders.