Friday, May 22, 2009

Lost and Found

LOST: My favorite ballcap. Navy blue with red lettering on the front reading: “Salvation Est. 33 A.D.” Red trim around the bill. It was the kind of hat that fits just right, and I love the message. Was a gift from Kristi Seely about three years ago. Yes, I’m sure it’s not in the closet on my hat rack. If found, please e-mail me!

LOST: Pens. Assorted brands and styles. I seem to have a propensity for losing ink pens. If you see a pen lying on the sidewalk, parking lot or street gutter, it’s probably mine. You can keep it, though.

FOUND: T-Shirt. The one I had been wanting, and hinting at, that reads on the front: “A Blood Donor Saved My Life.” Black, with a red cross on the back with a verse written on it: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. – Mt. 26:28.” It was found in the vicinity of my desk in my office at the church. I’ve already worn it and washed it a few times, and I’m keeping it. Thanks.

FOUND: Evansville Courier & Press daily newspaper. Had been a gift subscription from the FBC Sunday School classes. Found in the back of the newspaper box, but has been so small recently I almost didn’t see it.

FOUND: Skateboard. On the north sidewalk of the First Baptist Church. Mongoose. Well-used. Still plenty of life left. Call to claim, 272-5921, or pick it up where you left it. No questions asked about the broken window.

FOUND: Perfect Church. On the other side of the fence. Haven’t joined yet because then it wouldn’t be perfect anymore. Waiting for God to perfect His church in glory.

FOUND: Christ-centered church, near perfect. 306 S. Valter St., Ridgway, next to the old school. Devoted, growing fellowship of the redeemed saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. Compassionate, loving, kind-hearted, grateful people. God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, Spirit-filled worship. Small group Bible study for all ages weekly. Vacation Bible School for children ages 4 – 6th grade June 14-19. Call 272-5921, or be our guest Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m. for Sunday School, 10:40 a.m. for worship services.

LOST: Set of shackles. Somewhere in the depths of the sea. Guilt and shame missing also. Last seen on Mt. Calvary, carried on the shoulders of Jesus. If you have any information on the whereabouts of sin’s shackles, please bring it before God and ask Him to help you unload it.

FOUND: Anchor. Extra heavy-duty. Unshakeable. Will keep your ship steadfast and sure no matter how hard the winds and storms blow. Able to fasten your soul to the immoveable Rock of Ages. Found in the hope of God’s unfailing promises through Jesus Christ. Claim by calling upon the Lord in repentance and faith.

FOUND: Instruction Manual for Life. Sixty-six books worth of wisdom, revelation, teaching, correction and guidance for making everyday choices in all aspects of living. Useful for discovering joy, experiencing peace and receiving eternal life. Able to keep one from sinning. Revives the soul. Makes the simple wise. Rejoices the heart. Enlightens the eyes. Sweeter than honey. More valuable than gold. Authored by the original Manufacturer.

LOST: Unrepentant Souls. Those who reject the gospel of Jesus Christ. Urgent warning: Eternal death and torment in store if not found soon! Great heavenly celebration awaiting over those who are found! Mercy and grace freely offered for all who repent from sin and receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. Click here for more information.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Earth Is the Lord's

Do you remember as a kid looking at the clouds and trying to identify shapes or objects? I remember many times lying down in the summer grass and watching the clouds above take on the forms of dragons and elephants and all kinds of unique and imaginary figures. Some weren’t too plain, but it was fun watching them go by.

I loved being outside. I’m no outdoorsman, but as best as I can recall most of my waking hours as a boy in the summer were spent out playing baseball, riding bikes, riding motorcycles, swimming, shooting BB guns and just running around. My Dad took us fishing and mushroom hunting. Our family took camping trips to several of the state parks within a short driving distance.

Maybe I didn’t learn to appreciate the beauty and complexity of nature as well as I should have, but I always enjoyed it. Perhaps now I’m more awed by creation’s splendor though I don’t spend as much time outdoors as I did then. Things like gnats and allergies didn’t exist back in those days.

My family and I saw the movie “Earth” a couple of weeks ago. It’s a DisneyNature film. I guess you’d call it a documentary, with James Earl Jones providing the voice-over. Not sure I’d recommend dropping the cash to see it in the theater, but at least I’ll say that the photography was stunning.

The viewer is treated to beautiful oceans, snow-capped mountain ranges, colorful forests and desert plains. We journey along with a great multitude of flocks and herds, whales, polar bears and birds of the air. With the magic of time-lapse footage we see the four seasons change in a few moments, flowers bursting form in full bloom and the aurora lights dancing across the northern skies.

And one can’t help but marvel at the wisdom, power and artistry of earth’s Creator. It’s a shame the movie didn’t give credit to the Maker and Sustainer of heaven and earth. It’s hard to believe how anyone could produce or watch such a fascinating display of earth’s majesty and not fall down in reverent worship before the God of all creation. How utterly foolish to think that such an incredibly complex and dynamic work as our world and everything in it could have simply happened by chance!

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers” (Ps. 24:1-2).

“Where you there when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements – surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7).

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth” (Isa. 40:28).

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).

“All things were made through him [Jesus], and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3).

“For by him [Jesus] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…” (Col. 1:16).

“[Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3).

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Ps. 19:1).

Why not venture outside today and spend some time discovering shapes in the clouds – and marveling at the Creator of all things. The invitation He gives us to know Him could not be any plainer.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Preaching in Robinson on Mother's Day

I really do not like to be absent from the pulpit at Ridgway FBC. I mean, I do love to preach when given the opportunity in other churches, but I hate having to leave the Ridgway folks.

It's not like I think they need me so much that their worship experience will suffer if I'm not there. Nor do I worry that a guest preacher may so stir up the church that they won't want me back. I'd actually love to have God's people stirred with a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit - whether I'm there or not.

This Sunday I have the unique opportunity of preaching at my parents' home church - Robinson First Baptist Church. I'm praying it will be a special occasion as we celebrate Mother's Day.

But I'll miss the guests at Ridgway. I'll miss the faithful members who will bring their mothers and other family with them. I'll miss the fellowship and the bond of love we have together in Christ. Mother's Day is always a special time of worship and fellowship.

I'm looking forward to being in Robinson, though, and looking up for guidance and strength and power in the Spirit to preach God's word clearly and boldly as I ought.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Mother's Daring Faith

I still think Moses’ mom ranks right up there with the all-time mothers. If there were some kind of a Mother’s Hall of Fame there’s no doubt that Jochebed’s name would be firmly enshrined. The papyrus basket she put baby Moses in would be sitting on display, right next to the framed first coin she earned for nursing him.

If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s well worth reading. You’ll find this account in Exodus 2. You’ll also find Moses’ parents named in the great chapter of faith, Hebrews 11, where the Bible says: “By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict” (Heb. 11:23).

What makes Moses’ mother so special is the daring faith she demonstrated. Like every mother, Jochebed loved her children with a fierce love, but the order of the king of Egypt was to throw every male child born to Hebrew women into the Nile River. The Hebrews were living in slavery under the Egyptians at that time, and the king feared that they would continue to multiply and grow strong and turn against them in war. So he gave this horrendous command to kill the baby boys.

But Jochebed put her faith into action, and what God did from there is the stuff of biblical proportions, literally.

She demonstrated her faith by seeing the potential in her child. “She saw that he was no ordinary child.” I don’t know if Moses had a special coo or giggle, or maybe he slept all the way through the night or perhaps his diapers didn’t stink. Whatever it was, Jochebed saw something extraordinary about her child.

Mothers have a unique way of seeing the extraordinary in their children. They see the next great doctor, teacher, athlete, or musician when they look at their little one. They recognize their potential and they become their biggest fans. My, how kids need an encourager to spur them on! Be their cheerleader and help them to explore, to imagine and to achieve. Train them up in the way they should go. Cultivate their talents and interests and give them opportunities to excel, Mamas. Just don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.

Moses’ mother also demonstrated her faith by protecting him from harm. She fearlessly hid him from the Egyptian police for three months, risking her own life for the safe keeping of her baby. There was no way in the world they were getting their blood-stained hands on her little boy, and she feared God more than man.

That’s what hall-of-fame mothers do. They protect their children from the dangers that surround them and threaten to destroy them, and they do it fearlessly with faith in God. Now I know that you can’t completely shield your children from every possible evil in this world, but you don’t have to be overprotective to be protective. You don’t let them play on a busy street. You make sure they wear their hats and mittens in cold weather. You lather them in sunscreen in the summer.

And you also protect them from the spiritual dangers lurking around every corner. Just as you wouldn’t let them walk into a stranger’s house, you don’t let them wander into strange sites on the internet. You’d never invite a predator into your own home, so don’t let them enter through your media gates, either. Know where your children are at all times, what they’re watching, where they’re surfing and who they’re hanging out with in person or on-line. An all-star mother takes whatever measures necessary to protect her children from harm!

Moses’ mom also demonstrated her faith by entrusting him into the hands of God. There comes a day when it’s time to let go. Jochebed knew that she could hide him no longer. She had done all she could, but it was time to let him go, and she trusted that God would guard him, guide him and save him through whatever was to come.

And who but God could have orchestrated the events so perfectly like He did!

Mothers, put your faith in the Lord, who never leaves the righteous forsaken – even when life doesn’t work out as happily for you as it did for Jochebed. Sometimes you’ll be disappointed – maybe crushed – by what your children do or what happens to them, but remember that God has already demonstrated His unfailing love by sending His Son to die on the cross for sinners. There’s no greater love than this! Give your children an all-star love that dares to trust in the Almighty God whose way is perfect.