Racism is a heated issue today, and sadly most of the world has chosen an unpleasant response to the issue. Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.”
Although it is not the primary emphasis, this verse clearly shows the folly of racism. No one can change their skin. It is a gift from God. People cannot affect their color and they should not want to do so.
God is not color blind, since He made people red, yellow, black, white and brown after His own image. We should all be glad just the way that God created us.
Racism has been around for a long time. Numbers 12:1 says, “And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married.” God brought judgement into their lives because of this. God is not a respecter of persons, and neither should anyone else be.
As a white pastor, this writer believes that most in the Christian white community care about black people and are horrified at the tragic injustices in our nation. The white community cares about other ethnic groups as well. Sadly, our predominately white churches have often spoken in hushed tones or merely remained quiet on this vital subject.
Today, we know more than any previous generation. We have access to more information. The church simply knows better. James 4:17 warns us, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
Now that we know better, we owe it to ourselves to do better. 2 Thessalonians 3:5 says, “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.”
The God in whose likeness we are all made calls us to that higher place of loving people as we love ourselves. The church must lead the way and not be struggling to keep up.
A treasure chest full of gold, jewelry and other valuables worth $1 million was found in the Rocky Mountains, according to author and art dealer Forrest Fenn, who hid it more than a decade ago.
Many treasure hunters were inspired to look for the valuable chest. The treasure was said to be north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and many deciphered clues from Fenn’s writing, including a 24-line poem published in his 2010 autobiography, "The Thrill of the Chase."
The state of Texas has an estimated $340 million in buried treasure, more than any other state in the United states. Across the state are countless stories and legends of buried loot. On cannot help but dream of finding one of these and living a life of ease for the remainder of our days. Maybe we can strike it rich in our own backyards?
As much as we would like to dig up a box of gold from behind my tool shed, we should realize that it is highly unlikely. Fortunately, there is treasure to be found in our lives that has much greater value than a dump truck of diamonds.
If you have a copy of a Bible, you have a treasure book of knowledge. Just reading this Holy Book will reap great rewards! Revelation 1:3 says, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” Queen Elizabeth II put it this way, “To what greater inspiration and counsel can we turn than to the imperishable truth to be found in this treasure house, the Bible?”
The Bible always tells the truth. It speaks to our heart honestly and penetrates our heart to meet our deepest needs. An abundance of stuff will never meet our need like Jesus will. Luke 12:21 says, “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
William Penn said this, “Knowledge is the treasure of a wise man.” A wise man will spend time soaking up the knowledge found in God’s Word. Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Most of us have heard of the story of “The Little Engine That Could”. The moral of the story was to teach children the value of confidence.
The “little engine” was the only one who was willing to pull the train over the tall mountain. All the other engines were either too new and proud or too old and rusty, but they all made fun of the little engine. The little engine just said, “I think I can, I think I can.” Finally, the little engine made it over the top and down the other side. “I thought I could, I thought I could” rejoiced the little engine.
Almost everyone admires this trait, so what is a biblical perspective of confidence? We often find secular confidence in wealth, skill or ability, but a spiritual view of confidence comes from a difference source. That source is God himself.
Jesus said in Mark 10:27, “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” In Numbers 13, the ten spies returned with a description of the land of Canaan. The report was that the place was amazing, but the people unbeatable and the Israelites should give up and turn back. Caleb, one of the spies, disagreed: “Let us go up at once, and possess it.” Do you think Caleb was cocky and brash? No, because the Lord had said that the land was theirs, and he simply believed God. Do you believe God?
God-confidence is a mighty weapon when used in our lives. It will overcome depression, doubt, and defeat if we will let it. For the Christian, our battle cry is this: “I know He can, I know He can.” When we win victories, we then say, “I knew He could, I knew He could!”
Many folks enjoy bird watching. One of my daughters put out a hummingbird feeder for a school project, and what joy she had to see them hover in to drink. It was pretty cute to watch her sit at the window watching those little birds fly around. Her enthusiasm about the venture was contagious, and often others of her siblings would be lined up peering out the window in hopes of seeing another one come by.
Did you know that God is a bird watcher? Jesus spoke in Matthew 10:29, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father (knowing).” A farthing was a Roman coin equal to a half penny of our money. Jesus was saying that a sparrow is not worth much, but God cares so much about that little bird that He notices every time one is in distress.
Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 10:31, “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” The comparison Christ was making was that if He cares about a little bird (which he does), then just think how much more He care about us. Just considering that fact should take a big load off of our soul. I Peter 5:7 encourages us with this thought, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
The United States is home to some of the prettiest birds in the world. Many of you regularly feed these little guests at feeders in your yards or on your porches. The next time you are bird watching, remember God is watching as well. That should remind us that He is watching us with even greater loving care.
This question is often raised in a frustrated tone to one of our six children. What are you thinking? It is a rhetorical question because there has been little thinking going on, which has led to the problem.
This query is a good one to ask ourselves. What is on our mind? Proverbs 23:7a says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...”. Our thoughts are important to God and will shape our future actions.
Have you found it difficult to control your thoughts during these days of pandemic? This writer has. Every visit to social media is like a roller coaster of emotions and thoughts. Covic-19 has affected our thinking on every level. What can we do about it?
Philippians 4:8 say, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Apostle Paul wrote this while sitting in a Roman prison cell, so we know the author was an expert on problems. Even in such a situation, Paul was able to write with confidence about controlling the mind.
The challenge is to focus on truthfulness, purity, and virtue. It would be easy to get depressed in a dirty cell, but Paul kept his mind on good things. There are lots of good things for us to direct our attention toward during our “trial” as well. I Peter 1:7 says, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”
What has your focus this week? Are your thoughts directed toward things you cannot control? Someone said this, “If you’re in a bad mood, take a deep breath. If you’re in a good mood, give thanks to God.”
Today, you can go to Wal Mart and see more people wearing a mask than one used to see at the hospital. Since antiquity, masks have been available for protection, so there is nothing wrong with using one for that reason. People are wearing masks for their safety and the safety of others.
With all the hype about wearing a mask, I decided to go to the Bible and see what it says about mask wearing. It proved an interesting study.
The first Bible mention of a face covering is in Genesis 24:65: “For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself.” If you have ever been to the Middle East or attended a wedding, you understand what Rebekah was doing here.
In Exodus 34:33, Moses had been in the presence of the Lord, and his face was shining so bright it was terrifying the people. He had to use a face covering so that they would not run from him. Some have suggested that this writer do the same because my face scares them!
In Isaiah 6:2 it tells us about a vision of heaven: “Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.” These angels are covering their faces with wings.
In the New Testament, it speaks of those that put a mask on their hearts (I Corinthians 3:15). Again, I am not against wearing masks, but there are some things the Bible tells us not to put a mask on. We should not put a mask on the Scriptures. Spread the Bible far and wide and never “sheltered-in” the Truth where no one can hear.
We should never put a mask on our salvation. Hiding salvation is worse than hiding the cure to Covid-19! The Devil hides salvation because he is evil, but a believer should share salvation. In a world using masks to extend and save their physical live, do not mask salvation that can save their spiritual life!
Our Christianity must spiritually unmask even if we mask our natural body. God left us here to shine, and if we do not, who will?
This is the question that is on every church member’s mind. All of us would like to pick up exactly where we left off, but we know that this is just not possible. This process is going to be a gradual progression that we will work through together.
Here is our plan. We are keeping an eye on the state and local officials, and observing the effects of the coronavirus in our area. Obviously, strategies can change at any time.
The safety of our church family and obedience to God are of the greatest considerations in our choices. No matter what we do, opinions of what we are doing will vary. Some folks will think we are moving too fast, and others will think we are way too slow. The best our church can do is follow the Lord’s leading and not worry about outside noise.
If you are high risk please continue to make wise decisions regarding your health. All online worship will remain active.
Wednesday service is going to be the first to change back. We are going back into the auditorium on May 6TH at 7 PM. We have 150-200 chairs, so it will be no problem to social distance on Wednesday nights. There will be no handshaking or hugging, and everyone will observe the 6 feet distancing rules in place. We ask that you do not spend any time in the foyer. Our foyer is small, and it would be hard to social distance there. We will have sanitation stations in place for you to sanitize at any time. If you’d like to wear a mask while you attend, you’re welcome and even encouraged to do that.
Sunday morning and evening services will remain drive-in and livestream through May 31st. We would love to be back inside by the first Sunday in June, but that will remain to be determined.
One exciting change to our Sunday services starting May 3rd will be that we will be setting up chairs on the porch that you can use. All social distancing rules must be followed, but if you feel comfortable worshipping with your family from chairs instead of your car, you will be welcome to do so. You can even bring your own lawn chairs if you like. If you still feel safer in your car, that is what we want you to do.
We are keeping watch on the weather. We may be moving the morning service earlier and the evening service to 7 PM because of the heat. Check our Facebook page and website for updates on service changes.
We will refrain from any handshaking. If someone forgets and extends their hand, kindly remind them that we are not shaking hands. This is very important to your pastor, so please do not shake hands or make contact if at all possible.
Thursday Bible Study will remain livestream only. Monday night game night will remain livesteam only.
If you feel uncomfortable attending under any circumstances, please stay home.
After reassessing the national and local pandemic situation, we will make changes as the Lord leads.
VBS has been moved from June to August and may have to be canceled completely.
Important Note: At any point, if you are feeling sick, we want you to stay home, rest and recover. If you have pre-existing conditions or are considered unusually vulnerable because of a weakened immune system, please continue to benefit from our live stream ministry.
We encourage everyone to take certain steps to protect themselves and others from the Coronavirus, flu, and other illnesses, including:
Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
Using hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available;
Not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands;
Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
Staying home if you are sick;
Covering your cough or sneeze; wear a mask;
Disinfecting objects and surfaces regularly.
We love you and want to see you again soon! But we want you to stay safe and healthy. If you have any needs, please let us know.
Link to CDC Guidelines: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/guidance-community-faith-organizations.html
During these days of Covid-19, it is easy to become selfish in our focus. Face-coverings, gloves, and “sheltering in place” could make us begin to think only of our best interest. Of course, safety precautions are a wise step in the day we live, but do not let them make you forget the people around you.
General William Booth lay on his deathbed during the annual conference of the Salvation Army in London. Booth wrote a message on a paper and sent it by messenger to have it read from the podium. Silence fell as the moderator stood before the crowd to read the words. The moderator opened the paper and found just one word written— “others”.
This is a reminder of the “Good Samaritan” story in the Bible. The man who the Samaritan helped had been beaten badly and was probably unknown to him. He was also a Jew, and Jews hated Samaritans. If we could sum up one word to describe this Samaritan it would be—others. He lifted the man on his own donkey, cleaned his wounds, and paid for all the time he needed to recover and get back on his feet.
Philippians 2:4 says, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Being caring might take a lot of time, effort and cost, but what a difference maker! Sometimes it may only be a kind word or a listening ear that makes the way better for a hurting neighbor. Listening and loving speaks volumes about how you feel about others.
I Corinthians 13:1 says, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” This verse simply encourages us to not be “pretty” in our talk but be loving in our walk. Charles Meigs wrote in 1890: “Others, Lord, yes others; let this my motto be. Help me to live for others, that I may live like Thee. Lord help me live from day-to-day, in such a self-forgetful way, that even when I kneel to pray, my prayer shall be for – others.”
I Peter 5:10 says, “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
God’s grace is the unmerited favor of God. We do not deserve the grace of God, but it is freely given by Him. God has a reason for everything that happens in your life. He is working on your behalf even when it may seem like He is not. He is working on our behalf even during pandemics.
In the book The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom tells the story of her imprisonment at Ravensbruck. The barrack they lived in had an epidemic of terrible fleas. Corrie began to complain, but her sister told her they should give thanks for everything. Corrie retorted, “There’s no way even God could make me thankful for a flea.” As time went on, they realized that their lodging was the only place in the camp that the guards stayed out of simply because of the fleas. Corrie was able to hide the Bible and lead studies with the other prisoners.
Grace is present during the “flea” times of life. Grace brings clarity and reason to a world that says otherwise. “The Solid Rock” was written years ago by a Baptist pastor and is a favorite song of believers everywhere.
My hope is built on nothing less,
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
What if Covid-19 came to a screeching halt today?
Suddenly, with no warning, the virus ended and no one else got sick. Many would be slow to come out and really trust that it was over, and some would still wear masks for a while. Eventually everyone would realize that it was over. What if the Coronavirus ended today?
If it ended today, politicians would claim victory. The president would say it was because of his great wisdom and quick thinking. Democrats and Republicans alike would claim victory for their bold moves in their states.
Many that have pushed for social distancing, for national shutdowns, and staying home, would rejoice that their extreme measures were successful.
On the other hand, those that have scoffed at all the fuss would sure claim victory. They would write articles and speak to their neighbors and do interviews. They would brag about how they never wore a mask and still went anywhere they wished, and they were right in doing so.
Sadly, very few people would even consider that God might have a part in it. Even Christians seem to have forgotten God’s great ability to stop epidemics. I think of the time King David sinned against God, and God sent a plague.
2 Samuel 24:25 says, “And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.”
Might be if we stopped social distancing from God, and spent some time praying as a nation, we could see this thing stopped today. If not today, sooner than projected.
God does not have to follow the numbers. God created this earth, He made the sun to stand still, and He can sure stop Covid-19 in its tracks.
2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
The Rural Texas Pastor sharing some encouraging thoughts from a small East Texas town.