Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Great Rescue

Recently, Roberta Ursrey and her family were enjoying a day at Panama City Beach, Florida.  She heard her sons screaming and realized that they were swimming in water too far from shore.  Roberta and other members of her family quickly swam out to the boys but soon the family members were caught in the rip current as well.  According to The Panama City News Herald, the nine people were trapped in about 15 feet of water.

Fellow beach goers, Jessica Simmons and her family, saw that the members of Ursrey’s family were in trouble and immediately sprang to action.  Simmons, along with about 30 other people, began to form a human chain to reach Roberta’s family.  When they reached the swimmers, the rescuers started with the younger children and eventually towed all of the people along the human chain to rescue them.  When interviewed, Ursrey said, “I honestly thought I was going to lose my family that day.  It was like, ‘Oh God, this is how I am going.’   I am so grateful.  These people were God’s angels that were in the right place at the right time.  I owe my life and my family’s life to them.  Without them, we wouldn’t be here.”

I love that when Jessica Simmons and others saw a need that they immediately assessed the situation, came up with a plan, cooperated with others that they may not have known before, and as a result were able to rescue and save Roberta Ursrey and her family.  Oh that I would be willing to respond as quickly when God points out a need.

And the good news for all of us is that at just the right time, Jesus came to rescue and save us and to give new life for now and eternity to those who place their faith and trust in Him.

Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
Psalm 25:20

In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me.
Psalm 71:2

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
Isaiah 46:4

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:13-14

for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead–Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Cleaning up the Messes

At a recent family gathering at my sister and brother-in-law’s house, our 2 year old grandson attempted to empty some toys from a container.  In the process, it toppled and loudly spilled all the toys in the bucket onto the floor.  It got really quiet.  With wide eyes Daniel said, “I made a big mess!”  Amidst the laughter, he was asked what he was going to do about it.  He said, “I clean it up” and began to meticulously put every one of the toys back in the container before taking some out to play with.

During the recent G2 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, hundreds of masked people rioted, vandalized, ransacked shops, set cars on fire, and battled the police.  The protestors made a big mess.  Knowing that the vandals were very unlikely to clean up their city, a group of people took to social media and organized a cleanup effort on Facebook under the group #Hamburgraumtauf.  Around 10,000 citizens showed up to help clean up their city, in order to set an example against vandalism.  The people painted the walls of buildings to remove the graffiti, swept up the debris in the streets, and helped clean up the vandalized and ransacked shops.  When interviewed, one of the city officials stated, “It is important that we not only clean up the city of garbage and glass but also of all kinds of extremism.”

It is one thing to willingly clean up your own mess and quite another to voluntarily clean up someone else’s mess, especially when they do not help in the process.  May we be responsible about cleaning up our own messes and also be willing to be the hands and feet of Jesus to help others clean up theirs.

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
I Thessalonians 5:14

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
Hebrews 6:10

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
Romans 12:17

For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.
2 Corinthians 8:21

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2 

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
I Peter 3:12

Saturday, July 15, 2017


The past four evenings, it thundered for over an hour, but we did not receive one drop of rain at our house.  Even though the conditions were right, the loud thunder announced the coming of rain, the weatherman said there was a good chance for rain, and other parts of the city received precipitation, our part of the city remained dry.  Disappointedly, although it sounded like rain was on its way, there was no action.  Finally, on Sunday night, the thunder rolled, the skies darkened, and the rain fell.  The grass, trees, and flowers were refreshed.

Just like the thunder, sometimes our words and good intentions fall by the wayside because we do not follow through with actions.  We can talk the talk, but it’s when we walk the walk that our faith lives, refreshes, and help others.

Last week members of the Tallowood High School Choir were on a mission trip in New Orleans.  Our students and sponsors endured heat and humidity to share with the people.  They played with kids in the park, ministered to the homeless, passed out water bottles, as well as sang.  Their words and actions spoke volumes to the people they met.  As the high school students returned, our eighth graders and sponsors headed to Baton Rouge to be part of World Changers.  They have spent their days scraping, priming, and painting houses in the heat and humidity.  Because of the actions of our high school students, junior high students, and sponsors, their words will make a believable and powerful difference for God’s Kingdom.

In the book of James, Jesus’ brother reminds believer’s that faith without deeds is dead and unproductive.  It’s when action and heart are added to our faith that God will use us to bless and make a difference in the lives of other people.  St. Francis of Assissi is credited with saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.”  This week may our actions speak along with our words.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder.

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?  Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.  And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
James 2:14-24

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Wonders of the World

The summer months are prime times for vacations, excursions, and trips.  I thoroughly enjoy seeing pictures of the places friends are visiting.  The people, scenery, land features, sunrises, sunsets are amazing to see.  Some photographs bring back memories of times I visited the same places while others offer a glimpse into places I may never see in person, but can still enjoy and appreciate through their posted photos.

Recently, after studying a unit on The Seven Wonders of the World, a high school teacher had her students list what they considered to be their seven wonders of the world.   After completing their personal lists, they tallied the results.  The top seven votes in the survey were:
1         Egypt’s Great Pyramids
2        the Taj Mahal in India
3        the Grand Canyon in Arizona
4        the Panama Canal
5        the Empire State Building
6        St. Peter’s Basilica
7        China’s Great Wall

The teacher noticed that one student was deep in thought and still contemplating her list before adding her answers to the tally sheet.  When asked, the young lady said there were so many she was having trouble finding her top seven.  Assuming the class might be able to help, the teacher asked her to read her list.  Her choices were:
1         to touch
2        to taste
3        to see
4        to hear
5        to feel
6        to laugh
7        to love

The class was totally silent after hearing her results.

Sometimes it’s the ordinary, everyday experiences, places, feelings, and senses that we take for granted that are full of wonder.  So whether you are home, traveling around your neighborhood, city, state, our country, or the world, what a great season to worship the Creator and appreciate, be filled with wonder, and marvel at His creation.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
Genesis 1:1, 31

The earth is the Lord’s, and
          everything in it,
     the world, and all those who live in it.
Psalm 24:1

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
Colossians 1:15-16

“You are worthy, our LORD and God,
     to receive glory and honor and
for you created all things,
     and by your will they were
     and have their being.”
Revelation 4:11

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Prayers for Campers

This week some of our young girls at church have been to GA Camp while our junior high and high school students have been part of Camp Tallowood.  They have had a front row seat in seeing God work and move.  I have prayed for the campers, sponsors, and leaders this week.  And my prayers continue…

Praying that you will:
* Remember who you belong to and represent.
* Know that as a believer, you are a child of the Most High God.
* Choose your friends wisely.  You tend to become like those you spend the most time with.
* Continue to willingly put aside the distractions in order to hear God’s message to you.  Even though it may be more difficult now that you are back home, God still desires that time and relationship with you.
* Honor, respect, and protect your body as the temple of God.
* Find people who will help you be accountable to who God wants you to be and what He wants you to do.
* Know that God wants to work in your life and have a relationship with you every day and not just the week of camp.
* Continue to have open ears and hearts to hear God’s message.
* Live in obedience.
* Love God.  Love others.  Love yourself.

It would be wise for us older campers to remember and apply as well.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
I Timothy 4:12

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 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.
Philippians 1:4-6

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
2 Peter 3:18