September 27, 2020

“Have you heard the news?” This is a phrase we sometimes use as a lead-in to prepare someone for the latest and usually most shocking information that is available. Most people don’t wait for someone to tell them but will instead gain their insight from what the media decides to make available, or through social websites. And sometimes, if not usually, the information is only partially right. I have decided to no longer rely on the media to bring me up to speed on the world’s happenings, but have instead decided to wait until someone tells me what is occurring in the world. I believe that if it’s important enough, someone will tell me.

Singer Anne Murray had a popular song early in her career that was entitled, “A Little Good News” that relayed the thought that it would be nice to pick up the morning paper and find there wasn’t really much to print due to the stoppage of violence, crime, and hate. I like the song, but in truth the absence of bad things occurring in the world is not necessarily good news. The good that is done for Jesus’ sake throughout the world is what I want to hear about rather than the garbage we are fed daily.

What good news do you have to tell the world? Do you adhere to the idea that you simply won’t perpetuate the bad and call that good? We have at our disposal the greatest news that has ever been told in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and how because He lives today, any and all sinners can accept Him as their Savior and be lavished with the love of the Father.

You have something to say to those who make up your contacts each day, and should interject a simple phrase that could change not only their life on earth, but their eternity after death. Take a chance this week by asking someone, “Have You Heard the News?” And then proceed to tell them about how Jesus changed your life, your perspective, and your eternity. It’s news that’s worth telling.

September 20, 2020

I have the ability to do a lot of things. Not many of them are useful enough to talk about in this section, such as wiggling my ears, or rolling my tongue, but a few of my abilities have proven beneficial to me. One such example is an ability to detect things that oftentimes are unseen by others, perhaps a wrench or tool left behind on the road. I’m not sure if this is beneficial to me but I generally see dogs that have been left behind by an owner who didn’t want or need the animal in their life.

Yesterday on my way home from work along Highway 34 between Avalon and Italy I spotted a dog lying in the ditch. I checked to see if it was injured, and it had indeed been hit by a car. April assisted me in getting the dog to the SPCA so it could receive the care it needed to overcome its injuries. In order to get back on her feet she needed help and we wanted to do our part to help her do so.

Many times in life we need a new start, which means leaving some unneeded habits and attitudes behind and beginning anew. But for many others it seems that although they want a new start have little interest in doing what is necessary to gain the benefit of doing so. In truth, if you want a better life you have to take the steps necessary to gaining it.

The details of a life in Christ may not be fully understood by those who accept Him due to their lack of understanding of the commitment they’ve made and how at times may result in feelings of despair and even regret causing them to falter in their growth and development as a disciple. In truth, whether we understand it or not, when we accept Christ as Savior we haven’t only purchased Fire Insurance against hell, we have set our feet on a new path, and in order for it to have its full effect we must commit to doing what is necessary for a new start, and a new life. Have you sold out to Christ? If not, it is time to make a new start. There’s no better time than the present.

September 13, 2020

I mentioned to you through this section of the bulletin recently that I have finally made some headway with the goldfish pond in our backyard, and while that is still the case, it is an ongoing project for April and I. Due to the lay of the land and the absence of grass in the surrounding area, dirt makes its way into the pond during rainy times creating the need to drain the enclosure, and clear it of dirt and debris. I just wish it would stay clean without me having to put in a bunch of work. But when it’s clean, all the work has been worth it.

You’ve probably felt that way about things in your life as well. Perhaps you just wish the car would start without having to open the hood, the grass would grow to the desired length and just stop growing so you could stop mowing, the roof would finally stop leaking without having to ascend the outside wall of the house, or that a paycheck would continue to come even though you are retired. In truth, we all wish we didn’t have to put in excess work in order to achieve a desired result. But the reality is that if you want a better result from life, but you’ll have to make some changes in your life. And change requires effort.

As we all know, sin is present in the lives of people and it is an ongoing problem. We all want God’s favor but we want it in a disproportionate measure when compared to the work we put into gaining His favor. The only way to find favor with Him is for your sin to no longer be present before Him. So you have two choices in order for that to occur. You can either live your life in complete obedience to Him in every way (which is not possible), or you can accept Jesus as your personal Savior and commit the rest of your life to Him, thereby being covered by the work He did on the cross so you could even have the opportunity to be saved from the result of the presence of sin before Him.

To sum it up, we all need Jesus in our lives in greater measure, and for that to happen we must be realistic about what is required. The truth is that in order to find Him, you must seek Him. So we know there’s work that has to be done. You have to make the rest of your life an adventure of discovery with having Jesus as your goal. It is not realistic to think that since God is love, that He should just bless you no matter how you choose to live your life. But it is realistic that He will pour out His favor on those who are His, and the effort you will have put in to live a life pleasing to Him will not seem like much work at all, because the work has been worth it.

 

September 6, 2020

Life doesn’t always go the way we expect. Changes in direction sometimes throw us into a state of frustration and uncertainty. I had planned yesterday to quickly mow the church lawn prior to Sunday. I first discovered when I went to put in gasoline that I had none. So I headed for Italy, and in doing so remembered I had forgotten to get a haircut before leaving Corsicana on Friday, so I headed east instead of north. Expecting to walk in and get a quick haircut I was told it would be at least 45 minutes. After the delay, I got home filled the mower with gasoline and the mower wouldn’t start. I tried it a few times until the battery weakened. I pulled the fuel filter and cleaned it out due to it being stopped up. As I attempted to jump the battery on the mower I found that the jumper box was dead as well. After finally getting the mower started I headed to the church. I arrived at the church ready to mow and engaged the deck and…nothing. A wire had been cut beneath the mower that engages the deck. I got back on and headed to the house to make the repair. As I’m about a third of the way finished with wiring repair, I heard what I thought was thunder. I got up from the ground and looked up and rain was headed my way forcing me to hastily do my repair and pull the mower inside having accomplished nothing.

Has life ever taken a direction you didn’t expect or want? I’m sure it has. In fact, uncertainty is a certainty, and even though we can make the most detailed of plans with a rigid time frame in which to complete our goal, it can all change without much warning. With that same thought in mind, there are some things that are fixed and cannot be changed no matter how desperately we want them to. Examples may include the certainty of death, taxes, the crookedness of politics, and the love of God the Father. Am I saying God’s love doesn’t change based upon your success at following His law? Yes. Am I saying He loves me the same no matter if I’m right with Him or the vilest of sinners? Yes. Are you saying Pastor Steve that God loves me even when I’m a lost rebel and an enemy of God due to my failure to accept Jesus as Savior? Yes. I realize that can be overwhelming to come to terms with, but the simple revelation that God loves us can melt the most hardened of hearts and create space for the salvation of Christ to occur.

When was the last time you told someone about how much the Father loves you? And when was the last time you told them that He loves them just the same? It’s time we begin to come to terms with how the Father loves, and what our response should be. I am certain that if we fail to effectively tell others about God’s love for them they will miss the mark by failing to accept Jesus, and the unexpected will occur and instead of heaven being their destination at the end of life, it will hell instead. He expects you to share His stubborn love for sinners. You do the expected, so He can do the unexpected.

August 30, 2020

 

Time passes quickly at times, or at least it seems that way. It seems like yesterday that I began my walk with Jesus but it was all the way back in 1989 and I soon began serving in the Youth Department of our church and continued to do so for the better part of 20 years. I enjoyed it because it was the most exciting ministry to work in, and the teens that I dealt with generally were interested in developing their walk with Christ and also had little interest in disappointing me, so it was quite rewarding. I found during my tenure as Youth Director at FBC that while teens struggle mightily at times, they overcome profoundly when they decide to repent and maintain a close walk with Jesus. I have found that teens and adults share similarities, but differ in the area of how they deal with relationships with their fellow church members. Generally speaking, if a teen is offended they might be upset for a time but will not let it affect their growth and development as a Christian. Adults generally shut down, break fellowship with the church and will sometimes even quit altogether if someone offends them whether intentional or otherwise. 

Oftentimes the young people within a church are considered the future of the church, and while that is true they are also the present. What I mean to say is they are just as important a part of our processes as anyone of a greater age. Many times it’s the teens that are there to help with ministry when adults fail to do so. Paul wrote to Timothy that nobody should look down on him due to his young age, but to instead set the example for fellow believers to follow. Like Timothy, young people and old alike should be mindful of their behaviors, attitudes, habits, and involvements and should be eager to modify whatever is out of line with what God would have them do.

Today our teens will lead out in various places throughout the morning service. You will certainly be watching the future of the church in action, but you are also witnessing the present membership doing their part in serving Him. Not only can we teach our you ng people how to be prepared for the time when they take over the responsibilities of the church, but we can also learn from them on how to be willing to serve whenever an opportunity arises. I’m praying that we all have a great day serving the Savior together.

August 23, 2020

 

I find myself at times being sentimental. I tend to shy away from such confessions that lend to the idea that I have a softer side, but I suppose I do. In fact the older I get I tend to become more clingy and nostalgic. Even though my sentimental side exists, I’m not sure I like it. Due to my growing sentimentality I have begun the restoration of my dad’s 1973 F-100 pickup. He passed away in 1998 and his truck has sat unused for the majority of the time that has elapsed since his death. I am currently having the engine rebuilt, a rebuilt transmission installed, new brakes, bodywork and new paint, the air-conditioning and heater brought into working order, along with other updates to make it safer for the road and more enjoyable to drive. It may cost a small fortune to complete, but following through on the commitment I’ve made to its restoration will make the truck more valuable to me and my family if no one else, as it is brought back to what it once was.

It seems people tend to let go of things that were once important to them. Ideas, practices, and recreation sometimes prove to be less important to them as they once were. My dad was a collector of items that he hoped would one day be valuable to someone. My only collection has been sports cards, and though I’ve give up collecting them, I’m hopeful that someday someone will benefit from any value they may have. Christians sometimes give up disciplines that are valuable to their growth and development in Christ, and soon find themselves on a course that leads them away from a deep and meaningful walk with the Savior.  Things given up may include no longer reading scripture, no longer telling others about Jesus, no longer attending church every week, or praying only when solutions to their problems are greater than what the world can offer.

Perhaps its time for you to restore and update your relationship with the Father by following through on the commitments you’ve made to Him. Is it time to commit once again to doing the things that He has entrusted to you, perhaps causing Him to entrust you with even greater things? In truth, we could all use a measure of restoration with the Father, and be brought back to what we once were in Him. Until that time that His restoration in us is complete, pray for me and I’ll pray for you as well.

August 16, 2020

 

The long hot days of summer are here. Many days it is simply too hot to work outside unless it is done early in the day prior to the temperatures rising. The grass and crops are drying up, as well as the ground water supply in ponds and waterways. We need rain, but in the month of August in Texas it is somewhat unlikely to receive a significant amount of rainfall. But we will continue trusting the Father that He is aware of our needs and will respond in due time.

 

This summer April and I have diligently worked to repair and restore a small goldfish pond in our backyard. It has continually lost water in various places over the years but I have maintained my diligence in finding and plugging them. We have finally made some headway in keeping the water inside the enclosure, rather than beneath it. It still loses water but I can’t tell if it’s leaking or if the evaporation rate is too fast due to the summer heat. Besides the loss of water, the newest problem we face is the amount of algae that grows due to the intense heat and sunshine that attacks the pond daily making it challenging to keep the water clean enough to enjoy the fish. We’ve installed plants to help slow the algae growth, and the fish also consume a small amount of it making them useful as well as appealing to watch. At times we’ve thought of removing it altogether due to our inability to stop the leaking, and algae. But now that we can enjoy the benefits of having it, I’m glad we did the work necessary to keeping it.

 

The thought of doing necessary work brings me to these questions. Are you useful to the Father? Is your witness strong, or is it handicapped due to past sin you refuse to let go of? How are you in reaching the lost? You may discover in prayer that there are areas you need to confess to the Father and repent of in order to be effectively used of Him to impact eternity. Ask the Lord to reveal areas of sin in your life, and to give you the courage to repent. He knows of the challenges you have faced, along with your failures, but He still intends to use you in the spread of the gospel. Rather than growing frustrated and giving up, commit instead to diligently doing the work He has assigned for you. In the end, I believe you’ll be glad you made the commitment to do the work, and will benefit greatly from having done it.

August 9, 2020

 

I don’t typically set goals for myself. I’m not sure why because it seems like a really good idea that other goal-setters have benefited from. I however like to address life as it comes at me, which is usually at full speed with its arms and legs beating the air in an attempt to get at me. But April and I spoke recently about how in this life nothing is promised, not even tomorrow. Our talk got us both thinking that while this life is passing away for all of us, we want to make a good showing in the last stages of life by being healthier and more willing to see a doctor when the need arises, and to even seek preventative care as well.

In an attempt to begin making better choices we are eating better (not perfect) and working to progress our health plan. In doing so, snacks have changed a bit for me. Instead of White Cheddar Cheez-It crackers, I’m now geared more toward baby carrots and the dreaded celery. As I was enjoying a few carrots a couple of days ago, the carrot inside my mouth rolled over and I bit the side of my tongue near the back. I may never eat carrots again, and this further confirms my theory that healthy food can and will kill you if given the opportunity. As I sat there trying to understand what happened I thought to myself, I’m 53 years old, how is this possible that with all that chewing experience? But even with experience, unexpected and unusual things still happen in life that can change our perspective at least for a time.

Have you given any thought to some things that you should do spiritually speaking to progress the quality of your life? Perhaps studying your bible, or praying more regularly would benefit you. Perhaps it’s attending church, or at least supporting its ministries. Or maybe you simply need to accept Jesus as your Savior and set your life in the direction of His will. But understand this, it’s time for you to begin to make a good showing.

August 2, 2020

 

Do you like to get away from your usual life from time to time? April and I do, and we generally take a trip to a place we’ve visited before, or we may find ourselves in a brand new location. Either way she and I enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company wherever we are.

She and I departed Friday afternoon for an overnight stay in nearby Hico and returned early Saturday. Hico is a community that we enjoy because of its Three C’s. It’s Charm, Close proximity to home, and Chocolate. I personally could drop chocolate from the list and replace it with its Connection to Billy the Kid. If you’re unfamiliar with the connection to Billy, I’ll try to explain. A man named William Roberts lived for a short time in Hico near the end of his life and made the claim that he was indeed the Old West outlaw and had escaped the fate that history had accepted. He was seeking a pardon from the governor of New Mexico that had been promised to Billy almost 70 years prior. But before he could attain the pardon he died of a massive heart attack on 2nd Street in Hico just around the corner from what is now the Billy the Kid Museum as he walked to the Post Office. He is buried in Hamilton.

The Billy connection is not popular among historians for many reasons, but it could be because it challenges what has been accepted as truth. In my opinion, even though the Holy Bible is the greatest seller of all time among books, it is also among the least utilized because it challenges what we often accept as truth. Its contents cause us to accept more appropriate ways of living that ultimately please the Father. It has been said “The Truth Hurts.” Although true, I more readily accept what scripture says regarding truth that states that those who hold to Jesus’ teaching will know the truth and will be set free by that truth.

Do you wish to be free from the burdens that are the devil’s lies? If so, simply accept scripture as truth, applying its principles to your life and get ready to enjoy the pleasure of God’s company as never before, right where you are.

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