• Deacon Greg Ventura

Each of us faces challenges in life. Sometimes these challenges seem insurmountable. We don’t know if or how we will get through them. Whether you are currently going through a challenge or have recently failed in a storm of life, I want to talk to you about going “One More” step. The challenge is to not quit, but to keep going. That can be easier said than done, but maybe this song will help.


The Song There used to be a Christian alternative rock band called Superchic. Their song “One More”, talks about when we feel like we should give up, but need to struggle forward. It feels like I have lost this fight They think that I am staying down But I'm not giving up tonight Tonight the wall is coming down I am stronger than my fears This is the mountain that I climb Got 100 steps to go Tonight I'll make it 99 (Chorus) One more, go one more, yeah yeah Don't stop now, go one more, yeah yeah One more, go one more Go one more, go one more, yeah yeah One More lyrics © Matt Dally Music, Whizbang Artists Music, Onegirlmusic, DAVE GHAZARIAN MUSIC, DJ SPACEMONKEY MUSIC, STARLIT P MUSIC, VMK The wall is that mental\emotional\spiritual barrier that prevents you from staying in the fight. You may feel worn out, tired, depressed, angry, in pain. It is a fight. Don’t downplay the emotional and spiritual side of this. Don’t think that you just need to be tougher. Some people will say that you just need to have more will power. Those are the words of people who never try or never struggle. God has given us all the will power that we need. The problem is that the Devil tricks us into thinking that we are weak. Ephesians 6:12 (ESV) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Evil is real. The struggle is real, but you can go just “One More” step. The Chain of Pain Have you heard of the Chain of Pain? It is a term used by some to describe the battle that someone aspiring to earn a Black Belt must go through. It is a series of fights designed to test the person’s stamina and their will to fight. My friend, Bob, would bike between 50 and 100 miles on the weekend. You would think this guy would have the stamina to get his black belt? He said he was exhausted by the end of it, but he stayed in the fight. His instructors did not make it easy on him, but they also did not discourage him. They would tell him to, ‘Stay in the fight,’ as they threw punches or kicks. God has not promised that we will have an easy life, but He has promised something eternal if we stick it out. James 1:12 English Standard Version (ESV) 12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Testing almost sounds easy in comparison to the Chain of Pain. Let me reiterate that what we may have to go through maybe a lot worse. And maybe there is nothing you can do but endure. Cancer treatments come to mind. Go just one more step. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. The Final Hour Hopefully you have heard Pastor Lafferty preaching, because he has mentioned more than once from personal experience that God answers prayers, but sometimes it is in the final nerve-wracking hour. Don’t despair in that moment. Wait! Hold on! Don’t turn back to what you have already repented of. It might feel like the moment will never end, but it will, just go “One More” step. Psalm 23:4 (KJV) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Whenever I quote this verse I use the KJV translation (instead of the ESV), because in my opinion the “valley of the shadow of death” sounds a lot more dangerous than the “darkest valley.” God is with you in the moment, not physically, but the Holy Spirit IS there. You are not alone! Please remember that! The Holy Spirit will sustain you. Lastly, let me add, if you have given up, you are not lost yet. There is always hope. If you have sinned, turn back to Jesus. Sometimes we wander off the straight and narrow path. Take “One More” step back onto the path. Go one more step towards Jesus today. Do the same tomorrow, and the day after that...


  • Deacon Greg Ventura

Some people consider themselves Christian and yet they still worry if God really cares about them. The sad fact is that the teachers (myself included) don't always teach the good part of the Good News. We sometimes focus so much on the sin, that we forget to mention that Jesus died to set us free from that sin. God does indeed care. He cares so much that he sent his ONE and ONLY son, Jesus to die for us. Therefore, we are no longer separated by sin from our Father in Heaven. Let me use two illustrations, one song and one bible passage to illustrate this to you. I encourage every Christian who has this thought in their heart to read this thoroughly and even bookmark the bible passage for quick reference. Don’t doubt whether God really cares or not. He does. If he did not, he would not have told us so.

My first illustration, comes from the Michael W. Smith song, “You Won’t Let Go.” The refrain for the song is fairly memorable and goes like so: You are the anchor for my soul You won't let go You won't let go No matter what may come I know You won't let go Michael uses the idea of how an anchor is used to hold a boat in place and keep it from drifting. Our soul is held in place by God himself. Comforting words. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in your life when you know that you are anchored. But let’s move on to a key verse in Mr. Smith’s song. Neither life, neither death, The highest high, the deepest depth Nothing can Nothing can separate Neither tears, neither trials Certain as the sun will rise Nothing can Nothing can separate Again these words are even more comforting to us. No matter what our circumstances might be, God is there with us. No matter what you are going through, God is there. You could be suffering the worst kind of illness, disease, even cancer, and you can rest assured that God is with you. You might have just lost your job. God is still with you. A loved one might have just died. God IS with you! You might say what good is a song? How do I know if there is any truth in it? How do I know that God is speaking through this music? Well that takes me to my second illustration. A somewhat longer than normal section of the Bible than I would normally share, even for a sermon. I want to include the entire section that is titled, “More Than Conquerors.” Romans 8:31-39(ESV) 31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” [Psalm 44:22] 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. There you have it. You can see that Michael W. Smith’s song was inspired by Romans. You can also see from Romans that God does care and that NOTHING can separate us from his love. You ARE NOT ALONE! GOD CARES FOR YOU! Remember that when you doubt. Share that with someone who is doubting.

  • Deacon Greg Ventura

You may have heard we are one generation away from being a nation without Christianity. If that seems odd to you then let me explain. If day after day the bank of a levy is eroded, eventually the water starts to trickle down the side. At that point, water and erosion shows its true power. Little by little the erosion makes the opening larger and eventually washes away large sections of the levy which then causes flooding of the nearby area. Likewise if year after year fewer people go to church you will eventually have couples getting married who no longer attend church. We are currently well into that right now. I know plenty of people who were raised as Christians, but if they ever darken the doorstep of a church, I am not aware of it. It is sad, because many of them were raised in the church. Some of them used to go, but have fallen away. We need to do something about this problem. There are many things that can be done,but I think the most important thing we can do is pray.

It would be nice to see more people in church, but I want to be clear on something, I am not saying force your child to go to church or Christianity is doomed. Maybe you will recall the following: Proverbs 22:6 English Standard Version (ESV) Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. I don’t think that this means that you force your child to go to church. It means train them. We have to somehow impart our Christian walk on them. I could get completely off-track and dive into something on parenting, but that would be counter-productive, plus there are many people with more wisdom in this manner than I. All I know is that I have too many friends who were forced to go and now no longer do. There are things we can do to make the service more appealing to the younger generation. I am probably one of the few people my age who actually enjoy listening to hymns. Probably 99.9% of all children and a large percentage of adults below some ever increasing age do not like singing hymns. At some point, when we are ready, we will need to move back into more praise style music. Fr. Lafferty is working on that. We need to provide events that are appealing to younger people. I think we have made great progress in this regard with the Kidztown focus on the Strawberry Festival. I hope that continues to be a good focus and helps us to grow in influence within our community. Still my purpose in this blog is to not lay out a plan for St. Georges, but to discuss this problem of the church dwindling. We are living at a time when people don’t know that the bible says. When I get into arguments over the morality and the culture of sin that exists in our country, people are no longer appalled by it because they don’t even think that it is sinful. If two people say its love, then who are they to disagree with them? It is sad, because truth for them is relative. They say that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Let’s look at a bible passage that gives us a practical example of that. 2 Kings 22:8-13 (Hilkiah Finds the Book of the Law) 8 And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. 9 And Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, “Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the Lord.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king. 11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. 12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king's servant, saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” Matthew Henry’s Commentary suggests that this “Book of the Law” was either the actual book written by Moses or an authentic copy. He also suggests that God must have been involved in this to safeguard this book. Evil people might not have wanted their deeds revealed, but their guilty conscience prevented them from destroying the book outright. Good people might have realized that the evil kings before might have sought to destroy it and thus tried to hide it hoping that someone good might find it in the future. But therein lies the problem, it could be a LONG long time before such a book is found. There are plenty of science fiction movies that have similar moments and not always for the better. You may recall in the movie, The Planet of the Apes. The main character George Taylor is an astronaut and he thinks he has crash landed on some planet, where apes rule and humans are slaves. He doesn’t realize that he is on Earth, just in the future. It is not until the end, when he escapes that he finds the buried Statue of Liberty that he realizes that he is on Earth and some terrible nuclear war must have taken place. Those are just two examples of who things can go terribly wrong when information is lost. Let me close with prayer, because I believe that after everything else that we try to do, we need to pray. I pray that my children do not walk away from their faith. I pray that if they do, that they return before long. Likewise, I pray for our whole church and the children in it. I pray for all of the children who are now adults and have turned from you God. I pray that you motivate them in only the way that will work for each of them to turn back to you. I pray that each of us will raise up our family, friends, and neighbors in prayer, that they may come to know the love that you have for each of us Lord Jesus. Thank you for hearing my prayer. In your name, Jesus, I pray. Amen.