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American Christian Connection
September 26, 2022

Phil Wickham Opens Up About Journey from 'lifestyle Christianity' to Rediscovering Joy in God's Presence

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns, Phil Wickham’s song “Battle Belongs” became an anthem for Christians worldwide. The tune, released in the fall of 2020, reminds believers that “nothing can stand against the power of God,” with lyrics including the lines, “So when I fight, I'll fight on my knees/ With my hands lifted high/ Oh God, the battle belongs to You.”

But as he witnessed the way God was using “Battle Belongs” to uplift those struggling, Wickham, who attends Light Church in Encinitas, California, began to feel the Holy Spirit challenging him to examine his own beliefs and take a closer look at his walk with God. 

During that process, Wickham was surprised to discover he’d accidentally settled into what he described as “lifestyle Christianity,” missing out on the joy and excitement of being in God’s presence in the process.

“I felt so — I don’t know if convicted is the right word — but just like, ‘Lord, I'm so sorry that I've missed out on the joy and in the beauty of it’ just because I haven't been cultivating in my heart this excitement to be in His presence, this real faith that He is listening and wants to do things.

What are the Dos and Don'ts of Successfully Witnessing to a Non-Believer?

As Christians, we love it when we are able to bring somebody to God for the first time and watch their transformation. After all, being saved is the starting point of any Christian's walk with God.

But what is the best way to do it? How can we successfully bring somebody to God without overdoing things and putting them off? What are the dos and don'ts of successfully witnessing to a non-believer?

There are many different ways to witness to those who don't yet know Christ, and everyone responds differently to each method. I try my best to be open and honest with others about what the realities of living a Christian life are. Because none of us are perfect and I don't want to portray it that way. But in living how I do, I hope that I can encourage others to follow God

‘God Has a Plan for Both of Us’: Young mom battling stage IV cancer asks for prayers after 4-year-old son also diagnosed with cancer

A Pennsylvania family is dealing with the unimaginable. Just months after Nicole Roche, a wife and mother of three young children, went public with her stage IV cancer diagnosis, her family faces yet another health emergency: Roche’s 4-year-old son, Wesley, was rushed to the ER last week where it was revealed there was a large, cancerous tumor on his kidney.

Roche, who is self-employed as a photographer, disclosed the family’s struggles in a touching Facebook post Sept. 3, revealing her family’s journey as they navigate uncharted and complex waters.

In the vulnerable yet hopeful post, Roche opened up about her fears and her faith, ultimately choosing to trust God’s sovereignty in the situation and “surrender” it all to Him.

The community had already begun to rally, with a GoFundMe raising over $28,000.

Now, with a second member of the family embarking on a journey to defeat cancer, both the emotional and financial burden have increased exponentially.

Please pray for the Roche family, and, if you’d like more details on their needs and how you can support them financially, click here.

This Week's Thought

by Brad Campbell

Just a thought to help start your week.

On the east coast of the state of Oregon, just off Highway 101, sits the town of Cannon Beach.  Just off the beach at Cannon Beach sits this very large formation called Haystack Rock.  It is a sight worthy of beholding.  Compare the size of the rock itself to those people walking the beach.  It is indeed majestic.

Haystack Rock got its name, of course, because of its shape.  The smaller rocks situated around it are known as “The Needles.”  Haystack Rock’s shape makes it readily recognizable in person or in movies and on film.

This made me think about the shape I’m in.  If I was given a name according to my shape, it might be “bowling ball Brad,” so thankfully, that’s not how I was named.  We may think about our shape.  Physically, some are in bad health and can no longer do as they once did.  Mentally, we may or may not be in a shape that is very healthy for a good lifestyle.  And then there’s our spiritual shape.  Has that ever crossed your mind?

What is my spiritual shape?  Am I a milk-bottle-fed baby?  Am I growing and feasting on the meat of His Word daily?  Am I downhearted and discouraged due to seemingly unanswered prayers?  Am I one to whom others look for encouragement and prayer support?  What is my shape?

The world will recognize us by our ‘shape.’  More times than not, they see us at our worst and not the best.  So that is the picture we portray, and we must be ever mindful of our shape because of that.

Standing there, beaten by the waves of life, unmovable and strong is the shape that encourages others — and ourselves.  In your week ahead, will the world see you and know the Godly shape you try to share daily, or will it be like looking for a needle in the haystack to see any good in us?  Stand strong, in whatever shape you are, and His love will see you through.

Just a thought.


Hope as an Anchor

by Elizabeth Elliott

“I hope it doesn’t snow tomorrow,” we say, thinking of our plans to visit family or friends. Or, “We’re just hoping they finish the road repairs in front of the church before the wedding,” “I sure hope Susie calls after her plane lands.” 

This kind of hope is wishful thinking, sometimes even foolish optimism, and it is not true hope. We’ve used the word this way so long that we’ve pretty much emptied it of meaning by the time we read Hebrews 6:19, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” 

Is your hope an anchor for your soul? Has your wishful hope been converted at the foot of the cross to true hope? Job’s well-tested hope was enlivened by true faith in God—“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” That’s quite a lot different from merely hoping for the most comfortable outcome! 

Could it be that our suffering, even that which we bring upon ourselves, provides us with the raw material for true hope? Hosea thought so. Speaking for God, he wrote, “I will make the Valley of Achor [which means “trouble”] a door of hope” (Hosea 2:15). I find it interesting that Achor and anchor are so similar in spelling. 

The Valley of Achor, near Jericho, was named by Joshua after Achan brought sin into the camp. Achan’s name meant “trouble.” By stealing some of the spoils from the victory at Jericho, he had incurred the defeat in the battle of Ai. He and his family were stoned to death to purge the curse from the midst of the people. After his demise, the fighting men of Israel mounted a second attack and defeated Ai in a stroke. Joshua commemorated the day by naming the valley Achor, so the people would remember what had happened before the victory. 

This is the same obscure valley that, six centuries later, the prophet Hosea declared God would make a “door of hope.” 

“I will lead her [Israel] into the desert and speak tenderly to her… I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord” (Hosea 2:14, 19-20). 

Today, twenty-seven centuries after Hosea prophesied those words of hope, we can look at them with the aid of the Light that has come into the world. Whatever our lot, He can do it. He can walk into our valley of trouble and convert all our false hope to true hope, where we can be anchored securely. 

With His sustaining help, we can dwell in the reality of 1 Corinthians 13: “Faith, hope, love abide, these three.”

When People Assume God Doesn’t See or Hear

by Dan Delzell

Imagine sitting at a stoplight next to a police car. Suddenly you step on the gas and race through the red light. Who in their right mind would expect to get away with such brazen behavior? After all, do police officers not see what happens right in front of them?

Likewise, who would ever commit deliberate sins right in front of the Lord and expect to get away with it? And yet each one of us is guilty of that very thing.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

It is critical that we grasp the reality of our sinfulness in God’s eyes. Otherwise, we think that our sin is no big deal. We assume that we won’t be punished for our sins as long as we try to do a little better next time. The reality is that “trying to do better” does not wash away a single sin. Only the blood of Jesus washes away sins, period. (Ephesians 1:7)

Moses warned the Israelites about the danger of disobeying God. “You will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). 
Adam and Eve thought they could hide their sin from God.

Who were they kidding?

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8).

Adam and Eve quickly discovered that it is impossible to hide from your Creator. God sees and hears everything.

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).

Scripture offers this warning to anyone who assumes that God is not aware of his sinful behavior.

“Take heed, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise? Does he who implanted the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see? Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches man lack knowledge? The Lord knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile” (Psalm 94:8-11).

Nothing is outside of God’s purview. And yet we often act as though God is not privy to our thoughts, words, and deeds. We act as though the Lord is probably too busy with other things to be noticing the ways in which we deliberately breach the boundary lines God has established. These boundaries were set in place by our Creator in order to protect us, rather than to limit us.

“This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea” (Isaiah 48:17-18).

In other words, “Know God, Know Peace; No God, No Peace.” We never win when we live in sin. It is a dead-end street. “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22).

The fact of the matter is that God sees and hears everything we say and do. He even knows every thought that enters our minds.

The Apostle Paul described “the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ” (Romans 2:16). We must always remember that our secrets are never hidden from God. Just imagine living every moment with full awareness of that reality, and being motivated by Christ's love to commit your daily thoughts, words, and behavior to God's plan for your life.

Perhaps you currently have no interest in doing God’s will. Do you realize that God can change your heart and give you the desire to serve him wholeheartedly and consistently? In fact, millions of believers in Jesus Christ are engaged in that noble pursuit every day. I didn’t say Christ's followers are perfect. In fact, Christians are far from it. But believers in Jesus truly want to live for him, and in many cases are even willing to die for him.

What about you? Do you live with the constant awareness that God sees and hears everything you say and do? Do you realize that there is a way to rise above the fear of being punished by God? The Gospel is astonishingly good news for people who have sinned against God’s perfect standard. In the Gospel, we find forgiveness for our sins. And through faith in the Gospel, we have been granted everlasting life with the Lord who loves us and willingly gave his life for our sins on the cross. (Romans 5:1-2,9)

Have you placed your faith in the Gospel? Have you trusted in Christ’s death on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins? If not, you are outside of God’s family, and you are lost in your sins. But through faith in Christ, you can be found today. You can be saved, redeemed, justified, born again, and forgiven. If you will receive Jesus as your Savior, God will essentially “credit your account” with the riches of forgiveness. Your sins will be completely washed away!

“Whoever conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

Here is a prayer you may find helpful: 

“Dear Jesus. Please wash me with your precious blood. Forgive my sins and change my heart. I want to be a new creation in Christ. I want to do things that are pleasing to you. I want to live with a constant awareness that you see and hear everything I do, and I am grateful that you love me with an everlasting love. Please fill my heart with the power of the Holy Spirit. And help me dear Lord to earnestly seek to do your will everyday. In your holy name I pray. Amen."

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