From the Faith Baptist Church Blog

Happy Ignorance

Ignorance may be bliss but it can also be costly. In 1849, David Rice Atchison was the President of the United States for one day, but he didn’t know it. James Polk’s term of office ended at noon on Sunday, March 4, but Zachary Taylor did not take the oath of office until Monday. Although it never happened before or since, the Senate Pro Tempore becomes the President when there is no sitting President while there is nor sitting Vice President. This was the situation for those 24 hours, so as Senate Pro Tempore, Atchison became President. He was not sworn in. He did not stay in the White House. He is not included on any Presidential lists. He was not even told until years later. He had the privilege and power of the Presidency, but didn’t know it. What a lost opportunity!

When I lived in Buffalo, an acquaintance told me about one of the first cars he ever bought when he was too immature to understand ethics. The car was advertised as a “Chevy” with the added description “left in the barn since the owner died in Vietnam”. The owner’s mother took him out to the barn and pulled back a dusty tarp revealing a mint-condition Corvette. He immediately purchased it, but for less than $1000 dollars. What this lady didn’t know prevented her from having a hefty payoff.

Sometimes the result of ignorance is more than a loss of opportunity or money. There are times it can be absolutely dangerous. Such was the case on the Island of Lubang for many years after WWII. Hiroo Onoda was a Japanese soldier who didn’t know Japan had surrendered. He continued fighting for 29 more years. During that time span, he wounded 100 civilians and killed another 30. When he was finally convinced, in 1974, that the war was over, he came out of the jungle, surrendered his sword, rifle and backpack. He then fell to the ground and wept. If only he had known.

When we trust in Christ as Savior, we are given a treasure without measure – eternal life. We are indwelt by a power beyond human comprehension – the Holy Spirit. We are entrusted with an awesome responsibility – being a gospel witness. We receive a remedy for sin and guilt – forgiveness and pardon. We are granted the capacity to deal with despair and disappointment – faith and joy. We are given the power to defeat fear – through love, power and a sound mind. Many of us often live as if we have no knowledge of these blessings. We seem to “forget” and choose instead to face life’s challenges in the faulty power of the flesh.

There is even a greater ignorance than all these examples. The story is found in Luke 16. A rich man lived a blissful life in comfort and plenty. He didn’t know that he was missing something. The leper who begged outside his gate knew what the rich man did not, and had what he did not. The leper knew God. When he died angels carried him into Heaven, but the rich man died and went to Hell. In his horrible torment he became aware of his own ignorance and those of his family on earth. The rich man became a beggar. He pleaded with Abraham to send a heavenly messenger to tell his brothers the truth about heaven and hell. They didn’t know.

For believers and unbelievers as well, regardless of blissfulness, the worse thing someone can be is ignorant when the ramifications are so profound. This is one reason that Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” As believers, our privilege is to know. Our responsibility is to tell. No matter how happy people may appear, if they are ignorant of the gospel, or the responsibilities of believing it, their bliss will be short-lived.

Let’s walk joyfully in truth,
Pastor Dave

Wednesday, December 03, 2014 | by Dr. David Anderson

Flock Together

Last week, I told you about hundreds of birds making room for each other on some power lines. I thought it was a good lesson for all of us. I would like to revisit that same theme today, but with Sand Hill Cranes as the main characters. They “flock together” in small groups of two to five. You rarely see one by itself. They like to walk slowly alongside each other and peck at the ground for worms and bugs. A crane family makes its home on our property each year, so I have the privilege of observing them in different phases and events of life. I want to share two of those instances with you.

The first was when I drove up next to three cranes on our property that were not walking or eating. They were just standing still. When I could see from another angle I noticed that one had been pierced with an arrow! The front of the arrow was sticking out from his left wing while the back of the arrow was protruding from his right under belly. I assumed he was shot while in flight.

He could barely walk and could not bend his head down to the ground. The other cranes stood next to him, with their heads up and looking around. All of a sudden, two more cranes flew in and landed like fighter jets on an aircraft carrier. They walked up to the wounded crane then threw their heads back and made that amazing rattle sounds unique to Sandhill Cranes. The wounded crane joined in. I don’t know if they were commiserating or warning the other cranes in the area to look out for the idiot with a bow and arrow. All five cranes stayed close to each other for the next 20 minutes until the Animal Control officer arrived.

The second instance involved three Sandhill Cranes. One of them had been struck by a car and was lying dead in the middle of the road that passes in front of our church. The other two stood silently by on the shoulder of the road looking at him – waiting for him to get up and join them. It was a very sad scene and stayed that way for an hour until the Animal Control officer blocked the busy road and removed the crane.

On both of these occasions, the cranes stood by their fallen or wounded companion. I’m sure they had other things to do because birds are always busy, but in these two situations, they didn’t have anything better to do. They instinctively knew they had to stay close by their friend. Sandhill Cranes appear to have an esprit de corps, a no-man-left-behind bond. They care for each other. Some of them watched for danger, some stood close by for comfort and others voiced encouragement, called for reinforcements, or sounded warnings.

We pastors like to exhort people to avoid skipping church by quoting Hebrews 10:25, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. That’s fine, but this verse refers to much more than just attending church services. “Assembling together” for us is the same as “flocking together” is for birds – a natural instinct that becomes a lifestyle, a mission, and an expression of concern, compassion, and comfort.

Do you know a fellow believer that needs comfort? We live so disconnected and self-absorbed that we often fail to act as godly as birds of a feather do. “Well, pastor, I wouldn’t know what to say.” Most of the time, just being there is a great comfort in and of itself. Look around you. Is there someone from your flock who could really benefit from your friendship today?

Flock together, even if it is to just be still and quiet, close by,
Pastor Dave

Friday, November 21, 2014 | by Dr. David Anderson

OK to Hate

My mother gave me rules to live by, including; Wear cologne. Polish your shoes. Iron your clothes. Always do your best. Don’t challenge your mother’s word in Scrabble. Don’t chew with your mouth open. Don’t cuss, or say “cheap”, “I’m full” or “I hate”. To this day, I try not to violate these rules, but I have trouble with the rule against using the word hate.

I hate walking slow. There I said it. I should say “I dislike” it, but deep down in the dark corners of my heart the emotional displeasure is just too strong. I was born this way. As a child, my favorite cartoon characters were Speedy Gonzalez, the Roadrunner, the Flash, and the Tasmanian Devil. When I’m going somewhere, my goal is to get there as soon as possible. How is that not overpoweringly logical?

I also hate distance running. I ran the 440 in High School, which required distance training. This is when the seeds of hate were planted. As an adult, I have run 5k’s (long distance to me) and sprint-triathlons (why? I don’t know), but the only pleasure I found in those races was them being over. Supposedly, there is a thing called a runner’s high that rewards those who run far enough, but I’ve never reached it. I’m not sure it really exists. I have, however, reached some pretty deep lows.

Walking slow violates my mental health, but distance running violates my physical health. My asthma flares up, my calf muscles cramp up, and my dislike of running wells up like acid reflux. I’m sorry Mom, but I hate distance running. The only thing worse is distance swimming. Don’t go there.

Anyway, this all leads me to ask, “Isn’t it OK to hate some things? Aren’t some things worth hating?” In today’s world, hate can be a crime, and disliking or disagreeing makes you a hater. And the Bible forbids hating another person. Jesus equated hating someone or maliciously calling him a fool, with murder. Hating people is completely incompatible with our new nature in Christ, but hating sin (Psa. 97:10) and its defilement (Jude 23) is not.

Do I hate sin? Some sins, yes, I do (mostly the ones that don’t appeal to me), but I seem to tolerate other sins. As long as we are being truthful, there are some I find tempting. I identify with Paul’s confession that there are things he should do that he does not, and things that he should not do, that he does. He described it as a war within himself. I am a veteran of the same battle.

Sin is trying to destroy me from within, but I don’t hate all its manifestations. Why is that? John 3:19 tells us that men have agape love for darkness. We don’t hate some sins because they bring us temporary satisfaction and pleasure. If all sins were as immediately unpleasant as distance running or swimming I would have no trouble hating them. That’s the rub. I don’t view sin from God’s holy perspective but from my indulgent one. I don’t see sin for how it offends God (He hates it), but for how it pleases or endangers me. I’m so infatuated with myself, that I’m blind to the nature of certain sins.

About a sinner, Psalm 36:2 states, There is no fear of God before his eyes, for he flatters himself in his own eyes. Psalm 97:10 exhorts, Let those who love the Lord, hate evil. Evidently, my lack of hate for sin is due to my self-love and my lack of love for God -- or at the very least, a failure to apply my love for God.

Hate, then, is OK -- if it is born from a love of God and directed at the things that He hates. Any hate born out of personal displeasure, discomfort, and disappointment will be subjective, self-centered and short-sighted. So, I should not strive to find things to hate, but nurture a love for God. If I do that, I will end up hating what He wants me to – which I’m pretty sure includes distance running.

Do you hate sin?
Pastor Dave

Friday, November 14, 2014 | by Dr. David Anderson

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



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