The Watson Baptist Church began as a Mission extension of Jackson Township Baptist Church in 1895. The first church, "The New Zion Baptist Church" started with 17 members at the White School House, later the place of worship was changed to the old Presbyterian Church. Mrs. Cannon of Mason presented a church bell to the church in 1904.

A new church was built in 1969 and the name became "The Watson Baptist Church". The land was donated by Glen and Agnes Martin. The church continued to grow and an addition was added in 1984. There have been 29 pastors to date.

Contact Information


Watson Baptist Church
100 N Old Watson Rd
Watson, IL 62473

(217) 536-6226

WBC Facebook

Van McQueen

From The First Baptist Church In Newton, IL

Sunday August 18, 2019

In October of 2004, Iranian Ameneh Bahrami was brutally attacked by a spurned suitor, Majid Movahedi. Movahedi threw a bucket of sulfuric acid in her face. The attack left her disfigured and blind. She has had to endure many reconstructive surgeries as a result of the attack, and medical personnel have not been able to restore her sight. Movahedi was arrested and, after years of legal wrangling, he was convicted and sentenced in 2008.

The original sentence was death, but Bahrami sought qisas (retribution) which, in this case, literally meant an eye for an eye. This led to more legal back-and-forth but, in 2011, the sentence was to be carried out. Movahedi was to be anesthetized and Bahrami herself would drop sulfuric acid into his eyes. The day came and the necessary parties assembled at the hospital where this act was to be done. Movahedi was prepared and the countdown started. At the last minute, Ameneh decided not to follow through on the sentence and pardoned her assailant.

Bahrami certainly took the high road in her actions. Then again, perhaps she considered what toll this might have taken on her as she knew she would not only have to deal with the consequences of her physical disabilities, but with her emotional response to the sentence imposed upon Movahedi. Would such an action bring closure for her? Would there be a sense of satisfaction through this action of retribution? Bahrami thought not, and chose the path of forgiveness.

Bahrami paid a high price to forgive, but then we as Christians should understand this. Christ paid a high price so that we might be forgiven. Philippians 2:8, "And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death even death on a cross!" Sometimes forgiving someone else may seem like it is going to cost us a great deal, but it is often the deal that makes the most sense.

Pastor Steve
Saturday August 17, 2019

As I wrote earlier, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped off the Lunar Landing Module onto the surface of the moon. As he did so, he uttered these memorable words, "That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind."

It has been 50 years since that incredible day - and I often wonder just how far man has actually leaped in those 50 years. There have been many technological and medical advances as well as improvements in many other areas, but we still face many of the same problems. Problems such as poverty, unemployment, armed conflict, racism, and others are still with us.

Even the program that brought about the great accomplishment of putting someone on the moon is not what it was. Billions of dollars were spent in the space shuttle program, and I certainly do not want to downplay the accomplishments of that program especially since 14 people were killed during that era, but the moon is as far as we have reached and there is no capability of replicating this in the near future. All this goes to show the limitations of man in spite of abilities to do great things. There are still many things we cannot do.

This is why we need to continue to rely upon God. We need to realize that an even greater thing than man walking on the moon was God walking on earth. Man walking on the moon led to some significant advances, but also demonstrated limitations. God walking on earth leads to new life for all who will believe and demonstrates God's limitless power. Remember that your "help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth." (Psalm 121:2)

All of the problems listed above will vanish through God's intervention. Man's greatest problem - the problem of sin - was dealt with through God's visit to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. We have the ability to enjoy the giant leap into eternal life because of the step God made towards us. We need to thank God for being willing to make that step.

Pastor Steve
Friday August 16, 2019

One of the characteristics of our current society is our mounting personal debt. One source said the average debt per family in the United States is $137,063. That is a lot of money. I am not an economist, but you really don't need to be to know that too much debt is going to be a big problem. We really need to use God's wisdom and use our heads when it comes to debt.

Christ said, "Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." (Matthew 5:42) From this statement, I understand that debt is not inherently bad. There are times when debt is justified. However, reason needs to be applied when it comes to the amount of debt one acquires. A basic fact is that you cannot spend more than you have.

You need to keep your wits about you when you are making financial decisions. Seek out good advice in money matters. Keep your "want" list under control. Seek God's guidance in managing your money. Remember that "the borrower is servant to the lender." (Proverbs 22:7)

Paul provides a good statement about our finances that we should keep in mind: "Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another," (Romans 13:7-8) If we let our greatest debt be our love for others, then we will find ourselves in pretty good shape fiscally and otherwise.

Pastor Steve
Thursday August 15, 2019

Schools are back in session pretty much everywhere now. I came across a story about a grandmother who asked about her 5-year-old grandson's first day at kindergarten. Her daughter, the boy's mother replied, "Well it was eventful." "What happened?" said the grandmother. "Well, Billy was in line for lunch and another little boy spat at him because he wanted Billy's place. But Billy took care of the situation. He looked at the other boy and said, 'If you do that again, you can't be my friend.' I was surprised when Billy told me all of this because when I picked him up from school, he was walking arm in arm with the other little boy out of the school. You would never know there had been a problem between those two."

How do you respond when someone else treats you harshly? We usually want to retaliate when someone has done something hurtful to us. It is usually difficult to respond any other way; but Christ encourages us to control our desire to retaliate and respond much in the same way as did Billy.

We read Christ's words in Matthew 5:38-40, "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well."

Christ is encouraging a new way of thinking. He wants his followers to be less vengeful and more forgiving. The easy route when someone offends or hurts you is to do something of a similar manner in return. It takes a great deal of spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical discipline to look at someone after you have been wronged and say, "If you do that again, you can't be my friend." Let's do what we can to manifest the spirit of Christ when we really would rather do something else.

Pastor Steve
Wednesday August 14, 2019

Recently, I heard a story about Albert Einstein. The math genius was living in Princeton, New Jersey, and teaching at Princeton University at the time. Each day, Einstein would take a train from his home to the university and then back to his home at the end of the day. On one occasion, a young boy was waiting for him when he arrived at the station.

The boy was having trouble with some math problems and asked Dr. Einstein for help. Dr. Einstein took the boy's book, placed in on the hood of a nearby car, and helped him solve the problems. Imagine that - getting help with your math homework from the man who developed the theory of relativity.

Daily we will have similar opportunities to serve. However, we often miss many opportunities because we "can't take the time to do this." We may not be given a place in history because of some great scientific discovery, but we can be remembered for the kindness we displayed when we took the time to help someone else. Not only do we mimic Dr. Einstein when we do such things, we are displaying the heart of God.

Getting assistance from one of the most brilliant math minds that has ever existed is great; but the Creator of all there is and ever will be stands ready to help us at any time. Let's make sure we display this compassion for others in our lives. Christ's statement in Matthew 7:12 should inform our thinking on helping others, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you." Display this thinking in your response to others when they ask for help.

Pastor Steve
Tuesday August 13, 2019
In the English language, the shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35, "Jesus wept." I, like many others, have always found this verse very compelling. This verse shows Christ's humanity, of course, and portrays Christ's emotional connection to us humans as well.

As we think of Christ's response to the scene at the tomb of Lazarus, we see a picture of his involvement with the people he created. There is no emotional detachment here; Christ loves us and feels what we feel because he put himself in a position to experience what we experience.

This is why Hebrews tells us, "For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people" (2:17) and "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are yet he did not sin." (4:17)

We need to thank God for his involvement in our lives, and for sending Christ to live among us, experience what we experience, know our struggles, know our pain, and then provide hope that we can be victorious over the enemies we face, especially the enemy of death. Jesus wept because, as a human, he felt the loss along with the family of Lazarus. However, as God, he turned that loss into victory. That is what he can and will do for those who trust him. John 11:35 may be the shortest verse, but it is long on significance.

Pastor Steve
Monday August 12, 2019
Henry Bosch tells the story of an elderly woman in England who endured the nerve-shattering bombings during World War II. Her neighbors and friends were amazed at her peacefulness and her serenity in the midst of such harrowing times. When asked to give the secret of her calmness amid the terror and danger, she replied, "Well, every night I say my prayers. And then I remember that God is always watching, so I go peacefully to sleep. After all, there is no need for both of us to stay awake!"

How well do you sleep? Do you lose sleep because there are circumstances that are make you anxious and fearful? Ask God to give you the faith you need and the confidence you need in him to allow you to relax and rest peacefully. Let God do what he does best - control your life and control the things that are keeping you from being quiet in your spirit and having a calm heart.

The confidence the psalmist exhibits in Psalm 4:8 can be ours when we turn our fears over to the Lord: "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety." Psalm 121:3 tells us that God never sleeps, "He will not let your foot slip--he who watches over you will not slumber." Since God doesn't sleep anyway, as the dear lady said, let him be the one to stay awake!

Pastor Steve
Sunday August 11, 2019

I once read an article about a lawsuit in California involving a mother, her son, and her current husband. The lady sued both her son and his step-father claiming they cashed in a winning lottery ticket that was actually hers. The lottery prize was $51 million dollars. From the article, it sounds like there was a real legal mess in Bakersfield.

Money can do crazy things to people, including influencing a mother to sue her son, and perhaps a son to steal from his mother. Actually, it isn't the money, of course, but it is our mindset about money. If you do not get control of your money and your attitude about money, it could very well control you.

Money is a topic follower of Christ should not avoid. Jesus spoke more about money than just about anything else, including the warning to avoid being under the control of money: "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24)

Paul gives a further warning: "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (I Timothy 6:10) The writer to the Hebrews gives this encouragement: "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" (Hebrews 13:5) This verse tells us that our attitude towards money is indicative of our confidence in God's care. Show that you trust God by demonstrating a healthy mindset about money.

Pastor Steve
Saturday August 10, 2019

The natural curiosity of children is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, their desire to discover is a learning tool that helps them to acquire necessary skills. On the other hand, their exploration of new things can sometimes lead to dangerous circumstances.

I read about a 7-year-old in Michigan who found a half-barrel by a small lake. He found a piece of wood to use as a makeshift paddle and he made his way to the middle of the lake in the barrel. Then the barrel developed a leak and began taking on water. Thankfully, there were people who saw his plight and rescued him.

In Isaiah 43, God reminds the people of Israel that they are like immature children who have not called upon him. God tells them they were following a path of disobedience in their pursuits of what they wanted instead of seeking what he wanted for them. God tells them: "Yet you have not called on me, Jacob, you have not wearied yourselves for me, Israel." (vs. 22)

Following our own immature pursuits can have serious consequences. Having a natural curiosity is a good thing, but we need to temper this with God's wisdom. Call upon God for his wisdom and avoid paddling out in lakes.

Pastor Steve
Friday August 09, 2019

A man touring the Far East came across a rather unusual scene. A young boy was pulling a plow while an old man held the handles and guided it through the rice paddy. "My," the man said, "those people are so poor!" "Yes, " replied the guide, "They are poor. They sold their only ox last autumn to help build a new church."

That is quite a sacrifice, don't you think? I think that the idea of sacrifice is lost on us. Sometimes we are not even willing to give up a candy bar in order to be able to give something back to the Lord. What we have in the example above is the embodiment of sacrifice. God wants from us a spiritual sacrifice that resonates with his willingness to sacrifice. God delights in deeds that spring up from a desire to serve him. Galatians 5:6 says, "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."

With what deeds of sacrifice have you been involved? We need to look for ways to "sell our ox." We should look for ways of service, look for ways to sacrifice. These should not be done to call attention to ourselves, but to call attention to God's ministry. He is the one who deserves the attention and merits our sacrifice.

Pastor Steve
Thursday August 08, 2019

Many of you have had the experience of moving into a newly constructed house. It is an interesting experience when you see the house completed and you get to move in knowing that you are the very first occupants of that structure. Some of you have had the experience of being in a church during a building project when a new place of worship was built. This is also a marvelous time, but it can have drawbacks as well. The beauty of a structure does not guarantee beautiful worship.

God, of course, knows this. When Israel was preparing to move to the temple to worship from the tent that had been used for many years, God cautioned his followers.

When the temple was finished, God commended Solomon for its construction, and also warned him of two things. First, he told him that the temple was a special place only because of God's presence: "I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there." (I Kings 9:3) A second warning is that the temple would only be a special place for them as long as they are obedient to God. The presence of God's temple was not a guarantee of God's blessing. Only their obedience could ensure God's presence among them and his abiding hand on their lives.

He warns them of the consequences of disobedience: "But if you or your descendants turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name." (I Kings 9:6-7)

As we worship with others in the facility that God has provided, remember that it isn't the building that brings us close to God, it is the attitude and obedience of the people in the building! Worship is made beautiful not by the appearance of the building but the actions of the occupants.

Pastor Steve
Wednesday August 07, 2019

When Scherry and I lived in Dallas during the early 80's. there was a bit of a building boom taking place. As a matter of fact, I worked for a company that benefitted from this building boom. My company, Design Resource Group, installed movable wall systems, reconfigured existing systems, and handled the installation of conventional office furniture. When we moved from Texas in 1983, there were about 25 buildings at various stages of construction in downtown Dallas alone.

I was fascinated with the construction of those tall buildings. As I observed the work, one principle was evident: the taller the building was going to be, the deeper they went with the substructure. Tall buildings call for deep foundations. This is a good principle for us to remember as we develop our spiritual lives: the higher we want to climb on the spiritual ladder, the deeper we need to sink our foundation.

Psalm 1 refers to the benefit of having a good foundation when it compares a spiritual person to a tree planted by streams of water. The righteous person "is like a tree planted by streams of water (Psalm 1:5)." These trees have roots that run deep and are nurtured by the water that is always present. They have a good foundation.

If we want to grow tall and strong, we need deep, well-planted roots. We need deep foundations if we want to have tall buildings. Dig deep!

Pastor Steve
Tuesday August 06, 2019

I heard a story about a lady named Lydia who made amazingly delicious chocolate chip cookies. When asked her secret to producing the delectable treats, her reply was, "I give each cookie a personal touch." When pressed to elaborate, she replied, "While the cookie is still warm and soft after just being removed from the oven, I scrunch it with my fingers. You try to make it look like a bulldog." Indeed, it was the touch that made all the difference.

A touch can make all the difference. We who have experienced the wonderful touch of God's amazing grace need to make sure to pass the touch along to others. Daniel 10:18 talks about a touch, "Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength."

God is good at this - touching us and giving us strength. And we who have experienced this can provide strength for others by passing along the strength of God. God wants us to pass along his loving touch to others. Who do you know who needs God's touch?

Pastor Steve
Monday August 05, 2019

"What is that in your hand?" were the words of God to a reluctant Moses when Moses balked at the call of God. Moses asked, " What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, The Lord did not appear to you ? (Exodus 4:1) He was a little concerned about how things would go because of his past failure and his current circumstance.

Moses was a little "out of touch," being far away from the land where his people were located and far away from the place of his birth. God reminded him it was not his past predicament nor his current position that would guarantee his success - it was God's provision. God showed him that the simple staff in his hand would be a powerful tool in God's hand.

We need to have faith in God's provision as we put ourselves in position to be used by him. I have a plaque in my office a friend gave to me many years ago that reads, "The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you." What a wonderful promise that is so true. What is that in your hand?

Pastor Steve
Sunday August 04, 2019

I have always been fascinated by Christ's response to Peter when Peter asked Christ, "Lord, what about him?" (John 21:21) Peter was making reference to John in this question. Christ responded, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me. (vs. 22)

Some may take Christ's response as sort of saying "none of your business," but that was not Christ's meaning. What Christ did want to emphasize was that Peter needed to focus upon his place and his role in Christ's plan. Christ had work for both John and Peter; there was a division of labor and responsibilities. What we learn from Christ s words is that we should show concern for others, but don't use concern for others as an excuse to be sloppy with our own lives.

Christ was not promoting self-importance or selfishness. He wanted Peter to develop the correct priority. In our work in the ministry, we obviously need to work with each other and show concern for each other. Just don't be so involved with someone else's work that you neglect your own.

Pastor Steve
Saturday August 03, 2019

Well, today is my birthday. Birthdays are interesting things. They provide you with a reason to celebrate and be the center of attention for a little while. Birthday parties are always nice and offer a chance for folks to get together. Those of us with birthdays this month can make the claim that we are the reason for celebrations in August, as there are no official holidays.

As you get a little older, birthdays also provide some other opportunities. Birthdays can serve as a reminder of how fast our lives are progressing. It can't be my birthday again, can it? Birthdays can offer us a time to reflect on what is going on in our lives, what has taken place, what we would like to see take place, and other considerations. Birthdays highlight relationships that we have. Our celebrations are with those with whom we have a relationship. Birthdays remind of our "links" with other people - people on whom we can rely and have a significant role in our lives.

As you think of this latter provision of birthdays, remember the "link" you have with God. David says in Psalm 22:10, "From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God." We can read later in Psalm 71:6, "From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother's womb. I will ever praise you." Your birthday can serve as a reminder to you about the price God paid so that you can have this link to him. It was the gift of his Son that makes this relationship possible. That is quite a birthday present, isn't it? If you have received this gift, this is something you can celebrate not only on your birthday, but every day of the year!

Pastor Steve
Friday August 02, 2019

A wife was silently fuming at her husband because they had almost missed an important appointment. The reason they were running late was because the husband had taken time out of the morning to meet a friend for coffee. On the drive from the appointment, the wife was accumulating some ammunition for a knock-down-drag-out with her husband when they got home.

When they arrived at their house, she took time to open the mail before beginning her assault. She opened a Christmas card from a couple who had known her husband since his birth. A note in the card read, "We have always admired Terry because of his patience and commitment. We remember how difficult it was for him when he was young because of his spina bifida and problems with his feet. Through dealing with these, he learned patience. He always has time for others." What could the wife say now? Well, not much. She was able to get a portrait of her husband through the eyes of others. This can be helpful.

Are you struggling with someone? Are they driving you nuts with some of their quirks and behavior? Maybe trying to get a perspective of them from another point of view - other friends, family, whoever - might be a good thing. This will help us to learn something, and perhaps even gain insight as to what is behind the behaviors with which you are having trouble. Sometimes we need to pray for open eyes in our relationships with others. Asking God to "Open my eyes that I may see" (Psalm 119:18) can have application to many circumstances.

Pastor Steve
Thursday August 01, 2019

The apostle Paul spoke many times of the wonders of heaven. He knew he had work to do here on earth, but he longed for his heavenly home. He said, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21) It is no surprise that he longed for heaven in the way he did as he was privileged to be given a glimpse of heaven's wonders.

We read Paul's description of his experience in II Corinthians 12:2-6, "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know--God knows. And I know that this man--whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows--was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things; things that man is not permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say."

Paul was keenly aware that the only reason he had this experience, and the only reason he had the hope he would be going there to stay at some future time, was the amazing grace of God. "For by grace we are saved. . ." he writes in Ephesians 2:8.

Another individual who had this same awareness was John Newton, the author of the hymn "Amazing Grace". Newton wrote that among the surprises that await us in heaven will be three astonishing ones. The converted slave-dealer perceptively foresaw what every person who has been redeemed by Christ's atoning sacrifice will feel.

Newton wrote, "When I reach heaven, I expect to find three wonders there: First, to meet some I had not thought to see there; second, to miss some I had thought to meet there; and third, the greatest wonder of all, to find myself there!" Isn't that true? Paul and Newton both understood the only reason for their presence in heaven was the Amazing Grace of God!

Don't ever lose sight of this truth. We need to be grateful for God's grace, and the hope we have because of God's grace. Paul gave us a glimpse of heaven; Newton gave us a perspective about heaven; God gives us His grace as a means of entering heaven. Give thanks to God!

Pastor Steve
Wednesday July 31, 2019

I have always been skeptical of ads where it sounds as if you can receive something for nothing. Usually, there are some strings attached to the offer. Many times, these "strings" are spelled out in the fine print, or stated sort of rapidly in an oral advertisement. If one isn't careful, instead of getting something for nothing, you will end up with nothing for something.

There are many world views that fall into the category of offering "nothing for something." I once read about an Eastern mystic religion where the adherents are asked to eat nothing but left-overs, denounce all preferences of colors, sounds, smells and people, and never injure a living thing. In return for this, there is the possibility of being reincarnated as a superior being in another life. In other words, you indeed end up with nothing for something.

We shouldn't follow Christ just because he has the "best offer," but we should follow Christ. Actually, we should follow him because his offer is genuine. In exchange for our faith in him, he will give us eternal life. Now, this is not something for nothing - Christ gave his life so that we might have the hope of life. He asks of us our belief that he indeed is the hope of our resurrection.

Christ said to Martha at the tomb of her brother Lazarus, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" Paul talks about this in Romans 4:4-5, "Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness." God's plan alone offers us real hope. Any other plan is truly nothing for something.

Pastor Steve
Tuesday July 30, 2019

Are you familiar with the names of Charles and Frank Duryea? They were the ones who designed the first gasoline engine powered vehicle to be driven in the United States. Charles did the designing while Frank put it together and eventually drove their creation a distance of 600 feet in 1893. Yet, while the name of the Wright brothers still has great recognition in aviation circles, the name of the Duryea brothers usually elicits a "who?" What gives? Well, it seems the brothers couldn't agree on the direction they needed to head after their prototype, so they parted ways and left the design and production of the automobile in the hands of others.

This is what can happen when conflict goes unresolved. We need to be aware of this in our lives in general and certainly in our churches. Psalm 133:1 says, "How good and pleasant it is when God s people live together in unity!" Working together creates strength, promotes creativity, and brings lasting results. Ecclesiastes reminds us of the benefits of working together rather than being a "lone wolf."

Ecclesiastes 12:1 tells us, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor." This certainly would have been the case for the Duryea brothers, and is the case for us. Strive to work together and walk in harmony! More good will come from this than trying to walk by yourself.

Pastor Steve
Monday July 29, 2019

Most folks are really concerned with cleanliness. Usually, there is not a problem with this as it is manifested as a normal desire. However, some folks get a bit carried away with the desire for clean, almost to the point of obsession. This can be a problem if this desire more or less takes over your life. Still, cleanliness is an important matter.

According to someone, "cleanliness is next to godliness." The thing about cleanliness is that if you really want it, you will be constantly working to maintain the desired state. That which is clean usually won't remain that way and effort needs to be spent to restore the clean.

There is one area where all the effort in the world cannot restore cleanliness. You can't get your life as clean as it needs to be in order to have a relationship with God. That is a big problem - but one that God takes care of through the provision of his Son.

David asked God to "Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. . .Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." (Psalm 51:2 & 7) Only God can get you as clean as you need to be. Don't obsess over this, just seek God's forgiveness and trust in His Son. When you do this, you will be "whiter than snow."

Pastor Steve
Sunday July 28, 2019

There are many famous statements that we recognize easily when we hear them or read them. "That's one small step for man. . .one giant leap for mankind" would be one example of this. These famous words, uttered by astronaut Neil Armstrong as he became the first human to step foot on the moon, are almost universally recognized even fifty years after the event took place. Words can indeed leave a lasting impression.

Knowing this underscores our need to be careful with our words. What type of impression do you wish to leave with your words? We need to be careful what we say and how we say things. Words that hurt will leave a wound that can take a long time to heal, and may never be totally forgotten. That is why we need to guard our speech and use words that will leave a positive, encouraging impact.

Proverbs 22:11 tells us, "He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend." Do you want to win friends and make a good impression? Make sure your speech is gracious! If you do, you will have friends in high places and make good memories!

Pastor Steve
Saturday July 27, 2019

It is so easy to be pessimistic in today's world. You do not have to look long to find bad news on TV, in newspapers, or on the internet. Some folks I talked with yesterday told me they had given up watching news on TV because they get so depressed after watching they cannot sleep. We hear about accidents, struggles among countries, struggles in our government, wars. What are we supposed to do?

David offers a solution in Psalm 4. He says, "Many, Lord, are asking, 'Who will bring us prosperity?' Let the light of your face shine on us. Fill my heart with joy." David knew that the only source of true joy and true prosperity is the Lord. He chooses to focus on what God will bring about rather than pursue some temporal fix for the problems of humanity. He encourages the worshippers to "Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord."

Only in the Lord will true peace and hope be found. There are no others who can provide answers. The pessimism of our world can turn to a positive outlook through the power of God. When we do this, we can have the same sense of well-being as did David: "In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety."

Pastor Steve
Friday July 26, 2019

Jeremiah is called the "weeping prophet" because of his melancholic nature brought on by his mourning over the state of his homeland. He proclaimed, "Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people." (Jeremiah 9:1) What was taking place was breaking his heart and, in addition, he faced persecution for his stand against the evil of his generation. At one point, he was lowered into a cistern where he became mired in muck up to his waste (Jeremiah 38). In the midst of his sorrow and persecution, he continued to focus on the Lord and the task of proclaiming the message of the Lord.

We can become mired down in sorrow and painful circumstances in our lives. We can face troubling times in our service for the Lord. If this happens, we have an example in Jeremiah that can help focus our response - remain faithful and continue to pursue God's path.

Jeremiah said, "his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot." (Jeremiah 20:9) Jeremiah continued in his work for the Lord in spite of what he faced. In the midst of setbacks and struggles, maintain your faith in God knowing that "weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5)

Pastor Steve
Thursday July 25, 2019

Did you ever have a bird in your house? Now I don't mean a domestic bird like you would have in a cage, but a wild bird that got in the house inadvertently. I have a couple of experiences with this. Each time it happened, the poor bird was terrified and flied around wildly, banging into walls and windows. We opened all the doors and windows and tried to guide the bird to an escape route. The bird was in an odd place - a place it should not have been and this led to confusion, fear, and other negative consequences.

When you read the story of Jonah in the Bible you read an account of a person who ended up in an odd place; a place he should not have been. Spending some time in the inside of a large sea creature was not what Jonah set out to do. But when he chose to disobey God and go a different direction, the result was finding himself in a strange place struggling with strange circumstances.

This is what can happen when we choose to go a different direction other than the path God has for us. When we walk in disobedience and fail to follow God, we can end up in a precarious predicament. Jonah eventually ended up in the right place when he called to God and confessed his sin. Job cried out, "In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry." (Job 2:2)

If you find yourself in a strange place because you have chosen to walk on your own rather than walk with the Lord, confess your error and seek his help. If you are out of fellowship with the Lord, seek his forgiveness (I John 1:9) and get in a good place. Admit your mistake and go the right way. Then you won't feel like you are banging your head against a wall, or maybe the inside of a fish.

Pastor Steve
Wednesday July 24, 2019

The Minisode Network was launched in 2007 by Sony Entertainment. The network plays condensed versions of previously broadcast shows so that folks may watch to see salient details of episodes. This makes it more convenient to follow series as less time is required.

Many people are trying to follow a "minisode" version of Christianity. The desire is to spend as little time as possible in spiritual disciplines. The problem is this is not real Christianity.

Christianity begins with a commitment made to the Savior who gave his life for us. Evidence of true commitment is a life that is devoted to Christ holistically, not just conveniently. If you are trying to live a minisode Christian life, you need to examine your heart to determine the reality of your commitment. Being a true disciple is a lifestyle, not a hobby. This involves service, not token offerings or acts.

Jesus said, "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.'" (Matthew 16:24-25) There is no such thing as "Minisode Christianity!"

Pastor Steve
Tuesday July 23, 2019

As you leave the Indianapolis Airport, there is a final exit that is marked "Return to Terminal." This is one final chance to return to another area, such as the parking garage, or perhaps go and retrieve something you forgot, or take care of some other matter, before you leave. Many airports are designed in this way. It is almost as if you are being told, "you have once last opportunity to do what needs to be done."

God gives us such an opportunity as well. He is patient with us and wants to give us every chance possible to do what needs to be done in order that we might have a relationship with him. The possibility of taking the "Return to Terminal" exit is always there as long as we are living. He wants us to place our faith in his Son, and he gives us plenty of time to make that choice.

Peter writes about the patience of God in II Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." Peter wrote this in response to those who were critical of the teaching about God's return and were saying, "Well, where is he?" He has not yet set the final days in motion because he wants to keep that "Return to Terminal" option available as long as possible.

Don't push God's patience - make sure you accept the free gift that he has for you. He does "not want (you) to perish!" Make sure that you "Return to Terminal."

Pastor Steve
Monday July 22, 2019

I am continuing with the space theme today I will "launch" from this soon, but, hey, 50th anniversaries don't come around that often. Let me go back a bit further. With the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik in 1957, humankind entered into a new era. We also created a new place to trash - outer space. There are over 100 million objects 1 micron or larger currently orbiting the earth that are there due to the destruction of satellites, the deposit of debris from space missions, and collisions between orbiting bodies.

Space agencies have to constantly monitor this debris to allow for course corrections by the orbiting international space station and other carriers such as space shuttles in order to avoid collisions. Still, some collisions do occur. This is a dangerous consideration as a small fleck of paint no larger than the size of a watch battery is traveling so fast that it hits with the force of a 5.5 lb. hammer. Efforts to clean up this mess are still being sought, but no effective solution has ever been reached.

The effects of sin in our lives can be devastating as well. In Joshua 22, we read the story of a man named Achan that demonstrates just how costly sin can be. Achan lost his life because he chose to disobey and keep some of the plunder from Ai, a city that was conquered by the Israelites. Joshua 22:20 tells us that not only did he experience consequences because of his sin, there were consequences for others as well: "When Achan son of Zerah was unfaithful in regard to the devoted things, did not wrath come on the whole community of Israel? He was not the only one who died for his sin."

The scripture tells us that we affect our lives and the lives of others when we sin. Another example of this is David. David and his family experienced consequences from his affair with Bathsheba. You can read about this in II Samuel. We see God's grace operative in both of these incidents, nonetheless there was fallout from what had taken place.

We need to make course corrections in order to avoid "sin debris." Make wise choices to eliminate the creation of sin debris. We have a tendency to create trash - let's do what we can to reverse this trend in our lives.

Pastor Steve
Sunday July 21, 2019

The effects of time and repetition have a way of doing away with the awe and the marvel that we should have for many tasks that, when first accomplished, were hailed and acknowledged as magnificent. I was thinking of this as I have been reading some articles on the "space race" because of the anniversary we celebrated yesterday. I read an article about the first spacewalk ever performed.

This feat was by Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov on March 18, 1965. When the event happened, he was hailed as a hero in his home country and provided further impetus to the United States space program to push forward with their accomplishments. What was not revealed at the time was how close he came to death during this endeavor.

Eventually, space walks became routine and lost their attention-grabbing effect. Of course, this was the same for many events in the space program, including moon walks. Then, Apollo 13 took place and reminded us of just how dangerous space exploration is. The loss of the Challenger and the Columbia brought us back to the reality of the inherent danger of work in space.

We should not have needed these dramatic and often deadly reminders of just how dangerous and significant space events are in spite of the fact that what was once groundbreaking became routine. Of course, the same can be said about many exploits, including those that have to do with our spiritual lives.

We should not need some dramatic event to remind us of the significance of the accomplishments of our spiritual predecessors, yet we often view what they have done as mundane. We should never lose our wonder for the examples we see in passages such as Hebrews 11.

The lives of the folks listed in Hebrews 11 remind us of the need for consistent faithfulness. What they were able to do took courage and strong trust in God. We should always look at the lives of these people with special consideration and attention so that we may learn what is important for us to be able to live faithful lives. We should appreciate their "pioneer" efforts and realize that lives of faith don't just happen; they are the result of unyielding trust, often in the face of grave consequences.

Consider Rahab and the risk she took in helping the spies. (11:31) About others it is written: "There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by as the sword." (Hebrews 11:35-37)

We should appreciate the courage and faith of pioneers in all walks of life, including the "pioneers of faith." Don't take these lives for granted, and don't take for granted what is needed to live a faithful life. We need to repeat their example of trust by maintaining spiritual diligence.

Pastor Steve
Saturday July 20, 2019

This is a long post, but it has been 50 years in the making, so there you go. This is the 50th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon. Fifty years ago today, I was at Camp Oyo, a Boy Scout camp near the Shawnee State Forest just west of Portsmouth, Ohio. Many of you reading this know exactly where the camp is. While I was happy to be at Camp Oyo on July 20, 1969, I was not happy to be doing what I was doing on that particular day. I was helping clean up the mess hall after the evening meal. Not where I wanted to be, but this was part of our camping experience.

Anyway, as I was working, someone in the kitchen called out, "Hey, guys, come get a load of this." When I entered the kitchen, I saw a small black and white TV set sitting on the counter and I will give you three guesses what they were watching. Yep - lunar landing. I recall those fuzzy images, made even more indistinct because of the distortion of the set, to this day. Now, I missed the now-famous "That's one small step. . ." line from Neil Armstrong, but I did get to watch long enough to see him and Buzz Aldrin moving around the Eagle, the lunar module that was firmly planted in moon dust. I recall them talking about the nature of the dust. I didn't get to see much of the coverage, as there was still work to do and there were a number of guys trying to get a peek, but I did get to see part of what was going on as these two men were walking on the moon - the first humans to do so. Being in a place where I really didn't want to be at the time gave me a chance to have an experience I will never forget. If I hadn't pulled "KP" duty that night, I wouldn't have seen the men on the moon. That was the only TV set at Camp Oyo.

This happens to us at times - we have random experiences that offer us positive circumstances from an otherwise negative event. And there are times when God directs our steps in this way. That is, we are placed in a position that is less than favorable at the time, then experience positive results as a consequence of being where we are.

Joseph is a person who could tell you a little bit about this. One moment, he is taking care of some of his father's livestock and the next moment he is in a caravan bound for Egypt. He was accosted by his own brothers and given to the group headed that way. Once in Egypt, he found himself in prison, certainly a less than desirable situation. He remained there for years - not where he wanted to be.

He continued to trust God for a favorable outcome and God turned things around. Because of Joseph's presence in Egypt, two groups of people were preserved from dire consequences during a famine. Egypt was spared, and Joseph's own family was saved. You can read all about this in Genesis.

A statement Joseph made later in his life demonstrated that he had come to grips with the "why" of his experience. He told his brothers, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Genesis 50:19-20)

God does this in our lives at times. We find ourselves in positions that seem less than favorable and we don't know why we are there. Continue to trust God - continue to look to him for direction. He can use adverse circumstances to bring about good in our lives and in the lives of others. God's statement made to Israel applies to all of us who follow him: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" I didn t want to be where I was on July 20, 1969, but I got to see Neil because I was there!

Pastor Steve
Friday July 19, 2019

Are you old enough to remember dress codes in school? I started high school with some, then they seemed to modify as we progressed. I know there are still guidelines for dress at schools, but not quite like they once were. When I first started high school, girls had to wear dresses, and the dresses had to conform to certain standards. Boys had to keep their hair cut a certain length and had to dress a certain way. Then, as I said earlier, these requirements were relaxed. Even the seminary I attended had dress codes - we were required to wear jackets and ties and the ladies had to wear dresses. That is not the same now. One can debate the effectiveness and necessity of such codes but usually the issue is a moot point today.

Looking at scripture, we see there is still a dress code for followers of Christ. Colossians 3:12 - 14 tells us how to dress: "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love should be in the wardrobe of every believer. I chafed a bit at the dress codes as a student, but I should gladly desire to dress in the manner prescribed by God. This wardrobe helps me to please God and be beneficial to others.

Pastor Steve
Thursday July 18, 2019

I remember a story about a man and his wife who booked passage on an ocean liner bound for America. He brought with him some bread and cheese in order to have something to eat on the voyage. By the time the ship neared America, the couple decided they would swear off bread and cheese forever.

When they disembarked, they were speaking with other passengers who were bragging about the trip and the good food they ate. The man said, "Oh, that sounds so nice. All we had was bread and cheese. We couldn't afford the food." Another passenger replied, "Bread and cheese? Didn't you know that the food was included in the price of the ticket?"

Many of us are walking around spiritually hungry because we fail to take advantage of all that God has for us. Many Christians fail to realize the royal heritage that is theirs in Christ. They live as spiritual peasants when they should be living royally.

According to the apostle Paul, believers "are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26). He also said, "Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father.' So you are no longer a slave, but God s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir." (4:6-7).

God has given us everything we need to live victorious, fulfilling lives. What too often happens is that we don t take the time to get to know about all that Christ has for us. Experiencing his blessings and finding out about our resources involves time spent with the Person who has these things available for us. Let's not live on bread and cheese - feast on the good things God has for you!

Pastor Steve
Wednesday July 17, 2019

The reality of the resurrection gives us hope. We know that the resurrection will take place because we believe in what Christ has done. We believe in the promises of God. And we look forward to being changed for a lot of things to change. Do you know we are not the only ones looking forward to the resurrection?

Not only are followers of Christ yearning for the time when they will be brought back from the dead and made new, ALL of creation yearns for that time, even the inanimate part of our world. All of creation suffers from the effects of the fall, and all of creation yearns to be renewed and released from those effects.

Romans 8:19 - 21 tells us, "For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. Isaiah 65:17-18 promises, "See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create."

As we wait for this time, the resurrection, we need to allow this hope and this certainty affect how we live now. We need to live as resurrected people and project that hope and reality though what we do and how we live. We have been made alive, so let's demonstrate that life here and now. It is not too early to start enjoying our resurrection - do this for God's glory and to bring others hope!

Pastor Steve
Tuesday July 16, 2019

I get a kick out of Nielsen ratings. These are ratings based on overall popularity of a show, but what is emphasized is how well a show does among the "18 - 49 demographic." This is the coveted slot. Shows want to attract the younger viewers, and the shows that attract the younger viewers are the ones considered to be the most successful. Advertisers want to appeal to the young adult age group.

So, what is the deal? What are older viewers? Sliced cheese? The aging of society means there are more older TV viewers now than in the past. In addition, older folks have as much, maybe more, money to spend on products being advertised. Yet, the appeal is to the younger TV watchers.

We need to do all we can to develop churches that promote, appeal to, and direct "younger viewers," but we also need to avoid slighting our older people in the church. Age does not diminish worth; it actually enhances it. Leviticus 19:32 says, "Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord." Job 12:12 tells us, "Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?"

We should not be too quick to put folks out to pasture. These verses remind us of the importance of wisdom and discernment - characteristics that are to be found among those who have experienced much of life. Look to these folks and ask "What can be learned?" rather than saying, "Get out of the way!"

Pastor Steve
Monday July 15, 2019

Mitsuo Fuchida was the Japanese Kamikaze pilot who led the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, shouting "Tora! Tora! Tora!" Less than four years later, on September 2, 1945, representatives of the Japanese government signed a formal declaration of surrender on the deck of the USS Missouri that was stationed in Tokyo Bay. When this took place, Fuchida's role in the Japanese war machine was ended.

Fuchida wandered in the streets of Tokyo not knowing what he would do next. He came across some literature that was being distributed by Americans. He read the fascinating story of Jake Deshazer entitled "I Was a Prisoner of Japan." Deshazer was a pilot who had been shot down, captured, and imprisoned in a Japanese POW camp. There, he was tortured and mistreated. However, he wrote of how he had experienced the love of Christ and how he had forgiven his tormenters. He implored his readers to make the same decision as he had and receive the gift of Christ's salvation. Fuchida was deeply moved, and he trusted Christ as his Savior. He became an evangelist and for the rest of his life traveled to spread the Good News of Christ's love.

This story demonstrates the power of the Gospel to change lives. We should never take this for granted. Those of us who have experienced this transforming power need to follow the examples of Deshazer and Fuchida, two enemies who became colleagues in the work of the ministry of Christ.

Following Christ is the way to bring peace to your heart. Romans 5:1 tells us, Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. Those of us who have experienced this peace need to do what we can to bring the news of peace to others. Let s cry "Peace! Peace! Peace!" instead of "Tora! Tora! Tora!"

Pastor Steve
Sunday July 14, 2019

Phillips Brooks was a well-known minister from Boston who lived during the 19th century. Brooks wrote a few hymns, the best-known being "O Little Town of Bethlehem."

One day, Brooks asked the operator of a local livery stable for the best horse he had. Brooks explained, "I am taking a good friend for a ride and I want the very best for the occasion."

As the livery man hitched up a horse to a buggy, he said, "This animal is about as perfect as a horse could be. It is kind, gentle, intelligent, well-trained, obedient, willing, responds instantly to your every command, never kicks, balks, or bites, and lives only to please its driver." Brooks then quietly said to the owner, "Do you suppose you could get that horse to join my church?"

This is an interesting statement, but does give some food for thought. If we would strive to develop these qualities, then we would be able to make quite an impact for God with our lives. We should be as gentle and intelligent as we can be. Ephesians 4:2 tells us to "Be completely humble and gentle." We need to be willing, obedient and responsive to God's call. Isaiah 1:19 tells us "If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land." We need to "live only to please our driver." Our desire should be that of the Psalmist who wrote, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." (Psalm 19:14)

We need to be willing to serve Christ and to serve others. If the church is full of people with this attitude, you will see the results in the effectiveness of the church's ministry!

Pastor Steve
Saturday July 13, 2019

Years ago in a race in New York, the jockey of the leading horse beat his horse to the finish line. Just before the finish, the horse stumbled and catapulted his rider over the line. The horse then regained his balance and crossed the line. Since he had been 20 lengths ahead of the field, it would seem that he had easily won the race in spite of the mishap. However, the horse was disqualified as a rider-less horse cannot be declared the victor. The second-place horse was awarded the race. A race official was quoted as saying, "the jockey was so far in front that only a freak accident would stop him and that is what happened."

Life has spills and mishaps that can change events and the course of our lives. This can happen at the last moment even when an outcome seems to be certain. Unexpected circumstances can make their appearance in a dramatic fashion and at a most undesirable time.

Solomon wrote, "As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them." (Ecclesiastes 9:11) This verse reminds us that unexpected things happen and a good mindset for us would be to expect the unexpected. Tragedy can strike with no notice whatsoever. We can experience a setback in our health or our finances with no warning. Many things happen with no harbinger to tell us what is going to take place.

Solomon's conclusion was that we need to depend on God and trust him with the outcome of our lives. We cannot trust our own strength, wisdom, or skill. We are not in control, and we should look to the one who knows the beginning from the end. There is wisdom it letting God be in control.

Pastor Steve
Friday July 12, 2019

I am not a true businessman, but I have had enough experience with finance to understand the concept of the bottom line. Whether it is my personal finances, finances at the church, or any of the boards and committees I have sat on over the years, the bottom line is what is important. The bottom line is what tells you if you have any money to spend or whether you have been spending more money than you have. That is usually pretty important information to have. Businesses do what they can to improve the bottom line.

The concept of the bottom line is used in other aspects of our experience. We use this phrase when we are referring to the most important point of an activity or of a pursuit or some other endeavor. A teacher may tell a class that the bottom line of an experiment is to isolate some particular compound. A coach may tell a team that the bottom line is what needs to be done to win the next game or we won't reach our goal.

There is a bottom line for followers of Christ as well. God wants us to follow him. Above all else, we are to listen to his voice and allow our steps to follow the path he has laid out for us. The bottom line: He wants us to obey Him at all times. He told the people of Israel through Samuel, "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams." (I Samuel 15:22) Obedience is indeed the bottom line. How is your bottom line?

Pastor Steve
Thursday July 11, 2019

When John Ashcroft was preparing to be sworn in as U.S. Senator, he met with a number of others for prayer. As those present gathered around him to pray, he noticed his Dad was having trouble getting up from the couch. He said, "That's all right, Dad, you don't have to stand up." His Dad replied, "I'm not struggling to stand, I'm struggling to kneel."

When was the last time that you "struggled in prayer?" Colossians 4:12 reports, "Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured." I would like for you to notice two things about this verse. First, notice the idea of wrestling in prayer. Greek wrestlers would struggle in training and struggle in their competitions to gain victory. This involved concentration and effort. When we pray, we should concentrate on our prayer and put some effort into what we are doing, not just say a quick "Lord, thanks for this day and help me do my best."

Another aspect of note regarding the prayer is the purpose for the prayer. Epaphras was wrestling in prayer for others' spiritual standing and growth. When was the last time you prayed for someone's spiritual life? When was the last time you prayed for YOUR spiritual life? We usually place so much emphasis on praying for material needs and physical concerns that we forget our prayer should be for so much more.

Epaphras wrestled in prayer that others would "stand firm in the will of God." Pray for the spiritual lives of others. Pray for your spiritual life!

Pastor Steve
Wednesday July 10, 2019

I would imagine you have heard the story of the four high school seniors who skipped school one day. When they returned the next day to classes, they found out they had missed an English quiz. They explained to the teacher that they had a flat tire the day before which caused them to miss the class and, of course, the quiz. The teacher said, "Well, o.k., I guess you can make up the quiz. Take your seats and get out a pencil. First question - which tire was flat?"

We think we can get away with lying, but lying, like all other sins, will "find us out." People of the tribes of Reuben and Gad wanted to settle in the land on the east side of the Jordan. God was not all that pleased with their request, but told them they could do so as long as they crossed over the Jordan and helped their brothers subdue the enemies in Canaan. If they did, they would be free to settle on the east side of the river. They told God they would be willing to do this. God warned them not to try to pull a "fast one." He said to them through Moses, "If you will do this--if you will arm yourselves before the LORD for battle, and if all of you will go armed over the Jordan before the LORD until he has driven his enemies out before him-- then when the land is subdued before the LORD, you may return and be free from your obligation to the LORD and to Israel. And this land will be your possession before the LORD. But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:20-23)

Don't try to go for a big cover-up. Your lies will be discovered. There seems to be a special thing with lies - once you tell one you usually find yourself telling others to gloss over the first lie you told. At some point, the truth will be revealed and you will be discovered. The short-term gains from lying are worth little when compared to the long-term benefits of the truth. Now - which tire was flat?

Pastor Steve
Tuesday July 09, 2019

Phil Knight, a University of Oregon track athlete, and his coach, Bill Bowerman, founded Blue Ribbon Sports in January of 1965. They sold footwear for a Japanese company, sometimes out of their car at first, but the company grew and a name change and logo adoption later, Nike came into being. Over the years, Nike has had many successful advertising campaigns, none more so than their "Just Do It" ads.

The desire conveyed in this representation was for people to be active. Being active is a good thing, but sometimes we can find ourselves so busy with activities that we feel like we are being swallowed alive. Being busy does lead to productivity, but we need to be careful that we do not allow our desire to be productive to rob us of our time to think.

We need to think. If we allow our busyness to take away from our times of meditation, reflection, and study, we undermine the channel of resources that helps us to grow, solve problems creatively, develop perspective on spiritual issues, and discover new avenues of service. Knight and Bowerman had to do this along the way to developing the most successful athletic shoe company in the world, or the company would not exist.

Paul tells us, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things." (Philippians 4:8)

Set aside time from your activity to spend some time in creative thinking. Paul's advice is not a singular injunction; there are many places in the Scripture where followers of God are reminded of the importance of spending time in meditation and reflection. Joshua 1:8 encourages folks to "meditate on it day and night." Psalm 1:2 says, "Blessed is the one. . .who meditates on the Law day and night." Christ took time out from activity to pray and meditate - "But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." (Luke 5:16) Don't forget to think! "Just Do It" can refer to something other than being busy!

Pastor Steve
Monday July 08, 2019

One of the things that impressed us about Texas when we moved there in 1979 was its immensity. When we arrived at the Texas border for the first time, we realized we still had a long, long way to go to our destination. Texas is a big state. Of course, the size of the state is relative. Texas is a large state, but is dwarfed by the size of the earth that, in turn, is dwarfed by the size of the solar system, that is dwarfed by the size of the universe. The universe is dwarfed by the size of the One who created it.

There is a saying that "everything is bigger in Texas." Well, everything is bigger with God. God is truly big. This means he has a big heart, a big concern about his creation, a big love for us. We truly have a "great big wonderful God." Paul proclaims about God, "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!" Indeed we have a big God, but he is not so big that he doesn't care for us. Our great, big, wonderful God cares for each of us and knows all about us. As the Imperials once sang:

We've got a great big wonderful God

A great big wonderful God

A God that loves every one of us

Does so much for all of us

A great big wonderful God!

Pastor Steve
Monday July 8, 2019

I have never had to stand before a judge and jury, and I don't ever want to stand before a judge and jury. I have been called for jury duty on a couple of occasions, and remember once being dismissed along with all the other potential jurors because the sight of the jury being formed was a little too much for the defendant and he worked out a plea bargain. Standing before a judge and jury would be intimidating.

I don't want to stand before a judge and jury, but I do know I will one day stand before God. The scriptures tell us "Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27)." We know that those who die without Christ will face a final judgment sealing their eternal state of punishment (Revelation 20:11-15). Those of us who follow Christ will be judged for our works to determine our state in eternal life with Christ. II Corinthians 5:10 tells us, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."

Thinking of these judgments can be frightening. Avoiding God's judgment described in Revelation 20 can only be done through accepting Christ's gift. The ability to stand before Christ without fear when believers are judged for what they have done is determine now to do what we know we should do. Facing judgment can be a frightening thing. Following Christ eliminates the fear.

Pastor Steve
Sunday July 7, 2019

You know, clouds are an ambivalent entity. Those white, fluffy clouds that dot a pristine blue sky are really nice; but a thick layer of gray clouds bringing rain and gloom can be rather depressing. However, you just need to remember that the clouds are not really the "main" feature - they have not replaced the sun and the sky, they are simply masking the sky. They don't replace what is there. They only give the appearance that "they are in charge." Many of you have had the experience of taking off in a jet on a dreary, overcast, rainy day and then, after ascending a few thousand feet through the cloud barrier, witnessing the glorious appearance of a beautiful sky and the radiant sun. What a sight! The sun hadn't gone anywhere, those goofy clouds were just trying to hide it!

The next time you face a circumstance that brings on dreariness, sadness, even depression, remember that the sun and the sky have not left for good. The things that you are facing are simply masking what is really there. It may take some time, and it make take some work, but you can rise above those clouds to experience the glory of the sun. This is the hope of the follower of Christ - we do not need to worry about the presence of the blue sky and the warm sun - they will never leave. Let God help you ascend through that barrier of clouds that is trying to be the "main feature" in your life.

Psalm 37:5-6 says, "Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." God can and will lift your spirit above the gloom. He will bring the sun in your life because it hasn't gone anywhere - there is just a "pretender" trying to block its light. Stay calm in God - the clouds will part and the sun will shine.

Pastor Steve
Saturday July 6, 2019

The crew of the Citation was elated. They had just won the Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament held off the coast of North Carolina June 11-19, 2010. First prize for the tournament is 1 million dollars. Not a bad prize for catching the biggest fish - of course, the big fish was a 880 lb. marlin. However, in post-contest interviews, it was discovered that one of the members of the crew did not have a valid fishing license. This violated the rules of the tournament and, of course, is illegal. So, the catch was disqualified and the crew got nothing, all because one person forgot to purchase a $15 fishing license.

Most of us would think this turn of events was rather foolish - how could a fisherman forget to purchase a fishing license? Well, many are in danger of making an even more foolish mistake. They are in danger of forfeiting eternal life because they have failed to receive the free gift provided by God's Son. You don't even have to go to a store to make a purchase - eternal life is free to all who call on the name of the Lord (see Ephesians 2:8-9). Failure to do so leads to disqualification and the loss of something more valuable than a million-dollar prize. Paul speaks of making sure that he has made the right decision in following Christ and living for him "so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize (I Corinthians 9:27)."

Losing a million dollar prize on account of a failure to purchase a $15 license is ridiculous. Losing eternal life because of one's failure to receive God's free gift is ludicrous. So, don't be ludicrous or ridiculous - receive God's gift!

Pastor Steve
Friday July 5, 2019

Franklin's lost expedition was a doomed British voyage of Arctic exploration led by Captain Sir John Franklin that departed England in 1845. The intent of the trip was to traverse the last uncharted section of the Northwest Passage. Franklin was a veteran of Arctic expeditions, so what happened on this trek was hard to explain.

All 129 crew members perished after the two ships became ice-bound. It took almost 150 years to piece together what actually happened, but one of the main contributors to the tragedy was extremely poor preparation. The ships did not have nearly enough coal for the trip, a large library had been taken along that used precious space where food stores should have been, a cut-rate outfitter won the contract for supplies and stocked the ships with poorly soldered cans of food that led to spoilage and also lead poisoning.

We marvel at the short-sightedness of this venture that led to great loss. Yet there are many who are failing to prepare for the eventuality of all of our lives - moving from this existence into eternity. Unless you have prepared for this by accepting God's provision of his Son, Jesus Christ, you will find yourself unprepared and unable to enter God's presence. We are told in Scripture so many times of the need to make this important preparation so that our lives will be spent with God in eternity when our life here is over.

Matthew 16:26 tells us, "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" We must be prepared. We need to accept God's provision - he is certainly not a cut-rate outfitter.

Pastor Steve
Thursday July 4, 2019

On July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote a letter to his wife. In this letter he said, "The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."

Mr. Adams' letter proved to be prophetic about the celebration, but was off by a couple of days regarding the date of the celebration. July 4 was the day that was seized from the beginning as a day of celebration after the manner described by him in his letter. July 2, 1776, was the day when the Second Continental Congress voted to declare independence from Great Britain. July 4, 1776, is the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a document intended to define just what was meant by the vote on July 2.

We should celebrate July 4th as it is truly a very special day worthy of commemoration. What I find most interesting in John Adams' statement is the sentence "It ought to be commemorated. . .by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty." I think we miss this part in most of our celebration, don't we? As a country, we seem bent on excluding any act of devotion towards God, yet it is clear from writings and documents that God was included consistently in the decision-making process leading up to the vote for independence and the draft of the Declaration of Independence. In the minds of the people, the signing took precedent over the vote.

Our nation seems to be traveling a precarious path when it comes to our recognition of God and his role in our history and our present. Don't let this be the case for you as a citizen of the United States and as a child of God. God has blessed us richly as a nation and as individuals within this nation. Never fail to take time to give thanks to him for what we enjoy. II Corinthians 3:17 tells us, "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." We should celebrate both our freedom as a citizen and our freedom in Christ in the way John Adams described with "solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty." Happy Fourth of July!

Pastor Steve
Wednesday July 3, 2019

Oral contracts aren't what they used to be, given our proclivity to dishonesty in our society. Still, written contracts have always carried more weight and are more binding. When something is written down, it is right before us in print that is harder to alter and to forget than spoken words. We even say "put it in writing" when we want a firm guarantee of a contract or promise. God's Word is binding whether it is spoken or written, but there are times when God specifically directed for something to be written to demonstrate the force of what was being said.

When God gave the commandments to Moses the second time, he said, "Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets (Exodus 34:7)." Many times in Deuteronomy God tells Moses and to write down the words of the Law. He tells the people to :"Write (the commandments) on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates (6:9)." He told the prophet Jeremiah to write down what has been revealed to him for others to see (Jeremiah 36:2). In Revelation, John is commanded to write down what he sees, and he is specifically instructed to write down the description of the results of God's New Order. We read in Revelation 21:5, "He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'"

God wanted to put in writing all that he has for us and all that he wants from us. Someday all of this will be written on our hearts so that we will no longer forget anything that God has promised for us. Jeremiah 31:33-34 says, "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, `Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Aren't you glad God put that in writing?

Pastor Steve
Tuesday July 2, 2019

When I was in Israel several years ago, we stopped for the express purpose of taking in the view of the wilderness area through which the Jericho to Jerusalem road passed. I would imagine you are familiar with the story Christ told of the Good Samaritan. This is found in the scripture in Luke 10:29-37. A traveler was going from Jerusalem to Jericho and was set upon by a band of robbers. When one sees the area, it doesn't take much imagination to see how this story could be a reality. The lay of the land would afford a great deal of hiding places for robbers and thieves who would prey on travelers. As you recall the story Christ told, the traveler who was beaten and robbed was ignored by a priest and a Levite before finding help through the efforts of a Samaritan.

In her book "Kindness: Reaching Out to Others", Phyllis J. Le Peau describes an event at a Midwestern seminary. Students were given the assignment to preach on kindness. Then, the day of the sermon, the students were intentionally delayed by a "person in need" who was planted on the way to the class. One by one, the students made their way to the class, but not one of them stopped to assist the needy person. Apparently, they were too absorbed in preaching a message on kindness to actually be involved in an act of kindness.

Which would be the more powerful sermon on kindness: delivering a sermon extolling the need to show kindness or actually stopping to show kindness to someone who needed help? I hope I don't need to state the obvious here. Luke 10:33 says, "When he saw him, he had compassion." His compassion led to action. I hope it does for us as well.

Pastor Steve
Monday July 1, 2019

Mart DeHaan cites a National Geographic article on behavior among chimpanzees. Researchers observing a group of chimps watched a lowly male become the leader of the group when he manifested some rather interesting behavior. He started throwing around some empty kerosene cans and banging around a heavy metal box. His behavior intimidated the rest of the chimps, including the dominant males, so much so that he became the head chimp.

This is a behavior that we non-chimps often emulate. Those who make the most noise are often the ones that take the lead because we have a tendency to follow the loudest voice. We must remember that a big personality and flashy behavior do not necessarily indicate divine blessing.

God warns against using outward appearance as a predominant criteria in determining leadership or position. God told Samuel, "People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (I Samuel 16:7) Paul warns against this as well, "You are judging by appearances." (II Corinthians 10:7) Make sure you are following the right leaders, not mere flashes in a pan. If you are in a position of leadership, do more than just make a lot of noise. Make sure your desire is to honor God and bring glory to him.

Pastor Steve
Sunday June 30, 2019

Sometimes being smart can actually get in the way of seeing important things. Folks outsmart themselves by having views of things based on their intellect rather than accepting them for what they are. One of the greatest intellects of the 20th century was Albert Einstein. However, in spite of his great intellect, he failed to accept the most important reality that exists. A letter written by Einstein that brought three million dollars at a recent auction reflects his views about God and faith and demonstrates his skepticism. Einstein wrote, "For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions . . .(God is) nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."

Paul writes that being "earthly wise" can be a stumbling block to accepting the truth: "Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become 'fools' so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: 'He catches the wise in their craftiness'." (I Corinthians 3:18-19)

Einstein would have benefitted from not being so smart in some areas. Having someone paying three million dollars for one of your letters means little if you do not have the intelligence to accept the priceless gift offered by God.

Pastor Steve
Saturday June 29, 2019

The wet conditions this spring have made it tough on farmers and for those of you who put out gardens. Getting seed in the ground has been a tough venture. And, of course, if you don't get seed in the ground then you won' get anything in return.

Someone once said that when you sow seed by hand, it looks like you are throwing seed away. Of course, this isn't the case as sowing seed is an action that is necessary in order to get something back. If you don't "throw seed away,' you won't have anything to eat.

There are many who think that devoting your life to Christ is "throwing your life away." Even within the church, sometimes there are discouraging reactions to those who express a desire to follow a call from God to full-time ministry. There is a concern that one is wasting talents or potential for high-paying jobs. However, Christ reminds us "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matthew 10:39)." We are also reminded in Matthew 19:29, "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life."

Any efforts we make for God should certainly not be considered a waste. There is an old saying which goes, "Only one life, 'twill soon be past; only what's done for Christ will last." Whatever we are doing for Christ has a lasting nature. And the only way we can expect results is to "throw things away." It is when we don't give our best to Christ, and live our lives for him, that we truly throw things away.

Pastor Steve
Friday June 28, 2019

A study we had in our small groups sometime back focused on two passages found in Mark where Christ cast out demons. The first passage, found in Mark 5:1-20, focused on a man who seemed to be possessed by many demons (cf. vs. 9, "My name is Legion for we are many"). One question we discussed was "How had the image of God been defaced in this person?" One response to this was the person's obsession with death. The passage stated that "This man lived in the tombs." (verse 2)

God created life. Death has become part of our experience because Adam followed the temptation of Satan and disobeyed God. As a result, "just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin." (Romans 5:12) Satan wants us to view death as an unconquerable enemy. He wants us to focus on death and allow the fear of death to control our living.

We are created by God to live and following God means we can live forever. This means we do not need to fear death. Death can be viewed as a temporary bump in the road on the way to eternal life when we place our trust in God and allow his power to overcome the grip Satan has on our lives. Satan wants us to focus on death and the fear of death so that we will be robbed of the joy and contentment life in Christ can bring.

We need to stop "living among the tombs" and enjoy life with God! Remember Paul s words found in I Corinthians 15:55-57, "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Focusing on life brings us the joy God meant for us to experience here and now as we look forward to the there and then. We do not need to fear death when we place our faith in God!

Pastor Steve
Thursday June 27, 2019

Sometimes we view a setback or an adverse circumstance as some sort of failure on our part. Many teach that if we are faithful as followers of God, we won't face adversity. If we are struggling, it is because of a lack of trust in God. I don't agree with this and I think folks who have this point of view are ignoring Hebrews 11. This passage outlines the lives of many great people of faith. It speaks to their commitment and their unrelenting trust in God. However, it also addresses the negative consequences many faced because of their great faith.

We read in Hebrews 11:35-37, "There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated." This description follows that of many who were much more victorious in their lives and experiences. So, does that mean that those who didn't receive deliverance were not blessed and were less faithful? Not hardly. Hebrews 11:39 tells us, "these were ALL (emphasis mine) commended for their faith." They all asked for help, all asked for victory, but not all received the same answer. This was not because of their lack of faith; it was because God had different plans for all of them.

Remember Paul's request to be delivered from a "thorn in the flesh?" (II Corinthians 12:7)? He wasn't, because God gained glory through Paul's affliction. Don't view affliction or a failure as a statement of a lack of faith. Continue to be faithful and know that God knows your heart!

Pastor Steve
Wednesday June 26, 2019

I once read a story about a fellow who stopped for gas in Montgomery, Alabama. Five hours down the road from that gas station in Montgomery, he realized he had left his wife. This was before cell phones, so he had to stop and ask police to help him locate her. Can you imagine how he felt? Can you imagine how his wife felt?

It s really hard to imagine how this could happen; however, we often do the same thing with God. We forget about him and leave him out of important aspects of our lives. We leave him behind and go on our merry way until something happens and we say, "Hey, where is God?"

We need to be intentional about including God in our lives. We need to focus on his presence and fix our thoughts on his place in our lives. Can you imagine how God feels when we forget to include him in our plans? The man had to admit, with a great deal of embarrassment, that he simply had not noticed his wife's absence. Are we embarrassed when we realize that we have not paid much attention to God's absence? He really needs to be there. Far from forgetting about God, our thoughts need to be those of David when he was in the desert of Judah and said, "On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night (Psalm 63:6)."

Don't leave God at the gas station! He really needs to be in the car! If he's not, don't expect to know the way.

Pastor Steve
Tuesday June 25, 2019

Jim Walton was a missionary who worked with a tribal group in Columbia. He had been working on a translation of the New Testament in the language of the people of the tribe, but was having a problem with the word "peace." Then something interesting happened.

Jim had promised a plane ride to Fernando, the village chief, to an area that would normally have taken 3 days to reach on foot. By plane, the trip would only be 20 minutes. Well, because of some confusion, Fernando missed the flight. He was livid that the plane took off without him and told Walton about his anger. During his angry expression to Jim, Fernando kept repeating the phrase, "I do not have one heart." Jim taped the discussion, but was at a loss as to what the phrase meant. So, he asked some of the people about it. He was told that to have one heart with someone meant there was nothing between you and that person. Jim found his word for peace.

The Bible says that we can be "one heart" with God. Romans 5:1-2 says, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand." Because of God's Gift to us through his Son, Jesus Christ, we can stand before God with nothing between us. Romans 8:1 says, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." In other words, we are "one heart" with God - we have peace with him.

Isn't it great to be "one heart" with people? We feel better when there is peace between us and others. What is even better is to be "one heart" with God, to have peace with God, to not have anything between us. That can only happen because of God's gracious Gift. I hope you are "one heart" with God.

Pastor Steve
Monday June 24, 2019

Did you keep some sort of growth chart on your children as they were growing up? Some years ago, there was a dear lady in our church who did so even for her great-grandchildren. When I would visit with her, I could see the marks on a particular door facing that were records of the growth rate of the children.

As I was growing up, my folks kept records on me and my two brothers. We kept records on our two girls as they grew. We wanted to make sure they were growing correctly and maturing properly. Now, when they visit the doctor with their children, we get a report on how our grandchildren are progressing.

I was very interested in my growth rate when I was young. I always wanted to be as tall as my Uncle John, my mother's brother, who was 6 feet 5 inches. I didn't get there.

There is another growth rate with which we need to be concerned. We should be interested in how we are growing spiritually. We should be concerned with our progress and development. We need to make sure we are moving along at the correct rate. We need to come up with some sort of spiritual growth chart to ensure that all is going as it should be in our spiritual process of maturity.

Peter encourages us to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (II Peter 3:18) Our concern should be how "tall" we are getting. Where's your mark on the door facing?

Pastor Steve
Sunday June 23, 2019

When I was young boy, I remember a station wagon with a public address horn attached to the roof slowly driving by our house announcing the message, "Oral polio vaccine available now at Deering School." My folks grabbed my two brothers and me, walked across the road to the school where a crowd of people had gathered in the school cafeteria, and got in one of several lines that had formed with people waiting for the vaccine.

The Salk (injection) and Sabin (oral) polio vaccines have helped to almost eradicate what was once a tremendous scourge on people - the threat of polio. A tremendous effort was made to make sure the vaccine was available to everyone. Efforts are ongoing even now by agencies such as Rotary International to provide the vaccine to areas still plagued with this insidious disease. Who could question this cause?

A greater scourge plagues mankind - the plague of sin. We who know about the "vaccine" for this disease need to put a loudspeaker on our vehicle and start doing some driving. We have the solution for the scourge that has greater implications than polio or any other disease. When the polio vaccine was developed, efforts such as what I have described were commonplace. People did all they could to get the word, and the medicine, to everyone.

This should be our attitude regarding the Good News of Christ. As Christ told us in Matthew 5:14-16, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Unlike the polio vaccine program, many do question our cause. Don't let these objections deter you from doing what we know needs to be done. Let's get the word out - there is an antidote for sin. Those who take the antidote will live. Everyone needs to know!

Pastor Steve
Saturday June 22, 2019

The other day I read that cursive handwriting may be on its way out. Because of the proliferation of computers and other means of communication, handwriting is not all that important anymore. I can't really imagine this, but who am I to say? My handwriting has always been atrocious. I caught grief over my handwriting at every level of my education except for my doctoral work which came after computers had gained widespread usage. So, I am not really a good one to say whether the loss of the use of cursive would spell the demise of mankind.

Speaking of bad handwriting, I have learned that I share this trait with none other than Horace Greeley, the 19th century newspaper editor of "Go west, young man" fame. Greeley once fired one of his reporters, and then wrote him a letter detailing his drawbacks. Sometime later, Greeley was surprised to learn that the man had been hired as the editor of a newspaper in the west.

Meeting the man he had fired, Greeley asked him how it was that he was hired as an editor. The man said, "Why, it was because of your letter of recommendation!" "Recommendation? That letter was no recommendation!" replied Greeley. "I know," said the man, "But the only line that was legible in the document was your signature. That was sufficient enough for them to hire me as the editor."

We sometimes send mixed signals with our lives. We say one thing, and then do another. As followers of Christ we often talk about how we should live as believers, then we do something that is contrary to what we say. This makes it difficult for others to "read" the meaning of our lives.

Paul was accused of "waffling" with the truth. He responds to his accusers in II Corinthians 1:17-18, "When I planned this, did I do it lightly? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say, 'Yes, yes' and 'No, no'? But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not 'Yes' and 'No.'"

In other words, Paul is saying "I don't send mixed signals." Neither should we! Don't "waffle" with the truth. Let others know both through what you say and what you do that you are a person they can trust!

Pastor Steve
Friday June 21, 2019

We have a large picture window in our living room. In the years we have lived here, I could not begin to tell you how many times we have had birds fly into the window. I was working on my devotional one morning when this happened again. The window reflects the sky, the bird is thinking he is flying into open air, and, wham, right into the window.

Usually the bird is just addled a bit and is able to fly off after a while; however, there have been times when this mistake proved fatal.

I have often wished for the ability to tell these poor creatures, "This is not the sky! It is only a reflection that looks like the sky. So, be careful flying here." I don't have the ability to communicate with birds, so I am unable to do this. This is the frustration. Of course, the birds would also need to be willing to listen to my advice. I think it would be more frustrating if I would have the ability to communicate with the birds and then have them ignore my advice.

This is probably the frustration God must feel at times. He has the ability to communicate with us and warn us about the "windows," but we often are inclined to ignore his warnings. Instead, we fly blindly along, being fooled by the reflections, until we hit the window. Then, when we do hit the window, we are prone to blame God for our predicament.

So many people ignore God's warnings and fail to heed his advice. Are you one of them? If you are, stop doing that! You are in danger of being fooled by the reflection of what seems to be, when in reality you are in dire straits. This could be a fatal mistake.

In Proverbs 4:11-13, God says to us, "I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life." Listen to God! He will help you avoid the windows!

Pastor Steve
Thursday June 20, 2019

A study came out some time ago stating that there has been an alarming decline in the world's snake population. The tone of the article was quite grave, which I find to be quite fascinating as I know only a handful of people who would be alarmed at this. Most folks I know would be overjoyed at this news, given their aversion to snakes. If there was an anti-snake organization, I think it would be well populated. Perhaps there are reasons for being concerned about this; but, for most people, fewer snakes is a great thing.

It will be a great thing when there is no "Snake" at all, you know? Satan is, of course, the "ancient serpent" of scripture and we know that at some point, his demise will take place. For now, he is our adversary, our enemy that should not be underestimated, and much to be avoided. There will be a time when his influence will come to an end. There will be a time when his ability to lead folks astray will be negated and his presence nullified.

Revelation 20:2-3 describes the beginning of the end of the "serpent:" "He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore.

Whether or not the world's snake population is actually declining is still up for debate. The demise of "the ancient serpent" is not up for debate. This will take place. However, since it hasn't happened yet, we need to "be sober and vigilant" as scripture tells us. We need to be on guard. Snakes may be in decline, but Satan's influence isn't - yet. Until then - watch out for the "snake" even if you don't watch out for snakes!

Pastor Steve
Wednesday June 19, 2019

Many wonder about God's will for their life. They want to make sure make right decisions - decisions that would be pleasing in God's eyes and reflect God's will for them. Sometimes frustration comes when it is not really clear what the will of God is. This is sometimes caused by on overemphasis on what we want instead of focusing on what God wants.

There are some plain statements in the New Testament about the will of God. II Corinthians 8:5 says, "And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will." I Thessalonians 4:3 says, "It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality." I Peter 2:15 says, "For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men." I Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

The common thread in all of these is that God wants us to live righteous lives. As we live a life that is pleasing to God, we will find that God will direct us in making decisions that relate to specific circumstances and life situations. Do God's will by living a life which reflects God's character. You won't go wrong if you live for this!

Pastor Steve
Tuesday June 18, 2019

Don Hewitt was a pioneer in television journalism. He started at CBS in 1948. His early years were spent directing the Edwin R. Murrow newscast. He was the first executive producer of the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. He directed the 1960 Nixon-Kennedy presidential debates. However, all of this did not prevent him from being demoted in the early 60's. I am sure he was angered by this move, as I know I would be. Many of us would simply quit, pout, seek something else, or another similar response.

Not Hewitt. He didn't let this setback deter his creative juices. In the late 60's he came up with an idea for a news broadcast that would focus on three stories in the span of an hour. This broadcast would present the news from a "you are there" perspective, and focus on the people, not just the issues. He pitched his idea to the network execs, Mike Wallace was hired as the main newsman, and the first segment of "60 Minutes" was put on the air on September 24, 1969. Let me state the obvious here 60 Minutes will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year. It is the longest-running series in television history by about a mile or so. This says a great deal about Hewitt's character. He didn't quit when things went against him and what a legacy he left!

How do you respond when things don't go your way? This does happen in our lives, doesn't it? A good example from the scripture of how to respond when we don't get our way would be the life of the apostle Paul. Countless times his plans were changed. He was mistreated, abused, stoned, thrown into prison, but he never lost his desire to go forward and do something new. He certainly got discouraged, but he never quit. He continued to follow God.

At the end of his life he was able to say, "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day." (II Timothy 4:6-8) I think this says something about Paul's character. What a legacy he left! What kind of legacy do you wish to leave?

Pastor Steve
Monday June 17, 2019

When my oldest daughter, Stephanie, was very small, she was saddened one day because her uncle and aunt who had been visiting us were leaving to return home. As we have lived away from our families all of our adult lives, this was a scene that was repeated several times. We continue to experience this now as both of our daughters and their families live in other places. On this particular occasion, Stephanie said to me, "Daddy, why don't we just build a really big house so that we could all live together?" Such words of wisdom from one so young, I thought.

Not only was my daughter's suggestion practical and wise, it was biblical. These words of Christ are found in John 14:1-4, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know." In expressing her wish, my daughter had unwittingly echoed the intentions of Christ for all of those who follow Him.

We experience separations in our lives - family members returning home, friends and family moving to other places, and, the most difficult, separation brought about by death. When we are reunited, there is joy. Christ's words give us the hope that we can expect a joyful reunion even after the separation brought about by death. He is preparing for that. He is preparing a place for those who know Him. I hope you have prepared for your new accommodations. If you have, you will someday live in the really big house that Jesus has built for us so we can all live together.

Pastor Steve
Sunday June 16, 2019

The first formal "Father's Day" was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in Spokane, Washington. Sonora Louise Smart Dodd had heard a church sermon on the newly established Mother's Day and wanted to honor her father, Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart. Smart had raised six children by himself after his wife died in childbirth. Sonora drew up a petition that was supported by the Young Men's Christian Association and the ministers of Spokane to establish a day to honor fathers. In 1916, Woodrow Wilson spoke at a Spokane Fathers' Day service. In 1972, President Nixon established Father's Day, celebrated on the third Sunday in June, as a permanent national observance.

Today we honor our fathers. Some of you have the opportunity to honor your fathers who are still living. Others of you, such as myself, honor the memory of your father as your dad has already passed. I cherish the time I had with my dad, and actually think of him just about every day, even though he has been gone for 27 years. I ve written about all I learned from my dad and I thank God for the father that I had.

I also thank God for being my Father. Today as you celebrate Father's Day, don't forget to honor your Heavenly Father who is with us always (Hebrews 13:5), will supply all of our needs (Philippians 4:19), will help us in our times of trouble (Psalm 46:1), and will never change (James 1:17).

God wants to take care of us even as an earthly father wants to take care of his children. Matthew 7:11 tells us "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Celebrate your father and your Father on Father's Day!

Pastor Steve
Saturday June 15, 2019

Fiorello LaGuardia was the mayor of New York City from 1934 to 1945. Known as "The Little Flower" because of his diminutive size, he was well-liked because of his fearlessness, lack of pretension, and fairness.

From time to time during his tenure, he would serve as judge during night court. Once, a man was brought in who had been accused of stealing a loaf of bread. The man confessed, saying it was for his starving family. LaGuardia said "The law is the law - the fine is ten dollars." He then proceeded to take ten dollars from his own wallet for the fine. He also told everyone else in the courtroom to donate fifty cents to the man to help him. Quite a story of grace, isn't it?

We stand condemned before Christ, who is the Righteous Judge. Our sins have condemned us, and the penalty is death. There is no way around the judgment, but Christ took care of the penalty. He gave his own life for us, and then made sure we have all we need to live for him. II Peter 1:3 tells us: "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness."

Christ has taken care of the problem we face because of our sin. Our guilt is removed through his act of grace. LaGuardia's actions over a loaf of bread were a good example of grace. Christ is the Bread of Life. He tells us, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger." (John 6:35) Christ IS grace.

Pastor Steve
Friday June 14, 2019

I wonder what folks at my church would say to me if I preached the same message three or four weeks in a row? I would imagine someone might ask, "Pastor Steve, what is going on here?" That would be a valid question, and I would have a valid response. "I am going to preach the same message until I see you act on what is being said." Now, I don't know if I would ever do this, but it is tempting.

My desire to see people act on what is being said is rooted in Scripture. We read the words of James, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it-not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it they will be blessed in what they do." (James 1:22-25)

Many of us talk a good talk, or "hear" a good talk, but we don't act on what we know. This is something on which we need to work. Act on what you know! Don't be forgetful!

Pastor Steve
Thursday June 13, 2019

Many years ago at our church, a group of our folks put on a skit showing how we can sometimes wear "masks" to try to be someone we really aren't. They did a really great job showing how we can get caught up in wanting to put on "airs," trying to be something we aren't, just to impress others or get something we want. Although done in a comedic way, the skit made a really good point. We can try to be someone else if we want, but God knows us, and only a life with Christ can bring out the "real" us.

When Christ comes into our lives, there is no need to try to be someone else. Christ brings us peace, brings us hope, brings us life, all the while helping us to be ourselves. We don't have to put on a "mask" to be something to Christ. He knows all about us, knows all our faults, knows all our warts, and still wants us just as we are. He does this because he knows what we can be when he is in us. The reason for this is that he is the one who makes us into something special - no faking, no masks, no superficial changes, a true makeover. We read in II Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

Don't wear a mask! You may fool some people, but you will never fool Christ. Be a real person, and let Christ work within you to make you who you need to be in him.

Pastor Steve
Wednesday June 12, 2019

The antagonist In W. Somerset Maugham's short story "Mr. Know-All" is described in this excerpt, "I not only shared a cabin with him and ate three meals a day at the same table, but I could not walk round the deck without his joining me. It was impossible to snub him. It never occurred to him that he was not wanted. He was certain that you were as glad to see him as he was to see you. In your own house you might have kicked him downstairs and slammed the door in his face without the suspicion dawning on him that he was not a welcome visitor. He was a good mixer, and in three days knew everyone on board. He ran everything. He managed the sweeps, conducted the auctions, collected money for prizes at the sports, got up quoit and golf matches, organized the concert and arranged the fancy-dress ball. He was everywhere and always. He was certainly the best hated man in the ship. We called him Mr. Know-All, even to his face. He took it as a compliment." Have you ever encountered someone like this?

Know-it-alls usually drive us nuts. I think know-it-alls probably drive God nuts, well, so to speak. God wants his followers to be confident in what they know, but he also wants us to be teachable. We should never think we have "arrived" or "made it" when it comes to our relationship with him and what we know about serving him. Proverbs tells us "Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." (Proverbs 9:9-10)

Follow God's instruction carefully - try to learn something new every day about him. Remember you can't know it all, but do all you can to learn as much as you can!

Pastor Steve
Tuesday June 11, 2019

As he looked upon the wreckage of his demolished home, John Lokitis Jr. felt a little sick and a little bitter. He had worked hard to try to stay in his home in Centralia, Pennsylvania, where he had lived for all of his 39 years. However, circumstances had dictated otherwise. Circumstances dictated otherwise for the entire town.

In 1962, a fire at the town dump had ignited an exposed vein of coal. The fire spread underground and is still roaring today, fed by millions of tons of anthracite coal. Because of this, the town has had to move as fumes from the fire were creating serious health issues, not to mention the sinkholes created when seams of coal were burnt. So, with the assistance of federal and state governments, the town relocated. Some fought the relocation because of their strong ties to the town, but relocation was inevitable. They simply could not live there. Nonetheless, for many, their ties to their town made for a difficult move.

The scripture warns us not to have too strong a tie to our present home in this world. We will not live here forever, and we need to realize that having too strong a grip on our present life keeps us from appreciating the joys of what lies ahead. Clinging too tightly to what we have now can keep us from living for God the way we should.

Like Abraham, we are people of faith who need to remember that we are aliens here. We read of this in Hebrews 11:13-16, "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them."

This scripture encourages us to have the right perspective on where we currently reside. It is not our home - our home is yet to come. Don't have such a strong tie with what you have now that your fail to realize this and focus too much on your present residence. This can hinder your relationship with God, and can hinder your ministry for him. Keeping the right perspective actually helps us enjoy more our lives now as we look forward to what God has in store for us.

Christ tells us, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19 - 21) Don't be too attached to your present home - keep in mind it is already condemned.

Pastor Steve
Monday June 10, 2019

Moses had a problem. He had too much to do and too little time to do it. He had too many people wanting too many things and they wanted them right now. From early morning until late at night, he would listen to people and their issues that needed solved.

When Moses' father-in-law, Jethro caught up with him and saw what was going on, he had a little "heart to heart" with him. We read about this in Exodus 18:14-18, "'What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?' Moses answered him, 'Because the people come to me to seek God's will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God's decrees and laws.' Moses' father-in-law replied, 'What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.'"

One writer said that Moses had become an "exhausted martyr." Exhausted martyrs are folks who are over-responsible and over-committed. Taking on too much, they are well-meaning, but they wear themselves out. Maybe you are one of these folks.

Avoid "the perfectionist's myth," i.e. "I can do it better myself." Let others work with you. Teach others how to do what needs to be done. Don't feel as if you need to do it all, because if you do, all will not get done. Moses followed Jethro's advice and appointed others to listen and judge, while he focused on teaching and the administration duties that truly required his decision. This was better for him, and, frankly, better for others as well.

Ask God for wisdom and help with what you have to do. Ask him for discernment to know what you can do on your own, and what you need to leave for others. Don't try to do it all alone!

Pastor Steve
Sunday June 09, 2019

Reading the book of Judges is like reading a "Who's Who of God's superheroes". There is Samson the strong man, Deborah the prophetess, and Gideon the amazing leader who defeated an entire army with only 300 soldiers. Then, you meet Othniel.

Not many details are given about Othniel's exploits. The story is told in just a few verses in Judges 3, "The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. The anger of the Lord burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim, to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years. But when they cried out to the Lord, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb s younger brother, who saved them. The Spirit of the Lord came on him, so that he became Israel s judge and went to war. The Lord gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him. So the land had peace for forty years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died."

One commentator wrote about Othniel, "There is nothing but the bare essentials in his account. Hardly anything about Othniel. What you do have is what the Lord has done and what the Lord is doing. The Othniel account helps us to see what is most important--the activity of God. Interesting folk can sometimes obscure that. We end up concentrating on these fascinating characters and we fail to see what the Lord is doing."

It is more important for people to see what God is doing through us than for them to see us. As John the Baptist said, "I must decrease to that he may increase." (John 3:30) Let folks see God in you rather than just seeing you!

Pastor Steve
Saturday June 08, 2019

A trial supposedly took place during the latter half of the 19th century. A train had collided with a horse and buggy at an intersection. A suit was filed which led to the trial. During the protracted proceedings, the railroad watchman was questioned:

"Were you at your post that night?" a lawyer asked.

"I was," the watchman answered.

"Did you have your lantern?"

"I did."

"Did you signal with your lantern?"

"I did."

"No further questions," the lawyer concluded.

The verdict was reached in favor of the railroad. On his way out of the courtroom, the watchman whispered to his wife, "I'm glad he didn't ask me if my lantern was lit."

Many of us are walking around with our lanterns, but they aren't lit. We are not getting the job done of letting our light shine. Christ said, "Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:15-16)

The watchman had his light "under a bowl." We are often guilty of the same thing. Let that light get out to where it can do some good! Make sure your lantern is lit and is exposed so that others may see the light of Christ and be led to safety. Giving a signal with an unlit lantern does no good. Keep your light burning brightly!

Pastor Steve
Friday June 07, 2019

All of us who have driven much on the interstate (or any other road, for that matter) have encountered law enforcement agents patrolling the roads. What is your reaction when you are buzzing along and see an official vehicle parked in a median crossover or along the side of the road? Usually this will be determined by the speed you are traveling at the time. If you tend to have a leaden foot, you probably shoot a glance at the speedometer to see if an adjustment is in order.

Sometimes this action might be too late. By the time you see the officer, I would imagine your speed is already registered on his radar. However, if you always make sure you are driving within legal limits, encountering an officer brings no fear. Why should it? You have the right to be traveling the speed at which you are going, and the representative of the state recognizes that right and has no problem with what you are doing. You may be clipping along at 80 miles an hour, but if the speed limit is 80, there is no problem. But if you are clipping along at 80 miles an hour and the speed limit is 65, that little response of fear you feel upon seeing a patrol car is probably warranted.

Those who break the law should fear those who enforce the law. The members of the law enforcement community are there for our protection. They are there to enforce the rules because the rules are put in place to bring about a safe environment for us. They are there for our good. The same is true with God's laws. They are for our benefit. When we follow those rules, there is no need to be afraid of God. However, when we don't follow those rules, you need to be afraid.

The apostle Paul speaks of following rules in II Timothy 2:4-5, "No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs--he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules."

Don't try to be a "non-conformist" with God. He has given us rules for a reason, and he wants us to obey him. And don't try to out-run God - he has a faster car.

Pastor Steve
Thursday June 06, 2019

A dear lady was moving into a nursing home following the death of her husband after 70 years of marriage. "Wilma" was someone who tried to meet each new day with joy and eagerness, looking forward to what was in store for her.

On the day she was supposed to go to her new home, a neighbor drove her there. When they arrived, they were told it would be a little while as the room was not quite ready. Finally, after waiting for some time, an attendant came and told them that it was finished. "Your room is all prepared for you," she said. "There are new curtains on the window, and we have recently changed the color of the walls. There is new furniture, and a lovely quilt on the build I think you will like." "Oh, I love it!" exclaimed Wilma. "But you haven't seen it yet, Mrs. Jones," the attendant replied. "That doesn't matter," said Wilma. "Happiness is something you choose. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the room is arranged, it's how I arrange my mind."

Well, isn't that something to think about? We usually let circumstances dictate how we feel. Be proactive about your mindset. Remind yourself often of what Christ has done for you and be thankful. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6-8, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." This is how you can arrange your mind!

Pastor Steve
Wednesday June 05, 2019

A missionary comes to your church and speaks about the need for short-term help where he ministers. Do you pray or do you act? An appeal is made in the church newsletter for more help in the Christian Education ministry of your church. Do you pray or do you act? A person shares with you their struggle with a financial need. Do you pray or do you act?

In many circumstances, the answer to our prayers is standing in our shoes. Prayer is an important part of our spiritual lives and should not be overlooked or underappreciated as a means of communicating with our Father. In our prayer we praise God, we celebrate who he is and what he has done, and we ask for his intervention in various matters. Sometimes these concerns for which we intercede could be something we could see done if we would step up and step out to meet the need.

Maybe the answer to all the prayers mentioned above is you - maybe you could go to help in the mission field, maybe you are the one who could lead the youth group, maybe you are the one who could help with that financial need. David Branon wrote in an article, "In the first century, the good news of Christ was spread by people going out and taking action. That's why their story is told in a book called The Acts of the Apostles, not The Prayers of the Apostles." Now, he was not making a negative statement about prayer, he was emphasizing that the apostles put shoe leather, well, actually sandal leather, to their prayers.

We read in James 5:16, "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." Prayer should not be taken for granted, but we should remember that often the answer to our prayers is our own activity. Please remember that the actions of a righteous person are also powerful and effective.

Pastor Steve
Tuesday June 04, 2019

Why is it that we just can't seem to resist the lure of the message when it pops up on our phone? When we hear the phone ring, we feel as if we have to answer it. When our text signal goes off, we need to read to find out who is trying contact us. This lure causes some problems. We need to ignore the lure when we are driving, but often don't, and this can lead to bad consequences. Theaters, churches, and other venues have messages asking folks to turn their cell phones off. We are so anxious to get those messages that are most often pretty inconsequential.

There is even a term for this phenomenon - fomo, created from "fear of missing out." This is in the dictionary now. This term relates most specifically to an anxiety created from being unable to follow posts on social media, but the usage has broadened to include any communication transmitted primarily on mobile phones.

So, why is it that we are not as anxious to get God's messages? Why don't we have fomo when it comes to God's posts? God has information for us that is vital and yet we are casual with retrieving his messages. We are all too willing to "put him on mute" or even turn him off altogether when we feel his message may be interfering with things we want to do or places we want to go. Or maybe his message may be asking us to go somewhere we don't want to go or do something we don't want to do. "Sorry, God, my cell was turned off, so I didn't get that."

Don't do this. Those cell messages you are so anxious to retrieve are the ones that can wait. Your connectedness can come down a notch and you won't suffer for it. However, if you are not taking care of your connectedness with God, that can be a problem.

We need the attitude of Samuel when it comes to the messages from God, "Speak, Lord, for you servant is listening" (I Samuel 3:9) Make sure you are keeping the lines open.

Pastor Steve
Monday June 03, 2019

Why do we lie? This is a great question that we need to confront. Sometimes we can be really ridiculous in how we treat the truth. A good example of this comes from the scripture. In Exodus 32:22-24, we read this whopper from Moses's brother, Aaron: "Do not be angry, my lord," Aaron answered. "You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, `Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him.' So I told them, `Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.' Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!"

Wow. You can't find a better example of how much we can mess up the truth than this. Here you have an example of a person with great "credentials" lying to a person who probably knows him as well an anyone about something he knows is absolutely critical, all because he wants to save face.

The point is: we have the capacity to mess with the truth, so acknowledge this weakness we have and determine to take control of our weakness. Be truthful. Don't lie. This may be a tough command, but it is the way we please the Lord. Proverbs 6:19 tells us that the Lord hates "a false witness who pours out lies." Telling the truth helps us gain the respect of other people. Zechariah 8:16 tells us to "speak the truth to each other." It will also help you feel good about yourself.

In Shakespeare's "Hamlet," Polonius' last bit of advice to his son, Laertes, before Laertes leaves for Paris is "To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." This is good advice for us as well. Tell the truth!

Pastor Steve
Sunday June 02, 2019

God is a popular person on Sunday. On Sunday, millions of people all over the world spend a significant amount of time meeting in buildings with other folks, singing songs, offering praise, praying, and studying God's Word. This is the way it should be. However, on Monday many of us who were so devoted on Sunday go a different direction. This is the way it shouldn't be.

We should be just as focused upon God and upon our relationship with God on Monday, or any other day of the week for that matter, as we are on Sunday. All too often this is not the case. The distractions of life pursuits tend to blur our most important pursuit - pleasing God with our life. We fail to consider his thoughts when we are making decisions. We go a hundred different directions, and they each lead us away from God, not toward him.

God should be just as much a part of our lives outside the church as he is when we are inside the church. In actuality, if he is not, all that time we are supposedly spending with him in our times of worship is going to waste and, to be frank, is useless. Where do we get the idea that God only wants our attention on Sundays? He wants all of us, or he wants none of us.

He tells the Laodicean church in Revelation 3:15-16, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth." That is pretty plain, but then God usually is pretty plain. God wants seven days-a-week followers. Enjoy lifting God up on Sundays; just don't forget Him the rest of the week!

Pastor Steve
Saturday June 01, 2019

According to the Mayo Clinic, a good rule of thumb when washing your hands (please pardon the pun) is to wash your hands for as long as it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice. I understand that is legal now since a judge declared the "Happy Birthday" song public domain. That is, of course, another story altogether. Back to hand washing.

In order to make sure your hands are clean and as free from bad microbes as possible, wash them to "Happy Birthday." And then later on, wash them again because they are dirty once more. That is the reality of life. Hands that are washed will need to be washed again.

In the Old Testament, sacrifices had to be made over and over because of sin. That is why we need Christ so desperately. Hebrews 10:4 tells us, "It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." Christ died once for all so that sins can be forgiven for good. Verse 10 tells us, "And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

Through Christ, we are made clean forever, and we don't even have to sing Happy Birthday!

Pastor Steve

Van McQueen

Pastor Van is a graduate of Georgetown Baptist College in Georgetown KY, with a BA in music. He has served churches in KY, IL, TX, and Maryland.

He was married to Dorothy for 48 years. She passed away in 2001. He has two married children. Cindy Slyvester and Doug McQueen. Two grandchildren and three great-grand-children.

Pastor Van has served in almost every area of church-related service. He spent ten years in the field of fund raising for churches. He has no hobbies except he likes old trucks and owns and has restored an old 1950 Dodge pickup. His first love is Jesus, second is his family and third is the Watson Baptist Church.

August 1, 2019

August is the only month in our calendar without some type of holiday. I have never had a problem with that. I am sure most people haven't. The reason that has never been a big deal to me is because my birthday is in August. So, I get to celebrate anyway.

Birthdays are interesting days. When you are young, you simply looked at them as a great time to celebrate. Of course, there were some birthdays that held a bit more significance than others. Turning 13 was a big deal for me ("I'Im a teenager!"). 16 meant I got my driver's license - that was a really big one. When I turned 18, I sort of felt a little more important. I could now vote. I also had to register for Selective Service, and the draft was still going on at that time. 21 was sort of a big deal. After this, it seems others start marking your "decade" birthdays for you (30, 40, 50, etc.).

As you grow older, it seems birthdays come and go more frequently and much more quickly. For me, my birthday has become a time when I try to do some reflection and some thinking. I review the last year and see what has transpired. I think of my walk with God and what has taken place.

It is good that we take times to do this. We need to pause at times and reflect on our lives and how we are progressing with regard to our walk with the Lord. God wants us to take time to look over what we have done, where we have been, and what we need to do to keep our lives in line with God's will. As we reflect upon God, there are things he wants us to remember about him. We are to remember him. Psalm 63:6 says, "On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night." We are to remember his works: Psalm 77:11 reminds us, "I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago." We are to remember his Word: "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11). Use your birthday as a means of reminding yourself what we need to remember about God! Happy Birthday!

Pastor Steve Willis - First Baptist Church - Newton, IL