Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Blessed Trip to Bethany

This past Friday, Sister Lydia, Sister Sandy and myself left Illinois for the 8+ hour drive to Atlanta, GA. Several months ago, the pastor of Bethany PBC in Atlanta, Elder Lonnie Mozingo, Jr., asked if I'd come to preach for them during their annual meeting. Also invited were Elder Sonny Pyles and Elder Sam Bryant. I've looked forward to the occasion for several months and was thankful the time had approached. I was also thankful to have two enjoyable companions for travel. Commonly I travel alone which I don't mind, but it is a wonderful blessing to have members of God's house to travel with, to speak of the word of God and our experiences in His kingdom together.

So we left Friday and had a good and uneventful ride to Atlanta. We stopped at the home of Elder Marty Smith for supper and to get dressed for the services that evening.

At 7:30 PM, the singing commenced and what a joy it was. I preached first on the subject of "Practical Holiness Connected to our Anticipation of the Lord's Return." I enjoyed my efforts to preach and felt a good response from the congregation.

Elder Pyles followed me and preached from Nehemiah 4:9 - "Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them." He made wonderful points that we as the Lord's children must pray, but then must proceed. IOW's, we must recognize what only God can do and pray He will do it, then know what we can do and do it.

I went home that evening with a delightful young couple, Brad & Treisa Hanserd. They've been married about two years and about the time they were married Brother Hanserd began exercising in the ministry. Elder James Allen of Alabama also stayed the night with us, so we stayed up till about 2:30 talking about various Bible topics. It was a very enjoyable evening!

On Saturday morning Elder Bryant preached from 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 - "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain." He made several good points of pitfalls we avoid, and blessings we receive when we keep in mind the gospel's commands.

Following him, Elder Pyles preached on the life of Abraham. He made several outstanding points that I am still rejoicing in. First, he showed it is possible to believe IN God, without believing what God says. Genesis 15:6 - "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." Romans 4:3 - "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." Galatians 3:6 - "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." James 2:23 - "And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God." In the Genesis account, Moses said Abraham "believed in the LORD", but the three NT accounts said he "believed God." Brother Sonny pointed out that when the NT writers word things a bit differently, they're inspired men and the Holy Ghost is allowed, and the reason He does so is usually for added commentary. Paul & James make the point that there is a difference in simply believing that there is a God, and believing His words.

To further illustrate, Brother Sonny showed that many say they believe in some kind of god, or God Himself, yet deny the Genesis account of the creation, flood, giants, the parting of the Red Sea, the virgin birth, the resurrection of Christ and His second coming. Many we know deny these principles yet say they believe in God.

Brother Sonny then went on to show 4 ways that Abraham believed God, and that by that faith in Him Abraham was able to perform. He also pointed out that faith is not a blind leap, but knowing that while we don't know it all, God does. So while we may be partially in the dark on the details, we're not in the dark about God's knowledge of all things.

On Saturday afternoon I spoke again regarding the second coming, specifically about NT signs give to us to discern the season of His coming. While I do not believe we can know the specific day or hour, we can, by judging those signs tell the season of His coming. To illustrate, the NT says the Lord shall come as a thief in the night - totally a surprise as to when it will happen. It also says He shall come as a woman in travail giving birth. We know about the time a woman will give birth, around 9 months, sometimes early and sometimes late. Likewise, we can tell the "birth pains" around us and know about when our Lord may come.

Elder Bryant then followed me and preached from Proverbs 3:5-6 - "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." His message was very timely about many practical ways in which we, God's people, should be turning to God for guidance and not ourselves, thus He will direct our paths.

After that service we began our trip back to Illinois. After a brief stop at Elder Smith's home to change and reload the car, we took off for the long excursion. I was very thankful to have the help of Sister Sandy and Sister Lydia to drive, converse and allow me good sleeping time. We arrived in Edwardsville about 2:30 Sunday morning, and I headed directly to bed. I was blessed with good sleep on the ride home and once I arrived home. I awoke to the Lord's day refreshed and ready to serve.

When I arrived at our meeting-place, I was delighted to see Elder Harris there. After a very good song service Elder Harris preached on the subject of Heaven. Elder Harris is 82 years old, but still able to preach the gospel and preached the best I've ever heard him. Generally he is brief, but took his time and preached well and blessed my soul. I was glad to hear all the congregation received a wonderful blessing from his message. And I was thankful for a "day off" from preaching, but a good day of worship.

This coming weekend is our Fall Meeting and I am anticipating a good time in the Lord!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I do not like work even when someone else does it. - Twain

"Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do." - Mark Twain

Over the past few months I have come to the stark realization that robbing Peter to pay Paul could not continue forever, and the house of cards was about to collapse. Thankfully umpiring Little League, and other side jobs kept me afloat, but the time has come for serious, full-time employment.

My calling as a minister I would consider "play," as Twain called it. Not that I would diminish the hard work a minister does, but if he is worth his salt, he has the burning burden in his soul to do the work.

Now, Monday-Friday 8-5, that is an obligation!

Adecco, the employment agency I've worked with periodically has given me a 15 month assignment with Nestle Purina. There are several positions they are filling, so hopefully Tuesday I'll learn what it is exactly I'll be doing. I have general ideas, but specifics will be good.

So next Tuesday I return to the 8-5 life once again, which I have been absent from for the past 5 years. However, I am not complaining, I am actually rather excited.

The offices are located downtown, so I can take an Express bus to work, thus letting me use the travel time (approx. 53 mins. each way) to study and prepare sermons. I hate fooling with traffic, so this option is wonderful. I'll have time for study (close to 10 hours on the road each week), I can relax and let the driver deal with the fools on the road.

I also enjoy meeting new folks, so I am anxious to meet the other "temps" I'll be working with, along with the other employees I'll be spending my days with. I also like to look at it as an opportunity to serve the Lord by as a servant serving a master, aka, employer.

And the obvious addition of funds to my budget is not to be missed either. With new car payments and those dental loan payments, and saving to buy a home - I trust the added income will be a tremendous asset!

So, I now have two jobs - one which the "body is obliged to do" and one my "body is not obliged to do."

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Lovely Old Home

Over the past few months I've been working toward buying a home. I've been in Edwardsville four years now, renting a home during this time. The market in Edwardsville has been steep since I've been here, especially considering home prices in rural west Texas.

About a year ago I noticed a home in town, a very large home in need of work. It was on the market for a while, then was sold. Last week I noticed it was for sale again. So I went online, found out some about it, and was interested to see it. Today I met the realtor and took a look inside.

The house is HUGE, over 4,000 square feet on three floors, plus a basement. The house sits on over an acre yard in the middle of town (very unusual). I want a large home, and I want a large yard, and I want a small price! Well I may have found my deal, but there's a catch. The house is in horrible shape cosmetically. As in need a total overhaul within. It seems to be sound structurally, a new roof, relatively new siding, new wiring and plumbing. So the bones seem to be good.

Above is obviously a picture of the front, to the left is a shot from the foyer up the main staircase.

I am going to ponder, think and pray about this for a few days yet. I really like the house, I really like the yard - I just have to decide if I really want to invest the next 2-5 years of my life into remodeling a monster house. I enjoy doing that type of work, most of it I can do myself, we'll just see if I have the gusto to make it a reality.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Greatness of God's Mercy

One of my favorite forms of devotion is to read and meditate on older hymns. Older hymn writers are able to capture the thoughts of the soul much like David did in his psalms. I own several old hymnals and often find myself turning to them and searching the headings (songs are grouped together by doctrinal content), and I'll find a certain theme is appealing, then I just read hymn after hymn. Today I noticed several that I'll share with you.

Greatness of God's mercy.

My soul, repeat his praise
Whose mercies are so great;
Whose anger is so slow to rise,
So ready to abate.

His power subdues our sins;
And his forgiving love,
Far as the east is from the west,
Doth all our guilt remove.

High as the heavens are raised
Above the ground we tread,
So far the riches of his grace
Our highest thoughts exceed.

The greatness of God.

My God, my king, thy various praise
Shall fill the remnant of my days;
Thy grace employ my humble tongue,
Till death and glory raise the song.

The wings of every hour shall bear
Some thankful tribute to thine ear;
And every setting sun shall see
New works of duty done for thee.

Thy truth and justice I'll proclaim;
Thy bounty flows and endless stream;
Thy mercy swift, thine anger slow,
But dreadful to the stubborn foe.

Thy works with sovereign glory shine
And speak thy majesty divine;
Let every realm with joy proclaim
The sound and honor of thy name.

Let distant times and nations raise
The long succession of thy praise;
And unborn ages make the song
The joy and labor of their tongue.

But who can speak thy wondrous deeds;
Thy greatness all our thoughts exceeds;
Vast and unsearchable thy ways,
Vast and immortal be thy praise.

The faithfulness of the promises.

Begin, my tongue, some heavenly theme,
And speak some boundless thing;
The mighty words, or mightier name,
Of our eternal King.

Tell of his wondrous faithfulness,
And sound his power abroad;
Sing of the glory and the grace
Of our Redeemer God.

Proclaim salvation from the Lord,
Nor wretched, dying men;
His hand has writ the sacred word,
With an immortal pen.

Recorded by eternal love,
The mighty promise shines;
Nor can the powers of darkness 'rase
Those everlasting lines.

His every word of grace is strong
As that which built the skies;
The voice that rolls the stars along
Speaks all the promises.

O might I hear thy heavenly tongue
But whisper, 'Thou art mine;'
Those gentle words should raise my song
To notes almost divine.