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…A Little Closer To The Shephard Than Most.

Dr. Steven Kyle, Pastor

Hiland Park Baptist Church

One of my favorite stories that tells of the power of prayer comes from Duncan Campbell’s Biography: Channel of Revival. Duncan Campbell was a pastor in Scotland in a little island off the west coast called The Hebrones. From 1949 to the 1970’s, wave after wave of revival hit the Hebrones. When God moves in mighty revival, some of those who oppose the work are those who claim to be God’s own people. Sadly enough, that was happening in the Hebrones.

In the city of Arnauld, the preachers were inviting preachers from the mainland of Scotland to help “resist” this plague. Duncan Campbell preached in Arnauld and said, “Oh, it was cold, the service was just motions.” An older man in the church finally said, “We should give ourselves to prayer.” So they met in a farmhouse on the outside of town at 11:30 p.m. Six preachers were there, but even they lacked fervor and fire. When it came time for this older man to pray, he prayed for thirty minutes. When is the last time you were in a small group prayer meeting and someone was so filled with God that they prayed for thirty minutes? He stopped and then said, “Lord, there are a half dozen preachers in this house and I don’t know how it is with them, not even the Rev. Campbell, but Lord, if I know my heart, I am thirsty. I am thirsty for revival! In Isaiah 40:4, You said You would pour out water on him that is thirsty and Lord I am thirsty and You are not pouring it out! Lord, do You realize Your honor and Your integrity are at stake? You said You would pour out water on him who is thirsty and I am thirsty and there is no water! There is no revival!”

He then turned his face toward heaven and said, “Lord, on the basis of Your covenant promise to Your people and on the basis of Christ’s redemptive work on Your behalf, I challenge You to come to the rescue of Your honor and Your integrity and do it now!” Some of you might say, “Oh to talk to God like that. How terribly audacious, arrogant.” No, just a lamb a little closer to the Shepherd than most.

Duncan tells, the old man said, “Lord, Come rescue!” And do you know what happened then? That huge farmhouse shook like a leaf. Dishes fell and broke. And a huge clock that hung over the fireplace fell off. That prayer meeting broke up at 1:30 a.m. and when they left to go into the city, the city was alive. And the people met Duncan and the others and cried, “Preach to us!”

Now, not every time the church meets will the place be shaken, but there will be times God touches down and there is no question that He is here and it is something that only God can do.

April 20, 2019No comments
A Valuable Lesson From The Moon & Stars

William & Donna Pfeffer, Pastors

The Tabernacle

When I was a young boy I loved to lay outside a gaze at the moon and stars. I was fascinated by the movement of them and longed to get a closure look. When I was older I had the opportunity to purchase a telescope. I soon discovered that in order for the me to focus on the moon or a distant star it was more work than just pointing the telescope at the object and viewing. It required skill in tracking the object across the night sky will focusing the telescope. Once I mastered the skill I soon began to see more clearly the objects in the sky. The moon was amazing, I could see mountains and craters and formations that I could never see with my plain eyesight. I was even able to view the planet Mars. It was exciting.

Our worship of Jesus is the same way. The more we master the ability to focus on Him, the more we seek Him through praise, worship, dance, singing or just putting our love and devotion on display, the clearer the view we get of Him…and the more focused He becomes in our life. Worship takes work and worship requires active engagement. And the good news?…worship will lead you closer to Him!

April 20, 2019No comments
A Lesson in Humility

Dr. John C. Friedman, Pastor

Forest Park United Methodist Church

Dr. Tony Campolo tells about an experience in humility during his seminary days. Tony had to take a preaching course under Dr. Albert Williams. Dr. Williams required each student to prepare and deliver a sermon. The professor and the rest of the class would evaluate each student’s sermon. Tony, who is a very gifted writer and speaker today, said he knew his sermon was perfectly prepared. He knew he had delivered it well. And when he got to the conclusion, he knew that he had preached to their hearts. He was proud of himself. Tony said that his sermon was wonderful and powerful, and he knew that he was good!

His classmates heaped on the praise. Tony was beaming from ear to ear. He couldn’t wait for Dr. Williams’ evaluation. That would just make his day. He flipped through all the evaluation papers he received. Dr. Williams’ evaluation was the last one. Dr. Williams had written just a single line. It didn’t mention the content of Tony’s message or Tony’s delivery. It just said: “Tony, you can’t convince people that you are wonderful and that Jesus is wonderful in the same sermon.”

In Luke, chapter 18, verses 9-14, Jesus tells a parable about humility: (9) He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: (10) “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. (11) The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. (12) I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ (13) But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ (14) I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Jesus condemned the Pharisee for his self-righteous pride. The Pharisee didn’t really go to the temple to pray, he went to parade his piety, and to inform God how good he was! On the other hand, the tax collector humbled himself and cried out, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

We need to understand, that as sinners, we should have humility not pride. As Christians, we can’t convince people that we are wonderful and that Jesus is wonderful at the same time

April 20, 2019No comments
Don’t Be Sloppy

Rev. Phil F. Edwards

First Assembly of God

“I want you back here in two weeks for more medical tests. There’s got to be something wrong with you; I just haven’t found it yet. Somebody up there likes you.” The doctor’s words brought grateful tears to Floyd’s family standing around his hospital bed.

At 15, Floyd started working for his father, climbing telephone poles installing cable TV. His dad said, “If you keep making the grades you have in science and math, you can easily earn an engineering degree. With your degree and my experience, we’ll build a great cable company.” That year, Floyd accepted Christ and became active in a church youth group and 2 years later he felt the call to become a minister. Floyd then excitedly told his father the news. “Son, that’s what men do who can’t do anything else. Don’t waste your talent and your life,” was his dad’s response.

One month after graduating high school, Floyd became extremely ill and fell into a coma on a Sunday afternoon. Monday evening, his doctor told his family, “It’s viral encephalitis, also known as sleeping sickness. His chance of living is 20%. If he lives, he’ll be in a coma indefinitely. If he wakes up, he’ll positively have brain damage of some sort; no question. He could be paralyzed, blind, deaf, mute, or suffer memory loss. He might not even know you, or anything else.”

The doctor’s prognosis sent Floyd’s younger brother, Doug, straight to the hospital prayer chapel. That night, Doug told their mother, “God said, ‘Your brother will sleep 3 days, then wake up.’” All of Floyd’s friends and family prayed & fasted for a miracle. Wednesday, Floyd’s eyes opened; he recognized his grandmother at his bedside. Nurses cried as they removed the breathing and feeding tubes, as well as the four straps tying him to the bed. After two days of extensive testing, he was moved to a private room.

Saturday, Floyd and his family heard the doctor explain the nature of his illness. “The encephalitis caused high fevers which swelled the lining of your brain. It’s like putting the brain in a pressure cooker, which causes frequent convulsions. Usually, brain damage ensues in multiple places. Know this: we didn’t cure you. We just kept you from dehydrating and watched you. I want you back here in two weeks… Somebody up there likes you.”

After thankful, emotional prayers, everyone left the room – except Floyd’s father. Slowly, deliberately, my dad spoke to me: “God’s hand is clearly on your life. I won’t interfere. Be a minister. But, be a good one. Don’t be sloppy.”

Through 42 years of ministry, I’ve often heard my dad’s voice repeated when I read Colossians 3:23 (Amplified Bible), “Whatever you do…work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men.”

April 20, 2019No comments
Rolled Up Magazine Vs. 85 Pound, Rabid Bullbat

Dr. Wade Rinehart

First Choice Physical Therapy

It was a steamy summer morning and I had just arrived at my therapy clinic. I was getting a cup of coffee in our breakroom when I was summoned to the front office to help exterminate, what I thought was, a very scary and potentially deadly vermin. One of my office managers scurried to the break room and told me in an emphatic voice, “thar’s a bullbat over the copying machine and I need you to get it!” Now this employee was from Mississippi and not knowing her lexicon of critters, a bullbat sounds both scary and big.

As I hurried to the front office I grabbed a magazine and began rolling it up as I crept in staring intently at the ceiling to locate this “Bullbat”. Not knowing it was a bug, a bat, or some ungodly hybrid in-between I shouted out “Where is this bullbat… I don’t see it?” My manager replied in a very calm and bewildered voice “it’s right thar over the copying machine.” I replied, “I don’t see it! Where is it?” She replied again, “right above you-over the copying machine!” I was in a bit of a panic now because I began to think this bullbat had a special cloaking feature that I have never heard of in any animal species, but only in Star Trek Klingon spaceships.

As my mind raced and a bit of panic set in, my manager said, “why are you scared and have a rolled up magazine in your hand?” I responded “I have never heard of a bullbat and if I am to face this evil, unknown, invisible thing I want to be able to defend myself!” She chuckled in that kind of confused way when someone is not making any sense. My entire conversation with her had taken place with her and the entire front office staff watching me as I continually stared at the ceiling so as not to be blind-sided by this evil creation of satan himself.

“Show me where this thing is! I don’t see it!” She replied again in her Mississippi draw, “right above the copying machine! The bulb is out! I need you to change it!” Somehow, in my early morning, pre-first cup of coffee, stupor I heard “Bullbat” when in actuality she was saying “Bulb Out” with a Mississippi twang. I don’t think I have laughed so hard at myself as the entire front office erupted in laughter as well

April 20, 2019No comments
God, Missionaries & The Paper Mill Smell

Billy Melvin

Calvary Christian Baptist Church

The story I am about to share is so amazing because when I look back I see the foreknowledge and the Devine providence of God.

My father, like my grandfather, worked for the international paper company in Millville, FL or as the old timers call it Bay Harbor. My grandparents lived at 135 Everett Ave. — just a rocks throw from the mill. So, when my parents got married, they wanted to get as far from the mill as they could. They bought a house on the water in Lynn haven. Neither one of my parents were saved at the time they bought their new home for $6,500 (including furniture, pots & pans, and dishes in the cabinets).

The little house had no air conditioning and was very hot in the summer. But, being hot was not the worst of it, there were two other problems: being on the water with the windows open, the sand gnats (or no-see-ums) would eat you alive AND their new neighbors were Nazarene missionaries. Those Christians next door had loud prayer meetings that would keep my dad awake at night. He really didn’t want to hear their prayers. To remedy the problem, he went and bought the biggest window unit air conditioner that Sears sold. That fixed the gnats and the loud prayers.

At those prayer meetings at Brother and Sister Talbert home were brother Gene Calloway and his wife Mitt, brother Trogdon and brother Joseph Anderson and his wife Alberta to name a few. The Anderson’s were prison missionaries from Minneapolis, Minnesota and would come every winter, parking their travel trailer in the Talbert’s front yard for a couple of weeks. They would preach at the prison on Hwy 390 and our local jail with bro C.E. Gibson. After five or six years of us living beside the missionaries, we became friends with all the people that would come to the prayer meetings. Eventually my mom got saved and began going next door to the prayer meetings.

One day while on a mission trip, tragedy struck our missionary neighbors. The Talberts they were both killed in an automobile accident. That same year the prison missionaries brother and sister Anderson came down for the winter. My dad said they should just park their travel trailer in our yard. Now keep in mind my dad was still not saved, but the Holy Ghost was working in his heart bringing conviction and drawing him to the Saviour. The prayer meetings that were next door moved over to our house. I can still hear those ole prayer warriors calling out my name as I was just a small boy at the time.

Eventually, my dad received Christ as his Lord and Savior and by God’s grace he saved me and called me to preach his glorious Gospel. All of those old saints that came to our house are with the Lord now, but their ministry lives on because God answers prayer! Aren’t the workings of a sovereign God amazing. My dad was just trying to get away from the smell of the paper mill and God did all this to PRAISE HIS HOLY NAME.

April 20, 2019No comments
Thanks, Mother Goose

F. Nolan Ball, Apostle

The Rock of Panama City

In July 1960, Shirley and I and our four children moved to Talladega, Alabama where we had been invited to pastor the small group there who comprised First Assembly of God. We spent six years there, coming to love those people and the little white wooden building on North Court Street very much. Our time there provided us with many wonderful and pleasant memories.

We lived in a little four room house (not four bedrooms, but four rooms total), with no central heat and no air-conditioning. Because of necessity, I had two full-time jobs: preaching at First Assembly of God and teaching at the Alabama School for the Deaf. I preached, because that was my calling and my life’s love. I taught, because for whatever reason, I could not attract enough people to support my preaching! I had and still have this conviction that any man who will not care for his own, is worse than an unbeliever. So, in order to provide for Shirley and our children– Donna, Cheryl, Kathryn, and Mark–I did what I had to do.

At our house, in those days, preparation for Sunday began on Saturday evening. Sunday School lessons were studied, Shirley would prepare for the cooking of a full Sunday dinner, and my main job was to clean and polish all of our shoes. After an early Sunday morning breakfast, I would leave Shirley to get everyone dressed, and made my way to the Alabama School for the Deaf where I would teach a Sunday School lesson to my students. Then it was back to the house to load up all of us and head for our small church building and our small congregation. On one particular Sunday, the song service was first, with Shirley playing piano and me leading the singing. After the offering had been received, it was time for the preacher (me again) to preach. By that time each of the children had stretched out on a pew and had drifted off to sleep…or so I thought.

Good sermons were sometimes difficult to come by in those days; no Google (no internet!), no ready-made sermon-in-a-book from the local Christian Bookstore. I had gotten creative and had reached into an obscure ministry resource: Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes, for my message. As I began with, “Once upon a time, there were three little pigs,” suddenly, all of the children sat upright and gazed at me with rapt attention as I began to exhort the people to learn a lesson from the three pigs: Choose carefully the stuff with which you build your life. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken, leaving only that which cannot be shaken.

To this day, that is the only sermon my children ever asked me to preach again

April 20, 2019No comments
Norman Jackson Can’t Stand Us And We Can’t Stand Him!

Luther Stanford, Pastor

City Church at Northside

I was 22 years old and pastoring my first church in a rural farming community in the backwoods of Louisiana. I knew one of the first things I had to do was get to know the people, so I solicited a couple of ladies in the church to walk me through the church directory and give me everyone’s family history. Those ladies told me about everyone within 3 miles of the church and nearly everything admirable or shameful thing they had ever done. They went through dozens of names and then they came to the name “Norman Jackson.” And they said, “We won’t even bother with Norman. He doesn’t like us and we don’t like him.”

I spent every Saturday and Sunday afternoon for the next 6 months visiting nearly everyone in the community. And then one cold December morning, I couldn’t think of anyone to visit, so I decided to drop by and see Norman Jackson. I drove up to his house; smoke was pouring out of the chimney. I stepped onto the porch and knocked on the door. He answered and I introduced myself. It was the first time in all of those visits that I didn’t get invited inside (Southern folks always have a pot of coffee and a slice of cake or pie ready). But not Norman. And not for the pastor of the church he hated so much. He let me know real quick he wouldn’t be stepping foot inside our church. I got back in my truck and left. But I didn’t stop. I continued to stop by and see Norman every so often. I eventually got invited inside. Drank coffee with him. He even gave me some deer sausage. He still couldn’t stand our church.

Then tragedy hit. His father was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. After some ineffective treatments, his dad was moved home. Hospice moved in. So did our church. Whether Norman liked it or not, our ladies started bringing food daily. The men of our church stopped in to pray for his dad. When I got the call that death was imminent, I drove to Norman’s house. The house was full of members of our church. Everyone was weeping. It was about 72 hours before Mr. Jackson would pass into eternity, but our people never left Norman’s side. Some of our people even spent the night, sleeping on the floor or on the couch, so Norman wouldn’t have to care for his father alone.

About a month later, I was in the middle of my sermon, when the rear doors of the church cracked open and in walked Norman Jackson, who sat down quietly on the last pew. I don’t think he ever missed another Sunday.

Only A God like ours could take a man who didn’t want anything to do with a church, and take that same church who didn’t want anything to do with that man, and bring them both together in His love.

April 20, 2019No comments
God at Work

Randy Kuhn, Pastor

Carlisle Baptist Church

We think God is only at work where there is health and wealth and prosperity, when, in fact, God is most often at work where there is disease and hurt and pain. He is most often at work there, because that is where He is needed most.

Diane Rayner can tell you about that. She and her husband and children had moved one year to Richmond, Virginia. There her youngest son, Marty, had quickly become best friends with the little boy next door named Kenny. Marty was deaf in one ear, but it made no difference to Kenny. Every afternoon after school, one or the other one of them would slip under the electric fence around the horse pasture that separated their homes and run to play with the other one until supper time.

That year as Christmas approached, Diane noticed that Marty seemed to be acting strange. He did his chores with unusual willingness and speed. He counted his allowance money with extra care. Then just a few days before Christmas, she learned the secret. Marty had saved up all his allowance and had bought his friend Kenny a beautiful compass. Diane was touched, but she was also afraid. Kenny’s family was very poor, and Diane doubted that Kenny’s mother would allow him to keep the gift since they could never afford one for Marty. When Diane told Marty about this, he suggested that He could give the gift in secret. On Christmas Eve, he would sneak over to Kenny’s front door, and put the gift on the front porch, ring the doorbell, and then run away before anybody came. It was a touching idea.

And so on Christmas Eve, Diane opened the door, and watched as Marty slipped across the horse pasture and up on the front porch. He placed the gift down, rang the doorbell, and ran fast. Unfortunately, in his hurry, he forgot about the electric fence around the horse pasture. He ran into it, and it hit him across the face, leaving a nasty red burn from his mouth to his ear. Diane went to bed that night troubled. It seemed such a cruel thing to happen to a little boy who was doing what the Lord wants us to do at Christmas, to give to others, and giving in secret at that. Diane confesses that she was disappointed and hurt with God. But she was wrong. The next morning when Kenny came over to show Mary his new compass, as the boys were talking, Diane noticed that Marty was not cocking his head as he usually did. He seemed to be hearing out of his deaf ear! A check with the doctor proved it was true. Marty’s hearing had somehow been strangely restored by the shock of the electric fence. What Diane thought was a terrible bad thing, God was using to make Marty hear again. God was at work in a way she did not see. And in the same way, God is present in His world at work all over the place, we just don’t have eyes to see it

April 20, 2019No comments
I Want More Jesus!

Dr. Kenny Payne, Minister

Palo Alto Church of Christ

Dr. Sergei Korotya sat behind his desk and said to me with a slight smile, “I know why you are providing humanitarian aid to my hospital. You want people to become Christians.” I was in Gorlovka, Ukraine at a hospital that had received a significant amount of humanitarian aid. “You’re right” I responded. Dr. Korotya continued, “Well, I want to keep getting the aid, but I do not want to hear about Jesus.” He was quite surprised when I said, “Deal. I will keep giving you humanitarian aid and I won’t say anything about Jesus unless you ask me to.” It was about four years later when Sergei, (whose wife had begun attending worship services) asked if we could start talking about Jesus and studying the Bible. He added, “But don’t push!” We set up the time and agreed to meet at our home once a week. My wife prepared a great meal and we hosted Dr. Korotya and his family. After studying in Mark for about an hour, my wife interrupted and said, “It is time to eat, the food will get cold.” Sergei did not want to stop. After supper he suggested that we not wait until next week to study more, “Let’s meet again this week.” I told him, “Sergei, you are pushing!” He replied, “It’s okay if I push!” Not long after that he and his wife were baptized into Christ.

We were sitting in a small apartment in the Qvartal region of Gorlovka with several babushkas (grandmother in Russian) singing hymns, having a Bible lesson and taking the Lord’s supper. Babushka Anya was nearly deaf and almost blind. When the tray for the bread was handed to her she took a large piece of the bread and passed it on. Those around her noticed her and one even scolded her for taking such a large piece of the bread. Then when the juice was passed around she wanted to take more than one cup. The babushka beside her said loudly (they may have thought they were whispering), “you can only have one of the cups!” In reply, Babushka Anya said, “Isn’t the bread and the wine supposed to be the body and blood of Jesus? Well, I want more Jesus!”

When people live out their faith, and tell the story of Jesus well, the end result is always the same: People fall in love with Jesus, they commit to become his students, they tell the story. “I want more Jesus, too!” Don’t you?

April 20, 2019No comments