Trash Icon

The trash icon is that little trash can on your email page that enables you to get rid of the "junk" email items. I use this icon every time I look at my email. But, it doesn't get rid of it right then, rather stores it until I "empty" the trash can. It is still there and can be recalled if I want, or emptied at some other time, simply by pushing "trash". "Poof, it's gone!”

When Israel offered their sacrifices, daily or during religious days, like on the Day of Atonement, their sins were placed in the heavenly "trash" can. They were no longer in their account, their sins were no longer accessible... but they were not eliminated. Rather they were held in that "trash" until they could totally be deleted.

That was exactly what Jesus did. He empties the "trash can of sins" for the Israelites and for us. No longer would anyone be afraid of sins being brought forth if they are a child of God. Jesus cleared that "trash" can by dying on the cross. The cross was the "icon" that "emptied" our sins. Jesus is working continually disposing of our sins so there is none to recall. Our trash can remains empty.

And like on our computers, there is a "delete" key. It is called prayer. If you want your "sin/trash" can cleared, Jesus says to pray and the Father will forgive.

God will permanently remove our sins, to be remembered no more! Computers crash, loose information, and often fail. But Jesus will always be "enter"ceeding, (interceding) for us, Heb. 7:25. Thank God for providing us a way to delete!

Changes for 2020

The year 2020 has brought several changes among the ministry staff here at the Choctaw congregation. We have seen the departure of our Youth, Family and Involvement Minister, Mike Coghill, which will bring about the eventual addition of another (new to us) minister at some point this year. Then there are the growing responsibilities taken on by our ministry intern, Titus West, as he is tasked with more regular opportunities to preach and teach in addition to his main priority as a full time student at the Sunset International Bible Institute (extension program). In addition to these changes, there will also be a significant shift in my own ministry role with the church going forward.

The elders and I have agreed that beginning this year I will focus my efforts exclusively on the BibleTalk.tv ministry. This means that I will no longer be responsible for the education program nor serve as a staff minister. We have worked out an arrangement where the Choctaw congregation will provide part of my support for the work I do with BibleTalk and I will raise the remaining amount as well as the salaries for Hal Gatewood and other part-time BibleTalk.tv workers along with expenses required to operate the website. I will do this by raising funds from other congregations and individuals as I have done in the past.

BibleTalk.tv has grown so much in the last few years that it now requires more time to produce content, respond to viewers and raise money. As I get on in years, I realize that I no longer have the energy to carry out two ministries at the same time (staff minister and BibleTalk internet ministry) so I have chosen to focus on the ministry where we can reach the most people with the gospel.

I will continue to assist Marty by preaching twice per month and will also teach one or two Bible classes this year. Bob Chilton, Marty and the elders are now responsible for organizing the education ministry. My other duties will spread out among other ministries, deacons and elders.

Please continue to pray for and support the BibleTalk.tv ministry as we enter another phase of this dynamic work. God bless you and thank you for your friendship and encouragement.

Mike Mazzalongo
BibleTalk.tv

If You're Reading This, You Made It

It is finally 2020. Yes, you made it to the new year!

But not everyone made it. We lost a bunch in 2019 (just like every year).

Peter Mayhew, the man who brought Chewbacca to life in the Star Wars movies, is gone. Chewie “lives on”, and Peter would be the man to thank for introducing us to him, but thank him we cannot.

Eddie Money may have had “Two Tickets to Paradise”, but his life touched down in eternity before 2019 drew to a close. His music is recorded for us to hear, but he is gone.

If you’ve enjoyed the show “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, you have Lee Mendelson to thank. Well, I should say you “had” him. He left us in 2019 also. He did not simply produce the show, but also wrote the words to the song “Christmas Time is Here”. In my mind, I can still hear the children’s voices singing this wonderful piece.

Many others are now gone. Well-knowns like Tim Conway & Doris Day, but also Caroll Spinny who voiced Big Bird & Oscar the Grouch, Russi Taylor the voice of Minnie Mouse and others like them whose names we may not recognize, but whose works we have long loved.

Some new year in the future will begin without us. Will we be ready? Here are three things that help me.

#1) Solomon said not to wait to remember your Creator, but to do it in your youth (Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:1). This is the first thing I would encourage everyone to do, regardless of what stage of “youth” you might find yourself in at this very moment; Honor God.

#2) Solomon also said that if we are going to do anything, it will be in this life, so whatever our hands find to do, we should do it with all of our might (Ecclesiastes 9:10)! You have gifts from God. Use them to do good for yourself and others while you can. Actually, this is one of the best ways to remember your Creator, by doing good with what He’s given you.

#3) Talk to people about Jesus and their souls. There is no more important conversation you could ever have. We are all passing away from this life as we speak. Don’t let any one within your scope of influence pass without hearing about Jesus from you.

Christmas Lights

Light is the first thing Genesis records God speaking into existence (Genesis 1:3). He did not need the light, but we do, even to imagine all the rest of his creative acts.

Later, he would create what were referred to as “lights” in the heavens; the “greater light” to rule the day, the “lesser light” for the night (1:14-19), and we still need these lights.

God’s greatest and most needed light, however, is Jesus. John the apostle called him the “true light” who enlightens all men (John’s gospel 1:9). Jesus now calls us to be lights, by doing good that God may be glorified (Matthew’s gospel 5:14-16).

Lights, of course, are a big part of Christmas. This has been the season to use them to adorn our homes, businesses, city streets and even vehicles. No other holiday has such a wonderful custom.

Soon, they will all come down, and that’s okay. The holiday illuminations are beautiful, but they do not dispel the darkness. They simply remind us of the true light that does in fact, dispel darkness, and Jesus has now made that work yours, and mine.

The world is in desperate need for you to be committed to everything to which Jesus calls you: Honesty, loyalty, morality, kindness, compassion, industriousness, justice, mercy, faithfulness, courage, discipline & love.

Though we be but poor candles, may our lights shine bright into the new year.

Christ, Christmas & Contrast

Jesus was conceived within Mary by God’s Holy Spirit (Matthew’s gospel 1:18).
With his last words from the cross, Jesus yielded his own spirit back to God (Luke’s gospel 23:46)

Jesus is the lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5) but also the Passover lamb whose sacrifice reconciled both Jews & Gentiles to God (1st Corinthians 5:7 & Ephesians 2:11-18)

At Jesus’ birth, a heavenly host said, “Peace on earth” (Luke 2:13-14), but Jesus would later say, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34)

Neither Jesus, nor his apostles focused on celebrating his birth, but they were very specific in teaching us to commemorate his death (Matthew 26:26-29 & 1st Corinthians 11:17-29)

The specific day of Jesus’ birth is unrecorded. The birth of his church at the feast of Pentecost on the 50th day after the Passover, however, is a matter of careful record (Acts 2)

At his birth, Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes (Luke 2:7), but is later pictured as a warrior king rendering justice wearing a vesture dipped in blood (Revelation 19:13)

As a newborn, Jesus was laid in a manger (Luke 2:7), but would leave a tomb forever empty to ascend to his heavenly throne (Hebrews 1:1-3)

He was named “Jesus” (salvation) at his birth, because he came to save his people from sin (Matthew 1:21), but will return one final time for his bride (the church) and to judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:31)

King Herod was troubled at Jesus’ birth (Matthew 2:1-3) assuming him to be a threat to his throne. Those who see Jesus as a threat to their own will are still troubled by him.

Wise me sought out Jesus at his birth (Matthew 2:1-2). Wise men still do.

We Saw His Star

This is what the Magi told King Herod when they came to Jerusalem looking for Jesus. The star that led them to Jerusalem, would later lead them to Bethlehem. These men had seen Jesus’ star and somehow knew that it was His, and that it signified His arrival as the King of the Jews.

Centuries before, an unlikely prophet uttered the following:

“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel, And shall crush through the forehead of Moab, And tear down all the sons of Sheth” (Numbers 24:17).

This prophecy refers to its subject as the “star,” but also as king, when he says a scepter will rise in Israel. No wonder then that John was instructed to write in the Revelation: “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” (22:16)

Jesus’ apostle Peter also wrote: “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts” (2nd Peter 1:19)

So it is that a star led men to Jesus, who Himself is a star that arose as king, to reign not only as ruler of the universe, but as sovereign in our hearts as well.

Why a star? I cannot say, but God had it written into Genesis that He put stars in the heavens along with the “greater” and “lesser” lights (sun & moon) to give light on the earth (1:14-18). We generally think of stars as shining in the darkness of the night. Could there be a better analogy of Jesus’ impact and influence in our fallen world?

But our sun (the “greater light,” as God called it) is also a star and dominates the day. So Jesus can dominate our lives with the warm, life giving light of life when we allow Him to arise in our hearts as Peter wrote.

This season, as you see the beautiful Christmas lights displayed everywhere, remember to give place to the brightest star in your heart and mind, and then to shine forth doing good to all men and so become the lights He taught us to be.

Good Friends

Behavior is influenced by companions.

Do you choose friends based on what you want to see in your behavior?

If I want to succeed in life, I must choose friends who also value success; but I ‘d better know what I consider to be success. Paul told the church at Corinth that evil companions corrupt good morals (1st Corinthians 15:33). In this case, evil companions had influenced some members of the church so profoundly that they stopped believing in the resurrection of the dead. Not good.

Just as we see how evil companions corrupt us, good ones help us grow and succeed in life.

What could be a better measure of success than seeing the fruit of the Spirit of God as described in Galatians 5:22-23 produced in ourselves?

Do my friends help me have more love for others? Do I have more joy after being with them? Am I more at peace around them and do I find myself exercising more patience with circumstances and people? Does their influence provoke me to acts of kindness and a commitment to what is good? Is it likely that I will be more gentle with others after spending time with my friends? How about self-control? Do they strengthen and encourage my resolve to self-control?

If my friends move me towards God and opening myself to follow His Spirit, then they are good friends.

In today’s world, however, friends are not simply those with whom you keep company in the flesh. We bring folks into our lives via the television, music, movies, books, magazines, videos and other media. They too are influencing me. Whatever I allow to fill my mind will also shape my values and my behavior.

This is both a blessing and a curse; but I get to choose which they will be.

Of course, there is no better companion than Jesus. You can spend time with Him whenever you want by reading His book or praying to God through Him. But be advised, He will change you. His people will have a similar effect.

You will never walk away from this friend or His people the same; and that is a good thing.

Jesus Is King

On October 25, 2019, a rapper named Kanye West released his ninth studio album entitled: “Jesus is King.” Though in the last 15 years, Mr. West has been known for his secular music, this album is not. It is a worship album. An entire project dedicated to Jesus. Kanye has said, “This album is my expression to what He (Jesus) has done in my life.”

In the Christian community, people are divided as what to think about this switch in tone for Mr. West. In January 2019, he began to hold “worship services.” A majority of the Christian community labeled him a hypocrite and an all-around lost man doing more damage than good (including myself). Now, at the end of 2019, he has released a “worship album.” Again, the Christian community became divided and I find myself sitting on the opposite side of my original thinking.

You see, it is not my place to try to understand Mr. West’s intentions. It is not my place to check how God is working in his life and judge him based upon what the media tells me. The album that is dividing the Christian community has no cursing, no innuendoes and carries a message of the goodness of Christ and has reached over 196 million listeners just last week. Mr. West has also said he is going to continue making “gospel albums.” Maybe we in the Christian community ought to not be divided over Mr. West’s seemingly radical change and come together and embrace him as the community of believers should and guide him to the truth.

Proverbs 3:27 “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,

when it is in your power to do it.”

The Thief

It’s the holiday season again! It’s that time of year when we are supposed to be joyous and thankful. Unfortunately, that is not always a realistic view. Despite what we are told through the radio, tv, and other media, there is no holiday magic cure when we are not able to be joyous or thankful. We still take advantage of each other. We argue with each other. We insult and kill each other no matter what season it is. Sin steals our ability to be thankful and joyful.

Col. 3:15 “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

I believe these verses point to self-examination. The Devil does and will steal from us. When sin steals from us, do we take a step back and start counting the things to be thankful for in our lives? God offers us a peace in this life through Jesus Christ. That in itself should inspire faithful Christians.

So, ask yourself, “Is sin stealing from me?”

The God of Small Things

Do you ever find yourself wanting to ask God for something but believe that it is too small or insignificant to “bother” him about? I know I do.

But I’ve been a dad long enough to know how pleased I am when one of my children asks for my input about anything in their lives; even when they think they need to apologize about its seeming insignificance.

Our sun is approximately 864,938 miles in diameter (!), but is made up mostly of hydrogen atoms fusing two by two into helium. So how small is an atom? An atom is about a million times smaller than the thickest human hair.

These tiny atoms splitting are what makes our great sun what it is. So from the tiniest electron, to the largest red hyper-giant, God remains the Almighty mover & shaker.

Jesus made this very point when he asked, “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered”, Matthew’s gospel 10:29-30.

He’s waiting to hear from you, little sparrow, about the hairs on your head. Why not let him decide how important your concerns are? Just because you and I are small, and so often believe our troubles are too small to take to him, doesn’t mean that’s how he sees it. Like Isaiah said, his ways are not our ways.

Remember that Jesus is also the one who said, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much”, Luke’s gospel 16:10. It seems obvious that God cares about the little things.

I would hate to think that I missed out on a conversation with one of my children because they thought their troubles too insignificant. Does it make sense that this fact makes me believe that God also wants to hear from us about our small things?

Besides, if what I take to him is smaller than I should concern myself with, asking him about it will open an opportunity for him to lead me to something bigger & better.

Never pass up an opportunity to take your small stuff to the one who takes care to split atoms and count hairs.