Standing in Faith

Isaiah 25:1  NIV  –  LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.

    Tomorrow, July 25th, is the 98th anniversary of the founding of Meridian Avenue Baptist Church  There were 54 charter members and their first church home was a small white frame building that stood at the same location where our church stands today.  They gathered with a vision to create a new place of worship on what was then the western edge of Wichita, KS.

     Time has passed and Wichita has grown far west of our church home.  Still, Meridian Avenue Baptist Church remains as a testament to those few people who had a vision to plant a new church in the service of Christ Jesus.  They responded to the movement of the Holy Spirit that empowered them to give of their time and resources in Christ’s service.

     Christ continues to call upon us to serve him with our talents, time and resources.  We should ask ourselves daily what Christ would have us do for his kingdom.

Tell Me About The God My Grandson Knows

2 Peter 3:9  ESV – The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

     Helen’s grandfather, Keil, was raised in a church tradition that preached the power of an angry God.  His was an experience of hearing about a God of consequences; a God who responds to human misdeeds with punishment and retribution.  When he became an adult Keil had little desire to attend church, believing that he had heard enough about God during the time he was compelled to attend as a child.

     In the latter half of the 1950s, Helen’s brother, Calvin, began attending Sunday School at the church the family attended.  In Sunday School Calvin would hear stories of Jesus as shared on the flannel board and by children’s books.   Calvin often spent time with his grandfather as he toiled in his workshop.  It was there that Calvin would retell the Sunday School stories of the miracles and love of Jesus.

     The pastor of a nearby church would sometimes visit Keil at his workshop and each visit included an invitation to attend their church services.  It was during one of these visits that Keil turned to the pastor and said, “I don’t want to hear about the God that I heard about as a child; instead, tell me about the God that my grandson knows.”

     It was from that conversation that Helen, at the age of 3, stood with her parents, siblings and others at the edge of a pond and watched as her grandfather and grandmother, both in their 60s, were baptized and became members of the Mt. Ida Church of the Brethren.  They lived the rest of their lives serving and loving their Lord, Jesus Christ.

Faith!  Exercise It And It Grows

Luke 1:37  ESV  –  For nothing will be impossible with God

     It is a good thing to exercise your body.  Exercise strengthens your heart and improves your circulation.  Oxygen levels in the blood rise along with the increased blood flow.  The combination of these elements lowers the risk of heart diseases such as high cholesterol, coronary artery disease and heart attack.  Regular exercise can also lower your blood pressure.  The failure to exercise usually leads to atrophy of muscles.

     Like muscles, failure to exercise your faith can lead to spiritual atrophy.  The longer you go without exercising your faith, the greater the danger that you will forget how to use your faith.

     Faith is a gift of God and it is his wish that we use it.  But more than that, faith leans heavily on acknowledging that He is mightier than we are ourselves.  As humans, we can choose to rely upon ourselves to accomplish something or we can choose to rely upon He who is capable of far greater things than we are ourselves.  Once we commit ourselves to rely upon Him, through faith, all things become possible.  Even those things that are seemingly impossible.

A Legacy

Matthew 25:40 ESV – And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

     I volunteered to provide the Mission Moment on Father’s Day but was needed to operate the church video projector on that Sunday morning.  Randy R. was kind enough to cover the Mission Moment in my stead.  Thank you, Randy. 
     I thought I might share here some of what I had intended to share on Father’s Day.  In fact I am able to share more here, absent of the worship service time constraints.
     In June Meridian Avenue collects for the One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) special offering.  As I considered what I might say about OGHS on Father’s Day, I thought about my own father.  My father was known throughout the small ranching and farming community where we lived.  There were two primary reasons so many knew him.  The first was that he was a mechanic who worked on their ranching and farming machinery.  The second was that my father often volunteered around the community.     My dad was the town Santa Claus for nearly 40 years.  As a young child I didn’t think that Santa Claus could talk because he wouldn’t speak when I was near him.  He didn’t want me to hear my father’s voice coming from behind Santa’s beard.  For many years he spent Christmas Eve visiting several family homes who had asked that Santa distribute gifts to the children there.
     During the 1951 flood my father, with others, helped deliver food to stranded families and railroad workers by boat.  During one of these deliveries he fell into the water and was swept away by strong current.  It was presumed that he had drowned but some railroaders were able to rescue him, pulling him into their railroad bunk car which was surrounded by the flood water.  Three days would pass before the community knew he had survived.
     While I lived at home I often accompanied my father as he spent his free days mowing lawns for others, pumped water out of flooded basements, performed maintenance on the local Fire Department equipment and many other things too numerous to mention.
     My father left a legacy of helping others.  It is also a legacy of our American Baptist Churches to help those in need.
     I have at times gone on mission trips where OGHS monies were at work.  I have witnessed the hope, and real assistance, that our gifts have provided. Thank you for your gifts to OGHS.

“One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone.”  Shannon L. Alder

Truth Matters

John 18:37-38 ESV  –   For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”  Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

     There is a story told about a company that held a management vs employees softball game every summer during the company picnic.  During the last held game, the employee team soundly defeated the management team.  In the following week’s company newsletter this small piece was found.

     “We wish to give our heartiest congratulations to the management softball team for having a successful season.  The management team finished the season having suffered only a single loss.

     At this time we would like to express our condolences to the employees softball team who finished their season with only a single victory.”

     It is often difficult to know if we are hearing the truth from varied sources.  Depending upon the circumstances, truth can be manipulated into something it is not, spun in a way that what is said isn’t nearly as factual as it should be.  Truth can become hidden by people’s agendas; made to support something that is actually misleading.

     Truth matters because without it we are not safe.  Manipulated truth can prevent someone convicted of a misdeed or crime from being punished fairly.  Truth is an honest exchange, the essences of communication that provides factual information of occurrences and ideas.

     When Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth”, he was probably making a rhetorical question based upon his experience.  Today, people with financial or supporting power can purchase false witness and amended events to sway the ‘truth’ to support their argument over that of another.  I am sure that that was true in Pilate’s experience.  The ways of mankind have not changed that greatly in two millennia.

     Speaking truthfully is essential for a Christian.  As Christ’s followers we should endeavor to listen before we speak.  Doing so leads to better understanding and helps to develop better questions that can help clarify your understanding of what another has said.

     When you speak do not have hidden motivations and always speak with kindness to another to avoid regretful statements.

     Trust in God as you speak, asking the Spirit to enter into your conversation and to create a better relationship with whomever you are speaking with.