This past Saturday we held our 10th annual Kidfest. It was a glorious day made possible by our church as well as three others in the Bristol area. The children attending enjoy activities such as: face-painting, giant blow-ups, Bible stories, snow cones, and food galore. Each child is given a backpack and at the conclusion of the day we take the names of those registered put them in a bag and draw for some pretty incredible prizes. It’s so much fun watching the faces of those who win. The good thing is children win prizes; the bad thing is not all win. It depends on the luck of the draw. This year after all the names had been called one mother and little boy came to the platform. They motioned for my attention. When I walked over to speak to them the little boy said, “I didn’t win anything.” His mother chimed in making a remark that touched my heart. She said, “He never wins.” I looked at him reached into my pocket and pulled out a $5.00 dollar bill. As I handed it to him I said, “Here take this, now you are a winner.” He smiled and walked away. Would it not be wonderful if winning was that easy? If that were the case the world would be much happier. However, such a state of grandeur cannot be acquired by having your name called out in a random drawing or someone placing money in your hand. Being a winner is not achieved by what one holds in his hand, but rather what he or she holds in their heart. That’s why the writer of Proverbs stated “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” There are millionaires who live on the poverty level and paupers who live as kings. It all has to do with our thought process. You can be a winner but if you think like a loser you will be one. The reverse is true also. You can be a loser but if winning has captivated your mind, you will be a winner. Which brings me back to the little boy mentioned earlier, he thought he was a loser because his name did not resonate over the amplification system. His mother seemed to ditto the opinion. During the developmental years before him, it is my prayer that he comes to know the difference between his hand and his heart. If so he will always see himself to be a winner.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
In the early part of the century, a ship was wrecked off the Scilly Isles near the coast of England. The sea had been calm and the weather clear, but the vessel was caught in a treacherous current that slowly lured it off its course. Before the captain and the crew realized what had happened, the ship had crashed on the rocks. In the Christian life we witness the same destruction. Powerful currents of compromise can catch the soul and carry it to shipwreck. When people spiritually drift it is often a slow and imperceptible process. Their priorities get misplaced and they find themselves in the grip of complacency. Often we know it has occurred when they have lost the strong resistance to evil and the passionate desire for truth that they once knew. Paul knowing this was a possibility, warned Timothy and those to whom he ministered. He encouraged them to be faithful alerting his readers to the fact that some had already “strayed from the faith.” Hadden W. Robinson in “Our Daily Bread” states “for every professing believer who succumbs to a sudden and savage assault of evil, a hundred more slowly drift away from God’s truth, regular worship, and a life of faith.” We must pay close attention, lest the deceptive current of the world pulls and leaves us shipwrecked. How can we avoid wreckage? Be cautious in all things. Avoid letting your conscience be your guide rather let the Holy Spirit direct you. Finally, always look to the Bible. If we give heed to the scripture we will be warned against the forces that work against us. As one writer stated, “The compass of God’s word will keep you from spiritual shipwreck.” Added to that is the voice of the Spirit; He is the Captain who is never caught off guard, who will always give us the ability to pull away, to regain our composure, while directing us to safe waters.
Sunday, July 13, 2014
The writer of Proverbs wrote, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” This verse reminds me of an experience I had with my grandfather several years ago before he died. He and I were having a conversation when he happened to mention his old blue Ford pick-up truck needed a tune-up. Being a benevolent grandson, and hoping to save Papaw money I volunteered to do the job. Experience was not an issue since I had spent my high school years working at a service station. He was appreciative that I was willing to do the job so we set the date to get it done. We purchased all of the necessary parts and I showed up at his house the day the work was to be completed. At that time I was working at American Enka Corporation and happened to be on the evening shift which meant my time was limited. With tools in hand, I raised the hood pulled out the old plugs and replaced them; next came the distributor. The cap was removed along with the old points and the new ones attached. Meticulously I set the cap back in place and tightened the screws. The final part of the task was to start the motor and listen to it pur. However, disappointment came when the engine would not crank. Surprised, I retraced my steps checking every part that had been replaced which revealed nothing. Needless to say I worked feverishly to try and get the truck started but had no success. Finally, I had to leave for work telling Papaw that I had no idea what the problem was. He later called a mechanic friend who towed the vehicle to his shop and eventually got the engine running. The problem—I had twisted the distributor cap when reattaching it. What was intended to be a money saving project eventually cost more in the long run. How often do we allow people to mess with our hearts who claim to be experienced when in reality they are novices? God knew the problem with this tendency so He warned us to “keep our hearts” with tedious care. Surrendering your heart to anyone or anything outside of God will cost you tremendously. It will create discouragement, pain, and eventual perplexity. He is the only one that can tune us up and keep our spiritual lives running smoothly. So save yourself the trouble, and forget about the expense; call on the Chief Technician. In doing so you will demonstrate what it means to “guard your heart.”
Sunday, July 6, 2014
I was emailed the following story a few days ago given by Senator John McCain during a speech. I felt compelled to share it with you since it addresses "The Pledge of Allegiance." My prayer is that it will inspire you as it did me. “As you may know, I spent five and one half years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. In the early years of our imprisonment, the NVA kept us in solitary confinement two or three to a cell. In 1971 the NVA moved us from these conditions of isolation into large rooms with as many as 30 to 40 men to a room. This was, as you can imagine, a wonderful change and was a direct result of the efforts of millions of Americans on behalf of a few hundred POW's 10,000 miles from home. One of the men who moved into my room was a young man named Mike Christian. Mike came from a small town near Selma, Alabama. He didn't wear a pair of shoes until he was 13 years old. At 17, he enlisted in the US Navy. He later earned a commission by going to Officer Training School. Then he became a Naval Flight Officer and was shot down and captured in 1967. Mike had a keen and deep appreciation of the opportunities this country and our military provide for people who want to work and want to succeed. As part of the change in treatment, the Vietnamese allowed some prisoners to receive packages from home. In some of these packages were handkerchiefs, scarves, and other items of clothing. Mike got himself a bamboo needle. Over a period of a couple of months, he created an American flag and sewed it on the inside of his shirt. Every afternoon, before we had a bowl of soup, we would hang Mike's shirt on the wall of the cell and say the Pledge of Allegiance. I know the Pledge of Allegiance may not seem the most important part of our day now, but I can assure you that in that stark cell it was indeed the most important and meaningful event. One day the Vietnamese searched our cell, as they did periodically, and discovered Mike's shirt with the flag sewn inside, and removed it. That evening they returned, opened the door of the cell, and for the benefit of all of us, beat Mike Christian severely for the next couple of hours. Then, they opened the door of the cell and threw him in. We cleaned him up as well as we could. The cell in which we lived had a concrete slab in the middle on which we slept. Four naked light bulbs hung in each corner of the room. As I said, we tried to clean up Mike as well as we could. After the excitement died down, I looked in the corner of the room, and sitting there beneath that dim light bulb with a piece of red cloth, another shirt and his bamboo needle, was my friend, Mike Christian. He was sitting there with his eyes almost shut from the beating he had received, making another American flag. He was not making the flag because it made Mike Christian feel better. He was making that flag because he knew how important it was to us to be able to Pledge our allegiance to our flag and country. So the next time you say the Pledge of Allegiance, you must never forget the sacrifice and courage that thousands of Americans have made to build our nation and promote freedom around the world. You must remember our duty, our honor, and our country. "I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."