From the Faith Baptist Church Blog

In Plain Sight

In 2008, wildlife researchers made a startling discovery deep in the forests of the Republic of Congo. They found 125,000 gorillas they didn’t know existed! Prior to this, experts estimated the number of gorillas to be less than 100,000. These newly discovered gorillas more than doubled that number. That’s a lot of bananas.

Gorillas are not small and neither is a group of 125,000 of them, so how did this herd stay hidden for so long? It couldn’t have been on purpose. They were just living wild and free in an 18,000 square mile jungle. They didn’t post lookouts to warn the herd about planes and helicopters (wait … is that what they are doing when they pound their chests … making a helicopter sound?). Even if they did post lookouts, 125,000 gorillas wouldn’t be able to take cover at a moment’s notice. Either the researchers never really checked the area, or they didn’t check it that well.

It makes me question the other certainties that get served up to us on a daily basis by all the experts. If they can miss a gorilla herd larger than the size of most American city populations, what else have they missed? Experts are just like the rest of us -- we don’t know as much as we think we know and we have a tendency to overlook things that are right in front of us. No wonder we had such a hard time finding Osama Bin Laden.

Realizing that highly trained experts can look for something for years and still miss it makes me wonder what I might be missing. Do I have gorillas hiding in plain sight? How many unkind, ungodly or insensitive behavioral traits do I have that irritate, offend or put off other people? Just because I am not aware of them, doesn’t mean they are not there.

Could it be I’m not really checking, or not checking that well? If so, I will find the gorillas only after they have done some damage. David’s prayer in Psalm 139 would be a good way to start looking, “Search me O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties, and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” To continue growing in the Lord I need to be aware of my gorillas.

I also need to be aware of God’s blessings. The thick jungle of activity in my life hinders my vision and prevents me from seeing much of what is all around me, whether they be gorillas or blessings. Regarding the blessings, I think it is time for me to take a machete and go exploring. This is what Johnson Oatman meant back in 1897 when he wrote, Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings see what God has done. Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done. If I am not looking for His blessings, I may not see them – but they are always there. Sometimes, I choose to focus on what I deem missing from my life, which keeps me from appreciating what He has made present.

When cornered by the Syrian soldiers, Elijah knew he was also surrounded by a host of fiery angelic chariots. But his frightened servant did not. So Elijah prayed for him, Open his eyes that he may see. We too should pray for God to open our eyes to what He has done for us, what He is doing for us, and what in our conduct is not pleasing to Him. It’s all in plain sight, but our eyes are often closed.

Find what is hiding in plain sight,
Pastor Dave

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 | by Dr. David Anderson

Unaware

The Apostle Paul wrote, When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. Growth, maturity and wisdom change your viewpoint. Or, at least, they should. I have great childhood memories, but I see them differently now than I did while making them.

During my grade school years, I jumped into a ditch raging with flood waters, and crawled through long and narrow drain tunnels underneath our neighborhood. I climbed to the top of the highest trees, houses and buildings and jumped off! I rode my bike, out of control, down the steep slopes of a large landfill, and crashed into the bottom – repeatedly. I captured dozens of black widow spiders in a mason jar. I caught snakes, hornets, snapping turtles and crawdads.

One time, I let my next door neighbor take his BB gun and shoot it at my head so we could watch the BB’s bounce off my toy army helmet! My mother saw that happen from her kitchen window and I needed that helmet on my rear end. I lit firecrackers and held them in my hand until they exploded and waged gun fights with Roman Candles. I often lapped up water as it ran down the sides of the street. I prowled around home construction sites looking for useable wood and stepped on more nails than I can count. I repeatedly raced down the steep street in front of my house on a homemade go-cart without brakes. I rang doorbells and hid in the bushes close by. I jumped on the back of milk trucks to hitch unwelcomed rides in the early hours before sunrise.

I didn’t do all these things because I was a brave daredevil. I did them because I wanted to have fun and lacked common sense. When I became a father, my perspective changed. I looked at the possible activities of my children through an entirely different lens than I observed the world of my youth. As a father, I wanted to keep my children from risky situations that would endanger their health. I wanted them to listen to my instructions and heed my warnings. I could see things they could not.

My Heavenly Father’s knowledge of the world in which I live is infinitely greater than mine. He sees the presence and potential of both good and evil all around me. He sees what I do not. He knows the schemes of the Devil and the frailties of my heart. If I want to escape the destructive forces of sin and the hunger of the one who lies in wait to devour me, I must listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and apply the truths of God’s Word.

When I was twelve, I asked my mother to watch me as I did back flips off the side of a pool at a hotel. When I came out of the water, she excitedly warned me that I was only inches away from hitting my head on the side of the pool. She then told me to not do it again. Since I could not see things from her perspective and trusted my own judgment, I said, “Oh, Mom, I’ll be OK. I’ve been doing this for 20 minutes.” Then I disobeyed. My very next attempt resulted with me going to the hospital to receive 14 stitches across the top of my head. Mom was right. She saw things I did not see. I learned a lesson that day and still carry with me the reminder. It knocked some sense into me.

Solomon warned, there is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. He also admonished, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. We need to trust God’s assessment of things. His thoughts and ways are not ours. They are higher above our thoughts and ways than the heavens are above the earth. He is aware of all of that of which we are unaware. I need to trust Him and obey Him.

Trust and obey, ror there’s no other way …
Pastor Dave

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 | by Dr. David Anderson

Impossible

Impossible means something cannot happen, but we often use it describe that which is highly unlikely or unheard of. Personal experience convinces us that certain things never happen, so we classify them as impossible. But are they? Over the years, many scientific, philosophic, architectural and athletic occurrences once thought impossible actually came about. If there is anything that history has taught us, it is that the list of things that are possible is a lot longer than we think.

When I was in grade school, my mother used to tell me about a natural phenomenon that sounded impossible. She said she witnessed it two or three times when she was younger. I believed her story even though I harbored some doubt. After all, one Christmas she told me she heard reindeer hooves on the roof. I ran out to check. She was wrong … or they had already left. Not sure which.

I told my mother’s “impossible” story to my friends and every one of them laughed in disbelief. Even David Eckman, who was always telling his own impossible stories he wanted us to believe. About a year later, our family traveled to my mother’s childhood home near Kennesaw Mountain in Georgia. While we there, it happened – the impossible. I saw it with my own eyes. It rained frogs! Just like my mother said it had more than once in her life. Thousands of fully formed little toads about the size of my pinky fingernail rained down on our heads. It didn’t last but about five minutes, but it left a lifelong impression on me.

I could not wait for Show and Tell day at school! I was going to knock their socks off. The day came and I told my story. My classmates responded with eye-rolling, giggles and outright mockery. The problem was the Show part of Show and Tell. Anybody can tell – it is the show that is really the most important. I failed to provide any evidence, even though my brother and I had caught hundreds of the little frogs in buckets as they fell. Lack of foresight. The teacher sent me home with a note to my mother implying that I had told a tall tale and needed to be “talked to”. If you know my mother, you know who got “talked to” the next day.

Just because you’ve never seen something, or you’ve never heard of it happening, does not mean it is impossible. God is the God of the impossible. When Jesus told His listeners that it was harder for a rich man to go to heaven than it was for a camel to go through the eye of a needle (a much smaller door in the big city gate), He added, “but with God all things are possible”. Moses recorded God’s question to Abraham, “Is there anything to hard for the Lord?” God asked Jeremiah, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” Earlier, Jeremiah had professed, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You”.

It can be unnerving to realize there are many things, forces, and phenomenon in this world that we do not understand and cannot control. But thankfully, our Lord’s ways are above our ways, and His thoughts are above our thoughts. He not only understands everything, He also controls everything and He can do anything He chooses to do. He is The Almighty. He created all matter from nothingness and then generated life! And He did it all by speaking it into existence. Why do we doubt Him? Why do we think our obstacles are impossible to overcome? The God we worship is the One who raised Jesus from the dead. Making it rain frogs is nothing to Him.

The possibilities are mindboggling,
Pastor Dave

Tuesday, September 09, 2014 | by Dr. David Anderson

Refuse to Lose

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was a time that tried men souls. It was do or die. It was put up or shut up. It was … I’ve run out of clichés. It was September of 1978. The Tehran hostage crisis was still a year away. Begin and Sadat had just arrived at Camp David. The Susan B. Anthony Dollar was gearing up for circulation. The Liberty University football team (0-2) was preparing for its third game of the year, against undefeated Catawba College.

At the pre-game meal, Coach Tom Dowling asked me to deliver a speech that would rally the team. I had been mulling it over for quite some time when, in a moment of inspiration, I came up with a phrase that I was sure would cause our guys to chew up Catawba and spit them out. I came to the head table and delivered a speech that will live in infamy (last cliché, I promise).

“We lost the first two games not because the other teams were better, but because we weren’t committed to winning. The outcome is up to us, not our opponent. We must to determine to win, and refuse to lose!” The response was immediate. Coach Dowling rose to his feet and repeated the phrase as the team began to chant “refuse to lose” and pound the tables. It was electric. It was exhilarating. It was my crowning moment as team Captain. We took the field with such confidence and enthusiasm that the Catawba whatchamacallits were visibly shaken. At least that is what I thought at the time. I have since learned that some people shake when they laugh.

Barely three minutes into the game the score was already 14-0. It was such a scoring frenzy and blur of activity that I’m not really sure how it all happened. I vaguely remember some fumbles, missed tackles, and ungodly booing from the crowd. It all turned so bad, so fast, it’s hard to describe. By the closing moments of the fourth quarter it was 52-16.

In the quiet of those final moments, one of our freshmen, a player everyone called Five (because no one knew his name), jumped up on the bench and yelled, “Refuse to Lose!” The entire sideline turn in unison to look at him as linebacker John Sanders yelled back, “Shut up, Five!”

Excitement and enthusiasm are great, but when it is time to strap on the helmet and do some hitting you need strength, discipline, skill and teamwork. I think the parallel to the Christian life is as obvious as the nose on my face (last cliché … starting NOW). We can be moved by a powerful sermon and inspired by spine-tingling music but still be nothing but sounding brass and tinkling cymbal (that’s not a cliché, it’s a Bible reference).

The walk of faith requires strength, discipline, skill and teamwork just as football does, but the stakes are infinitely higher. From where do these qualities come? Sound preaching and uplifting music are integral parts of spiritual growth, but real power comes from the Holy Spirit as He blesses our personal Bible reading, private prayer, disciplined meditations and love for one another. These four elements keep us in harmony and help us pull in the same direction. As we obey the Lord and bring spiritual discipline to bear upon our thoughts and actions, we become more effective in our service to Him.

If we study His Word, submit to His Spirit, and witness to others during the week, we can attend the Sunday church service (pre-game meal), leave on fire from a great sermon or song (pre-game speech), walk out (dramatic team entry) into the world (the ball field) as salt with savor (holding onto the ball), and shine as light (play the game the way it is supposed to be played). Let’s gather for the meal, then disperse as a unified team who will determine to win and refuse to lose. (I still think it is a good phrase.)

Don't quit,

Pastor Dave

Tuesday, September 09, 2014 | by Dr. David Anderson



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