From the Faith Baptist Church Blog

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

Soaring

In the Northeast corner of our church parking lot resides an aesthetically pleasing tree. It is not beautiful in the traditional sense, because it is not vibrantly green, full of foliage, nor symmetrical. It has a rustic and time-worn beauty, dripping with mossy strings. My eyes are frequently drawn to its branches and the birds and squirrels that rest there. Last week, I saw something in the tree that I had never seen there before – three majestic bald eagles!

This inspirational sighting was tainted by a scrub jay that was irritated by the eagles’ presence. From a few branches away he loudly voiced his displeasure. I thought, “What a brave little bird.” After a few moments, my thoughts (and ears) fell in line with the eagles’ point of view, “What an obnoxious pain in the neck!” Not only are scrub jays ill-tempered, but their screech makes fingers on a chalkboard seem pleasant.

It wasn’t long until the eagles had enough of the pestering. With powerful strokes of their wings, they floated out of the tree and began flying upwards towards the sky. It was beautiful. It made me think of Isaiah’s vivid imagery, “those who wait on the Lord, shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” As I watching them fly away I saw something else – the scrub jay was following them!

One of the eagles flew off by itself, but the other two stayed fairly close to one another. The scrub jay zipped back and forth between those two eagles, yapping and screaming as only jays can. He was driving the eagles away from what he considered to be his territory. His movements were quick and jerky, while the eagles’ were elegant and flowing. It was quite the contrast – a tiny blue and frantic bird protecting his airspace against two regal and dignified birds trying to represent the United States of America.

I kept watching. The eagles circled in slow repetitions, climbing until their height was greater than what the scrub jay could sustain. He finally descended and left the eagles to continue their graceful circles high above. These powerful eagles had their peaceful rest at tree level disrupted by a nuisance. They could not stay there maintain that peace. They had to ascend. They had to soar above the fray, -- flying so high that the nuisance could not follow.

The Lord has given us “wings” of prayer and mediation that we might soar towards Him and away from the aggravations of life that so often plague us. Relatively speaking, our problem may only be a scrub jay in significance, but when it is screeching and pecking at us, it can be extremely disconcerting. Even flapping your wings becomes difficult. Persistent and irritating small problems can seem much bigger than they are and their impact can be greatly inflated when they are right on you.

The eagles knew they could not outmaneuver or catch the jay in their talons to crush it. Engaging it in a battle would only prove a waste of their energy. Trying to wrestle with the jay would only make them look foolish and powerless. All they could do was rise.

How many times do we yap back at the scrub jays of life? How often do we try to fly wing to wing with them and deal with them on their terms? How often do we seek rest on a branch and hope the problem goes away? Instead of these futile efforts, we should mount up with wings of prayer, turn our eyes to the Lord, and meditate on Him. Circling higher and higher in prayer until we have risen above the situation. Once in His presence, and carried by the winds of His love, we can soar with the elegant peace that passes understanding.

On wings of eagles,
Pastor Dave

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 | by Dr. David Anderson

Looks Good

For a few years, I had a clock on display in my office because it looked good. I don’t mean it looked good for me to have a clock in my office, but that the clock itself looked good. It had a black frame, simple block numbers and a bold red OU logo emblazoned on its white face. A piece of art. I thought it was a great addition to my office, but guests found it perplexing. They would look at it, tilt their head, raise an eyebrow and then ask hesitantly, “Is that time right?”

Well, it was right … but only twice a day. It was stuck on three o’clock. What threw people off was that the clock ticked and its hands appeared to move. But they didn’t. Something was wrong with the mechanism that controlled their movement. The hands just quivered with the tick sound, so if you glanced at the clock you thought the hands were moving. When I revealed that the clock didn’t work, my guests would ask, “Why do you keep it on the wall?” My answer? “It looks good.” (Plus, some historians believe the interlocking O and U could be a first century symbol of Christian faith. I read that somewhere.)

The clock definitely looked good, but it wasn’t fulfilling the purpose of its design. After a while, I stopped looking at it. It became irrelevant. I eventually took it down and stored it away. I think my clock is a good analogy for the Christian life not surrendered to the Holy Spirit. It may look good and still be on display, but it is not fulfilling the purpose for which it was designed. After a while, this life is in danger of becoming the castaway that the Apostle Paul lamented.

The reason my clock didn’t work was because it had been damaged in a fall and I wasn’t able to fix it. The outer appearance looked the same, but the internal workings were affected. Inevitably, there comes a time in each believer’s life when “a fall” of some sort occurs. This trial either refines our faith or fatigues our spirit. The experience can cause damage so severe, that it prevents us from working as God intended. On a regular basis, we all need forgiveness, healing, comfort and encouragement to resolve these falls.

Just as the clock on my wall couldn’t fix itself, neither can you and I. We need help. We need Someone to step in, pick us up, adjust our faith, and fix the mechanisms that equip us to serve God. That primary Someone is the Holy Spirit. According to Romans 8:26-27, the Holy Spirit not only knows the mind of God, but He also comforts us and intercedes for us based on that knowledge. He fixes us through His own power, and the ministry of other believers (Heb. 10:24-25, Rom. 14:19, II Cor.1:3-4). He does the fixing, but He frequently uses another believer as His technician.

There were times when I thought I had fixed my clock. The hands would begin to move, but 12 hours later, they would get stuck again. In the walk of faith, we might find the same dynamic. We believe we have resolved an issue or conquered a problem, only to find out that the problem has returned. One fix is not usually enough. We need the daily maintenance of His Word, His Spirit, and the fellowship of other believers to remain fully functional. What kind of clock are you? One that works, or one that just looks good?

Is your time right?
Pastor Dave

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 | by Dr. David Anderson



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