Thursday, January 28, 2016

What if


A former hospital administrator is convicted of indecent exposure; a major entertainment personality accused of drugging women for illicit activities.  Successful businessman accused of fraud.  Did you ever wonder what kind of an impact those actions may have had on their families?  Do you suppose they ever stopped to think about the repercussions?  Only they would be able to answer that question with certainty, but my guess is they probably didn’t.

The first chapter of Proverbs begins with the words, “These are the wise sayings of Solomon, David’s son, Israel’s king - written down so we’ll know how to live well and right, to understand what life means and where it’s going; A manual for living, for learning what’s right and just and fair; To teach the inexperienced the ropes and give our young people a grasp on reality.  There’s something here also for seasoned men and women, still a thing or two for the experienced to learn - Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate, the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women.” (The Message)

Over the years I have met with many individuals whose lives are literally in ruins because of their failure to understand “how to live life well and right.”

The best thing we can do to guard against making bad decisions in life is to spend time in the scriptures daily, as Pastor Jim pointed out on a recent Sunday evening.  The book of Proverbs teaches us how live wisely.  And lest you think, that won’t happen to me, I suggest you consider the problem Sampson had or what happen to Noah following the flood, or maybe the activity of King David in an idle moment.  Then there is King Solomon, considered the wisest man who ever lived who squandered that wisdom by disobeying God’s commandments.  These were all men of God who knew better but stumbled at some point in their lives; many of the individuals I have dealt with come from a church background, but because they failed to gain wisdom, they veered off the track.

Psalms 119:11 admonishes us to hide the Word of God in our hearts because it will keep us from making bad decisions.  Along with hiding the Word and gaining wisdom let me suggest one more activity that I have found to be effective over the years.  THINK DOWN THE ROAD or “play the movie” as a recent book I read recommends.  It means to plan ahead.  Think through the “what if’s” of life in advance of them happening.  How will you respond and how will that response impact you and those closest to you?  How you live life will determine what kind of a legacy will you leave that will impact others (parents, spouse, children, and those who come long after you are gone).  

Whatever it is that crosses your path that would be in opposition to the Word of God, should not cause you to have to think about your response.  Your response should be immediate and automatic, because long before you hid the Word of God in your heart - and you played the movie.
–Wayne Bernard

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Where's Your Focus?


Take a minute and read Esther 5:9-15. What an amazing situation. All that he had! Yet, there was ONE thing that was not as he wanted and that ONE thing caused him to build the very gallows that he would hang on! The title of these musings is "Focus". Despite all his blessings, the ONE thing Haman focused on took his life and the lives of those in his family. What we FOCUS on determines the course of our lives and that of those we love. What has been the FOCUS of 2015? What should be the FOCUS of the years to come? 

      Colossians 3:2 tells us where to focus. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." Heb. 12:2 tells us on Whom to focus, "looking unto Jesus". Matt 24:42 tells why our focus needs to be correct: "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." Each of us has been given a race to run called the Christian life. As in any race, we cannot be looking to the right or left to see how our competition is doing (John 21:21), and we certainly cannot be looking behind us to see how those trailing are doing, or to see how far we have come. Philippians 3:13-14 says it so well; the Cunningham translation says, "We ain't there yet. Focus on one thing. Forget the past. Look to the future. One day we will see Jesus and it will be worth it all." When we were first saved, someone said to us, "Keep your eyes on Jesus,” and although we have heard that many times since, it is still as important. So many things have happened, so many people have come and gone in our lives , so many wonderful miracles and so many very trying times have been experienced, but there is a constant, a Rock on Whom we stand, Who has promised us, "I will never leave thee." So when we determine to focus on Him, He will always be there to see. Haman's one wrong FOCUS took his life. Our one FOCUS gives us life and that life more abundantly.

--Pastor Jim Cunningham

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Home


Home is surely where the heart is.  And the heart is where home is.  And home is made up of more than walls, furniture and rooms because heart and home are truly intangible.  Love and respect, honor and dignity, significance and value, laughter and empathy coalesce to become that place of refuge and comfort that is truly the heart and hearth of home.

We know full well that the church, as the Body of Christ, encompasses all of these values and becomes the true home of extended family.  And each of us has been adopted in, some decades or generations ago, some only recently as “newborns”. 

Though she sometimes attended services in a building, Victoria had never entered into the true family life “at home” in a church.  But friends are sometimes as near as family, and family never gives up on family.  So it was with a young man from her school who invited her to his youth group middle school Lock-In their sixth-grade year.  At the time it just didn’t jive for Victoria, so she didn’t return.

Yet love is ever-present and ever-active.  Just as the fragrance of Christ permeates an environment, love and respect speak powerfully to watching and listening hearts.  As Victoria observed those attributes in the family life of her ever-faithful friend over the following months, she was prompted to say yes to his second invite to the Lock-In during their seventh-grade year.  And Victoria’s heart responded to the call to come home.  She began to attend Fusion and church services regularly and was enveloped by the love of God and of His people.  She joyfully embraced a relationship with Jesus Christ and her brothers and sisters at Salem First Baptist.
Along with heaven, this home at SFBC is where Victoria’s heart is and where she has begun to serve with an excited passion, blessed by those intangible and intrinsic values of the church.  What a wonderful home and family, a place to truly belong, even as a young teen attending on her own!  We love you, Victoria, and rejoice in your love for Jesus and the church!