From the Faith Baptist Church Blog

Whispers

The prophet Elijah was having a bad day. He was hiding in a cave and commiserating about how tough things were. He was exhausted from a confrontation with the prophets of Baal and was emotionally spent. He had just heard from one of Jezebel’s messengers that she was going to kill him by the next day. He panicked and fled into the wilderness where he found this cave. Things were so bad that he asked the Lord to kill him.

While he huddled in the recesses of the cave, God came to him and asked him what he was doing there. Elijah whined a bit and then the Lord told him to go outside and look around. Once outside he saw a great wind arise and tear up some rocks. Then he felt an earthquake shake the ground. Then he watched a fire roar by. He assumed God wanted to tell him something so he kept looking and listening for some message in the spectacles. But he heard nothing. Everything went quiet.

That’s when he heard a whisper, a still small voice. He went back to the mouth of the cave to check it out. He was now intently focused of hearing from God. What he heard was the exact same message that God had given him earlier, but Elijah heard it this time with a different receptiveness. The Lord told him to get up and get back to work. He had things for Elijah to do and there was no reason to fear Jezebel.

Whispering is an effective way to communicate. It helps to focus the hearer’s attention. It allows the listener to hear the message differently, from another point of view. A few years ago, my wife Colleen was suffering from a laryngitis-like affliction. All she could do was whisper. Every time she spoke to me, I would lean in, look directly at her, and listen intently. (Things I should have been doing without her whispering.) I also did something I didn’t realize I did until she pointed it out. And I did it each time we had a conversation. I whispered back.

Why did I whisper back? Were we sharing secrets? Was the room bugged? Well, we weren’t sharing secrets and this was long before the NSA was listening in. I whispered because she did. It just seemed appropriate. I felt like I was yelling otherwise. Every time she said “Dave, you’re whispering” it would catch me by surprise and make us both laugh.

The tone of her speech affected our conversation. This is a small application of what Solomon meant when he wrote, “A soft answers turns away wrath.” It is hard to yell at someone when they are whispering and it’s hard to speak angrily to someone who is speaking to you with love.

Our emotions elevate our volume and intensity, and not necessarily in a good way. No matter what we are saying, how we are saying it sends a message as well. In the wrong setting, raising our voices can make things worse – it prevents the other person from hearing.

I wonder how many times the world is yelling at us because we are yelling at them? Maybe their attitudes toward us are not always a response to our status as God’s children. Sometimes we are just a pain in their necks. We like to believe that it is our light that makes them recoil and that it is their sin that makes them dismiss our witness. I think we’d be surprised if we knew how often it was our tone and volume that provokes their response.

Biblical truth doesn’t always need to be shouted from the rooftops. Some times, it is best delivered in a still small voice. If we lower our voice, maybe they will raise their ears.

Pastor Dave

Sunday, October 26, 2014 | by Dr. David Anderson

Watermelon Rind

A few years ago our church family planted organic and seedless watermelon seeds (can’t really explain that) on the back 15 acres of our property. The result was thousands of big, round, juicy watermelons! It started out as exciting fun, turned into exhausting work, and gave us an extensive education into the darker aspects of the agricultural arts. Anybody can just grow watermelons, but selling them is really the most important thing.

During the harvest, I picked out two really nice watermelons and took them home. They had the right color, texture, and thump sound. I was a proud and pleased farmer. As I walked to the car, I noticed that one of them had a small hole. Since the hole didn’t appear to penetrate the rind I didn’t see it as a problem. Colleen placed the melons on the kitchen floor and we went to bed.

Two surprising things happened as we slept – I suffered a very painful Charlie Horse attack and the watermelon with the hole exploded! We are not sure if the two events are connected because the CSI results are not in yet. The kitchen floor was covered in watery stinky melon juice that poor Colleen had to clean up by herself because my leg was still suffering cramps. What happened?! Well, evidently I didn’t drink enough water, so my calf … oh … you mean to the watermelon.

Bacteria entered through the tiny hole and rotted the melon and filled it with gas. This nasty bacterium causes decay and then feeds on it. It’s brilliant, really. The hole and the small infestation it allowed ruined a great looking watermelon. And a kitchen floor. The fact that a little bacteria can cause a whole watermelon to explode reminds me of Jesus’ axiom that a little leaven leavens the whole loaf (except I don’t think leaven makes bread explode. I don’t know. I didn’t think watermelons exploded either. I’m not sure of anything anymore).

Once the breach in the rind occurred it was just a matter of time before the bacteria got in and the melon began to rot. Once it began to rot, it was just a matter of time before it exploded. The application to our lives is pretty obvious. We can look great on the outside, but, if the inner man is corrupted, even by the smallest of leaven, we are not safe. In the same way that bacteria smaller than a pinhead can cause complete devastation to a watermelon, so can a “little” sin can devastate the spirit.

This is why Solomon warned us to guard our hearts with all diligence for out of it come the issues of life. James wrote, each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, brings froth death. The smallest allowance of sin can produce deadly results. And the sin begins with us.

Just as I was surprised by the exploding melon, so too are we are often surprised by a spiritual collapse, whether it is ours or someone else’s. But we shouldn’t be. Spiritual implosions are usually preceded by a number of indicators -- breaches in the rind of our spirit. The decay is incremental. No one else may know of these tiny holes and fractures, but the believer who allowed them to happen does. If he/she does not respond with confession to God and repentance towards God, rottenness sets in and spoils the spirit.

Watermelons can’t repent. Once they are infected, they’re done. You and I can be healed through God’s grace. It would be wise for each of us to check the rind of our hearts for any holes that have not been repaired – and then do so before we explode. If we don’t, the result will be a stinky mess.

It only takes a little breach,
Pastor Dave

Sunday, October 26, 2014 | by Dr. David Anderson

Look at Me

In the 1960’s, The Vogues recorded one of my favorite love songs. It was so good, that Glen Campbell, the Lettermen, the Bee Gees, and Johnny Mathis, also recorded it. It was a heartfelt and desperate plea of an overlooked admirer to his intended sweetheart -- Turn Around, Look at Me. Back then, the phrase was romantic, now it is narcissistic. “Look at Me” is no longer a loving invitation, but an emphatic demand born out of neurotic need.

The concepts of privacy, dignity and intimacy are rapidly changing in young America. Scripted reality TV, live streaming, blogging, Facebook, Youtube, Vine and countless other venues, have created an atmosphere in which young people are eager to reveal their most private (and often manufactured) moments to the world. An article in USA Today quoted one young man who said, I am constantly broadcasting who I am. The internet is just a way for me to reach more people with who I am. The article concluded that young people are placing themselves at the mercy of predators, stalkers, perverts and criminals without realizing it. That’s bad, but there is even a greater danger.

The practice of sharing personal updates with friends, acquaintances and faceless strangers can easily become an obsession. It is bad enough that many of us are giving and getting constant feedback on every mood, complaint and thought the moment we have them, but the real concern is that so many of us believe that others should be fascinated by the minutiae of our lives.

Today’s youth is not any more prone to focus on themselves than previous generations, but they have greater technical capacity to do so and a more willing culture in which to do it. Self-aggrandizement, promotion and preoccupation are no longer considered in poor taste. Children are growing up viewing themselves as worthy of attention and applause by those who do not know them. Some argue that this is good for self-esteem, but at least two negative things result; 1) being noticed becomes an entitlement, and 2) an inordinate amount of time is spent marketing oneself.

Past generations grew up going outside to play in the real world, but this generation stays inside to play in a virtual world. It is normal to be fascinated with self. We all are to some degree. We tend to like people who are interested in us. We feel loved and accepted when others want to hear our stories. But there is much more to life than our individual experiences and thoughts. Our culture’s meditation on self is a religion with roots that reach all the way back to Eden. Self-worship creeps into life with great subtlety.

Taking our eyes off of self and placing them squarely on God is one of the greatest challenges faced in the walk of faith. Isaiah professed to God, You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You. It is nearly impossible to effectively ponder God when we can’t stop thinking about ourselves.

In the embryonic stages of Christianity, John the Baptist assessed his importance in the light of Jesus and he said, He must increase and I must decrease. What would church look like if we fully embraced that profound profession of faith? Would we promote and market ourselves in the same way as we do today? It is unlikely that I will really see others if my primary concern is for them to look at me.

Look at Him, then out onto the fields white unto harvest,
Pastor Dave

Tuesday, October 07, 2014 | by Dr. David Anderson

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



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