The Tree Who Stood Alone

Not long ago, just down a ways from our church building, a property was cleared of nearly every tree.  This flat one acre or so of real estate was cleared and excavated for a new house.  After removing 30-40 trees, there was one tree left in this new field.  It appeared it was left to be a showcase piece.  Standing at over 60 feet tall, this tree would stand tall and proud in this recent development against the backdrop of a new house.

Then it happened.  A storm came.  The rain fell.  The wind blew.

The now single tree, standing proud by itself in the cleared field, fell down.  Great was the fall of it!  The tree had grown up in a community with other trees.  As it grew from a sapling to a tall height of 60 feet, it was not alone.  The fibers of its core were not stretched and bent as much as it had been during the wind storm that night.

As trees grow, the storms that come make them stronger.  The wood grain is stretched as the tree bends in the wind.  The fibers harden under stress a storm brings about.  In the woods with other trees, the other trees share the burden, slow the wind-down, and create a buffer from the ravages of standing alone in the storm.

Life is much like a storm to a tree.  A tree can stand alone, and many trees do.  But the tree is most likely to grow healthy and not fall over when in community with other trees.  A tree is less likely to fall over when it is with other trees.

The God Who created the trees and forests is the same God who created humankind.  He designed our humanity to need spiritual, social, and physical interaction.  We find the community we need in something called The Church.  Christians need to be with their church to grow, develop in healthy ways, and to help when storms come.

Sure, Christians in church occasionally fall, but no one is taking statistics on how many people do not fall because they are faithfully involved in a church community.  I have not seen reports about people who did not fall into sin, or who did not abandon their Christianity – because of the church.  But the fact that a church remains is evidence that it works.  The Bible teaches in Hebrews 10:25, Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Christian, we desperately need each other as this world grows increasingly sinful.  The storms of life may be increasing, but God is greater!  He has given you and I a healthy network of friends, fellow Christians with which to worship God, serve Him, and encourage others.

Your church desperately needs you.  Someone at church needs your friendship.  Someone at church needs to see your smile each Sunday and enjoy an embrace, handshake, or word of blessing.

Will some people in church fall?  Will some storms come that they will mishandle?  Sure.  That is what Solomon is talking about in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. 

More people will succeed if you are there to encourage them in the first place.  Others will get back up after falling when they receive your help to stand back up with the other Christians in a church community.

Don’t stand alone.  Stand with other Christians.  Storms will come.  Others need you.  You need them.  Go to church. Participate.  Avoid falling.  If you fall, get back up with the church of others.  If you see someone fall, help them get back up.

Don’t be a singular tree in a field.  Stand tall with your church.

 

Grace and Peace

Grace be to you and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Galatians 1:3

In the opening comments from the Apostle Paul to the people of the Galatian region, he offers the words grace and peace.  As Christians, we are thankful for the grace of God, and we are blessed to know we have peace with God and the peace of God!   God loves you, and I so much that He gives us this grace and peace.  You are valuable to God!

Grace is something from the Lord.  It is not something we earn or deserve.  God’s grace is freely given and freely received.  Getting better than what we deserve is a fantastic thing about the grace of God!

Peace is incredible too.  Do you have peace with God?  Is a guilty conscience rattling your soul?  Is your life full of unresolved regret?   You can make peace with God today.  Confess any sin or regretful instances of experience to the Lord and ask Him to heal your soul.  He will.  Make peace with God by finding forgiveness and a new life in Jesus Christ.  Please see the “How to Have Eternal Life” section on this site.  Peace with God is looking to the future and ensuring your salvation in Jesus.

What about the peace of God?  The order of God is something for living each day.  All of us have challenges and struggles, and as we move forward in our peace with God, there are times where we may not fully realize the peace of God.  Peace. Contentment. Satisfaction.  All of this is part of the peace of God that we can enjoy daily!  This peace is living a life of less stress, more easiness of mind, and a better understanding of God’s presence.

Be encouraged with God’s grace and peace today – you are worth it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2020 is Good for More than Vision

What is your eyesight according to the eye doctor?  Need correction?  With today marking the new year and the calendar turning to 2020, be encouraged that 2020 is good for more than eyesight only.  What do you want to see in your life in 2020?  Do you have any goals or dreams that you would like to see the Lord achieve in your life this year?

With more than near-term thinking, could 2020 be the year of the rapture?  Could Jesus return to the clouds of this sphere and take Gospel believing Christians to Heaven?  It could happen.

Jesus says in Luke 12:40, Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.  Could 2020 be the year?  Theologian Charles Ryrie writes of this verse: “There is no place for slothful ease in the life of a believer while waiting or the return of the Lord.”  Very true words.

Sense 2020 is good for more than vision, what are some things I can look for in the year 2020?

  1. A rejuvenated love for Jesus.  Read your love letter from God, the Bible more.
  2. A renewed sense of serving Jesus.  Find ways to help others to glorify God.
  3. A rekindled participation in church life.  More than attend, participate.

Are these important?  Yes!  Jesus could return for the Gospel believer at any moment.  When He does come, our love for Jesus, service to Jesus, and participation with other Christians in church will take on a paramount priority in our life – but when the rapture happens, it will be too late!  Once the trumpet sounds, the love for Jesus will continue in Heaven, the service will continue (or begin for some) in Heaven, and the people we fellowship with at church (or avoid due to lack of attendance and participation) will continue (or begin) in Heaven!

Make the most of 2020 for demonstrating love and devotion to Jesus.

This world probably does not have another Century before the rapture.

The First Song Ever on Radio!

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  Luke 2:15

It was the year 1906.  Theodore Roosevelt from New York was President of the USA (and as a first for an American President, he left the country and inspected the Panama Canal), a revival was taking place in churches on the West Coast, the 7.8 earthquake rattled Los Angeles, Bradbury Robinson of the Saint Louis University throws the first forward pass in football, and the earliest broadcast on over the air radio was transmitted.  It was a progressive era.  The AM radio did not even have regular broadcasting on it until the 1920s.  The technology was new and cutting edge.

Inventor and Canadian Reginal Fessenden sent out the first radio broadcast on December 24.  For the very first radio signal sent, he chose to play the Christmas Carol O Holy Night.  After playing the song on his violin himself, Fessenden read from Luke 2, the Christmas story, according to Luke. This broadcast was made in Brant Rock, MA, with radio operators along the coast listening in.

The very first song played on the radio was on Christmas Eve, and it was a song about – Christmas!

How fitting that on the precipice of new and wonderful communication technology that in Biblical fashion, the good news is proclaimed and shared. Like and angels, the shepherds, and the first radio broadcaster, Christmas is good news worth sharing and giving.

With all the new technology our world is immersed in, phones, PC’s media, podcasts, XM, and good old fashioned AM or FM, don’t forget about Jesus.  In spite of all of the crackly “static” around you be sure to remember Jesus and share His gift with others.

Merry Christmas everyone!

A Little Town

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.  Micah 5:2

Hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth, the Old Testament prophet named Micah was given a message from God.  This message was very particular about the place where the Messiah would be born.  Jesus fulfilled this and many other prophecies!

It was small as far as towns go.  Bethlehem was a quiet little town that was known for raising the sheep that were used in Temple sacrifices in Jerusalem.  In the very same fields, David tended to his father’s sheep as a youngster is the place the shepherds we read in Luke 2 are working.   It is in this sleepy little place that God would come to earth in human form.

Phillips Brooks wrote the Christmas favorite “O Little Town of Bethlehem” in 1868.  Its words have filled church houses, homes, and hearts ever since.  Each verse carries a significant meaning about the purpose of Jesus coming to this year.

  • Verse one teaches about hope in a time of darkness and fear.
  • Verse two emphasizes the peace that Jesus brought when He came to earth.
  • Verse three encourages meekness as it is only those humble enough to receive Jesus for salvation – that actually do repent and believe in Him.
  • Verse four is a call to salvation – to let Jesus into your heart.  If you have not trusted in Jesus for salvation, believe in Him today.  Receive the gift of eternal life and become a Christian right now.  Ask Jesus in faith for forgiveness of sins, express in a prayer belief in His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave, and receive Him into your heart.

Here is the entire carol.  Enjoy!

1 O little town of Bethlehem,
how still we see thee lie;
above thy deep and dreamless sleep
the silent stars go by:
yet in thy dark streets shineth
the everlasting Light;
the hopes and fears of all the years
are met in thee tonight.

2 For Christ is born of Mary,
and gathered all above,
while mortals sleep, the angels keep
their watch of wond’ring love.
O morning stars, together
proclaim the holy birth!
And praises sing to God the King,
and peace to men on earth.

3 How silently, how silently,
the wondrous gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
the blessings of his heav’n.
No ear may hear his coming,
but in this world of sin,
where meek souls will receive him still,
the dear Christ enters in.

4 O holy child of Bethlehem,
descend to us, we pray;
cast out our sin and enter in;
be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
our Lord Emmanuel!

Merry Christmas!  The merriest Christmas one can have is when a person knows for sure they are saved, forgiven of sin, and have Jesus in their heart.  Accept Him today.

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The Trash Thieves

We hear of this more and more each holiday season. Some people steal boxes as soon as they are delivered to a house. UPS, Fed Ex, and USPS are working overtime in deliveries and thieves are working overtime at collecting the deliveries. Have you seen that in the news? Simple crooks may prowl through a neighborhood looking for boxes left on lonely looking porches. 

One woman with extra Amazon boxes who had ten packages stolen in last week thought of a bright idea. She filled the boxes with garbage, taped them back up, and set them out to see if people would dispose of her trash. They did! 

I like how she became proactive to protect her house and her stuff. While small, this may cause the thieves to think twice about stealing from her front porch. She did not give up. She decided to act.

Jesus said Satan is out to “steal, kill, and destroy” John 10:10). In the Christian life, we have a thief that is out stalking our lives looking for the opportune moment to steal our joy, rob our peace, and take our satisfaction. Don’t let him steal from you!  

Don’t’ put trash in the boxes of your life; you can be proactive in other ways. 

  1. Read the Bible each day.
  2. Spend time with God in daily prayer.
  3. Find someone to tell about Jesus.
  4. Be with your church regularly, finding ways to minister and serve. 

There is no need to fear.  Paul told the Colossi Christians in Colossians 3:15, And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.  These four practices result in good spiritual health, will protect you when the enemy shows up to discourage you, and will help you glorify the Lord Jesus in your life.

Be proactive in the Christian life.

The Man Singing in the Window and the Outdoor Concert

The Christmas music was reverberating through the streets. People were exuberantly pacing the town. Aromas of coffee, hot chocolate, and special foods wafted through the Winter air. Bundled up in warm clothes and ready for seasonal fun, thousands of people walked the streets of Saratoga Springs in what is known as the “Victorian Street Walk.”

Some vendors give food; others put on shows. Performers walk the streets and on occasion, stop walking to act or sing and draw a crowd. Santa was playing his saxophone. Some churches hand out tracts or materials. Our church handed out invitations to our Christmas Concert.

Two performers drew my attention: One was a large contemporary church with the music reverberating through the streets. Their performance consisted of a choir and several talented vocalists with live accompaniment music. They were singing many well-known Christian Christmas songs in addition to cheerful secular Christmas songs. It was loud. They were there. They had a presence to them. Standing in the freezing temperatures, thousands of people saw and heard them that night. They got their message across very effectively.

Then there was another talented act. Not many people were attracted to this performance. As I walked in search of some of our team, I noticed him. Standing behind a large pane of glass, in the warmth and comfort of a storefront, a man played the piano. He played some of the same songs as energetically as the others. He sang with the same or even better vocal quality. He was putting on a high-quality show – but no one was watching. He had a microphone with the sound system speakers blaring outside the store. He sang so well it sounded like a recording! However, as I peered from across the street, I observed no audience outside the storefront witnessing his performance. There were a couple of people inside cheering on the Man in the Window. But no one outside the storefront was engaged in his show.

I wonder. I suggest. It seems that many churches and Christians are like the Man in the Window. We have the right message and even some level of quality in our presentation but are not engaging the community outside the church. In many cases, we preach to ourselves and are not effectively reaching out. Engaging others, evangelism, outreach are hallmarks of biblical Christianity. 

As Jesus sat at dinner in Luke 14, He tells a parable to those at the table. A rich man with great authority throws a feast with lots of terrific food, and he instructs his servants to invite many people to attend this feast. Specific invitees give various reasons why they cannot participate in the feast. Who doesn’t want good free food? Jesus even used the term “excuse.” A recent wedding. A newly acquired piece of property. One did not come because he just bought some cattle. After hearing all the excuses, the host commands his servants to, “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23).

Very practical teaching from Jesus. God the Father is hosting the meal. The meal is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb of God in Heaven. The servants are the Christians of today. Each Christian must look at his life as being yielded to the Lord. The people invited to the feast are the people currently outside of the church. They are the ones God expects us to witness. He wants us to compel people to be saved. To encourage people to come to church. To invite them to come to salvation.

When Jesus came to earth, He came on a mission of mercy. A rescue mission to save us from our sins. God the Father gave His Son, giving us the greatest gift of all, Jesus. Jesus gave His life for us. He died, paying the price for our sins and rose again three days later, then ascended into Heaven. This Gospel message is beautiful. Christmas is all about Christ! And yet, most of the world does not know this. Will you engage others in authentic Christmas conversation, about Jesus?

Let’s not be like the Man in the Window. Many churches are having less and less people each week. The churches that are reaching out more effectively seem to have more and more people each week. Preach the Gospel. Keep encouraging the saints. Be equipped and challenged to reach out more.  

Reach out. Invite others. Give Gospel tracts. Talk about Jesus. Tell others the true meaning of Christmas.

  • Who will you personally invite to church to attend with you this week?
  • Who will you talk to Jesus about this week?
  • Who will give a Christmas Gospel tract to this week?

Don’t be like the Man in the Window.

Giving Thanks and Stress

Being more thankful can perhaps reduce the pressures and stress a person may have.

David is praising the Lord in Psalm 32.  As David confesses his sin to God and rejoices in the forgiveness the Lord has given to him, he has much to be thankful for.  He goes on to record the following in Psalm 32:7, Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.

Indeed.  Stop and think about that for a moment.  David was trusting the Lord to deliver him from his troubles.  Anything David could worry about are the same things we could be worrying about today.  What do you need deliverance in or from today?

David’s expectant heart is grounded in a thankful spirit.  He is showing appreciation to God for His forgiveness to David in Psalm 32.  David is expressing his desire and dependence to and upon the Lord.  His is an attitude of gratitude.  Do you have an attitude of gratitude?

When we have hearts of thankfulness, it is much easier to cast our burdens to the Lord, trust God to take care of the problems, and rejoice in a life with less shame, guilt, and unfulfilled dreams.  When we are thankful, casting our burdens to the Lord and resting in His promises, we can rest better at night. I like the story James A. Sanaker, in Gospel Herald relates.

“Do you count sheep when you have a hard time getting to sleep at night?” asked Mrs. Bee.

“Why, no, I don’t believe I ever do,” replied the neighbor, Mrs. Dee.

“Well, I suppose you are one of those lucky persons who never lie awake nights,” sighed Mrs. Bee.

“On the contrary,” Mrs. Dee replied; “I spend quite a few hours, in the course of a week, in bed but not asleep.” “What do you do to bring slumber?” “I count my blessings,” smiled Mrs. Dee. “If I begin to worry about a younger child, I remember how the older ones improved with years and I pray earnestly for the one on my mind. I can count answers to prayer by the dozen. If I am thinking of money and it troubles me so I cannot sleep, I go back in my book of memories and find time after time when the Lord gave us relief from financial problems. I can truly count my blessings, up to a point where I don’t need to try and number them but just relax and know that God is still able to deliver me from anything, present or future. Eventually, peace and calm replace restless anxiety and I sink into sweet, restful sleep.”

“I must try that,” nodded Mrs. Bee.

“I guess I’ve tried every method but the right one. Thank you for the reminder.”

Friend, be encouraged to develop and maintain a daily attitude of gratitude.  A thankful heart will result in less stress, a deeper daily walk with Jesus, and more peaceful sleep at night!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why We Sponsor a Christian School

Why A Christian School?

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  Psalm 1:1

The idea of education is rooted in Biblical principles.  Many schools throughout history were started with the purpose of teaching children to read so that in turn, they could read the Word of God.  The “primers” were portions of Scripture used to teach reading.  From age 4 to 18 years much of a child’s time is spent being taught in a classroom.  This time is an investment and not a waste.  Since so much time is invested in education, it is a good idea to have a plan, and use Bible principles to guide us.

During the Dark Ages, many people could not read and the world was steeped in a dark period of time because of a lack of knowledge.  Bible reading gives more than just knowledge; when believed and acted upon the Bible is the very wisdom of God for living.  The Bible is intended to help us walk, stand, and sit throughout the course of life.

As a Pastor and local church, we value students and families no matter what educational venue they choose.  At the same time, it is important to consider why we would participate in a local church day school.  Christian education in a church-school setting is more than just an alternative to a homeschool, private academy, or large government classroom.  It is more.

Why a Christian school?  Because education is more than merely learning – it is who you are learning from and what you are learning that makes the difference.

Here are several thoughts to consider:

The Curriculum Connection.

If the primary goal of education is to be able to read the Bible, then a curriculum founded upon Bible truth should be utilized in the education of a child.  The paradigm with which a textbook delivers lessons is very critical to the academic, philosophical, and spiritual development of the mind of each student.  If a parent or instructor constantly needs to “correct” the lessons of a curriculum, it causes a distrust or uncertainty in the mind of the student.

With a Christian school, curriculum is chosen that is written from a Bible perspective. The Lord is God, He created this world, He loves us and He has given us a Book, the Bible that has the answers we need for life.  While church and Sunday School are good places to learn doctrine, it can only aid a child with reinforcement of lessons at school when they are informed by faith as well.  In many cases, secular curriculum discounts truth.  For example, several civics classes are teaching moral and social revolution.  In many texts, history is re-written to conform to what is politically correct rather than what is true history.

At Wilton Baptist Academy, are pleased to use the ABeka curriculum consistently through the entire school.  This is a grade “A” curriculum rooted in God’s Word.  The world-view is Christian, the doctrine is baptistic, and the level of academic expectation is excellence.

The Excellence of Expectations.  

  • Academic Expectations. Some institutions are slacking in effort.  I was speaking to a student from another school recently who said the teacher divides up the class between those who “want to try” today and those who “do not want to try.”  In other cases, students report that they “study when they want to” or “attend class when they feel like it.”

When we aim for nothing we are bound to hit it every time.  Even with rigorous expectations, not every student will make straight A’s.  Good grades are not expected as much as the “best effort possible.”  Much of the effort and attitude to try is developed by the parent.

  • Attitude Expectations. A bad attitude hurts in many ways.  “You cannot teach a rebel.”  The reason is; his heart is not willing to learn.  As a school, if the attitude is constantly against school, curriculum, assignments, or the teacher, that student may be dismissed.  Education in general is not a right – it is a privilege.  No person deserves to “be in the know” or to learn.  Contrary to popular culture, in societies of old, the student had to want to learn in order to improve his life.  Classes in old days were sought out, funded, and paid for by people who wanted to learn.  This attitude and desire totally changes the classroom setting.  Coming to class expecting to learn is a refreshing way to start the day at school.
  • Appreciation Expectations. Not everyone is taught truth.  Millions of people are taught evolution which is a lie.  This theory has been believed by many with “religious conviction.”  However, the Bible, written by God, Who was there at Creation, tells us how this world began.  God and faith are being removed from the history told concerning the motivation for events in history.  Even in math, some schools are teaching there is no absolute answer to 2+2= 4.  Appreciation for an environment of learning centered on truth should never be taken for granted or minimized.  This could also be considered a “Spiritual Expectation,” because spiritual people and people that are right with God are thankful people.

The Parental Priority. 

If a student is allowed to maintain a bad attitude in the home, he will not be a “learning machine” at school.  Proverbs 6:20-21 says, “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.”  School is to assist the parent in their parental obligation to guide the thinking of the adolescent child.

The parent is tasked with training their child to the best of their ability to be able to leave the home, stand on their own two feet financially, stop borrowing the faith of others (have faith on their own), care for others in service, and have the character to live righteously while in community with God’s people.  Parents are to “shoot their arrow” out from the quiver of the home and that “arrow” will be planted in the place he lands.

That is what Psalm 1:2-3, the next two verses, teach:  “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

The student is to grow to such a level that what he does following his formative education years is prospered by the Lord.  He is firmly planted by his home upbringing, prepared academically for the next level of learning, and he does not fade away from the responsibilities that accompany adulthood.  The response of the child to the parental guidance and education in the classroom is solely that of the child.  He will answer for his willingness or refusal to learn and grow.  The priority of the parent is to have the “heart” of their child.  Part of the Christian school mission then is to direct the heart of the child back to the parent.

A Christian school can potentially help you and your student. Why A Christian School?  Because education is more than merely learning – it is who you are learning from and what you are learning that makes the difference.

 

 

Thank you for reading!  Please feel free to post, share, or add a positive comment.

 

The Shackles of Addiction

The Shackles of Addiction

The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.  Psalm 9:16

The evil works we are addicted to snares or shackles us.  When we are doing what we feel makes us free, we may be in fact locking ourselves up in a trap.  Chaining ourselves to a habit.

“Snared” is an old Hebrew word that according to Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary means “a noose (for catching animals) (literally or figuratively): by implication, a hook (for the nose):–be ensnared, gin, (is) snare(-d), trap.”

Wow there is a lot to unpack in that definition.  Here are a few vivid pictures of snaring (and addiction) to consider.

  • Addictions are a “noose” that suffocates real life out of us.
  • Addictions are a “hook” that stabs into us to catch us like we may catch a fish.
  • Addictions are a “gin”, engine or mechanism, used to trap us.
  • Addiction are a “trap” in which when we fall into, it is difficult to get out of.

Unless you purpose in your heart, seek accountability with others, and receive competent counsel from a counselor, it is very difficult to released yourself from the addition.

Addicts need help.  Get help.

The first step to recovery is admitting: “I need help.”

Please give me a call this week.  I would be honored to help you overcome the addition.

With God, all things are possible!  Choose freedom from the chains of addiction that are holding you down.