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A Friend Indeed
Sometimes I get to thinking that Jose Wales is one of my best friends. When I call him, he's at my side in seconds. He seems to really enjoy my presence. He likes to just sit and watch TV with me. He likes all the same shows that I do. He even cleans up food that I might spill around the house. Other friends have made fun of my old beat-up Dodge truck, but he loves it - even tried to drive it once on our way to town. He's been a great friend for eight years.
But now I’m starting to wonder.
Whenever he notices that other folks have food, he starts acting like they‘re best friends too. This really bugs me. He even went so far the other day as to allow a complete stranger to rub his belly. Not long ago, we had a little bit of an argument because I really needed him to come with me, but he was too busy eating hotdogs with another one of his so-called ”friends." I'm beginning to realize that our friendship is a little one-sided. He only seems to be in this for what he can get.
(By the way, in case you haven't figured this out by now, Jose Wales is a dog.) But he certainly has put me in mind of some of my human friends over the years. And, sadly I must admit, has reminded me of the way I have been a friend to others. A friend who is only in the relationship for what he can gain is not a friend at all. It is true that in our times of greatest need, we find out who our true friends are.
I struggle to wrap my mind around the kind of friend Jesus has been to me. I mean, what's he in this relationship to gain? What does he expect to get out of it for himself? Nothing more than my friendship, it appears. He already had it all. He didn't need me. He still doesn't need me. Not only does he already own the world, he made the world. There is nothing I can offer him materially that he doesn't already own. What does he want from me? Just my friendship, my loyalty, my obedience. Because of what it does for him? I don't think so. He already has eternal life. He's always going to have eternal life. He didn't die for himself, he died for me. He is my friend because of what it does for me. That's overwhelming. Talk about being the opposite of the friend who's only around when he needs something from you. You are indeed Lord the best friend we'll ever have. Thank you.
Teen Mission Trip
God truly, blessed us with a great trip to Mid-Western. Children’s Home. The teens worked hard mowing grass, raking a field of hay, painting a wooden bridge over a pond, cleaning cabins, hauling split wood, fixing diesel tractors, stacking 80 lb. bags of cement, sweeping & cleaning a kitchen while maintaining great attitudes.
Campfire devotional, hot dog . roast, volley ball, mud sliding and wiffle ball was entertainment in the evening.
Zip-lining over the pond was a thrill , but the Creation Museum was a great trip thru God's Word to strengthen each ones Biblical knowledge.
To end the trip we enjoyed Kings Island and boy was we tired. God brought us home safe and sound and we want to thank our family at Woodsfield for their prayers and financial support. We had a wonderful time working, spiritual education and fun on this year’s Mission' trip. Special thanks to Kathy Hamilton for being a great cook, and Butch & Sherry for chaperones to the teens.
Creation Museum | Photo Courtesy Sherry Lallathin
They Ain't Gonna Milk Themselves
Apparently, the dairy farmers of the world all met at a convention once and voted on the best response to any one who may question their devotion to the task at hand. It must have been unanimously decided upon that anytime a non-farmer would ask why they couldn't attend a certain event, the reply must be, "Well, they ain't gonna milk themselves!
I heard it from the adults who inhabited the same farm I did as a boy. In fact, I they must have agreed that anytime a boy attempted to avoid any chore, this was to be the universal answer —- "That grass ain't gonna mow itself" - "That dog ain‘t gonna feed itself" - _ "That hay ain't gonna get bailed by itself."
I'm sure that at some point I asked the Lord above to create cows that would indeed milk themselves, and grass that would cut itself. I probably thought if the Lord really loved me, he would do it, and do it quickly.
I must confess a problem I have. I, along with a number of you, wish that the work of the Lord would just simply happen without me having to do anything. I wish the lost would just save themselves. I wish the down and out would take care of themselves. I wish the children and the teens would teach themselves. I wish those who need to be baptized would just baptize themselves. I'll go ahead and say in print what many of us are saying with our actions -- I just want to come in, sit down (in my assigned pew), be entertained and enlightened for an hour, and go home. That's it. I don’t want to teach, I don’t want to evangelize, I don’t want to visit, I don’t want to get too involved, I don’t want to lead -— I just want the kingdom of God to grow itself.
But...not all have this attitude, and I want to take this opportunity to thank those of you who accept that someone needs to "milk the cows." You know who you are. When someone needs called, you call. When someone needs visited, you visit. When someone needs baptized, you baptize them. You see those who need taught, and you teach them. In fact, you've been teaching them it seems since Methuselah was a newborn! Thank you'!
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? Romans 10:14-15
Every Sunday, A Memorial
Though the exact place, time, and originator are debated, it seems clear that Memorial Day, also known as Decoration Day, finds its genesis in the final years of the Civil War. In this struggle to maintain the unity of the United States of America and to secure the freedom of each and every citizen, more than 600,000 men lost their lives. As these soldiers were laid to rest, loved ones in the North and the South insisted their sacrifices not be forgotten, and began annual celebrations. in which graves were decorated with flowers and flags.
One of the more interesting of these celebrations took place on May 1, 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina. During the war, the Confederates had turned the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club into a prison camp in which more than 250 Union soldiers died. They had been buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand in the hopes that the occasion of their death might be mostly forgotten by historians. However, the African-American population of Charleston would not allow that to happen. They dug up the huge grave site and gave each soldier a proper burial before organizing the May 1 memorial celebration. Why did it fall on those who at the time were considered more "property" than human beings to properly honor these men? Because they understood and appreciated how these soldiers had affected their station in life! They were free, and would stay free, thanks to the sacrifices of those who had fallen.
No plans were made to give Jesus a proper burial. Crucifixion was intended to let you die slowly and to allow the birds and bugs to feast on you down to the bones. But there were those who knew he deserved better. They understood, to some degree, that he hung there for them. Nicodemus knew a little about being enslaved. He was bound by the Law and restricted by the irrational and hateful behavior of his peers. In his conversations with the Savior, he learned about the new birth, about a new start. Jesus brought freedom from the Law, freedom from sin, freedom from the woes of this life -- and for that he deserved a better burial!
Thanks to Christ, we are free! Free from fear, free from worry, and so much more! Every Sunday is our "Memorial Day" to Him.
Check out the sermon as well: To Think On While You're Decorating.
A Fire Started By A Mother's Faith
2 Timothy 1:5-7
Timothy had a fire inside him. It was a spiritual gift, a fervor, a spark given to him by God when Paul laid his hands on the young missionary. Paul acknowledges, however, that it was his mother and his grandmother who cut the wood and stacked it, ready to be burnt. Eunice and Lois passed their wonderful faith onto Timothy. Without this faith, no spiritual gift could have been given to him. But it was up to Timothy, and Timothy alone to fan this into flame. His mom and grandma can't hover over him the rest of his existence fanning the fire.
Hannah, of Old Testament fame, promised her son to God. She literally took him to the tabernacle and left him there. That's all she could do. The rest was up to Samuel. She placed him in a place where the Spirits fire could be ignited and burn. It was up to him to keep the flames going. And if you know the story, that's exactly what he did.
Many a good, Godly mother has taken the heat (yes, the pun is intended) for a faithless, flameless child. Well-meaning "advice" from other parents, hell-fire sermons from the pulpit, and good ole fashioned gossip cause them to live in guilt and regret. But if mom put the material for the fire in her child's heart, if she took her child to a place where he could find God, what more can she do?
I truly feel sorry for those who spent their childhood years receiving from their moms and dads nothing with which a spiritual fire could be started. Heaven help them and may God have mercy on such ignorant parents. I feel more sorrow, however, for those who did indeed have the luxury of being born to a Godly, spiritual mother and father, but who are squandering that great blessing. You had a mother who read the Bible to you, who prayed for you and with you, who brought you to hear God's message, who instilled in your heart a faith in the Almighty and in His ways. Why have you let that fire go out?
My prayer is that God would bless all you moms who help start the fire, and that He would give us sons and daughters the courage to keep fanning it into flame.
Selling It But Not Buying It
While standing in line trying to read the menu board of a local seafood restaurant, we overheard a very interesting conversation between the cashier and the customers in front of us. They inquired as to the best type of fish to order, and received this response: "Well, truthfully, l prefer Coleman‘s fish, yea; I’d rather have it any day." The customer then replied, "l don’t see that up there." To which the all·to-honest employee said, "Oh, we don’t sell it. You can get it in Wheeling." All of us potential customers just kind of stood there in a moment of silence trying to decide on whether we should go ahead and order something or drive to Wheeling for Coleman’s fish.
This incident reminded me of one similar which precedes it by some twenty years. A fellow in our community owned a shoe store and was always complaining about Wal-Mart, and the great difficulty he had in competing with their prices. "I probably won’t be able to stay in business much longer because of them,” he’d say. While walking the isles of Wal-Mart one evening we encountered him and his basket which happened to be full of socks - an unremarkable fact, except that part of his own business was selling socks!
He ended up being right, by the way - his business didn’t last much longer.
When it comes to Christianity, some of us are trying to sell what we ourselves are not buying. We pray along with those who ask God to help us reach the lost. We ask the church leaders about evangelistic programs. We gripe and complain about how bad the world is, how immoral our non-Christian neighbors are, and the prevalence of all the ungodly influences our children must endure day in and day out. But the real message we’re sending to our non-Christian neighbors is that we prefer the same things they do. We're paid, if you will, to tout God’s ways, but it’s his competitors ways that appeal to us.
While I’m yelling and screaming about how few souls the church is converting these days, I might want to take a look at my own life and consider this thought — what would my neighbor think they were being converted to? Other than getting up and driving to a church building every week, is there; anything about my life that really stands out from theirs?
“Come, be a Christian,” I could. say, “you can be negative, pessimistic, and depressed about life, just like me, but you'll be able to call yourself a Christian." Take a look today at 1 Peter 2:12 and Matthew 5:16.
Great Race and Honor Bus Winners
Congratulations to the Green Bus Riders for winning the Great Race award and Honor Bus for the month of April 2014.
The Pop-In Visit
While we may politely say, "Stop by anytime," many of us don't really mean it. In 25 years of ministry I've learned this the hard, and sometimes embarrassing way. I've been bitten by dogs who didn’t know I was coming, was once chased off the porch by an irritated Rhode Island Red rooster, and even scolded by a very direct toddler who exclaimed, "You ain't allowed in till dad gets his pants on." Thanks for the warning kid, but I can see dad through the window and I‘m already regretting this visit.
You know you should have called first when you get the "slide-out." This maneuver is usually preceded by the words, "I wasn't really planning on anyone today," or "the house is just a little messy right now." The door is slightly opened, allowing enough room for maybe a cardboard cutout of a human body to slide between it and the door jam. The door is then abruptly pulled shut behind the occupant and the entire duration of the conversation occurs on the porch despite the fact that it's 150 degrees in the shade.
A preacher was asked once by an elder, "Why don't you just stop I by and visit people more often?" "Because I got tired of feeling more like an IRS agent than a minister" He replied.
And I must admit, as the recipient of the occasional pop-in visit, I do understand your sometimes unwelcoming welcome. It's not that I dislike the visit itself, it's your timing. The house is clean and organized six days a week, but you come on the day dishes are in the sink, clothes are on the floor, and the cats decided the front sidewalk must in some way resemble a litter box. And no matter how clean and put-together I usually am, my guest will probably leave my house that day convinced this is how I always live.
There's definitely one pop-in visit you and I better be ready for. When I became a Christian, essentially, I told Jesus, "Stop by anytime." And when he does, there'll be no "slide-out" maneuver, no "can you wait a minute on the porch," or "now's not a good time." The house better be in order that day. And however my house appears on that day, it will be hard to convince Him that I haven't always been living like this! If your soul is in disarray, please take the time to get things cleaned up today.
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Matthew 24:42-44)
Just Tell Me How It Is
Mike went to the doctor with pain in his back. After a comprehensive examination, the doc declared him free of serious disease or disorder. In fact, he suggested to Mike that much of the discomfort was probably of a psychological order and should he just stop worrying about it, the pain may eventually go away. Mike succumbed to cancer six months later. Some time following his passing, Mike's family confronted the doctor, who admitted to having suspected the disease all along. When asked why he did not take the appropriate steps, the doctor declared that Mike seemed like such a happy-go-lucky guy and he didn't want to bring him down or hurt his feelings in any way. He stated his hope that the problem would just work itself out on its own.
Then there is the case of Mike's mechanic. His widow took her car to the same man who had worked on Mike's cars for years. This time however the mechanic was dealing with what he perceived was an ignorant woman. The estimate he handed her was for two thousand dollars and accompanied a note declaring the urgency of all the repairs. A friend advised Mike's widow to get a second opinion from another mechanic. His estimate was for two hundred dollars. Furthermore, it was discovered that the first fellow was charging her to "replace" nearly new, perfectly functioning parts.
As part of a sermon once, I used Mike's doctor and mechanic as illustrations. I can still see the audiences response as I spoke of Mike's poor widow. Some faces went long, others showed anger, all were in awe that two supposed professionals could be so foolish. and untrustworthy. These stories, however, are not true. I made them up. They are parables. Mike and his widow are fictional. But your reaction to them has been most interesting.
Doctors who don't tell us the truth are irresponsible. We don't want them to be concerned with our feelings as much as we just want the truth about our bodies. Neither do we expect our mechanic to lie to us. If it doesn't need fixing, don't fix it. What do we want from the folks who inspect our bodies and our vehicles? Don't tell it better than it really is, and don't tell it worse — just tell it like it is.
Why then do we get frustrated with preachers who tell it like it is? If they are responsible for instructions regarding our souls, shouldn't we expect no less? We shouldn't tolerate preachers who insist on making everything sound better than it really is. Nor should we stand for those who blow everything out of proportion for drama's sake. From the pulpit we should expect to hear sin called for what it is -- destructive to the soul and to the church. With a stubborn, rebellious attitude, no amount of grace is able to cover it. But we should also expect to hear that sin is forgivable. With a truly repentant attitude, no wrong-doing is beyond the grace of Almighty God.
Paul asked the Galatians (4:16), "Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?"
New Teen Room
The teen room is up and running. It was breath taking for the youth as they entered their room of Praise and Bible Study to God. The youth are very thankful for their new room and and a special thanks goes out to all those who helped make this project a reality. May God use this room and may the hearts of God's youth always be open to making right choices and honoring the direction of our Heavenly Father. Thanks again to all the workers for their love and compassion to help the Youth Ministry grow. It takes many parts to make up the body, but one thing is for sure, God is always the head and we will always follow his direction.