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565 E William & Mary Dr. (765) 327-7157
Centerton, IN 46151 info@rest-ministries.org

002You probably won’t find a Hallmark card to celebrate today, but I’m certain the Throne Room is a busy place today with the prayers of the saints being lifted up on this National Day of Prayer here in America.

Many prayer events are being held across the country, but REST Ministries was invited to create a prayer station as a part of an interactive prayer walk being held at Chapel Rock Christian Church in Indianapolis.

Our prayer station, pictured in the photo, invites people into God’s presence and participants are given the following devotional thoughts to help them focus on the Lord:

When I was a young boy I loved to play outside on hot
summer days. One of the things I enjoyed doing was to
take a magnifying glass and hold it in the sun, focusing the rays of the sun into a powerful concentrated tiny dot of light. With this tiny dot of light I would melt things, burn my name into pieces of wood and start small fires! It didn’t take me long to find out that if I didn’t hold the focus of the magnifying glass tight enough or if I kept it moving around too much, I couldn’t harness the power of the sun so it would be strong enough to accomplish anything. The more distractions around me, the more difficult I found it to be still and focus the power of the sun.

Just as in the case of my focusing the magnifying glass to concentrate on “the sun,” in our Christian walk, we must frequently pause to concentrate all of our focus on “The Son.” When we truly keep focused on Jesus, The Son, and our intimate relationship with Him, we will unleash the full power of God in our life! Undoubtedly, the busier we are and the more distractions around us, the more difficult it is to clearly focus on Jesus and soak in His presence.

Spend some time right now to be still and keep your “magnifying glass” tightly focused on God. Spend time focusing on who God is and what He has done in your life; prayerfully thank and praise Him. During this prayer time, don’t allow the things of this world to distract your focus from the one thing that matters… our relationship with God!

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” NIV (Some versions say “stand silent, let go of your concerns, cease striving or quit fighting” in lieu of the words be still.)

We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
(GOD’S WORD TRANSLATION)

Even if you can’t attend a prayer gathering, event, or prayer walk today, take some extra time to “be still” and help to fill the Throne Room with praises to the King of Kings! Also pray for God’s healing touch to blanket our great nation in our marriages / families, our churches and in our government.

“Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in Your presence this day.” I Kings 8:28

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Under the street lightLittle did I know when I asked God what He wanted this letter to say, He would reveal it in such a tangible way on our trip home from Thanksgiving festivities. Then it happened – thump, bang, rattle, whirr. We coasted just off the road, under the only streetlight on the dark country road!

Click here to read “the rest of the story!”

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Pastor, priest, minister…someone to shepherd the flock, but more often than not, their position in the church is viewed as CEO rather than someone caring for the souls of people.

These God ordained leaders of our churches face HUGE challenges and seem to bear a target on their back ready for satan’s attacks.

In his book, “Pastors at Greater Risk” H. B. London shares the following statistics on pastors:

  • 13% have marriages which have fallen apart and ended in divorce
  • 23% have been fired or pressured to resign their ministry position
  • 33% felt burned out within their first five years of ministry
  • 45% have experienced depression or burnout to the degree of needing a leave of absence
  • 56% of pastor’s wives say they have no close friends
  • 80% believe pastoral ministry affects their families negatively
  • 94% feel under pressure to have a perfect family

God’s leaders need some extra love and care which you can provide for them through words of encouragement and prayers lifted up on their behalf. Take it to the next step and ask God specifically how He would have you personally ministry to your pastor.

At Shepherd’s Gate Inn we host a monthly gathering for our local pastors. As they come together for God to feed their souls, we nourish their bodies with a tasty breakfast!

One of the items on today’s menu for the Pastor’s Breakfast was Cherry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake. Here’s the recipe so you can bake it and share it with your pastor over a cup of coffee or tea…and don’t forget to serve up a large portion of encouragement with your words!!!

Cherry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

2 1/4 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. cold butter, cubed
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 c. sour cream
1 t. almond extract

Filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
21 oz. cherry pie filling
1/2 c. slivered or sliced almonds

  1. Combine flour and sugar; cut in butter until crumbly. Set aside 3/4 c. crumb mixture. Add the baking powder, baking soda and salt to the remaining crumb mixture. Stir in the egg, sour cream and almond extract until blended.
  2. Press into bottom and 1 inch up the sides of an ungreased 9 inch springform pan. Place on a baking sheet.
  3. For filling, beat cream cheese and sugar for 1 minute. Add egg; beat just until combined. Spread over crust. Carefully top with pie filling. Sprinkle with almonds and reserved crumb mixture.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until center is set. When cooled, carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen. Remove sides of pan. Store in refrigerator.

Yield: 12 servings

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Shepherd's Gate Inn Gift CertificateTreat your pastor to dinner and 1 night lodging for 2 at Shepherd’s Gate Inn for Clergy Appreciation Month!

To help you, we are offering a a Clergy Appreciation Gift Certificate at a discounted rate of only $100; regularly priced at $140. No where else will you get a better deal for a stay for 2 at a luxury inn PLUS dinner, all for $100!

Call Shepherd’s Gate Inn 765-327-7157 to take advantage of this special offer!

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By Bill Walton

Taking a sabbatical (personal retreat) was not my idea…it was God’s.

When the leaders of my church offered me, their senior minister, a sabbatical, I knew God was calling me to come way with Him. I wanted and needed the time away, but as time for the sabbatical drew near, I was filled with apprehension.

Many great preachers and spiritual leaders give testimony of the energy and vision they receive from God during times of seclusion. My past experiences in sabbatical have not been those I cared to write about or ever repeat for that matter as God brought things like unconfessed sin to the forefront of my attention. Beneficial…yes. Pleasant…NO!!!

jacobwrestlingwiththeangelThis time God was calling me to spend two whole weeks sequestered with Him. What could possibly be so bad in my life that it would take two weeks to straighten out? So I approached my sabbatical feeling like Jacob on the shores of Jabbok, waiting for God to show up and wrestle.

Sure enough, the first two days were spent dealing with some pride issues which had evidenced itself in ways I did not even realize. Somehow, this time the “wrestling match” with God was different. Dealing with my pride in His presence, brought peace to my heart.

One morning I woke out of my sleep, singing the familiar children’s song, “Jesus Loves Me”. As the days of my retreat continued, I came to understand in far greater ways than ever before, Yes, Jesus loves ME! Yes, time alone with Him IS good!

Bill Walton was a recent guest at Shepherd’s Gate Inn and serves as the minister of Walton Christian Church in Walton, Indiana.

 

 

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Relax, refresh and write! Shepherd’s Gate Inn is very excited to be hosting the Heartland Christian Writers Retreat this fall!  Come expecting to be encouraged and motivated, and leave with writing goals refined and focused. The Heartland Christian Writers Retreat offers rare personalized instruction in a warm, friendly atmosphere.
Click here to learn more!

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By Donna Downs

rain stormLast night my son Brandon and I stood outside and watched the storm disembark. Tall, slender and easily blown about, he ran out into the field and gazed up to heaven in awe. He threw his arms out, paralleling the ground, and twirled around. “Isn’t it cool?” he yelled against the bellowing winds.

What we experienced at that moment was the awesome hand of God moving about the earth, changing the south winds to north, blue sky to gray, stillness to ravaging storms. Often these storms direct us to God when we otherwise don’t notice He’s there.

As the small, nearly transparent, lighter clouds danced eastward beneath the looming gray billowing vastness, we settled on the porch swing, watching the heavens move above us, feeling the winds engulf us and smelling the fresh summer rain. The all-encompassing gray cloud sat above us as a toadstool in the forest, in a distinct circular pattern, casting a shadow on the gesturing green grass.

A memorable time with my son.

God must have felt the same way as He read our innermost thoughts of His mighty and breathtaking power. We acknowledged His presence, His authority, His sovereignty. A memorable time with His children.

“Makes you feel pretty small, huh?” I asked Brandon.

“Definitely.”

Knowing the storm could develop into something far worse than it was, we both lingered in the moment of God’s supremacy. Watching it pass, arrogantly taunting the earth, we felt respite at the inconsequential damage left in the storm’s path.

As it dissipated, allowing clear skies to peak through broken clouds, we sat, my son and I, basking in the presence of a mighty and wonderful God.

“Look!” he exclaimed, pointing westward. “Blue!”

And we find that’s how our God works. Storms come and go. Some loom above us, surround us, teasing us, warning us. Others hit hard, damage us, leaving us wounded and wondering, “What shall I do with this, Lord?”

But however each storm affects us, blue skies always appear, often leaving us wondering if the storm really even ever existed.

God’s promise is not that storms will not come. He doesn’t promise damage-free lives. He doesn’t say He will not allow us to be hurt.

He says, simply, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

 

Donna Downs is an Associate Professor of Media Communications at Taylor University, Upland, Indiana and serves on the Board of Directors for REST Ministries.

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campfireIt was a perfect evening…clear skies, a cool nip in the air and a crescent sliver of the moon allowing the starry heavens to tout their glory. You could not have ordered a better night for a campfire.

I found it difficult to pull my eyes away from the dancing flames. Staring at a blazing fire has almost a hypnotic effect and seems to soothe even the weariest. I love to watch the flames waltz, lick and curl around a log, consuming the mightiest of timber in just a matter of minutes.

As I gazed intently, deep into the heart of the inferno, I saw glowing red and white embers belching out flames from every minute crack in the log. Then I noticed…once a flame became intense enough to nearly consume the entire limb, a tiny portion of the glowing hot coals would break off and roll a few inches from the immense center of the firry furnace.

Within minutes, what was once a blistering, sizzling ember, an essential part of the fire, was now peripheral and rapidly cooling, transforming into a whitish-grey ash. As several more moments passed, the once robust flame was now nearly extinct. Finally, the remaining residue became a cold black chunk of crud…not really good for anything!

I had to stop and muse how the scene I had just witnessed mimics many of our Christian lives. How often we are so immeasurably on fire for God when we first come to know Him and His saving grace, but when it comes to making Him Lord of our life we often start to rapidly cool down in our love affair with God.

Our natural tendency is to pull away from God and try to operate under our own power…as we pull away we quickly cool down. What once was a searing passion for God is now only a shadow of what once consumed us. Once our main focus becomes life around us instead of God, we are destined to become a cold black chunk of crud.

Jesus addresses the “cool down effect” in Matthew 13:22-23 The ground covered with thistles represents a man who hears the message, but the cares of this life and his longing for money choke out God’s Word, and he does less and less for God. (TLB) No matter how hard we try, we can’t serve two masters…we need to make God the Lord of our life…the only one we worship. No more worshiping money, the pleasures it can purchase or anything else. We will worship something, we will worship whatever we value most…we need to worship God, God alone!

What do you need to insure you remain a blistering glowing ember and not get caught up in the worries of this world? Time alone with God is a great place to start…get to truly know God. Know Him, love Him, pursue Him, spend time at His feet…let Him be Lord and learn to truly love Him.

We would love to assist you becoming a “glowing hot ember” or maintaining “the glow”. Contact us to schedule a personal retreat at Shepherd’s Gate Inn by calling 765-327-7157 or emailing becka@rest-ministries.org

Stoking my fire for Him,

Chuck Lehman

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magnifying glassWhen I was a young boy I loved to play outside on hot summer days. One of the things I enjoyed doing was to take a magnifying glass and hold it in the sun, focusing the rays of the sun into a powerful concentrated tiny dot of light. With this tiny dot of light I would melt things, burn my name into pieces of wood and start small fires! It didn’t take me long to find out that if I didn’t hold the focus of the magnifying glass tight enough or if I kept it moving around too much, I couldn’t harness the power of the sun so it would be strong enough to accomplish anything.

Our blog posts aren’t a magic key or a special formula that will instantly change your life. Our intent is to help you focus on an intimate relationship with God using the assistance of spiritual disciplines. Our desire is to assist you to fall deeper in love with God so you will have an unquenchable thirst for intimacy with Him.

Just as in the case of my focusing the magnifying glass to concentrate on “the sun,” in our Christian walk, we must concentrate all of our focus on “the Son.” When we truly keep focused on the Son and our intimate relationship with Him, we will unleash the full power of God in our life!

Keep your “magnifying glass” tightly focused on God and don’t allow the things of this world to distract your focus from the one thing that matters… our relationship with God!

We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

Focused on the Son,

Chuck Lehman

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017Moving from Bible reading to Bible study can be easier than you might think. Think of a topic or subject of interest and perform a word study. For instance, if I want to learn more on fasting, I start with a concordance, a Bible dictionary and Bible commentaries. These can be purchased at any Christian bookstore; as well as many free versions are available on line. I find http://www.biblegateway.com to be a great study resource.

I start by searching the Bible dictionary to find out the Biblical definition of fasting. Next I move to the concordance to find every time the word fasting is used and then I journal the answers to the following questions. Who was fasting? Why were they fasting…what was the purpose and reason? What type of fast was it? What did God accomplish when through the fast? Finally I look at the commentaries on the Scriptures where fasting was discussed to see what scholars are saying on the subject.

Another very quick way to excavate the Scriptures is to take a specific word from the passage and dig for buried treasure in that specific word. For example, I recently was reading Psalms 90:17, which reads

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes establish the work of our hands.”

I simply a standard dictionary and looked up the words favor and establish as well as their synonyms. I was astounded at the powerful impact this small verse had that I had previously overlooked!

Bible reading is like smelling the steak being grilled, but Bible study is like finally getting to enjoy eating the steak!

Enjoying the feast,

Chuck Lehman

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