From the Faith Baptist Church Blog

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

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



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