2012 From My Heart to Yours

No Man Knows

December 30, 2012

We have almost completed another calendar year. We have passed milestones in our lives and have met and/or exceeded our deadlines–or at least many if not most of them.

The dooms-dayers regarding The Mayan calendar have been proven wrong, along with thousands of others who have tried to predict the end of the world.

A time is coming when we will all stand before The Holy God, and Jesus gives us this warning concerning that day: “Therefore be alert, because you don’t know either the day or the hour” (Matthew 25:13).

We do not know what 2013 will bring. It will be a new beginning for many and will be the end of the line for thousands of others. One thing we do know for certain is that God promises He will be with us come what may.

Jesus reminds us of that truth in Matthew 28:20 when He says, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

I don’t want to rust out in 2013. I want to skid in sideways kicking up dust and yelling, “What a ride!”

The World in Solemn Stillness Lay…

December 23, 2012

During this season of the year, it is hard to find time to be still and quiet. In fact it was not so many years in the past we didn’t want to be still. We still have trouble getting to the quiet place we really need.

This past week as the nation was reeling from the news of the senseless shootings in Connecticut, our minds tried to shut it out. We tried to find places of security and peace in our neighborhood. And yet, there is violence anywhere you look.

We have been blessed to hear and participate in six choral performances in the past few weeks. Each one in its own way took us back to a slower paced time when a babe was born in a stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

In an economy that is less than stable and trials all around, God has once again shown Himself strong. He used His servants to bring in more than $3,100 for our Lottie Moon CHRISTmas offering. Our goal was $2,000 but once again as we sat still God showed us He is able to do over and above anything we could ask or even dream.

The apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:17-19 gives us this prayer, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.”

OBEDIENT

December 16, 2012

This year’s theme for the Lottie Moon Christmas offering is BE His heart, His hands and His voice. If we BE obedient to His commission, then we will BE His heart, His hands and His voice.

Jesus spent His ministry training His disciples to Be ready to continue to carry the message of the love of God to a world in need of a savior.

Jesus demonstrated love in action to His followers breaking down sexist, racist, intellectual, religious and economical barriers wherever He went.

Jesus taught the love of the Heavenly Father by Being a living example rather than spewing rote rhetoric as the religious rulers before Him had.

God has let us BE for Him since the resurrection of His Son Jesus. God has trusted us with the task of Going, Sharing and Being on His behalf.

Matthew 16:24-25 this year’s theme scripture reminds us, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Can we be counted on to BE that OBEdient?

 


A New Era

December 9, 2012

There were two major hires in Arkansas this week. The first was announced Tuesday just before the 2nd was shared. The Arkansas Baptist State Convention Announced: “Tucker named new ABSC Executive Director. The 2nd was naming Bret Bielema as the new head coach for the razorbacks.

What a deal! How interesting: Both hires were announced on the same day. Each brings to close one era and begins another. I am excited with both prospects.

I have known and followed Dr. Sonny Tucker since 1988. I have watched him mature during this time from a young preacher boy to God’s man of the hour for our state.

This thing I do know: Each is going to need our prayers. The Bible is clear that we must pray for others and the apostle Paul gives us these words for Dr. Sonny in Colossians 1:9-10, “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

We are not sure about the new coach’s spiritual convictions, but he, too, is going to need our prayers.


I Know Where I Was…

December 2, 2012

Back in the 1980’s I saw a motivational movie while in the Army. It was called, “Who You Are is Where You Were When”, by Morris Massey. This film brought out such events as the first space orbit, the shooting of JFK and first moon landing.

Who you are is largely shaped by the values of society during certain significant events. There are people here today that first heard of these events in a history book so they do not have the same frame of reference others of us have.

Even greater than these event, I know where I was seventeen years ago today. I was sitting in a room awaiting the birth of my first grandchild, Courtney. It was a time of excitement and apprehension. I was not old enough to be a granddad. It sure was going to make Reta look old. How is Rhonda going to be able to be a mom? A thousand other thoughts ran through my mind.

I wondered what kind if any influence I would have on him (she was supposed to be a boy). I wanted to be able to make an impact on my grandchildren’s lives. The writer of Psalms 103:17-18 says, “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

I know where I was when each of these events took place and many more. The one that affected me the most was the birth of my Granddaughter Courtney.


I am Thankful!

November 18, 2012

The season of ‘Thanksgiving’ is a time that reminds us how thankful we are for certain things, but I think we here on Petit Jean Mountain don’t wait for November, nor do we stop after the first of the year giving thanks to God for each other and
the other blessings He has given us.

It never ceases to amaze me how God uses His children to meet the needs of others. We usually set energetic goals for our sized church. However when we think about it, our best goals are nothing to our God. He owns the earth and all that is in it. What causes us to choke doesn’t even bring a flinch to God.

As we face the challenges and goals before us, let us meet those challenges with boldness and knowing He has our back. He knows our needs and He has already seen our tomorrow. I am thankful that He thinks about us every day all day long and every day of every year.

As the apostle Paul says in Philippians 1:3, “I thank my God at every remembrance of you.” As good as that is, think about how special God’s thoughts of us are. The writer of Psalms 139:17-18 says, “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand.” We can be thankful He is that thoughtful toward us.

I am Thankful!

November 11, 2012

The apostle Paul says in 1Thessalonians 1:2, “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.” I give thanks for the men and women who have served in the military of our country. There are many real-life heroes who walk among us. These heroes seldom tell you what they have done, but just listen and they will proudly tell you what their buddies did.

They will share a story here and there; often leaving out the contributions they made, yet giving credit to the soldiers that walked with them into battle.

I was blessed to serve on the selection committee for the Arkansas Military Veterans Hall of Fame. Many of their stories were pieced together by friends, relatives and confirmed by military documents surrounding a bronze or silver star or Purple Heart or other official unit document. Some of the family members never knew the stories until after their loved ones passed away and they were going through scrapbooks hidden in closets or cedar chests that had never been seen.

I thank God for our men and women who have served and are serving to keep our freedoms. Take time to thank a Veteran today or this week, praying for the ones serving today and their families who also silently serve.

The Perfect Storm

November 4, 2012

This week as Hurricane Sandy was approaching the east coast, a friend was talking about all that was going to happen and in excited tones mentioned, “It is the perfect storm!”

For me the perfect storm would not be one of mass destruction and loss of lives and property, but one like some of our tornados that hit in areas where there is no property or humans living there.

Thinking of the destruction and problems that would occur on the heavily populated areas in the east made me proud to be a part of the Southern Baptist Convention and The Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

We have just met and exceeded our goal for the Dixie Jackson State Missions offering and that supports our state disaster relief efforts. While we probably want to give to help support this challenge, we can be assured our teams are not having to wait to see if the money comes in so they can go.

Last week our teams were being gathered and getting ready to move into place as soon as possible to help those affected by the storms.

I thank you once again for your part in giving to the Dixie Jackson Missions Offering; not just to reach a goal, but to be ready to help others. This is an opportunity to help as the apostle Paul said in Galatians 6:2, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Thank you for giving to The Lord.


Looking Forward

September 30, 2012

In leaving triple digit readings on our thermometers, we look forward to fall and cooler weather. Currently, we have had a little rain and our grass and trees have burst back to life.

Now we can look forward to the morning we wake up and find our yards covered with frost. Such a find reminds us that winter is just around the corner and a normal spring will soon follow.

Is it me or does all this finding and reminding sometimes seem like just a blur? What we look forward to is too soon behind us and what we would escape has overtaken us before we can turn around.

Now don’t get me wrong…I like change, but I also like to enjoy change before it changes again. That process is one of the things I dislike about retail. For example, somewhere over the rainbow, someone in an office comes up with a burst of brilliance to move everything to a spot where it has not been.

That movement is intentional so that when you go into a familiar store, you will find they have moved your favorite item and you have to search for it. That search is the retailer’s hope you will find something else you must have.

The writer of Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 reminds us with these words that change is a way of life: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.”

The Secret Ingredient

September 16, 2012

Every recipe has certain key ingredients required to make the dish into what we expect it to be. Many things can be left out or substituted, but the nothing can take the place of the main component.

For example, you can’t have a cake without flour, you can’t have an omelet without eggs, and you can’t have lemonade without lemons. In each of these recipes, the sum of the ingredients is greater than each as individuals. When properly prepared, the result is that each item surrenders its own identity to become a better dish.

The same is true in churches. Every person has certain abilities, and when blended properly as only God can do, the product is far greater than when each of us started.

The secret ingredient is added when Jesus comes into our lives and makes a greater difference. The apostle Paul puts it this way: “Therefore if a man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17).

Come into the House of the Lord; surrender yourself, and let the love of Jesus radiate through you as you leave.

Life Is Like a Box of Chocolates

September 9, 2012

The line above is one of the memorable quotes from the movie Forrest Gump. When I hear it, I think about the big boxes of chocolate that have many textures and flavors. I like the ones that have nuts or something crunchy like a Butterfinger.

Fortunately, I highly detest the candies that have the runny-gooey centers…you know like the chocolate-covered cherries. To me, they are just too sweet and sticky-messy; even in my mouth. I’m sure, however, many of you just love those gooey, messy thingies and are not as crazy about the ones with nuts, so it works out even.

Real life is the same way. Each day is given to us without a promise of what it holds. Some days go smoothly and others have rough spots. Those means are what make life interesting. God gives us a day at a time so we can handle it bite by bite, rather than by the handful.

Every week God puts in enough variety to keep life interesting. This week, I lost a dear friend who was the girls’ age (34), and that was tough.

Wednesday we had a good surprise as the Bickerstaffs showed up with the Owens and another set of friends to make a nice sized group for our Bible study. Getting to see friends and meet others helped raise my spirits.

I do not know what I would do without getting to spend time with my church family and friends. Every meeting brings to mind the echo of these words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 1:3, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you”



Saying Thanks

September 2, 2012

We can collectively say “Thanks” to God for the showers we received this week. We did not get the massive amounts of rain that was predicted, and we can praise God for that.

Most of Arkansas missed the storms that were supposed to hit, and instead we got a nice amount of rain to replenish our trees and lawns. We can thank God for the safety of His protection through the storms that many others had.

This welcome rain has lifted most–if not all–the burn bans and will allow our friends camping out to have a fire this weekend. For those of us who have sat around the fire swapping stories and just fellowshipping, this will be another blessing to give thanks for as memories are made. I am sure for the avid campers this return of the fire pit will be a reason for celebration and giving thanks.

I am thankful that many years ago Arkansas Baptists started a Disaster Relief program through the Dixie Jackson State Missions Offering. Today, we have teams in the gulf area, feeding folks that were affected by the storms.

It is a blessing to have the Disaster teams in state, but even greater is the blessing of being able to help our neighbors (missions) wherever they are in the world. The apostle Paul reminded us of this as he quoted Jesus in Acts 20:35 with these words: “I have showed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”



What Comes To Mind?

August 26, 2012

When you think of late ‘summer-early fall’ (August-September) what comes to mind? With that in mind, we can go back to many memories.

For instance, children’s going back to school reminds us of fall. The back-to-school sales remind us that fall is right around the corner. The calendar reminds us that football season will soon be here, whether we are ready or not.

One thing that always comes to my mind is the Dixie Jackson State Missions Offering. That special offering has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I remember being a part of churches, including First Baptist Church Petit Jean, which have benefited from the Dixie Jackson State Missions Offering.

I think back to 1988 while on a State Mission trip and seeing new missions efforts financed by Dixie Jackson Missions Offerings. It was on that trip I first heard about the new church on Petit Jean Mountain.

It was at that time I learned about the mobile chapels that the state loaned to new churches and missions. It was then I saw first-hand the importance of our reaching out to others through the Dixie Jackson State Missions Offering. After all, it is important for us to give back as others have helped us.

The apostle Paul reminds us in Acts 20:35, “I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”


The Splash!

August 19, 2012

We have just finished with watching the summer Olympics. One of my favorite events is the platform diving competition. The men or women launch themselves into a series of twists, turns, and flips from a height of thirty-three feet.

After all these gyrations in mid-air, the contestants enter the water as straight as possible in order to make only a small splash. The goal is unlike that of professional cannonball divers, such as we, whose desire is to see how much water we can preferably displace by sending curtains of water onto the spectators on the sidelines.

When a good (Olympic) diver completes the dive with skill, the fans are in awe at the ability to do all he or she does, hardly creating a ripple. The same is true in life as some people live such peaceable lives their practice blesses everyone around them.

Other folks can be like the cannonball divers who splash and leave a trail of discord and confusion wherever they go.

The apostle Paul gives us this challenge in 2 Corinthians 13:11, “Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” May the splash we make in life be a joy and inspiration and not an aggravation.

Back To School! Oh, Boy!

August 12, 2012

Back-to-school sales, Christmas in August, pack the bus, and a plethora of other reminders clue us that school days are just around the corner.

Parents have tears in their eyes as they think about their young-uns headed off to the halls of higher learning and missing out on all the fun they have enjoyed together this summer.

The children are excited with all the possibilities of seeing old and new friends and the new experiences with this year’s class schedule. They will barely be able to fall asleep from the anticipation of the opportunities facing them this year.

The students will drift off to sleep in their beds while visions of conjugations, equations, insect collections, and dissected frogs with their inward parts splayed open for display dance in their heads.

What other possible explanation could there be for the bright shining eyes and broad smiles on their faces? The psalmist gives us this good advice in Ecclesiastes 7:25, “I turned my thoughts to know, explore, and seek wisdom and an explanation for things and to know that wickedness is stupidity and folly is madness.”

Let it Rain!

August 5, 2012

Almost everyone saw some rain this week! Praise The Lord! Some saw sprinkles, some saw decent rains and still others were able to sit back and listen and watch some really nice rain fall.

I heard many give God praise for the rain they received no matter how small it was. The plants even seemed to give praise to God as they greened up. Some plants perked up so well it was hard to believe a little shower could do so much good.

I remember old-timers saying, “It doesn’t matter how much you water your garden, you can’t beat even a small rain.” It is true, God knows what we need and how to give it to us in the doses we need. Praise the Lord, He doesn’t give it to us as we deserve, or we all likely would be living in a barren region.

Jesus in Matthew 5:45 says, “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

God, Thank You for the showers of blessing even when we don’t deserve them.

The Visitors

July 29, 2012

Every service we have here on the mountain is unique. There is absolutely no telling who will be here, or what talents they will bring.

We have musicians who show up with instruments and want to share what God has gifted them with. We have had pianists, guitars, trumpets, saxophones, a cello, canjos, and others I may have forgotten.

We have heard singers of all range of styles and even had at least one that shared some of their original music.

We have had at least one that I remember, who came back a year or so later, sharing that they returned convicted of the need to sing or play; or in some way share something God had given them.

These random encounters could only be orchestrated by God Himself as they enrich our lives and bless others who venture up the mountain.

This was true last Wednesday as we had a young couple who joined us for Bible study. They turned out to be newlyweds on their honeymoon, but that was only a part of their charm. The groom was Eric Harris, grandson of Nell Jones and the late Rev. V. L. Harris who were the first pastor and pastor’s wife of our church.

It was exciting to see Eric and his new bride, Brandy, touring the church and experiencing signs of his grandparents on the church.

You never know what you are going to see, or what you will miss, if not here. Most importantly, Jesus reminds us in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.”

Where Have All The Showers Gone?

July 22, 2012

The weather men have toyed with us this past week. At least twice we had “Thunderstorm Warnings” which came to naught. Even heavy dew would be appreciated.

As we talked to friends and neighbors it seems as if we all have forgotten the inch and a half rain we were given the week before. The showers we had the week before did make a difference.

The grass started turning green and grew enough to have to be cut at anyway. I could have almost been able to get by without mowing except for a couple of streaks where there was a depression and what rain we received ran down and collected.

The grass growing in those valleys must have found some extra vitamins because it has taken off like the wild hair growing in my eyebrows and ears. One of these days I am going to hybrid the grass that grows in the cracks of sidewalks and over concrete and asphalt.

The writer of Leviticus 26:3-4 gives us this advice, “If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” Pray for rain.


To Prove a Point

July 15, 2012

Sunday morning Wayne and Phyllis were greeted by an interesting/disturbing sight. As they entered the fellowship hall with Wayne bringing in the tater salad, there it was, two grown (sorta grown at least) men half dressed!

We have always known Fil Chapman and Billy Vance were strange and unique individuals and would give you the shirt off their back. Well, that is exactly what happened: Fil noticed Billy’s shirt and told him he liked it.

Before Phyllis could say, “Don’t look Wayne!” it was too late. He had done been enlightened. We had always heard Billy would give someone the shirt off his back, and there he was doing it to prove a point.

There have been many more examples of Billy helping others and brought smiles to their faces, but none as vivid and memorable as this one. In fact, Phyllis will always remember the time she slipped in on them as a visual example of true brotherly love.

Jesus reminds us in Matthew 25:40, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” You never know what you will miss if you miss Sunday School or come in late.

It Is Hot All Over

July 8, 2012

This seems to be an equal opportunity hot front. It has been cooler in Dallas than it has been even farther north than we are. It has been hotter here on Petit Jean than it has been at our friends’ homes in Oklahoma.

The threat of hotter weather no longer frightens us, for we have grown accustomed to it. What a shame. The grass under our feet wouldn’t stain our jeans like it did when we were kids. There is not enough chlorophyll to turn our knees green. In fact, the perspiration on our knees could create mud when mixed with the dust on the ground.

Only a few places still have a thick patch of grass left–unless it has been artificially watered. One of the things Reta and I noticed on the way to the mountain is how dry the lawns were, except in the bottom of the ditches where what moisture we have had in the past month congregated.

The frogs have been croaking for rain so long their throats are parched and scratchy. The locusts even drown out what frogs are still able to muster as a peep.

No matter who is hollering, we all can use some rain and a break in the weather. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 5:45, “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Lord, thank You for what we have, but as Phil says, “We sure would like a little rain.”

The Cost of Freedom

July 1, 2012

Two Hundred thirty-six years ago, our forefathers decided they had enjoyed all they wanted of the domination by England. They gathered together, and the strength each lacked by himself was added to the courage of his neighbors. As a result, they were able to stand united to declare their freedom and independence.

In the spirit of the moment, the founders of our country rallied; declaring their allegiance to each other and to our newly formed country. After signing the Declaration of Independence, the true test of their commitment was challenged.

Then, with their mouths, with their blood, and the blood of their neighbors, and some even their own sons, our founders were required to cover the check they had written as they counted the cost, they knew the reward would be far greater than the cost. We must never forget the price paid nor forget the cost we’ve suffered as a result of the multiple challenges we have faced.

We must also remember the words of the wise writer of Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” A price is to be paid either way.


Summer Is Here!

June 24, 2012

The official start date of summer crept in this week. One of the benefits include warm, warmer and warmest weather. Another is that the days will reach the longest hours in a day and then grow shorter, which will usher in cooler days.

It may take a few days, but at least it is on the horizon. I am grateful for the warmer weather for my friends who love the heat. Actually there is something therapeutic about walking out into the sunlight.

The sunlight penetrates to warm our bones and deliver the vitamin D in exact doses God created for us to receive to bring many health benefits. Now that is not to say we need to go out and bake until we look like lobsters, but the sun does have many benefits for us all.

God knows what we need before we even know we need to ask. Every season has a purpose and is a blessing in itself.

Can you imagine how boring it would be if our climate never changed? God knew we needed each of our seasons for a purpose and scattered them out to give us some cool, some hot, some rest and some refreshment.

I guess He knew our attention spans were not very long. The writer of Isaiah 55:9, reminds us, “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Praise The Lord: Fall is not far away!



Happy Father’s Day

June 17, 2012

Over the years I have observed many different styles of dads. Some were very tender and compassionate while others were harsh and even cruel. Some had the patience of Job and others were as quick tempered as a rattle snake; ready to strike at the slightest provocation.

I can remember dads who used the time with their children as teaching times; not in old schoolmarm sort of way, but in a nurturing style promoting learning. They would use little things to teach principals taking each lesson in bites their children could handle. They would rejoice in the successes and encourage further growth.

I have seen other dads that acted like they were irritated to ‘have’ to be with the brats (and no wonder they were brats). If their little one asked a question they were met with a sharp rebuke; either physically or verbally or both. Many times you would see the child recoil in fear even before action was taken because they knew what was coming.

I have seen myself in several of these dads over the years. Some of their examples helped mold me into the man I am today. I hope I have mellowed to make even stressful events productive learning tools for my children and grandchildren.

Consider these words of Malachi 4:6, “He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”

Let us become the dads and granddads God wants us to be. Then it will be a Happy Fathers Day.


Isn’t God Great?

June 10, 2012

As I write this, we have just heard from the doctor and he says if she continues as well as she has so far, Reta may get dismissed from the hospital Sunday, (today) instead of Monday or Tuesday as first discussed.

Now that is welcome news. In fact it is possibly the best news this week narrowly edging out Isaac (our grandson) stealing home plate to tie the ball game on Friday sending the game into extra innings and eventually winning the game.

Now if she does or if she does not, God is still God and God is still good. God is, was, and will be better than we deserve.

When Reta and I came in to register at Baptist Hospital and sat down, who should wander in but Nolan and Wanda Owens from Star City. We were able to visit with them a short while until Reta got to go to the back. In a trial like this, it is good to see kind faces and know the Owens and many other friends are praying for you.

Even in the midst of the waiting for the procedure to begin I saw an old (20-30 something years young) friend. Rebecca was sitting with me and I asked her if she had seen this young man lately. Then we recognized that it was him and had a good visit with him.

Even in challenges we can find silver linings. In Matthew 28:20 we are reminded by these words of Jesus, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” What a great God to be ever present with daily surprises.

 

Prayer Warriors

June 3, 2012

This week we heard from Ann Vance that her (and Billy’s) grandson, Harrison, was going to have a procedure soon to correct a problem in his heart. Heart surgery is always a little scary; especially for when it involves a youngster.

We also will be hearing the results Thursday from mom’s tests this past week. Wednesday was a trying day for her as her biopsy was scheduled for 9am and she needed to be there at 8am. Ready to get the show on the road, mom and dad got to the hospital shortly after 7am and were back in pre-op by 7:25. By about 9:30, the intern came by to ask all the formal questions and just short of 10 they took her back.

She had other tests on Thursday that sort of made up for the inconvenience of Wednesday. She checked in early (of course), they gave her the drink for the 2nd test early and finished the first test and went shortly into the 2nd test and had lunch and were on the road home before 1pm, when the 2nd test was originally scheduled.

She has a good attitude as she goes into the results believing it is nothing, but if it is, knows God is in control.

On Friday Reta will be getting her knee replaced and is getting antsy to ‘git er done.’ Of course in the past few weeks she has heard all the stories from individuals who have friends, or know someone’s friend who had a ‘mishap’ during or after the surgery. Naturally this makes the wait less comfortable for Reta.

Remember these three this week especially as it is unusual to have this many this close to our church family with this depth of concern in one week. As we pray, remember these words of the apostle Paul in Romans 8:26, “The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us.”

In Jesus’ Name. Amen


How Can We Say Thanks?

May 27, 2012

This weekend our country pauses to celebrate Memorial Day. At least that was the intention of the forefathers when they set the day aside to remember the ones who gave their lives in the wars.

How do we say thanks to the ones who paid the price for our freedoms? First we say thanks by remembering them and the price they paid for our country.

Next we can say thanks to the families who have given their dads, moms, brothers, sister, aunts, uncles and close friends in these acts of war. To some it seems as though their sacrifice is even greater. To the Christian who goes to be with The Lord, death is just walking out one door and into the next life with no pain, sorrow or hurting. The families and friends carry the loss for the rest of their lives.

Then say thanks for the ones who have returned. They have been willing to pay the price, and many have and are paying that price with physical and/or mental wounds. Make it a practice to thank our VETs anytime you meet one. Today may be the day they need to hear it; not just once or twice a year.

Thank God for our country and pray for the women and men who serve in our seven branches of service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserves). Remember the words of Psalm 33:12, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.”

Mother’s Day

May 13, 2012

Trips down memory lane take us to Mother’s Days of yesteryear when we were little tykes and tried to make something special for Mom.

With an older sister, a younger brother, and two younger sisters who were gifted creatively, I felt like a duck out of water anytime crafty projects were brought out. Being left-handed, scissors never fit exactly right in my hand (at least that was my excuse at the time).

In a coloring project, I was challenged to stay in the lines, and even when I did color inside the lines, the finished project looked as though a two-year-old had done it while holding the crayon in his/her fist. At first I tried to ignore the fact that my attempts at art work were less than stellar; however, by the time I was in the third or fourth grade, even I noticed that Doug and, probably even Jan at about age two, could color better than I. Of course I had a couple of teachers who helped me understand that art surely wasn’t going to be my calling. I can still imagine those teachers saying, “Tsk, tsk, tsk…bless his heart.”

Mom was the one whose patience showed through it all. She never let on that my art was anything less than any of the others. In fact, she said mine was “special.” Come to think of it, she made all of us feel that ours was special.

Thank God for my special mom. The wise writer of Proverbs 31:28-29 gives this model to us,”Her sons rise up and call her blessed. Her husband also praises her: Many women are capable, but you surpass them all!”

Some Numbers

May 6, 2012

Thirty-four years ago the date was 5-6-78. It is interesting to me how some combinations of numbers jump out at you. While I was thinking of the sequential numbers 5-6-7-8, I noticed the inside numbers added to 13 as well as did the outside numbers.

Seven years ago, Reta and I began our walk across Arkansas. Our journey began 050605, and in adding the numbers, you come up with 21, which is how many days of walking it took for us to complete the trip. The numbers 2+1=3 (the number of weeks of days our journey required).

The number 21 divided by 3 is 7, the number for perfection. There are 7 days in a week. God spent 6 days in the creation process and rested on the seventh day to complete the first week.

In all things, even as elementary as numbers, we can see God if we just open our eyes. In fact, if some people don’t see Him, it is because God must be spiritually discerned. In that moment of discernment, He opens our eyes spiritually when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior. In First Thessalonians, the apostle Paul reminds us: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (5:18).

 

Fifth Sunday Singing

April 29, 2012

It happens once a quarter. It is never the same. There is at least one — if not more — surprise as most folks join in congregational singing and then break down into solos and groups.

All present are given the opportunity to share their hearts in song. There is no competition; only praise and worship. A special camaraderie builds as the men all sing, the women all sing, and families share their talents and testimonies.

My thoughts go back to years ago and to songs sang with folks who are no longer with us. I remember some who have been taken in death and some who are separated by miles.

I remember children, proud as peacocks and willing to sing songs at the top of their voices, their mouths open wide, revealing missing teeth, and faces covered with smiles that warmed your heart. Teeth of these youngsters have grown back, but their voices are silenced by miles as they have moved away.

Come and add your voice to others as we raise our vioices to God and create new memories.

Thanks!

April 22, 2012

I would like to say “Thanks” to each of you. We just celebrated the 25th anniversary of First Baptist Church Petit Jean, and many of you invested time and resources to make this a memorable event.

Each of your contributions in the past several weeks is appreciated, but my thanks not only concerns the actions of the recent celebration, but also relates to the sacrifices, large and small, that have come together to build, furnish, and sustain God’s church here on Petit Jean mountain.

Our achievement has not been the result of a large single donor, but Petit Jean’s existence is the result of pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollars of many folks that love God and His work.

In fact, we owe many others around our state a word of gratitude because our building was built in part by grants from our State’s Dixie Jackson State Missions offering. That means that some of us who were not even on the mountain at the time our building was being planned and built had a part in its completion.

As I thought about that, I thought about how hundreds — or even thousands — who have visited here may not even realize why they are drawn to this church, but it is becasue of the investment they made without thinking about getting to be the recipient of the blessing.

I join the apostle Paul in Philippians 3:1-6 and his saying, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship is the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Who Got You Here?

April 15, 2012

For two months in 1988, Orel Hershiser was perhaps the best pitcher ever. From late August through the World Series, he had an ERA of 0.60 and led the Dodgers to an improbable world championship. A Christian for only a few years, Hershiser spoke of his Savior in interviews and knelt on the mound in thanks after one World Series victory. But this wasn’t the first time Hershiser had thrown so well. While pitching in the minor leagues at San Antonio a few years earlier, he had also fashioned a 0.60 ERA going into June. “I got caught up in the scouting reports, what I read in the papers, and the phone calls from the Dodgers,” he recalls. “I stopped praying. And I stopped listening to God. I started going out with the guys and not really having a focus on what I was supposed to be doing.” By the time he was done with his next three pitching assignments, Hershiser’s ERA had ballooned to 8.60. “It was like God had come down from heaven and hit me over the head and said, ‘You dummy. Remember Who got you here. Remember where your abilities come from.'” (Branon, Dave & Joe Pellegrino, Safe at Home (Moody, 1992), quoted in Men of Integrity, Vol. 3)

The apostle Paul in Romans 12:3 says, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

As we celebrate our 25th anniversary we must never forget God who got us here and Who will continue to lead us.

He Is Not Here

April 8, 2012

Can you imagine the range of emotions the ladies experienced when the angel of the Lord said, “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said…” (in Matthew 28:6).

What terrific news; however, after the last few days of mourning, it was totally unexpected. Did they dare to believe it was possible? Was this just a cruel trick? Had someone stolen his body? If it were true, where was He?

The ladies were soon to find out, and the entire world would never be the same! He is not here! He is risen! Everything has changed. He is not in the tomb. He is not dead. He is risen and will be seen by friends and other witnesses.

The welcome news on that morning is also the good–yea, the great–news we celebrate today. This morning, we, too, enjoy the benefit of that news. Daily as I read this chapter, whether the morning we celebrate the resurrection or any other day, it is exciting to hear over and over: “He is risen!”

 


Friends Are a Blessing

April 1, 2012

What makes a friend? Look around you and determine; what are the characteristics in common with each of your friends. The truth is there may be or may not be a common factor.

Many of the friends I have had over the years are a more diverse group than a group with many things in common. I have had friends who are sportsmen, and have had others who even have aversions to killing animals for sport though they may even voice those objections while eating a cheeseburger, steak or ultra-meat pizza.

I have had friends who have put off having a relationship with Jesus Christ, but most of my friends are Christians. In fact I feel that most of my friendships with non-believers have been out of the compassion I have through Christ living in me.

The wise writer of Proverbs 18:24 reminds us, “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly.” Friends are a blessing, and you are a blessing to them by being their friend.


Spring Is In The Air!

March 25, 2012

Last week, even before the first official day of the season, spring was in the air, on our cars, in our eyes and nostrils; leaving traces of green everywhere we looked. This week spring has been in the air in the form of precipitation on our cars, on the ground, in our creeks, and in our rivers.

The pollen of last week has given way to cleansing rains that washed the dust and dirt away, even if only temporarily. The rains prepare the soil for the crops that are being planted or are already in the ground.

The temperatures have risen into the 80’s. Such a rise brought out shorts and short sleeves, and even Reta has left off the coat at least for one day.

All the signs point to new life for the earth. All the pollen that deals us so much misery comes from the flowers, trees, and grasses of the fields. The rains that bring the floods replenish our ponds, creeks, reservoirs, and rivers.

It is beautiful to drive up and down the mountain and see the springs flowing and nourishing the tender, fragile plants clinging in the crevices where God placed them for us to view.

The writer of Luke 12:27 reminds us of these words of Jesus: “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

We must enjoy the beauty of spring, knowing God loves and cares for us with each breeze and each drop of rain He sends our way.

Laughter Is Contagious

March 18, 2012

We can give God thanks for many things. The Bible even gives us many things for which we should give thanks. In fact, the Lord gives us many reasons to give thanks every day if we just open our eyes and our ears.

To see a child getting to spend time with mom, dad, grandma, or granddad is a special sight. When we see the child adoring that person, even though that one might not be the best dressed or the most athletic, just in seeing the child’s love for that special one, we realize that because of that love, a precious memory is being created.

Hearing a child’s laughter is another reason to give thanks. First, the gift of hearing is a blessing, and in a world where there is little to even smile about, not only is a child’s laughter a special treat, but also it can be contagious. A child’s easy laughter is a reminder of times when we can just be ourselves in an age of innocence.

Thank God, we can go back to that feeling of innocence in our relationship with Him. In 1 John 1:9 we are reminded, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Don’t you just want to crawl up into His lap and share a laugh ’til you your sides split?

“There Is No I in Team”

March 11, 2012

At this time of the year, as the Super Bowl has been played and the basketball teams are in tournaments, we hear that saying often. While that expression has been used and even abused, I noticed there is an I in missions.

As a matter of fact, there are two I‘s in missions. One of the reasons “I” is important is that anyone and everyone can be involved in missions. Though each of us is not called to leave home to be involved in missions, we all can have a part.

First, we can pray for our missionaries and their ministries. As we study their lives, filled with both the joys and the struggles, we identify with the adventures of missions. Identifying with the people of missions, both the served and the server, helps to make the mission real to us and challenges us to become more involved in praying for such ministry.

Next, as we pray for our missions and missionaries, we are drawn to give more–not just financially (even though that is important), but maybe even give of our time and talents with which we have been blessed.

Missions remind us it is our Individual privilege and responsibility to be Involved in a way to impact our world, just as the four friends in Mark 2:1-5 make a difference to their friend.

Sure Feels Like Spring

March 4, 2012

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the fish are biting, and it surely feels like spring. Temperatures have reached into the high 70’s, raising the pollen count to levels bringing misery to allergy sufferers everywhere.

Have you ever thought about what it could have been like if we still lived in the Garden of Eden in a perfect state? I mean what if there were no weeds, no thorns, no allergies, and no biting bugs?

What a blessing that would be. The malady that caused this Paradise to be lost is still a problem today. Sin caused us to lose not only the perfect environment, but also to lose the innocence that we feel at spring time when we look up into a perfectly blue sky and describe what we see in the clouds drifting by.

The writer of 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Total forgiveness gives us a pure feeling that surely