2014 From My Heart to Yours

2014 From My Heart to Yours

CHRISTmas, Truly a Miraculous Time

December 21, 2014

When you think about all of the prophesies that came to pass and all the other events surrounding the birth of Jesus it truly is a time of miracle.

First Mary was visited by an angel. Can you imagine a teenage girl getting a visit directly from a messenger of God Himself.

Then the teenager went to visit her cousin Elizabeth and when Mary spoke to Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s baby leaped within her.

Joseph the one who was engaged to Mary was also visited by an angel. After God being silent for around 400 years He had communicated through His messenger to both Joseph and Mary within days.

God orchestrated the events necessary to bring Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem to fulfill prophesy.

The greatest miracle was that God loved us enough to allow His son to come to earth and live a sinless life, and go to the cross to pay the debt we owed because of our sin.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) What a miracle!

 

 

Mr. Lonnie Gasaway

December 14, 2014

This month we celebrated Mr. Lonnie’s Birthday on December 7th and then a birthday party in his honor was held on Saturday the 13th.

Why all the fuss, one might say; after all each of us has at least one birthday each year. The truth is Mr. Lonnie has had a handful of birthdays. In fact he is celebrating nine decades of birthdays this year.

In ninety years a person can do a whole lot of living. Looking through the pictures and talking to friends and family you can see that Mr. Lonnie has done a whole heap of living and has not just taken up space on his part of this planet.

You can see that he was a World WarII member of the armed forces serving in The Navy. He was a husband married to a cute young wife named Agatha who he must have treated fairly well as she still claims him today.

He was an involved father taking his children places and even added in some nieces and nephews to the mix as one or more mentioned “Uncle Lonnie was always taking us swimming or other places.”

He was/is an avid sportsman fishing, hunting and calling the ‘Hogs’ (Razorbacks that is).

One of the things that stands out about Mr. Lonnie though is his relationship with God. More than one person mentioned Mr. Lonnie praying. It is a blessing to know and worship with Brother Lonnie and to know my God. James 2:23 tells us, “Abraham was called a friend of God.” I believe Our Heavenly Father calls Bro. Lonnie friend too.

Tis The Season

December 7, 2014

The season to celebrate the birth of Jesus is upon us. Even before the turkey is put away on Thanksgiving, there are commercials revving us up to shop for Christmas.

The retailers hype their sales for Black Friday “deals”to separate the customers from their dollars. The success of the season is measured by all the different events centered around the Thanksgiving weekend.

People begin greeting one another with, “Season’s Greetings!”, “Merry Christmas!” or other expressions of merriment. The trend has been to move further and further away from the recognition of the reason we have to celebrate.

From my earliest remembrance, I recall people trying to remove Christ from Christmas. Some use the excuse that they do not want to offend others who do not believe in Jehovah God and His Son Jesus.

I mean seriously…Jesus is the reason for the season. Luke 21:17 reminds us, “And ye shall be hated for my name’s sake.” And as subtle as it is, the persecutions begin.

As Christians rise up to take a stand for righteousness, more and more retailers are starting to see our numbers are larger than many want to think.

Remember to let others know why we celebrate, because without Jesus, there is no Merry Christmas.

 

 


Thanks for Our Savior

November 30, 2014

This month, our bulletins have pointed out things to give thanks for: our family, our world and our church. In giving thanks, we would be remiss to stop without giving thanks to God for His son, Jesus.

When Jesus came to earth, part of His mission was to reveal to us His Father and the love His Father has for us. Jesus tells us in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

God’s love for us was not even dependent on our liking or even seeking Him first. The apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 5:8, “But God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Failing to give thanks to God for His unspeakable gift to us would be the ultimate act of rudeness one can imagine.

Take time daily to thank God for the many blessings He has given us; most of all His son whose sacrifice of obedience gives us eternal life.

 

Give Thanks To God

November 23, 2014

In my earliest recollections of Thanksgiving, my idea was that we were to give thanks for food. I mean we were taught that the Indians and pilgrims organized and celebrated with a potluck. I knew the feast was in honor of the harvest, and putting two and two together, it meant food, right?

Then at Thanksgiving we would gather with family and again there was a potluck feast and what a feast it was. There was meat and rolls and meat and potatoes and meat and desert and meat! (Did I mention meat?) Sometimes I was able to get more than I needed and still not get around to trying all the meat. With all the ham, turkey, fried chicken, roast (pick around the onions), baked chicken, chicken and dumplings, venison and etc I was truly thankful.

As I started to mature, (probably somewhere around fifty) I began to appreciate and give thanks for the time off. We didn’t always do as much as we did when I was younger, but just to be able to rest and spend time with our immediate family was a reason to give thanks.

The Thanksgiving weekend was a necessity to prepare for the month of December. It seems like every spare moment of December is filled with having to go to this function or play or party or and on and on. So we can relax to prepare to make room for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

As reasons to be thankful change it is not a bad thing, but it is necessary. The writer of Psalm 106:1 gives us this reason to give thanks, “Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”

Thanks for Our Church

November 16, 2014

Upon giving thanks for our family and our world, we can give thanks for our church. God has brought us to this place to worship and to serve.

Not only has God blessed us to be able to worship in peace and safety in the state, but also He has placed us in our location in the state.

We get to come to a beautiful building and meet with beautiful people worshiping The Holy God who loves us and has gifted us to serve together and encourage one another by “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20).

God brings us together from all over the south, from the United States, and really from the world to be more than just acquaintances, but to be brothers and sisters in Christ.

While we have a nice comfortable building, the Church is not about a building or a location; it is God’s people wherever we go and whatever we do each day. I give thanks for you each Sunday when I see you at God’s house, and each day when I meet you on the street, or when I have you in my prayers, and when I have any other remembrance of you.

 

 

Thanks for Our World

November 9, 2014

We can hardly begin to thank God without contemplating this world where He has placed us.

I mean, how neat is it that He placed us on a sphere hanging by nothing, and resting on nothing, yet it rotates on an axis with precision that can only be explained as miraculous.

The earth is warmed by our star, the sun, which stays at a consistent distance to keep from burning us up or freezing us solid.

He has placed all the resources we need to sustain life We have air to breath, food to eat, and water for drinking and recreation.

God gives us beauty to enjoy, from sun rises and sunsets to flowers and trees and different grasses. He gives us birds both to look at and contemplate flight, and to enjoy their songs.

God placed many resources on this planet for us to discover and learn how to capitalize on them.

He placed gold and other precious metals for us to discover.

He placed gems such as diamonds, rubies, pearls emeralds and other treasures to not only find, but to discover.

He has given us natural resources such as oil, coal, and gas to provide heat, transportation and other opportunities we will be directed toward.

The writer of Psalms 24:1-2 says, “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.”

Give thanks to God for His creation and all He has given us to enjoy.

 

 

Thanks For Family

November 2, 2014

This time of the year is a time when, more than any other, we take inventory of who our family is and what they mean to us.

Over the next couple of months, families will get together more than at any other time of the year. It is a time to reflect and give thanks for the positives God has placed in our families.

When I was raising coon dogs, not only did we look at the positive traits that came through each parent’s blood line, but also we noted what were each side’s weakness.

The good thing about families is we have to live with what we have. As I have said many times, “You have to run what you brung, or what brung you.”

What that shows us is God places us in the families He chooses, and that choice is in many ways for our benefit.

With all our quirks and weaknesses, we still find the recipes for love and blessings in each of our families. The apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good to those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.”

I thank God for my family, and I thank Him in how He put us together for His purpose.

 

 

Enjoy Your Freedom

October 26, 2014

In 1972, for the first time in the history of the United States of America, eighteen-year-olds were allowed to vote. The 26th Amendment to the US Constitution, which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18, was ratified on July 1, 1971.

As a result, the first presidential election I was able to vote in was 1976, the 200th year anniversary of our United States. I remember voting with pride as I cast my first national ballot.

Ever since I was allowed to vote, I have voted in almost every election in my city, county, state, and nation. There were a few I missed because of work or because of being out of town over the years. However, there were more times I cut a vacation short to vote in a primary or runoff election.

I now enjoy early voting as I get to choose my day and not have to stand in line for an hour or so to get to cast my ballot. This is a special year as my oldest granddaughter gets to vote for the first time. If things progress as expected, she will vote for her first president in 2016, exactly forty years after I voted for my first president.

I pray for wisdom as we “senior” citizens vote as well as do the young, the new adults, choose their leaders. I pray for God to raise up men and women to run for office and lead our country back into the paths of righteousness that made our country great.

I pray for Godly leaders to bring our nation back to the place Psalms 33:12 talks about when the writer says, “Blessed is the nation whose god is the Lord.” As we enjoy our freedom, we should not neglect to seek God, but we must serve God in thanks for all that He provides us and for all that he allows us every day.


Achieving Greatness

October 19, 2014

Can you imagine my surprise this week when I found in my inbox some keys to greatness. One of the advertisements assured me that even thought I had not been born great, I could order up an order of greatness. In fact they were even willing for me to bestow greatness upon my friends with a gift card.

I have been offered to live “The”epic life just by letting one company show me their product which would revolutionize my life forever.

The fact is I was so underwhelmed by these offers that I promptly deleted them; forever missing out on those opportunities.

Jesus offers us this advice in Mark 9:35. “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” In other words the world offers greatness based on things and God tells us in order to be great we must become last or servant to others.

Jesus demonstrated this concept while He lived here on earth. Live forever by following Him

 


How Do You Set a Date?

October 12, 2014

When you talk to a couple about how they arrived at a certain date for their wedding date, you can get some interesting answers. For instance, some people have a sentimental date that drew them to set that date. Others choose the date based on looking forward a certain number of months to give them time to plan all the details to the Nth degree, checking and rechecking each list over and over.

Some weddings are planned around a holiday, or otherwise, a significant date, such as an ultimate date of the year, Columbus day.

To work your schedule into such tight pattern requires a great deal of thought and prior planning.

Actually what had happened was in August or September of 1973. At that time, Reta and I could think of no good reason to wait until spring of 1974, so we decided to get married around Christmas.

With no good reason to wait until Christmas, we looked ahead to find a weekend far enough away to include a payday and time enough to find a place to live. I was living in a boarding house with 4 guys, sharing a kitchen and bathrooms with strict rules of No Girls Allowed.

So when all things came together, we were just blessed to have picked the very day all of America celebrates as Columbus day, or at least used to celebrate it.

Proverbs 18:22 says it well with these words in The New Living Translation: “The man who finds a wife finds a treasure.”

I thank God for Reta, my wife of 41 years and for the journey He has let us enjoy together.

 

Lightning Flashed and Thunder Crashed

October 5, 2014

With the temperatures back up into the high eighties and no rain for a week or so, we looked forward to the chance of rain that came on Thursday.

The temperature was warm as we awakened on Thursday morning and stayed hot most of the day. About dark, the lightning started flashing across the sky and soon the thunder followed.

The temperatures dropped from high 80’s to 70 in less than an hour. The flurry of the storm came though quickly and brought some welcome rains.

We had not seen much lightning and heard that much thunder rolling in quite some time. As a result, there were moments of anxiety until we watched the weather and saw it was only the usual breed of storm which we had not seen in a while.

In Mark 4:39 we are given these words about the response of Jesus to a vicious storm: “And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

Knowing the Master of the winds allows us to enjoy the benefits of the storm even as it rages around us.

Thank You God for the showers of blessings and
the beauty of Your light show.

 

 

A Mind Wanders

September 28, 2014

Some inquiring minds wonder; mine wanders. In fact, it is a good thing my mind is trapped inside this thick skull of mine and can’t just wander off.

This week, as I was mowing my lawn, I began to wonder if this might be the last time I would get/have to mow my yard this year.

While mowing, I dodged a few straggling “Naked Ladies” (flowers) and wondered what happens to make them appear at odd times like they do. I wondered if I cut them back too quickly would they disappear for good. Would it be the
last time I saw them? Would it be the last time I would have to mow around them?

My mind then wandered, causing me to wonder about a myriad of other possible “lasts”. Could I have kissed my children and grand-children for the last time? Could I have hugged my sisters, brother, Mom, or Dad for the last time?

Could I have seen a co-worker or acquaintance for the last time today? If so, did I leave the right impression? The wandering of my mind reminded me that life is short and time is fleeting.

The writer of James 4:14 sums it up for us with these words: “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

I wonder what would happen if we made the most of each day?


Missions Minded

September 21, 2014

Petit Jean Mountain First Baptist Church was founded with missions in mind and built with the help of dollars from Dixie Jackson Arkansas State Mission’s Offerings. For this reason, I think we/you are grateful for what others have done for us, so we/you have a legacy before us of being mission’s supporters as well as being receivers.

While we were blessed with the offerings of others, we have since learned the truth from the words of 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.”

In the past twenty-five years, we have re-paid the dollars given to us many times over. We have been able to share what God has blessed us with, which, in turn, is a blessing to us. Thus far this year we have received over $1300, surpassing our goal of $1200. The Dixie Jackson State Mission is at least the third level of missions in which we are involved at this time. The first level is local missions, in which we participate in the food bank with First Baptist Church Oppelo. At this time, we also are participating in the collection of oatmeal to help replenish the Conway County Care Center.

The next level is Associational Missions. In this level, we participate with fellow Southern Baptist churches from Conway and Perry Counties. Somewhere after the third level of mission’s participation, we participate on the fourth level to the Cooperative Program. That level consists in our joining other churches around our state and other nations to support missions in Arkansas, North America, and around the world.

What a blessing to get to be so mission involved from our little corner of the world on Petit Jean Mountain.

 

I-i-i-s-s S-s-s-ummer Over?

September 14, 2014

Fall rains and cooler weather are a welcome sight even for the ones who love the warmer days. Almost everyone has enjoyed about all the hot, dry days they want.

With hesitation we ask, “Is summer over?” While we are ready for relief from the heat, we know it doesn’t usually end this abruptly. Some, like Reta, may be afraid summer is over and are already dreading the cold weather.

I personally am ready for some good cool fall days that we used to call “football weather.” It seems that when we were in school, the temperatures dropped at about the same time as the “Back to School” sales began.

I remember the feel of a crisp new pair of jeans that would keep off the chill on a school morning. Another thing I also looked forward to was raking leaves and changing the scenes they give us.

God shows us each day how much He loves us and tries to get us to praise and worship Him. With summer over, harvest is here, and we have even more reason to praise Him.

The writer of Psalms 86:12 gives us these words: “I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore.”

Each day is another reason to praise Him whether it be summer, fall, winter, or spring.

For evermore…!


Are We There Yet?

September 7, 2014

Several years ago, one of our missions themes was, “Are we there yet?” As I thought about that theme, I was reminded of the vacation trips we had as children and then continued making those trips with our own children.

After a short while, someone would invariably ask the question, “Are we there yet?” Sometimes the question was just rhetorical, and other times it was just to try to raise the blood pressure of the people in charge.

Most of our vacations were trips in Arkansas. We had some interesting memories and got to see sights that make Arkansas special. We saw mountains, creeks, rivers, and lakes. We saw tons of trees and a variety of crops in various stages; from being planted to being harvested and hauled to market.

The truth of the matter is that though much can be seen around the world, the journey begins for us in Arkansas, where there is still much to see. Though I have lived almost six decades, I still have not seen it all. I am not there yet.

Arkansas is an important state of beauty, and we are an important part in the process of winning our world for Jesus Christ. The key verse for this year’s Dixie Jackson Mission offering is John 6:9, a verse that reminds us, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?”

The reminder for us is “Whatever I have, Whatever He wants.” Even in Arkansas, a small state, we have something to share…yes something to give.

 

Labor Day Weekend

August 31, 2014

Labor Day has many different meanings to many different individuals. The safe bet is that most people have no idea why we are celebrating this special date. The holiday was first celebrated in 1882 to recognize the strengths and contributions of Labor Associations to the United States’ economy. While the average people may not know the purpose of the celebration, or may not even be able to name one benefit we all enjoy because of labor unions, they have no trouble taking the day off and enjoying a day of rest from their labor.

This day of rest is used by most people to create a few last memories before we settle into the school year and brace ourselves for fall and winter.

The Labor Day of 1973 was the first “paid” holiday I ever had the privilege to enjoy, and that was the result of a benefit bargained for by a labor organization associated with the company where I worked. At that time, I had only worked for my company for two weeks. In other words, I reaped the reward of other’s labors.

Every day since I became a child in the family of GOD, I reap the benefits of the labor Jesus Christ did for me. The Apostle Paul in Romans 5:8 reminds us: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

 

What Season Is It?

August 24, 2014

In a year’s time, we celebrate–or at least endure–four seasons. We start the year in the middle of winter. Then, when some think it will never end, spring comes around for about a day and a half.

For a brief time, the temperatures rise above freezing and buds break forth; yielding to blossoms and later to fruits. Then summer sneaks in and brings ninety to one hundred degree temps.

While summer puts many in the mind of swimming and visits to the beach, it doesn’t take long for many to start complaining about how hot it is.

Ultimately, just when we think it will never cool off, a cool snap comes through and drops the leaves (fall). Again it is a time of pleasant weather for a few days until the temperatures again drop below freezing, and we start all over again.

The beauty of it all is that someone in each season is for the most part satisfied. Such knowledge makes me understand just how diverse we are, and yet God loves each of us with a love that helps us to be able to appreciate the uniqueness He gives each of us.

What season is it? It is the season to praise God! The writer of Psalms 139:14 says it this way: “I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.”

A Good Time Was Had By All

August 17, 2014

Back in the winter when most folks with good sense were tending the fires and dreaming of these warmer days, two seasoned citizens began a journey that would bring not only themselves closer together, but also a good crowd out on a Saturday morning months later.

E Kaye Jones and Ann Vance embarked on a quest to learn how to paddle a canoe. I understand it started with E Kaye’s son Clayton taking the canoe to the lake, helping them get loaded into the craft and then reversing the process to get them out of the lake and onto dry land.

Their persistence paid off as the days grew warmer and the skills improved someone brought up the fact they were getting ready to race. This banter brought the ladies to the place where the first annual canoe race began to take place.

With much cooperation from many people the race became a reality. The Petit Jean State Park was well represented by Superintendent Joe Buckley and many other rangers and staff. The proceeds were designated to benefit the Petit Jean Cemetery.

There were around 20 participants who actually spent time in the canoes at one time of the other. Many laughs and fun were had not only by the ‘racers’ but also the 30-40 of us who were able to witness the event from the dock.

The writer of Proverbs 18:2 tells us, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” I can only believe many of us were given healthy doses of what does a body good from this family friendly event.

Even before the ripples from the last canoe being beached disappeared Ann (never take a breath) Vance was already planning ways to make the 2nd Annual Race even better. E Kaye Jones with wide eyed wonder stood by catching her breath.


How Many?

August 10, 2014

When I think about the Arkansas Baptist Children’s home in Monticello, I about a bunch of how manys. I remember the first time I went down there and I was not the only one saying, “How many more miles and minutes until we get there?”

Living in northeast Arkansas it was several more minutes away than it is for us. Even I thought we would never get there the first time. When we took off to get there, I had many questions going through my mind.

How many children lived there? How many house parents were required to work with these children? How many potatoes would it take to make enough fries for these children? How many quarters would it take to feed one meal to the family of children at the Arkansas Baptist Children’s Home?

How many children’s lives have been affected positively because we are willing to share with them? How many of these children have been able to help the next generation because someone else reached out to them?

This week we got a quick note from David Perry the Executive Director of the Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries thanking us for our contribution to the Christmas in August program this year.

We may never be able to get all of our many questions answered, but knowing we touched another life makes it all worthwhile. 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.”


On Mission

August 3, 2014

“On Mission” is a term that conjures up visions of exotic places and experiences. When that is the limit of our vision, we may miss the opportunities right around us.

While the trips around the world are important and inspire the next generation to desire to serve also, we must never diminish the value of the pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters someone has given to help send our missionaries to the field.

Also there are many “On Mission” opportunities in our community, county and state. God has allowed us to be his hands in our community in several ways this year and while part of the task was sweat equity, there were also financial needs God allowed us to help meet.

We have been able to participate with the First Baptist Church Oppelo equipping the food pantry ministry. Your calling might be a box of mac and cheese or a bag of chips. This is an excellent way to teach the next generation that no gift is too small or too large for that manner.

You join God on mission when you answer the call even in the smallest way. After all in Matthew 25:45 we are told, “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.”

 


What Would Happen If?

July 27, 2014

We make hundreds of decisions–if not thousands–every day. Most are reflexive and require little or no thought.

Sometimes a small amount of thought is given when there are little or no consequences as a result of the choice.

Other tasks are given a deeper level of concern. The thought processes delve into the possibilities as well as into the ramifications of our decision.

There are times we weigh the actions of decisions we will never take. For instance, when I pull up behind a police officer at a stop light, I have an uncontrollable desire to either bump them gently, or as soon as the light changes to green, to start honking the horn.

Now, I have never done it, but it is because I have asked myself, “What would happen if?” While I don’t follow through, it still gives me a chuckle to reflect on what would happen.

One of the things that keep me from taking that action is I know how I would feel, act, and probably react. The result probably wouldn’t be a pretty sight, and we might not just have a good laugh after it was over.

Wisdom prevails and a lot of fun and funny stuff gets left off. The apostle Paul puts it this way, in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, when I became a man I put away childish things.”

Some things are probably better not knowing, What would happen if….

TADAH!

July 20, 2014

This week Reta and I have seen some acts of illusion, and one of the entertainers wanted us to say “Tadah!” each time he completed a “wow” moment.

Some of the tricks were simple rope tricks; some were sleight of hand, while some actually made one ask, “How did he do that?” There were some actions that I had never seen before, and those left me thinking for a while after the trick.

As I traveled back to our room, I thought about a couple of the illusions that were fairly interesting, and thought about how they could have fooled the audience.

While some of the tricks were pretty sharp, none of the changes compare to the changes God has made in the lives of His children.

First, God started with a chunk of dirt and made man. Then He took out a rib and made woman. Later, when all had sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), God provided His son Jesus as the sacrifice for our sin.

My real “Tadah!” moment this week was realizing God loves me/us and changes us into His likeness that others might see Jesus in us.

 

 


Chances Are…

July 13, 2014

Chances are you have enjoyed this wet spring, and or summer, that we have been having. Chances are your grass has had to be mowed more frequently this year.

Chances are the wet weather has caused not only more turf, but also has made your weeds grow–if that was your main crop. Chances are you have spots in your yard where too much water has been a challenge this year rather than too little.

Chances are you have seen places flooded worse this year and for longer periods than you can ever remember. Chances are the weather patterns are different from those you can recall from your childhood.

Chances are you have learned that God loves you more than you ever thought possible. Chances are you see things throughout your life that are different–or at least not the same as you thought you remembered them as a child.

Chances are you are not only grateful that God loved you so much that He gave His only begotten Son so you could have everlasting life (John 3:16), but also that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Malachi 3:6).

Now what are the chances of that?

 

Our Freedoms Are Not Free

July 6, 2014

Living in a time of relative peace and safety is a blessing we have enjoyed most, if not all of our lives. However, for us to reap these benefits, someone else has paid the price.

Starting with the revolutionary war men and women stood fast to create a new country with freedoms never before enjoyed in recent history. The individuals weighed the cost not only to stand for freedom, but also reckoned the cost not to stand up for what they wanted.

Having won the freedoms at a great cost, the young country had to defend all comers until we developed into a world power and then we fought to give others the freedoms we have enjoyed. Of course, not all of the countries we have fought to help understood our intentions or knew what to do with the liberties we gained for them. When a person has never tasted the sweetness of freedom and has never dreamed of that pleasure, our efforts can have been wasted.

That has not dampened our desire and resolve to try to make the world a better place for others. Religious Freedom is one of the greatest reasons we have stood by our convictions to not only protect our rights, but to also try to free others. The greatest example we have is Jesus Christ Himself who gave Himself as a sacrifice for us.

Jesus tells us in John 8:36 tells us, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” We may not understand His love for us, or appreciate it, but that does not lessen the price He paid to set us free from our sins.

Walking by Faith

June 29, 2014

To walk by faith requires a trust that is not defined by what you know or can see. We begin this journey in life not by choices we made, but by the grace of God. The birth of a child is a miracle that no child chooses, but is chosen for them.

Our first several years on this earth are spent learning how to do things by being told, or watching others as they show us what to do. In the growth process of trial and error, we find there are some things we can do and some we must struggle to accomplish if they can be done at all.

To walk by faith with God is to put aside the mental learning and grab onto what cannot be seen in a relationship of trust. To trust God we must put aside the ‘I cants” and ‘I wants’ and even the ‘I don’t wants’ and by faith extend the prayers of “Thy will be done.”

In the process of the walk by faith, we do not always see the pathway laid out for us clearly. Sometimes the next step has to be one that comes from trusting where we have come from and where God has led us. until we see where He is taking us.

Think back today to where He has brought you and ask yourself, “Can I trust Him wherever He will take me?” The answer lies in the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 1:6, “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.”


 

Optimist or …

June 22, 2014

As June winds down do we say the year is half over, or the year has half started. We will look around and the ball will be dropping in Times Square for 2015. I have already heard someone talking about buying for Christmas.

I had always heard the years fly by as you get older, but hearing has nothing on experience. Some of us watch things happen. Some folks make things happen and still others look back and say, “What happened?”

With the children out for summer they think it will be a long time until school starts, but our teachers are already thinking how quickly August will be here and the cycle will start all over.

Today you have 24 hours or 1440 minutes or 86,400 seconds. When you think about it that way it seems like a lot, but it isn’t how long it is; but rather what we do with what we have.

Take what you have today and be a good steward with the time God has given to us.

God looks at us and doesn’t see what we didn’t do or can’t do, but sees what we have done and can do, and all He asks for is our availability. He wants us to look ahead and not to what lies behind. Let us join Paul as he said in Philippians 3:14, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Happy Father’s Day!

June 15, 2014

From the earliest time of recollection, most of us have fond memories of our dad. He was the strongest person we knew, he was the funniest person we knew, and he was the most fun person to be around. At least that was the way it was when I grew up.

If you got a group of boys together the banter would eventually include; “Well my daddy can…!” The boys were proud of their dads and for the most part wanted to grow up to be like their dad.

I can remember the first time I realized that not all of us had dads and not all that did have a dad had a good role model to follow.

A lot of us fell away from the hero worship as reality set is and we saw for ourselves that our dad is human. As we matured, our dad again became a lot smarter than we thought he was as we learned he was right about a lot of things he shared with us concerning life.

I was blessed to have a dad that was not only my hero as a child, but a good role model throughout life. He and my mom made it important for us to go to the house of The LORD and to make God and His values a part of our life.

Even today I go back in time to remember a lesson he instilled in us by example teaching me the concept from Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.”


Blessings Abound

June 8, 2014

We are surrounded by blessings if we only look. For example, we were born and live in a free country where we are able to grow up with the educational opportunities that are given to us, paid for by those who came before us, in their trying to assure us that we and our siblings and children can have better lives than did our ancestors.

We live in a land where we are blessed with clean air and clean water, blue skies, and trees and grass on and around the mountain. We watch a sunrise and sunset in places where the only sounds are birds, squirrels, and other animals are waking up or headed to their nests for the evening.

Those of us who have someone with whom to share these blessings are more than blessed. The fact that we have the word of God in our own hands to read in our own language for ourselves is a gift that gives to us each day a fresh look at God revealing Himself to us.

The writer of Psalm 107:1 reminds us to give thanks with these words: “O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.” Amen. We are blessed.


Memory Lane

June 1, 2014

When the end of May rolls around, it reminds me of years gone by when school books were packed away and vacation time was here. I do not remember ever having to go to school past Memorial Day, much less into June.

Maybe my teachers had all the fun they could stand as well as the students. The end of school always meant time when Doug and I would get to go fishing with Dad for a few days at ‘The Old River Club’.

It was on those trips we were able to spend quality time with Dad to learn many important lessons, one of which was patience. Waiting for the time to come was only the beginning.

Getting all the gear ready and making the special bait helped melt away the school year and whip our anticipation into a fevered pitch. Lessons learned included many aspects of fishing, loading a boat, running the motor, mixing the gas and dozens of related skills.

The best part was just to have time with Doug and Dad sharing laughs and learning some of life’s simple lessons taught by Dad; not always with words, but watching him live.

The good times remind me of these words of The Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:33, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”

I thank God for memories and lessons learned with family and friends.

Freedom Isn’t Free!

May 25, 2014

This weekend, millions of Americans will find many ways to celebrate Memorial Day without taking even a moment to reflect on why they got the day off. What a slap to the collective faces of the Air Forces, Sailors, Soldiers, and Marines who paid for our freedoms with their shed blood throughout the history of our country.

Many of you reading this will reflect back to one or more of our ancestors who gave the ultimate sacrifice to secure our freedoms or to help secure or insure the freedoms of other countries around the word.

There are those in our service this morning whose blood was shed for our country, and for their service I, for one, am grateful. I also am grateful for the succeeding generations who have been willing to don the uniforms to continue to help preserve the freedoms and legacy of the brave men and women who came before us.

Remember the words of Jesus in John 8:36:“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

God, thank You for those not only who paid for our freedoms with their lives but also for those who were/are willing to do the same. Thank You for Your Son Jesus, who gave His life for our true and lasting freedom. Amen.


Get Smart

 

May 18, 2014

This week, as I was thinking about the graduates associated with our church, I thought about the doors opening as this chapter of their life ended.

My thoughts flashed back to a 1960s television show called, Get Smart. As the show began, the actor (Don Adams) played Maxwell Smart a secret agent walking down a hallway where doors would open in front of him and the doors would close behind him.

This is the picture of each of our lives. As we walk forward in life, doors open before us and others close; finishing that period of your life. We leave behind paths where we can never return. Some doors we are glad, even excited that they have closed, yet I also hear others indicating their desire to go back to those days.

I am excited for these young people whose future has opened another door before them and now they have the choice to walk forward through this new portal. Realizing this is not the end but a milestone, I am reminded of these words from the apostle Paul in Philippians 3:14, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Our prayers are with them as these new opportunities present themselves.


Happy Mother’s Day

May 11, 2014

God made a special helpmeet for Adam. He made woman not to take the place of Adam, but to compliment him. If both were exactly alike there would be no need for one of them.

However, God made the woman to be nurturing; not just for her children, but also to strengthen and encourage her spouse. My mother was one of dad’s greatest supporters and cheerleaders.

God used the skills he gave mom to help mold and shape us five children. Sometimes she had to be tough to make necessary corrections on the spot. There were times she had to have discernment to sort through the fluff to get to the truth.

Mom had a strong resolve to raise us at times when dad was out of town or working late. She was resourceful to feed and clothe all seven of us while living on one income for most of her life.

Mom never indicated that she had a favorite (at least to me), nor did she make any of us feel left out. I was a normal child, but even though each of the other children had their quirks mom loved each equally.

God made mom just the way we need her in our family. She is strong, supportive and loving as God crafted her for us. In Psalms 139:14 the writer says, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”

A special thanks to all the moms. God did right well when He made you!

 

 

Compassion

May 4, 2014

The word compassion should stir up mind-pictures of times you have helped someone, or been helped by someone, or witnessed someone else meeting someone’s need.

Since I have been a member of First Baptist Church Petit Jean, I have constantly seen acts of compassion by you folks as you reach out in missions around the world and locally.

I see neighbor helping neighbor and even meeting needs of strangers that are not yet friends. This legacy resonates across our state and nation as we touch the lives of our many visitors.

The compassion is not limited to humans either. We have seen many of our neighbors spoiling the wildlife of the area by providing convenient food for them. We all have seen the flock of geese grow and thrive because of the many bags of corn scattered by Phil and Linda Chapman while they lived and served here on the mountain.

The Adkins while they were on the mountain as well as others have fed the humming birds many gallons of nectar that keeps them returning to the mountain.

The word compassion means to come alongside or be with someone in passion. It is a word that denotes you can’t be just neutral, but must identify with the person (or animal) to meet a certain need.

That is what God did for us: He saw our need and moved with compassion to send us a savior. As Romans 5:8 says, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Thank you folks for your compassion here, around the state and around the world; keep it up!


To Throw or Not to Throw


April 27, 2014

It is clean up, pick up, and toss time of the year. The time of year when along with buds on trees and flowers we find dumpsters popping up to get rid of things we no longer need or that have been broken and we can’t or aren’t going to fix them.

As we go through this process sometimes we find ourselves at the receptacle pondering what someone else has left and if we aren’t careful we could wind up with as much or more than we started with. Our question is, “Why would anyone throw away a perfectly good . . . ?”

As I think about this process I am reminded of ‘The Old Rugged Cross.’ The song tells us that it is so despised by the world, but has a wondrous attraction for me. There is much truth in this song as it reflect on the fact that to many folks there I no value in the old rugged cross. Consequently many do not take the free gift of salvation by grace through faith that we are offered through the blood that was shed on that old pile of wood.

May we remember to find the value in the people that The Heavenly Father has place before us. Let us seek earnestly the treasures He places before us every day and share these things of value with others.

WWJNS

April 20, 2014

A few years ago (probably over a decade in really), there was a popular campaign to cause us to reflect: “What Would Jesus Do?” or “WWJD?”

The id