The Truth Is

 

We often hear it said, “Perception is reality.” That idea for Americans may have dawned on September 26, 1960—the date of the first televised debate between two presidential candidates. In front of the cameras, John Kennedy appeared composed; Richard Nixon appeared nervous. The perception was that Kennedy would be a stronger leader. The debate not only turned that election, but it also changed the way politics is done in the US. Politics by perception became the rule of the day.

Sometimes perception is reality. But not always—especially our perceptions about God. When Jesus and His disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee in a small fishing vessel, a sudden storm threatened to sink the boat. With Jesus asleep and the disciples on the verge of panic, they began to stir Him, asking, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38).

Their question sounds similar to questions I’ve asked. At times I perceive God’s apparent inactivity as a lack of care. But His care for me goes well beyond what I can see or measure. Our God is deeply concerned for what concerns us. He urges us to place all our care upon Him, “for He cares for [us]” (1 Peter 5:7). That is true reality.

O yes, He cares; I know He cares!
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares. —Graeff

Veteran’s Day

A Veteran’s Day Tribute
 

 

If someone has done military service,
They earn the title “veteran,” and more;
They earn our deep respect and admiration;
That they are special no one can ignore.
 

 

They sacrificed the comforts we enjoy;
The list is long of all the things they gave.
Our veterans are extraordinary people;
They’re loyal, dedicated, true and brave.
 

 

When terror and invasion were real threats,
They showed us they could handle any storm.
We owe our freedoms and our very lives
To our veterans, who served in uniform.
 

 

Our veterans should be celebrities;
They’re exceptional; no other group compares.
We’re grateful for the many things they’ve done;
They’re always in our hearts and in our prayers.
 

 

We owe our veterans support and friendship;
Let no one ever question what they’re worth.
These men and women served us and our country,
Our veterans–the very best on earth.
 

 

By Joanna Fuchs

It’s the Little Things

by Meagan Davis

Best Day Ever!

“Did you have the best day of your life?”

The text pops up on my iPhone.
Ha. Today, the best day? I think not. There are so many days that could be better than this one.
This is my attitude over and over again, every single time she asks me.
But it’s not the attitude that I should have.
The mental image that pops up whenever I see that text is Rapunzel in Tangled. “Best Day Ever!” She screams as she flies around the tree. But the next second, she is crying like it’s the worst day of her life.
Aren’t we like that sometimes? One moment is phenomenal! And the next, you just want to crawl in bed and stay there forever.
Each day is different. Some days are good. Some days are not so good. Some days are just ordinary and boring. So how do you go about making today the best day of your life? Here are a couple ideas that make any day better.
1. Spend time with God. I’m convinced that this is the best way to start your day. Just get your Bible out. Read it. Talk to God, and let God talk to you. I promise it won’t be wasted time.
2. Invest in someone else. Talk to them. Get to know them. What makes them tick? Show them love. Reach out. Smile. There are simple ways to invest.
3. Coffee. Okay, with coffee, you just can’t go wrong. Drink a cup. Preferrably during your God and I time.
4. Smile/Laugh. Smiling brightens anyone’s day, including your own. Laughter is one of the most beautiful sounds. Laughing with someone you love: it doesn’t get much better than that.
5.  Be organized. Make that to do list. Get it done. But…
6. Be flexible. Even with your to do list, your day probably isn’t going to go the way you think it will. Roll with it. If you’re plans are messed up, that’s okay!
7. Love life. Psalms tells us, “This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Do you love life today? I hope so. God gave you another sunrise. Another chance to make a difference. Just enjoy the day that God has given you.
This list is not all-inclusive. I’m sure you could add any number of things to make today the best day ever. What would it be for you? Do it. Have the best day ever!

Love

Years ago I asked a young man who was engaged to be married, “How do you know that you love her?” It was a loaded question, intended to help him look at his heart’s motives for the upcoming marriage. After several thoughtful moments, he responded, “I know I love her because I want to spend the rest of my life making her happy.”

We discussed what that meant—and the price tag attached to the selflessness of constantly seeking the best for the other person, rather than putting ourselves first. Real love has a lot to do with sacrifice.

That idea is in line with the wisdom of the Bible. In the Scriptures there are several Greek words for love but the highest form is agape love—love that is defined and driven by self-sacrifice. Nowhere is this more true than in the love our heavenly Father has shown us in Christ. We are deeply valued by Him. Paul stated God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

If sacrifice is the true measure of love, there could be no more precious gift than Jesus: For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son.

VISITORS

from Wayne Jenkins WBA

WHY PEOPLE DON’T COME BACK

If you attend a church regularly, you’ve probably noticed the phenomenon. A guest shows up for a worship service, but he or she never returns. It is, unfortunately, a common issue in many churches.

I did a Twitter poll to ask these first-time guests why they chose not to return to a particular church. While some of the responses were anticipated, I admit being a bit surprised with some of them.

Though my poll is not scientific, it is nevertheless fascinating. Here are the top ten responses in order of frequency.

  1. Having a stand up and greet one another time in the worship service. This response was my greatest surprise for two reasons. First, I was surprised how much guests are really uncomfortable during this time. Second, I was really surprised that it was the most frequent response.
  2. Unfriendly church members. This response was anticipated. But the surprise was the number of respondents who included non-genuine friendliness in their answers. In other words, the guests perceived some of the church members were faking it.
  3. Unsafe and unclean children’s area. This response generated the greatest emotional reactions. If your church does not give a high priority to children, don’t expect young families to attend.
  4. No place to get information. If your church does not have a clear and obvious place to get information, you probably have lowered the chances of a return visit by half. There should also be someone to greet and assist guests at that information center as well.
  5. Bad church website. Most of the church guests went to the church website before they attended a worship service. Even if they attended the service after visiting a bad website, they attended with a prejudicial perspective. The two indispensable items guests want on a website are address and times of service. It’s just that basic.
  6. Poor signage. If you have been attending a church for a few weeks, you forget all about the signage. You don’t need it any more. But guests do. And they are frustrated when it’s not there.
  7. Insider church language. Most of the respondents were not referring to theological language as much as language that only the members know. My favorite example was: “The WMU will meet in the CLC in the room where the GAs usually meet.”
  8. Boring or bad service. My surprise was not the presence of this item. The surprise was that it was not ranked higher.
  9. Members telling guests that they were in their seat or pew. Yes, this obviously still takes place in some churches.
  10. Dirty facilities. Some of the comments: “Didn’t look like it had been cleaned in a week.” “No trash cans anywhere.” Restrooms were worse than a bad truck stop.” “Pews had more stains than a Tide commercial.”

There you have it. The top ten reasons first-time guests said they did not return to a church. I can’t wait to hear from you readers. You always have such good additions and insights.

Thanks

Today is Pastor Appreciation Day at Victory Baptist. I am very thankful for God allowing me to be part of this great Church. We may be small in number but we are big in heart. Arlene and I have loved being a part of everyones life. I am thankful for the impact that everyone has had on our life.

Col. 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

COME BACK

ODB

One of my favorite childhood toys is making a comeback—the hula hoop. My friend Suzi and I spent hours on the front lawn perfecting our technique and competing to see which of us could keep a hoop circling our waist longer. This year I relived that part of my childhood. While sitting in a park, I watched as children of all ages and sizes tried their hardest to keep hula hoops from falling to the ground. They twisted and turned with all their strength, but despite their exertion the hoops landed on the ground. Then a young woman picked up a hoop. With hardly any motion, she moved it smoothly and rhythmically up and down from her waist to her shoulders and back to her waist. Her success depended on strategic movement, not vigorous motion.

In our spiritual lives, we can expend all kinds of energy trying to keep up with others in service to God. But working to exhaustion is not a virtue (Gal. 6:9). Before feeding thousands of people with only five loaves and two fish (Mark 6:38-44), Jesus called His disciples away to rest, proving that He doesn’t need our frantic exertion to accomplish His work. The truth Jesus taught His disciples, He wants to teach us: Quiet obedience accomplishes more than wild activity.

Help me, Lord, not to compare myself and
what I do with others. May I serve where You
want me to serve and do it in Your strength.
I love You and give myself to You.

Freedom

Throughout this weekend, Americans everywhere are celebrating freedom, as well they should. It’s one of the defining principles of their nation. Yet one might ask, Of those celebrating freedom, how many are truly experiencing it?

Certainly many men and women are living the American dream. They enjoy well-paying careers and wonderful homes, thanks in large part to political liberty. But meanwhile, their “pursuit of happiness” has yet to be satisfied. The reason is that lots of people remain prisoners internally, despite their apparent success. They are bound to anxiety and depression, or a fear of losing what they’ve worked hard to possess. However liberating circumstances seem externally, we eventually learn that freedom must be realized within. But how?

The answer is Jesus Christ. Isaiah 61:1 prophesied a key aspect of Jesus’ ministry, which continues to this day: He has come to heal the brokenhearted and set captives free. When we trust Him as Savior, the chains that keep us from joy are broken. We are liberated from lies that have been programmed in our minds from an early age, and we begin to see things from God’s point of view. Then we discover that our needs, desires, and total well-being rest securely in the arms of a loving heavenly Father.

Are you feeling the weight of anxiety or anger? Look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith, and remember the scriptural promise: “Now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). The day you trust in Him is the day He delivers you from fear and opens your eyes to who you truly are.