God is doing a new thing at New Zion! We invite you to pray with us and for us as we trust Him to renew us for the inside out!

Acts 4:31-33

31 After the believers prayed, the place where they were meeting shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they continued to speak God’s message without fear. 32 The whole group of believers was united in their thinking and in what they wanted. None of them said that the things they had were their own. Instead, they shared everything. 33 With great power the apostles were making it known to everyone that the Lord Jesus was raised from death. And God blessed all the believers very much.

April 17th, Wednesday @ 12noon Know Your Rights: Lunch and Learn with Attorney Sara Dady.

Our keyword as a congregation for 2019 is Service. We cannot serve our neighbors well if we do not educate ourselves on what they are going through. The goal of this lunch and learn is to educate immigrants and their families on their rights and to educate people of faith on the current state of and issues surrounding immigration law so that we can be informed advocates.
Join us as we educate ourselves on the issues and how it is playing out in Rockford.

April 16th, Tuesday @ 6pm Teach-In: Winning Transformative Bond Reform in Illinois.

Members of the Coalition to End Money Bail and our partners from the Chicago Bond Fund will be conducting the teach in. Local state and county government officials and congregations from across the city have been invited to be informed on why this issue is so important and how it affects us locally in terms of lost wages, hampered employment opportunities, and overcrowding at the county jail.

Sunday, April 14 @ 4pm Pastor speaks at St. Paul COGIC Usher’s Annual Day

Monday - Thursday @5am Prayer and Consecration in the sanctuary

April 16th, Tuesday @ 6pm Teach-In: Winning Transformative Bond Reform in Illinois Members of the Coalition to End Money Bail and our partners from the Chicago Bond Fund will be conducting the teach in. Local state and county government officials and congregations from across the city have been invited to be informed on why this issue is so important and how it affects us locally in terms of lost wages, hampered employment opportunities, and overcrowding at the county jail.

April 17th, Wednesday @ 12noon Know Your Rights: Lunch and Learn with Attorney Sara Dady Our keyword as a congregation for 2019 is Service. We cannot serve our neighbors well if we do not educate ourselves on what they are going through. The goal of this lunch and learn is to educate immigrants and their families on their rights and to educate people of faith on the current state of and issues surrounding immigration law so that we can be informed advocates.
Join us as we educate ourselves on the issues and how it is playing out in Rockford.

April 18th, Thursday @ 6pm Maundy Thursday Service

Spring 2019 Daniel Fast Prayer and Fasting Guide

Daniel Fast for Lent 2019 March 6th through April 21, 2019

FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions)

How long will this fast last? We will start at 12:01 am on March 6th and break the fast on Resurrection Sunday, April 21, 2019. You will notice that if you count from March 15th through April 21st there are more than 40 days. During the Lent Season we do not count the Sundays. On March 31st we will be launching our Spring Evangelism campaign with a series of trainings in the 3 Circles evangelism tool. You can download the free app (3 Circles: Life Conversation Guide) for your phone right now from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

What is fasting and why should we do it?
According to Richard Foster, author of “The Celebration of Discipline”:

The central idea in fasting is the voluntary denial of an otherwise normal function for the sake of intense spiritual activity. . . . One of the first things we learn in experiences of fasting is how it reveals what controls us. You see, we cover up with food and other good things what is inside of us, but in experiences of fasting these come to the surface.

Fasting is an accompanying discipline to prayer. Through fasting we can clear our minds, concentrate our energy and clarify our passion for God.

What are we fasting from during this season?
This corporate fast is a Daniel Fast. (See Daniel 1:8) In general we will be fasting from all caffeine, all carbonated drinks, refined sugar (including high fructose corn syrup), and meat. One way to think about it is to say, “no meats and no sweets.” A better way to look at it is to consider it spring cleaning for your mind, body and spirit.

What specifically are we asking God to do? We want Him God to unite our hearts to make Him our first priority. We want Him to empower us to be better witnesses for Him. We want Him to save our friends and family. We want to experience a deeper level of consecration and commitment to Christ. When we gather on Resurrection Sunday we expect Him to do something miraculous in and for the congregation. The keyword for this year is Service. We are asking God to fix our hearts so that we can make disciples out from every nation by opening our hearts and our homes to the lost.

What can I expect as a result of fasting? We can expect to be tempted with crankiness, fatigue, and sugar withdrawals during a Daniel Fast of this duration. We can also expect to be strengthened in unusual ways with Heavenly Help.

Daniel Fast Guidelines Foods to Eat The Daniel Fast is a partial fast. We will not be eliminating all foods. In fact, instead of thinking about what you will not be eating consider this fast a celebration of the healthy food God has provided naturally from the ground. Some of the things you should consider eating during this fast include:

Whole Grains: brown rice, oats, rolled oats, oatmeal, barley, corn, popcorn, wheat

Legumes: dried beans, pinto beans, split peas, lentils, black eyed peas, green beans, green peas, peanuts, etc. Grain legumes include beans, lentils, mung beans, peas and peanuts (includes natural peanut butter).

Fruits: apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, berries, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, breadfruit, cantaloupe, cherries, coconuts, cranberries, dates, figs, grapefruit, grapes, grenadine, guava, honeydew melons, kiwi, lemons, limes, mangoes, melons, mulberry, nectarines, oats, olives, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, pumelo, prunes, raisins, raspberries, strawberries, tangelos, tangerines, watermelon, etc.

Vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chili peppers, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, ginger root, jicama, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, okra, onions, parsley, any peppers, any potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, scallions, spinach, sprouts, squashes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, yams, zucchini, veggie burgers, etc.

Seeds: all nuts, natural peanut butter, natural almond butter, sprouts, ground flax, etc.

Liquids: spring water, distilled water, filtered water, 100% all-natural fruit or vegetable juices, herbal teas, soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk (caffeine free) Tea, For some recipes check out: http://www.christ-web.com/missions/farho/daniel-fast-recipes

Additionally, during this Daniel Fast we are monitoring what you feed our minds. No questionable entertainment via: • Television • Movies • Internet • Music • Literature Play as much praise and worship music as possible. Read scripture the first thing in the morning and just before you go to bed. Don’t sleep with your cell phone.

“Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.” Ephesians 5:4 (New Living Translation)

Foods to Avoid Meat, Poultry, Fish, White Rice, Fried Foods, Caffeine, Coffee, Carbonated Beverages Refined Sugar or Sugar Substitutes, White Flour, White Bread, Dairy (milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, etc.)

Plan ahead for snacks. To effectively enjoy and get the most out of this fast you need to learn how to make and pack your own snacks. If you are depending on fast food or vending machines in order to make it through this fast you will likely be frustrated. You need to plan ahead and keep airtight containers (Tupperware, baggies, etc.) of the food you should be eating readily available. If you don’t plan to eat the right things you will surely eat whatever is available or either just be cranky all day.

Eating frequently instead of waiting until you’re ravenous will help you avoid overeating as well. Try to graze (eat a little bit every 2 to 3 hours) instead of gorge (starve all day and then eat until you are stuffed). Always try to have some cut-up fresh vegetables or fruits on hand such as celery and carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, strawberries and blueberries. Small amounts of nuts also make a good snack. There are various chips and crackers made from rice, sweet potatoes and other vegetables that you might try. Drink as much water as you possibly can. Sometimes you might think you are hungry when you are actually thirsty.

If you must eat out here are some local restaurants that have quality vegetarian selections:

• Cantina Tacos

• Jason’s Deli

• Pig’s Mind Brewing

• Sister’s Thai Café

• Pita Pit

• Panera Bread

• Chipotle

• Mary’s Market

• India House

• Kuma’s Asian Bistro

• Noodles & Company

• Greenfire

• Sahara Palace

• Thrive Café

• Wired Café

• Octane Interlounge

Who's Your One?

Imagine if every believer could answer that question with the name of a person who is far from God - a person for whom they're praying and with whom seeking to share the gospel. That's the intention behind Who's Your One. We believe God's people don't merely need another method for evangelism - what we need is a burning passion to see people who are far from God experience the new life He offers through Jesus Christ. Over the coming day, our church and thousands of others will prioritize personal ownership of the Great Commission as we each intentionally pursue one person with the hope of the gospel. At times, it seems the mission is simply too complex and too vast for churches like ours and people like us. While we can't do everything, we can do something. We can all take responsibility for one. And, because of God's power and the work of His Spirit, each of our ones can add up and make a significant impact for God's kingdom.

Join us this Wednesday at 6pm as we launch our Spring Daniel Fast and share resources including a prayer guide that you can use to pray for your one.

Read Colossians 3:1-11 and listen to Pastor Copeland's sermon entitled "A Brand New Me".

  1. What does Paul mean by “raised up with Christ”? What has to happen before one can be raised up? See Ephesians 2:5-6; Colossians 2:12-15, 20; Romans 6:2-4.

  2. In verse 3 Paul says we have died and in verse 5 he says we should consider ourselves dead to certain things. In what ways and to what should Christ followers die daily and why? See also Romans 6:6-14.

  3. What does Paul mean when he says lay aside the old self? What kinds of things does the old self like to do? See also Ephesians 4:17-31; Colossians 3:8-9.

  4. What do we know about the new self? What is God’s goal and purpose as it relates to my new self? See Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:22-24; Genesis 1:26; Romans 8:29.

Delivered from Dark Places Psalm 107:10-16 November 5, 2017 Study Questions

  1. There is more than one type of prison. How can you tell if someone is emotionally or spiritually bound or imprisoned? Have you ever felt trapped or imprisoned by a situation or a relationship? How did God get you out?

  2. Read Psalm 107:11-12. How did the people become prisoners and what was prison life like? What are some ways that people do the same thing today?

  3. What did God do for the prisoners in vv. 14,16 when they cried out to Him? What did He promise to do for Cyrus in Isaiah 45:2-3?

  4. What promise can we claim and what command must we obey in 1 Corinthians 10:13-14?

  5. According to Isaiah 61:1-2, Luke 4:18-21, John 8:31-36, Hebrews 2:14-15 what role does Jesus play in our freedom and how did he do it?

  1. When was the last time you were lost? How did it make you feel? Read Psalm 107:4-5. How is this group of people described and what made their situation so stressful?

  2. What do all of these biblical characters have in common?

    a. Elijah (1 Kings 17:1-3)

    b. David (1 Samuel 23)

    c. Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11)

  3. As you read Psalm 107:4-7 what is the turning point? What did the people do that we can emulate? What did God do that he still does?

  4. How does Revelation 7:15-17, 21:2-6 describe the ultimate fulfillment of Psalm 107:7-9? How is heaven described and how does that description relate to our verses? What will God do and what will the Lamb do?

Click the link below to download these questions along with the Daily Bible Readings

You can download our small group material for this season by pressing the button above.

Several pastors, independently and in conversation with the Rockford Minister’s Fellowship, Bridge Ministries, Heartland Community Church, and CityFirst Church, have been praying about and planning a strategic response to Hurricane Harvey from the church at Rockford. While the situation is dynamic and our response will adjust according to the need, here is what we have a consensus on in terms how our parishioners and community at large can respond immediately, in the short term, and in an ongoing manner:

                  Immediately:  We want to send supplies.  

Heartland has already teamed up with World Vision to start collecting supplies. We recommend that everyone participate in that effort. Both ministries are trustworthy and World Vision has had boots on the ground since the Harvey hit so they know what is needed. You can drop off supplies at Heartland seven days a week.

Here is the list of supplies that are needed:

Personal Care Items: Diapers Toothbrushes Toothpaste Soap Shampoo Deodorant Feminine Hygiene

School Supplies: Backpacks Markers Crayons Notebook Paper Scissors Gluesticks

                    Short term:  We want to send money.  

Those who would like to give their donations to larger organizations you trust should feel free to do so. Heartland has teamed up with World Vision. CityFirst has teamed up with Convoy for Hope. Some of us might prefer to support some trusted native Houston churches or ministries. We are asking churches in that category to help us in supporting them. We are not asking a specific dollar amount from each church because that is not equitable. We recognize that every church has a different capacity to give. It’s not equal giving but equal sacrifice that matters. Furthermore, every member within a specific church has a different capacity. No one can give everything but everyone can give something. We are asking each church that agrees to partner with us to pledge 100% participation from their membership. Ask each member to either give a financial donation to the church for hurricane relief or to donate items from the list above. Keep track of it so we can encourage one another. Regardless of the size of the church 100% participation is 100% participation.

Our goal is a total gift of $15,000 from us as a group of churches by September 30th. We will send that money to an agreed upon trusted partner on the ground in Houston. The goal is to afford them the flexibility to buy what is needed at that time.

                    Long term:  We want to send help.

Houston and the smaller communities of southeast Texas are still in rescue mode. Recovery is going to take months if not years. The financial need for churches and not for profits, in particular, is going to be ongoing. Many want to leave right now to go help but the reality is that our fellow citizens are going to need a lot of help for a long time. If you are interested in going as part of a relief team we recommend that you go with a group that is already established, experienced, and has the logistical expertise to be helpful instead of a hindrance on an already taxed delivery system. Cityfirst Church in Rockford will provide financial aid and send teams to take part in restoring churches along the Gulf Coast. If you are interested in being a part of a relief team in the future, please email them serve@cityfirst.church or visit their website at https://www.cityfirst.church/help . As other churches in the area with expertise in these matters form team we will pass on the information.

Finally, on September 17 (Back to Church Sunday) we envision having a #Social4Harvey event to show emotional/spiritual support to those who lives have been devastated and simultaneously to continue to solicit supplies and support for them. Specific details will be shared by this weekend but as it stands now we would meet at Hope Fellowship in downtown Rockford (or a bigger venue if necessary) and host a social media event. Participants who attend would be encouraged to facebook live, Instagram, snapchat, and tweet using specific hashtags to highlight our efforts up to that point, raise more support, and send messages of comfort and compassion to the people of southeast Texas. By focusing on social media, we will be able to help our youth and young adults take a more active role. At the same time, we will be able to multiply our reach exponentially for no cost. Finally, and most importantly, we will be able to show our friends, family, and colleagues in Texas that we have not forgotten about them in real time.

K. Edward Copeland

This Saturday, March 26th from 2:00pm to 4:00 pm., over a dozen organizations and agencies will converge at Washington School for a Resource Fair hosted by New Zion Baptist Church. While the Resource Fair is taking place there will be activities for children and families to enjoy. The purpose of the event is to connect families in the community with a variety of resources available that are useful but often underutilized. It will also be an opportunity for parents to get information about and sign their children up for various

In celebration of Holy Week 2016 the children in attendance will be treated with a Treasure Hunt, games, and crafts designed to help them understand what the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is all about. The children will also get to decorate their own holiday cookies. Prize drawings will take place every 30 minutes. Free family photos will be taken.

According to Pastor K. Edward Copeland, “While the children are having fun we have brought over a dozen different agencies and organizations that provide services to families under one roof. Legal, financial, educational, youth services and mentoring, home buying, mental health, and agency representatives from so many more areas that impact families will be there. Our keyword this year is RESTORATION. This is part of ongoing effort to restore families and restore community.”

Organizations/Resources that have confirmed their participation: YMCA RAISE/Achievers (mentoring program) Kingdom Realty
Family Counseling/Youth Services Network Children’s Home & Aid (CHASI) (Adoption/Foster Care) HomeStart (info/programs for new homebuyers) Rockford Park District Offices of Dr. Saeed (Local Dentist) Prairie State Legal Services WABONGO Leadership Council Rosecrance Retirement Planning Services Miles Memorial AME Chess Club Irvin Select (travel basketball team and mentor) New Zion Tutoring Club (free tutoring) Winnebago County CASA (Court Appoint Special Advocates) Rock Valley College

This event is free and open to the public.

Washington Gifted Academy is located at 1421 West St.., in Rockford. For more information, visit the church on the web at www.newzionrockford.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/newzionrockford, or call (815) 964-3114.

-Palm Sunday, March 20, 2016
Sermon Text: Luke 19:41 "Jesus for the City"

*Maundy Thursday Communion Service @ 6:00 p.m.

-Good Friday Service @ 7:00 p.m. @ All Nations Worship Center 4747 W. Riverside Bldv.

-Saturday, March 36, 2016 Restoration Fair & Treasure Hunt

Washington School, 1421 West St. from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

-Resurrection Sunday Celebration

6:00 a.m. Sunrise Service

8:00 a.m. Service

11:00 a.m. Service

Who will you invite?

In light of the recent events in Ferguson, New York City, and municipalities all over the nation many people have taken to the streets to demonstrate, protest, and otherwise express righteous indignation at the inequalities in our criminal justice system.

Locally, Rockfordians have an opportunity to do give input, feedback, and insight into the way local police do their jobs that is often overlooked and underutilized. On Monday, December 8th assessors from the accreditation agency for law enforcement agencies will be in town. Rockford residents are invited and encouraged to let their voices be heard. Here is an excerpt from the Rockford Police Department website that gives more information.

Assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA), will arrive on December 07, 2014 to examine all aspects of the Rockford Police Department’s policy and procedures, management, operations and support services. Verification by the assessors that the Rockford Police Department meets the Commission’s standards is part of a voluntary process to gain accreditation.

The purpose of CALEA’s Law Enforcement Accreditation Program is to improve the delivery of public safety services. This is accomplished primarily by maintaining a body of standards developed by public safety practitioners covering a wide range of up-to-date public safety initiatives, establishing and administering an accreditation process, and recognizing professional excellence.

The Rockford Police Department earned initial accreditation in 2009 and was awarded re-accreditation in 2012. We are proud to be member of approximately 5% of law enforcement agencies who have received accreditation through CALEA.

Agency members and the public are also invited to offer comments by calling (815) 961-3225 on Monday, December 8th, between the hours of 1-3 pm. For the hearing-impaired, a T.T.Y. line at the Rockford Police Department is available at (815) 967-7052. Members of the assessment team will take comments.

As part of the on-site assessment, agency employees and members of the community are invited to offer comments at a Public Information Session on Monday, December 8th, 2014 from 3-5 pm. The session will be conducted at Henrietta School, 200 N. Johnston Avenue, Rockford, IL 61101.

Telephone comments, as well as appearances at the Public Information Session, are limited to ten minutes and must address the agency’s ability to comply with CALEA standards.

Anyone wishing to submit written comments about the Rockford Police Department’s ability to comply with the standards for accreditation may send them to the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement, Inc. (CALEA), 13575 Heathcote Boulevard, Suite 320, Gainesville, Virginia 20155.

If you live in Rockford please do not miss this opportunity.

Our nation is in a state of civil unrest. This is in direct response to the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of 18 year old Michael Brown Jr. The NAACP, including members of the Youth and College division, along with a host of 20-plus civil-rights and advocacy organizations from across the country will be embarking on a 120 mile, 7 - day march entitled, “Journey for Justice: Ferguson to Jefferson City”. The Journey for Justice will commence at the Canfield Green Apartments and conclude at the Missouri Governor's Mansion in Jefferson City. The purpose of the march is to call for new leadership of the Ferguson police department, beginning with the police chief, and for new reforms of police practice and culture in both Ferguson and across the country.

Many citizens of Rockford and the surrounding area will not be able to attend in the march. However, there are many of us who support those who are going to participate in peaceful, non-violent demonstration. Locally the Rockford Branch of the NAACP in collaboration with New Zion Baptist Church (604 Salter Ave. Rockford, IL) is reaching out for your participation in a 2-hour town hall vigil: “From Rockford to Ferguson: Journey to Justice” The incident of Ferguson is seemingly common-place in our nation today, and it reveals the melancholy truth that we do not live in a post-racial society. By comparison Rockford fares much better relative to race and police community relations. We still have a ways to go; nevertheless we must press forward to forge a better tomorrow. So the question remains: How do we move forward?

When: 3:30 to 5:30Pm

Where: New Zion Baptist Church 604 Salter Ave.

What: Prayer Vigil/Community Dialogue

Who: NAACP/New Zion Baptist Church

Why: to provide a safe place to discuss what has happened in Ferguson as well as Rockford and to detail specific steps on how we can move forward as a community that does justice

The Lord God has told us what is right and what he demands: “See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God.” Micah 6:8

Behold, God is my helper;
    the Lord is the upholder of my life.
(Psalm 54:4 ESV)

During this holiday season one of the things I'm grateful for is God's sustaining power.

“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom." Matthew 5:10

(Sermon Synopsis from our series on the Beatitudes "The Kingdom Rules")

When you sign up for Kingdom citizenship persecution is part of the package.

Jesus said "when" not "if" you are persecuted. The reality is that some people will hate you no matter what you do because it's not really you they hate but the Christ in you.

Why do they hate Christ's presence in my life?

Darkness has always had a problem with light. The only way darkness can exist is by extinguishing the light. When someone's deeds are evil they want to stay in darkness. God's favor in your life is like the light of Christ being reflected from you to everyone around you. His hand on you makes some people uncomfortable because they don't like being exposed. When you let your light shine it not only gives Him glory but it also causes evil to be exposed. Abel worshipped correctly but by doing so he exposed how wrong Cain was.

This is the only beatitude wherein Christ pronounces us blessed and commands us to respond in a certain way. He says when persecution comes because of Him we should rejoice and be glad; that is inward delight and outward expression of that delight.


Because we are in good company. All the saints before us had to suffer and we consider them heroes. Our suffering validates our spiritual DNA. If we were of the world the world would not hate us. It is because we have come out from among them that they hate us. (John 15:19) They have no excuse for their sin so they prefer to hate rather than repent.

We can also rejoice because our destination is secure. This world is not our home. We are citizens of another place. Our reward is in heaven.

One day we will be paid for all of our pain and suffering, reimbursed for every tear we've cried and compensated for every loss we have encountered.

In the meantime we should dare to be different and rejoice if we are counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. (Acts 5:41)

Not there yet but on my way,

K. Edward Copeland

Check out www.persecution.org and www.persecution.com to see where Christians are being persecuted around the world and commit yourself to pray for them on a regular basis.

See this video on youtube for a secular view on "haters" by Jill Scott

"Blessed are the peacemakers, because they will be called sons of God." Matthew 5:9

(Sermon Synopsis from our series on the Beatitudes "The Kingdom Rules")

What is the recipe for peace?

Is there a formula?

Where can we find the blueprint?

If we are commissioned to make it maybe we should find out what it is.

Biblically speaking, peace is more than the absence of conflict. Peace (or shalom in the Hebrew) is safety, prosperity, wholeness; the positive blessing that comes from being right with God because of Jesus Christ. It is the sense of total well-being, the realization that all is well because of God’s favor. God’s peace brings harmony out of chaos.

Why is peace so necessary?

Because sin has disrupted all of our essential relationships. Because of sin we are naturally alienated from God, others and even ourselves. Spiritually, socially and psychologically our lives are chaotic. The Good News is that through the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ, his resurrection and current ministry to us through the Holy Spirit, we have been reconciled back to God. Having been justified we now have peace with Him. We have to strive to make peace, however, with others.

How do we make peace?

Children do what their parents do. If we are children of God we ought to emulate His peacemaking process.

God took the initiative.

He didn't wait for us; He came to us. When Adam sinned God came looking for him. Likewise if I am to be a peacemaker I must make the first move. It doesn't matter who started it, I have to resolve it. It might not be my fault but it is my responsibility. Even if I don't have a problem with someone but I know that he or she has a problem with me, I have to make the first move. (Matthew 5:23-24)

God took the initiative to express love.

He didn't show up to detail all my faults. He showed up to demonstrate His love. (Romans 5:8) Likewise, if I am to be a peacemaker I must demonstrate love in tangible ways. I can do good to those that hate me (meet the need), speak well of those who curse me (watch my mouth), and pray for those who use me (talk to God on their behalf).

God took the initiative to express love by giving His best.

God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. His Son gave his life. Likewise, if I am going to be a peacemaker I have to be willing to give it my all, holding nothing back. I can't just go through the motions. I have to put my full weight on the process. I have to seek, strive for and work hard at making and maintain shalom.

In Luke 15 once the son came to his senses, left the pigpen and started back home the Father came running toward him (initiative). He fell on his neck and kissed him (expression of love). He told his servants to bring out the "best" robe, ring and sandals. (Luke 15:22) Notice the Father never brought up his son's past or chastised him for his waywardness. Instead the Father celebrated because he who had been dead was now alive; he who was lost was now found.

God took the initiative to express love by giving His best to those who deserve the least.

That's you and me.

Since we have been reconciled and now have the ministry or reconciliation, let's follow the recipe as it is written without adding any salt to the frosting.

Fighting for shalom,

K. Edward Copeland

"Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God."
—Matthew 5:8

(Sermon Synopsis from our series on the Beatitudes "The Kingdom Rules")

The heart is the lens through which we see the rest of the world.

Our capacity to experience and enjoy God is directly related to the condition of our heart. Notice Jesus did not say "pure in head." It is possible to know the right things and yet be wrong with God.

He did not say "pure in hand" because you can do the right thing for the wrong reason.

He said "pure in heart", the center of our being where intellect, emotion, and will collaborate.

To be pure in heart means to have an undivided heart. A heart that is integral, without convolutions. A heart that isn't drifting in several different directions.

It means a heart that is guileless with no hypocrisy or deceit.

A pure heart is one that is uncontaminated, cleansed and transparent.

What does it take for a Kingdom citizen to maintain a pure heart?

First and foremost we must watch our associations. Every year second hand smoke kills thousands of people who have never lit up a cigarette. They didn't smoke but they were around people who did. Sin is equally communicable if not more so.

Solomon, the wisest person who ever lived other than Jesus, initially asked God for a "listening heart." God granted his request but later in life Solomon started listening to his 700 wives and 300 concubines and they turned his heart away from God. (I Kings 11:1-3) We must constantly pray that God would unite our hearts so that we won't be distracted by other who would fragment our affections. (Psalms 86:11)

To address the guile that builds up like plaque in our spiritual arteries we must feast on the word and exercise by practicing the truth in little matters. No white lies, no exaggeration, no sending our representative self instead of showing up with our true selves. Truth is what we must ingest and practice. It will keep our spiritual arteries from hardening through the deceitfulness of sin. God's word is truth and truth sanctifies. (John 17:17)

Finally, since our hearts are the hard drives of our being, if we contract a virus on our hard drive we need to call in a Computer Specialist. We need someone who can give us a new hard drive and then show how to keep it clean and defragmented. We need the same One whom David called on when he said, "create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me." (Psalms 51:10)

He is able not only clean you up but to keep you from getting contaminated.

"Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and able to present you faultless before His presence with exceeding joy . . ."

Pure but not perfect,

K. Edward Copeland

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Matthew 5:7

(Sermon Synopsis from our series on the Beatitudes "The Kingdom Rules")

Mercy is pardon for the guilty, pity for the suffering, practical help for the needy. It is compassion in action. According to Dr. D. A. Carson, "Grace answers to the undeserving; mercy answers to the miserable."

The enemy of compassion is that stifling religious hypocrisy that values ritual over relationship, ceremony over compassion and religious trifles over the weightier matters like justice, mercy and faithfulness.

Mercy cannot thrive where there is pride. That's why we must be poor in spirit.
Mercy cannot grow where there is emotional detachment. That's why we must learn to mourn.
Mercy cannot survive in an atmosphere of vindictiveness. That's why we must be meek. Mercy must be fed. That's why we must hunger and thirst for righteousness.

What does mercy look like?

The Samaritan in Luke 10 gives us some insight. *He saw someone in distress. *He was moved by compassion. *He offered practical relief. *He did all of this to someone who didn't look like him.

The greatest aid to mercy in the life of the believer is memory. When we remember how we were in distress and how God, moved by compassion, did for us what we needed most it ought to cause us to be grateful and mercy-full.

A debtor to mercy,

K. Edward Copeland

Click here to check out the story of a storeowner who showed mercy to a would-be robber.

Note: the merciful one was a Muslim and the one who received mercy claims now to be a "true Muslim" because of the mercy received. What implications does this story have for Christian evangelism?