This is Hope

This is Hope

Dear Friends,

I love everything that VBS brings to a church! I love the outreach, the education and the way it pulls everyone together in service! I just don’t love leading in it.  I prefer being in the background.  I’ve been told that I was born an adult.  I find that most of my humor works best with grown-ups.  It just goes over kid’s heads.  One on one I’m ok, but stand me before a group of kids and all I see is torches and pitchforks!  So, when I was told that I was expected to do the opening for VBS every day… Well, this is the most uncomfortable I’ve been since I came to FrBC.  We all have our strengths and weaknesses, right?

Anyway, as I write this, I just finished day one.  I don’t know for sure but I don’t think there has ever been a pastor who has been taken down due to a VBS revolt of six and seven-year-olds.  So, I imagine that I’ll make it through the week unscathed.  They still scare me though.

The theme verse for our VBS this year is Philippians 1:6. As I was reading it with the kids I thought, “Wow, that’s a great promise that we don’t think about enough!”  Then I thought, “Maybe the day of Christ Jesus will be today and I won’t have to face those 50 kids tomorrow!”  Ok, ok… assuming that’s not the case, let’s explore this promise so that we can move forward in life with confidence!

Philippians 1:6
“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion                           until the day of Christ Jesus.”

 

“Being confident of this…” Why is Paul so confident? Confidence is defined as, “The feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; a firm trust.”  Paul is confident because he knows the God whom he serves. He knows God to be faithful, who chose and pursued him for salvation. He knows God has been with him through persecutions and trials, and he is sure that God will bring his faith to completion.

 

All believers’ have spiritual lives that began with God – “He who began a good work in you.” God called us, He spoke our individual names and He had a plan for each of our lives before He spoke our names. There is nothing that we did to gain our salvation and the good work that began in us is only possible because God is at work in us. What is that good work? It’s our redemption!  With His blood He purchased our old, dead, worthless selves and made us new in Christ. We didn’t choose Him; He chose us and began the work! There is nothing we did to start this process.

Since God is the one who chose us and began the good work in us. He will “carry it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.” Our life is not complete, the good work in us is ongoing.  God is not a supernatural watchmaker who wound up the universe and then went away to work on something else.  He never leaves us. He is constantly working in us even when we feel fear or fall flat on our face and mess everything up. We can be confident in God who promises to continue to work in us.  It’s not left up to us to complete our salvation by works we do on our own. No, God is working and will continue to work until Jesus returns. He started the work in us and God always finishes what He starts.

Well, it just occurred to me that if anyone is reading this, Christ has probably not yet returned and I had to see VBS all the way through to the end.  If that’s the case, I have confidence that He will be with me carrying on the good work that he started in me when He saved me.  Hopefully the kids don’t rise up in protest to the boring old dude leading the pledges.  If they do… tell Becky and Lara that I was right!

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike



30 Years Ago

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30 Years Ago

 

Can you think back thirty years ago? The year was 1991. That spring was my final semester of college. In April of that year, I sang my senior voice recital. In May, I graduated from Ouachita Baptist University. Then in June, on the fifteenth day of that month, I married my beautiful wife, Debbie. The Bible tells us that God created a helpmate for Adam because it was not good for him to be alone. He made a woman that was just the perfect mate for him. He did that for me when He created Debbie and brought us together. I love her so much and am so grateful for God making her for me. There is no doubt in my mind that we were meant to be husband and wife. On June 15, 1991, we said our vows to God and one another that we would love one another and stay together for the rest of our lives. We made that commitment and have stuck with it even though some difficult times have come our way. We know we are committed to one another and committed to this marriage. God brought us together and through His strength and help, we have stayed together. He has blessed us with two wonderful, healthy boys and blessed us with a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter now. He has blessed us in allowing us to serve in several churches and live in four different states together. And even though we have faced and gone through many trials and difficult times, we always have known we had each other, and we had the Lord with us.

 

A strong marriage commitment is such a wonderful blessing. But there is an even stronger commitment that we can experience. When we commit our lives to Jesus, that relationship with Him is even stronger. Not always from our side, but on God’s side of the commitment. We don’t always follow Him in the correct ways and many times we even act against Him. We don’t always hold up our side of the relationship. God, however, always holds up His side of the commitment. He never lets us down, never disappoints, and never breaks a promise. Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:11-13, “This is a trustworthy saying: ‘If we die with Him, we will also live with Him. If we endure hardship, we will reign with Him. If we deny Him, He will deny us. If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is.’” Even when we sin against God and are unfaithful to keep our walk clean, God remains faithful to us and continues to hold us in His hands. He will never fail us and will always keep us as His children. His incredible commitment to us is overwhelming because His great love for us is overwhelming. That’s why Paul writes in Ephesians 5:25, “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up His life for her.” We are to love our wives with the same sacrificial, unselfish, agape love that Jesus has shown to us. We can’t be perfect like Jesus, but we can strive to be.

 

I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but thankfully, there has been a lot of forgiveness. My marriage is far from perfect, but it is strong because our commitment is first to God and then to each other. He gives us the example and we strive to follow it. I’m grateful for the thirty years He has blessed me with my beautiful, loving wife, and I pray she can handle another thirty or more with me. And as far as the other, I’m grateful for the forty-seven years of being held in my Savior’s hand after committing my life to Him.

 

Bro. Paul Reed

 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

 

 



Sickness, Illness, I Don’t Like It-ness

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Sickness, Illness, I Don’t Like It-ness

 

This past Sunday I was unable attend church due to illness. I can’t remember having to miss a service for that reason since I’ve been here at Frederica. I started feeling bad late Saturday afternoon after working outside all day. I knew as I sat in my chair that evening that the body aches, headache, maybe some fever, coughing, and extreme fatigue were not good signs that I’d feel much better the next morning. Sure enough, after a restless night, I was still wiped out and felt terrible as I began letting Pastor Mike and Pastor Cameron know I couldn’t make it for services. It greatly bothered me to have to admit that. I hated the fact that my body wasn’t feeling well enough for me to fulfill my responsibilities. But I knew I couldn’t do it. I simply did not have the energy. This was more than just soreness from overworked muscles. My body was telling me I needed rest and I was being made to listen. Thankfully, after sleeping most of Sunday and resting most of Monday, I was back to normal this morning. I don’t know exactly what to call the “illness”. The more I’ve thought about it, I think I may have just overdone it on Saturday. Too much dust from mowing and moving some old lumber I had stored, building some supports on the outside of my wood shop, combined with the heat of the day and the heat of the fire burning most of that old lumber, plus the smoke from that fire, all amounted to taking a toll on me that I didn’t expect. But, I’ve had days like this before and I didn’t feel this bad afterward. Why now? Yes, I know I’m getting older. And I hear what Aunt Bee heard from ol’ doc Andrews, “We’re no spring chickens anymore.” (A little Andy Griffith humor)

 

We don’t always know why we get sick. We can be feeling fine one day and then totally rotten the next with no explanation. We can get checked out by doctors and they may can tell us what we have, but not how we got it. We may know someone else we were around that has the same symptoms, the same illness, and know where or from whom we got it, but we don’t really know how. We were just around them. But how one little germ got from them to us is still a mystery. However it happens, we all get sick at times. Be it serious or not, it’s always a nuisance. We can’t do what we want or need to do until the sickness passes and, if you’re like me, we don’t like it. Since sin entered the world, everything that harms us entered the world, and it all ultimately leads to death. Our mortal bodies cannot last forever. We must endure this life in the flesh and its frailties, both spiritually and physically, while striving to live our lives in the Spirit. Paul says in Romans 8:10, “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” And that righteousness is not our own. “He [God] saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:5-6) Our physical frailties can bring us down just like our fleshly, spiritual frailties. Satan will use whatever he can to discourage us and distract us from staying strong in our walk with the Lord. But we must remember that even though we physically are dying, our spirits are alive in Christ, and we can rejoice in knowing we have everlasting life through our Savior.

 

There are times in our lives that we will be sick. Hopefully, we can physically rest and allow our bodies to heal. And when we suffer through the physical pain, we can find strength in knowing this physical life is only for a moment compared to the eternal life we have in Jesus.

 

“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT

 

Bro. Paul Reed

 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

 



Discipleship

Discipleship

Dear Friends,

As I continue to pray about and think about what our post-Covid church might look like, it occurs to me that the mission of the church, making disciples, will remain the same.  How we do that (programs and practice) will almost certainly need to change to meet the evolving needs and demands of the people we are trying to disciple.  Our challenge, as a church, is to not carry over anything from our pre-Covid practice into our post-Covid practice that hinders or eliminates our mission.

During our ongoing studies in the Gospel of Luke we are constantly seeing Jesus’ teaching and interaction with His followers.  We have even seen how Jesus chose and separated disciples who were advancing in their maturity for increased levels of instruction, experience and ultimately apostolic responsibility.  It was this master plan of discipleship that led to the establishment and vitality of the early church.  We here at Frederica Baptist stand at the crossroad of what was and what will be.  Our past is a tale of faithfulness and marching towards a God-given vision of establishing a new church on the north end of St. Simon’s Island that stands on the Word of God.  That vision is about to be realized!  It is time that we cast a new vision for the next leg of our journey.  That vision must be seen through the lens of our mission, making disciples. So, it behooves us to understand what it is to be a mature disciple.

(1) Mature disciples know God’s plan for salvation. In their hearts they know that they are slaves in bondage to terrible enemies: sin and death.  They see that they stand helpless and hopeless to save themselves so they need a rescuer—Jesus, our savior and redeemer.  Mature disciples acknowledge that Jesus exchanges His righteousness for our unrighteousness when He took on our sins at the cross.  He gives his followers eternal freedom from the just punishment for our sins and adopts us as sons and daughters into the family of God to be joint heirs of His kingdom.

(2) Mature disciples know the God that they serve. They recognize that He is beyond our ability to fully comprehend.  They see that God wants a relationship with them.  Mature disciples never stop striving to learn what God is like from His revelation in the Bible and in creation around us. They view the Bible as the story of God’s relationship with his people over the millennia, and they see his workmanship throughout the world around them.

(3) Mature disciples choose their identity in Christ over who this world says they should be. Rather than focusing on who they are, they focus on whose they are. They affirm that God created them in his own image to be his representatives here on earth.  They rejoice that Christ came and died on the cross to offer them a new and redeemed identity.   

(4) Mature disciples serve out of love. Scripture paints a clear picture for how we should treat our fellow human beings. In Zechariah 7, the prophet chastised God’s people for going through the religious motions then treating others poorly. Immature disciples may serve others when it’s convenient or when it makes them look and feel good. But mature disciples follow Jesus’ example with continuous service. They serve others by taking God’s love for people and making it their own.

(5) Mature disciples eagerly share their faith story.  The Good News of Jesus Christ is the greatest gift we can receive. Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we are adopted as God’s children. We are made holy, receive the Spirit, and enter into an eternal loving relationship with our Lord.  Mature disciples follow Jesus’ instruction to share his Good News with others: “Go into the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). Mature disciples desire that the transformation experienced in their own lives occur in the lives of others as well.  So, they share the good news and how it shaped their story of faith with those who need to hear it most.

(6) Mature disciples worship regardless of circumstance.  Their hearts are aware of God’s constant presence, and they can’t help but marvel at his glory.  Mature disciples see worship as a lifestyle. Their worship is not dependent on location, music style, or any other external factor. Mature disciples worship God even during tough times because they know that God is always worthy of praise.

(7) Mature believers defend their faith, their hope in Christ, just as the Bible encourages us to do: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15). Mature disciples are equipped to communicate God’s truth in a world that is hostile towards Him. They don’t share God’s truth in an overbearing way, but they display a confidence and a willingness to unashamedly and respectfully engage our culture.

(8) Mature disciples don’t take the journey of discipleship alone. When we’re adopted as children of God, we gain millions of spiritual siblings who are on the same journey.  Whenever Scripture describes the life of a disciple, it’s in the context of a community of faith. Mature disciples seek unity and community with other growing disciples.

Each of us must individually evaluate the maturity of our discipleship.  Being a disciple of Christ is a life-long journey.  As a church we are called to help each other and those outside our walls to draw closer to Christ.  I hope each of you will pray with me as we look forward to the next steps in the growth of our mission.

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike

 



Stumbling Blocks

Stumbling Blocks

Dear Friends,

Recently, I have been thinking about ways that we as a church and as individual Christians inadvertently discourage people from encountering the saving message of the gospel.  I know that sounds crazy because we are called to be light and salt to the world around us (Matt. 5:13-16).  My guess is that none of us consciously want to exclude anyone from interacting with the redeeming love of Christ.  I am sure that, like me, it is your desire that everyone experience the amazing saving grace of Jesus just like we have!  That’s why I think it is so vital that from time to time we evaluate our lives and practices to make sure that we are not unwittingly placing stumbling blocks in front of the very ones we are trying to lead to the Lord.

Most of the time in the Bible, a “stumbling block” refers to something or someone who keeps another from a relationship with God. In Matt. 18:5-7, Jesus says, “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!”   We don’t want to be that guy!

Stumbling blocks also arise in unintended ways. The mature Christian life allows some freedoms that seem contrary to an obedient, disciplined faith. The Corinthians were concerned about eating meat sacrificed to idols. Modern issues include drinking alcohol in moderation or dancing. “But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Cor. 18:9). Our liberty is not worth another’s walk with God. If something God allows would lead another to sin, we need to avoid it. We are given great freedom as Christians, but the greatest is the freedom to consider others’ welfare over our own.

As a church we may create stumbling blocks to the unchurched as well.  These are things that make it difficult for people to walk through the doors and find a seat in order to hear the gospel.  For example, I believe our current location is a stumbling block to many.  Insufficient parking can be a stumbling block or poor directional signage.  How we present ourselves in print or on the radio may cause people to stumble in their walk to the cross.  Once people are inside the doors there are many more opportunities for stumbling blocks.

Can we as a church remove everything that may be a stumbling block to the non-believer?  Probably not, but the more we are able to tackle and remove, the more salvations we will eventually see.  The problem is that many of these stumbling blocks to others are personal preferences of our own.  These are the when, where and how we like things done in church and worship.  What are we willing to sacrifice for the salvation of souls?  How much was our Lord willing to sacrifice?

Refraining from being or creating a stumbling block and removing existing stumbling blocks is essential to our commission. How we accomplish this depends on our concern for others and the hearts of those around us. The security we have in God’s love and provision, both now and eternally, allows us to show concern to those who are weaker and those who need specific encouragement to understand who God is. In some situations, we may need to sacrifice our freedoms to build up weaker believers and not confuse non-believers. 

As a church, we need to be attentive to society around us and consider cultural changes and biases.  In various ways, Jesus, Paul, John and James, all tell us that we are not to be of this world but we are in this world as ambassadors of the Kingdom.  Without sacrificing Biblical truth or godly morality we need to be palatable and attractive to the lost all around us.  That is being “salt” so that we might share the “light.”  The light, of course, is the gospel and the gospel is the only stumbling block that we should want the lost to encounter.

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike 



Unfinished

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Unfinished

 

Today, I needed to go out and see how the new church building was coming along. I made my way up Frederica Road through all the beginning of summer traffic without too much trouble. There were no workers present as it was lunchtime, so I was alone with God as I strolled through the building. It was quiet with just the sounds of songbirds, the breeze blowing through the trees rustling the leaves, and my footsteps. I was thanking God for all the work that had been done and prayed for the continued protection of the workers as they constructed the building. I looked around with amazement as excitement filled me once again. The exposed framework was quite intriguing as it all fit together to define space and give structure and support. I thought about how so much of what I saw would soon be covered with sheetrock and other finishing materials and never be seen again. Yet, it would still be there accomplishing what it was meant to do. I envisioned how things would look once everything was done. It will look beautiful and function as designed. It will be just what we need and provide space to meet for Bible study, worship, fellowship, and equipping for us to go out and share the gospel, the love of Christ, and minister to the needs of our Jerusalem and beyond. It will be finished. But for now, it is unfinished.

 

It made me think about people. All of us are unfinished. As Christians, we are all on that journey of sanctification, becoming more and more like Christ. It reminds me of a song from an old children’s musical. The lyrics are,

“He’s still working on me,

To make me what I need to be.

It took Him just a week to make the moon and the stars,

The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.

How loving and patient He must be

‘Cause He’s still workin’ on me.”

The “still working” is a great comfort. None of us are perfect. Some are closer to perfect than others, but we are all still a work in progress. And none of us will be finished until God completes everything in us. As we look around, we must remember that when ministering with other people. We want people to be patient with us as we are still growing in our faith and in our walk with Jesus, so we must be patient with others. Like our new church building, we may look good now, but we’ve still got a way to go before we are done. There are a lot of things that still need to be done on that building as we have a lot of areas where we individually need to grow. The wonderful blessing is we know there will come a time when the building is finished. And, God will continue to work in and through us until He has accomplished and finished His desire for our lives. Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” NLT

 

That new building is already doing great things for God even though it is unfinished. It is creating excitement among us and this community. It is providing work for multiple people. And it is already a testimony of God’s faithfulness, power, and love for His people as well as people who are lost. May each of us be an unfinished masterpiece for Him.

 

Bro. Paul Reed

 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

 

 



FORE!

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FORE!

 

I had the opportunity to play golf today. I first learned how to play golf when we had an exchange student from Sweden come live with us the year I turned twelve years old. His name was Jonas and he was an excellent golfer. He actually won state medalist for high school golf in Arkansas that school year. My father had played golf before I was old enough to remember, but it had been some time since he had. Dad decided to pick it back up so he could play with Jonas and taught my brother and I how to play. I’ve enjoyed playing ever since and even played on our high school golf team. I never made it so far as to even compete in the state medalist tournament, let alone win it, but I still had fun. Today was no different. I didn’t have a great round with a low score, but I enjoyed being out on the course and playing. Sometimes the ball went where I wanted it to go and sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes it went in the right direction, but was too long or too short. Other times it went too far to the right or to the left, and even was lost in the trees, bushes, or marsh grass occasionally. (Okay, so I lost five or six, but I found three.) Like a lot of things, to be good at golf you need to play frequently. Today was the first time I’ve played since February, so I really wasn’t expecting to play too well. I was happy to have had some good shots and tried not to get upset over the bad ones. What I had learned in the past when I played a lot helped me to do well, but since I don’t play frequently, my muscle memory wasn’t at its best and the consistency of my shots was lacking.

 

Our spiritual life needs good frequency. That daily time reading God’s Word and spending time with Him in prayer and meditation cannot be beat. That consistent communication with God helps us more than I think we can ever realize. When we have that consistent walk, we seem to have so much strength and confidence as we strive to live our lives for God. We may face difficult challenges, but because we are in closer fellowship with the Lord, our minds are focused more on the Word and how God would have us react to those situations in ways that please Him. But, when we slack off for a few days or weeks, our reliance on our past times with the Lord only go so far. Our strength is quickly zapped because it isn’t being recharged. Before we realize, we are losing battles and struggling because we aren’t plugged into the power source anymore. We become weak trying to hold it together on our own. When we stop just trying on our own, the wonderful thing is all we have to do is plug back in – simply turn to God and ask Him for help. We can open the Word and read, and His Spirit will begin to fill us with His strength. We can talk with God in prayer and let Him revive our spirits. Our strength can be restored and then we can tap back into God’s strength and let Him fight our battles and guide our steps and use us in accomplishing His will. Jesus speaks to His disciples and says in John 15:4-5 NLT, “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.” We need to stay connected with the Lord and walk with Him daily. Our daily, consistent walk with God in His Word and in prayer is essential nourishment for our spiritual lives.

 

Hitting a golf ball long and straight requires a lot of practice with good techniques. Consistently hitting a golf ball long and straight requires a lot of frequent practice with good techniques. Otherwise, it’s difficult to keep the ball in the fairway. We need daily time with the Lord to keep on the straight and narrow. And spending time reading the Word and praying is a whole lot easier than keeping your golf swing in order.

 

Bro. Paul Reed

 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

 



Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Dear Friends,

Memorial Day weekend is just days away.  Today, most people see this as the start of the summer holiday season but it was originally meant as a somber reminder that freedom comes at great cost.  Throughout the history of our country brave men and women have died protecting our freedom, our way of life, in the armed forces. Their sacrifice is what we commemorate on this last weekend of May.

To our national shame, many in our country have forgotten or take for granted the lives that have purchased the freedoms that we so enjoy.  They mock and belittle the sacrifices made on foreign soil so that they would have the right to speak freely with such ignorance about those who fought and died on their behalf without even knowing who they are.

A hero is defined as a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his or her brave deeds.  Heroes come in all shapes and sizes with differing personalities.  Heroes, I believe, are made in an instant of decision.  That decision is usually about putting the needs of others above their own, counting the lives and welfare of others as greater than their own and worthy of sacrifice.  It is a decision of humility.

Soldiers in the various branches of the United States Military lay down their lives again and again in the name of freedom.  These men and women choose to make the ultimate sacrifice not just for their country, but for their friends and family as well.  In John 15:13, Jesus called that type of sacrifice a love that surpasses all others.  “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

Jesus showed that same selfless love when He suffered and died to save mankind from their sin.  In response to that sacrifice and out of gratitude for it we as Christians are called upon to follow Him as soldiers of His kingdom, “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus… his [the soldier’s] aim is to please the one who enlisted him” 2 Tim. 2:3-4.

From the very earliest days of the church, believers have put on the “armor of God” (Eph. 5:10-18) and have marched into the enemy lines, fighting for the eternal lives of others they may never meet.  Thousands die each and every year for the cause of Christ unknown, unsung, without memorial. 

There’s a reward for them beyond this life, however.  King David understood that this world is but a temporary posting for a soldier of the Lord.  He wrote in Psalm 27:3-4 “Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.  One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek:  that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”

This weekend, while you are getting ready for school to be out and vacations to begin, take a moment to remember those who have fought and died so that others, in this country, can go on living and enjoying freedom.  These men and women who have laid down their lives in active duty will never return to their family and friends, nor would they see the day that the fighting came to an end.  Our freedoms have been won and protected at great cost.  Never take them, or the men and women who continue to meet threats both foreign and domestic, for granted. Never forget.

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike



Getting Older

Getting Older

Dear Friends,

I was scrolling through Facebook the other day and saw a friend suggestion for someone I knew from High School.  He was the starting quarterback and homecoming king and he dated the cheerleading captain and homecoming queen.  I sat there staring at his picture and I thought, “Wow, he really looks old.”  Then I remembered what I looked like in the mirror that morning!

We are preparing for Graduate Recognition this Sunday, May 23rd.  This type of service always makes me feel old.  I mean, most of these graduates were born in the 21st century (after the year 2000).  I was born fairly close to the middle of the 20th century.  That’s a little depressing!

The Bible presents growing old as a normal, natural part of life in this world. The Bible even attaches honor to the aging process, because growing old is normally accompanied by increased wisdom and experience. Proverbs 16:31 says “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.” That’s actually becoming one of my favorite verses!   God wants us to remember that life is short and that the beauty of youth is soon gone according to 1 Peter 1:24, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall.”

In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon provides an insightful look at aging and the issues related to it.  He tells us that we are born with a natural tendency to “live for the moment,” but ultimately there is futility in that approach.   As people grow older and begin to feel the increasing impact of their mortality, they typically try to invest their resources in projects that to them seem to hold more promise of lasting meaning in life, they want to leave a legacy.  Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict what will have lasting value and significance in the future. This, according to Solomon, can lead to disillusionment and despair when we realize the meaninglessness of our earthly toil “under the sun.” 

The book concludes with a charge to reject the wisdom of men and the pursuits of this life and to adopt an eternal perspective in the face of life’s brevity and injustice.  Why spend your life pursuing pleasure, wealth, success, wisdom, even religion?  What should we do? “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13b).  The rest, God will take care of when He brings “every deed into judgement” (Eccl. 12:14a).

With our inevitable disillusionment over the human condition, our universal depravity and mortality, it is wise to remember that “Anyone who is among the living has hope…” (Eccl. 9:4a).  The living still have time to acknowledge God and to take joyful advantage of all their gifts, talents, wisdom, and opportunities in life, before all ability to do so has ceased, before death or disability closes the door on those opportunities.

Growing old is not so bad if we are engaged in our God-given purpose.  Of course, our purpose is only fulfilled in Christ, God’s promised Savior. While this earthly life may seem less fair for some than for others, at the final judgment, when we receive our inheritance for the way we invest what God has given us, we will see God as surpassingly fair in His rewards.

Mark Twain used to say, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”  God has made us who we are, placed us where we are and gifted us with the resources we have.  Our pursuit of purpose should always have Christ at the center regardless of our age.

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike



Swing, batter, batter, batter, swing!

“REED” This

 

Swing, batter, batter, batter, swing!

 

When I was a boy, I loved playing baseball. I played for the DeQueen Lions team sponsored by the local Lions Club where my father was a member, so it was kind of automatic that my brother and I would play for that team. Our uniforms were purple with gold pinstripes and I wore number three. In the five years with the team, I played every position except first baseman. My final year, I was the starting shortstop and batted fourth, which, as many of you know, is “clean-up”. I never hit any homeruns, but I had a high batting average. We usually won first or second place in the league for the season, and the opposite first or second place in the end of season tournament. I don’t know why we couldn’t win both in the same year, but we never did. I had a good last year with the team. Four times during that season I came up to bat with the bases loaded and hit a double into left center field that cleared the bases and allowed me to get to third base. That was so fun. The only thing better was to have hit a homerun for a grand slam. But, there was one game, late in the season, where we were playing a team that we had beaten earlier that year. Our records were the same, so this game would decide the season champs. They had a pretty good pitcher, but I had hit off him before. This game, however, I was struggling. I had struck out my first three times up, and now, it was my fourth time to bat. There were two outs, and the game was tied in the top of the last inning. We had two guys on base that could score if I simply got a base hit. I stepped up to the plate and – swing and a miss – strike one. Next pitch – swing and a miss – strike two. My third base coach called a time out and came over to me and told me to relax. He knew I was mad and frustrated and trying too hard. I stepped back into the batter’s box determined to hit the ball. Here came the pitch – I swung – miss – strike three. I couldn’t believe it! I just knew I was going to hit that ball! I had already seen in my mind a base hit that scored at least one run. But no, I had struck out for the fourth time in one game! I was devastated. We went back out onto the field to try and hold the other team from scoring so the game would go into extra innings. The first batter stepped up to the plate and hit a homerun, winning the game, winning the season for the other team. We lost. Second place that year really felt bad.

 

Disappointments in life can come at any age. Sometimes they come because we are not perfect. Sometimes they come because the world is not perfect. Whatever the reason and whatever the circumstance, how we respond to those disappointments reveals who we are and where our trust lies. If we let disappointment bring us down and send us into depression, our perspective and trust has been misplaced. If we are able to move on from that disappointment with our head held high, that can show either strong positive thinking on our part, but with a bigger difficulty our own positive thinking may not be enough. If our confidence and trust are placed in God, then we will be able to move on and even face greater disappointment through strength from the Lord. Psalm 125:1-2 says, “Those who trust in the Lord are as secure as Mount Zion; they will not be defeated but will endure forever. Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people, both now and forever.” As we grow older, the disappointments can be much worse than a twelve-year-old boy losing a baseball game. But, no matter what it is – a teenage girl being stood up on a date, an adult losing a job, a salesman losing a big sale, a marriage that falls apart, or a friend that turns on you – if our trust is in the Lord, we know He will see us through that difficult time. We may face disappointment, but we are still secure in our Savior.

 

I have faced many more disappointments in life with most of them being a lot worse than striking out four times in a game. Many of them have had much greater spiritual ramifications as well. But I am grateful that God has helped me understand that even though my own failures have caused some of them, I am able to move forward and grow through them because of His strength working in and through me.

 

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.”  Romans 5:3-5

 

Bro. Paul Reed

 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

 

 



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