Category Archives: Opinion

Different Sides of the Same Coin by Pastor Jimmy Tucker

The Bottom Line by Jimmy Tucker

 

When I was in high school I decided it would be cool to fill a huge glass jar with pennies; I eventually filled it full. I also started saving change out of my pocket and dropping it into another container. When I took these coins to the bank, it made a substantial deposit. There may have been some collectible coins in those jars, but I wasn’t interested enough to examine all of them in the hope of finding one that was valuable. However, a real coin collector would have looked diligently. Although I’m not interested in coins, I am interested in something more valuable — the “pearl of great value.” Matthew 13:45-46 NLT: “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!” 

The “pearl of great value” is the message of the gospel of salvation. When an interested person hears the gospel and realizes its great value, he immediately takes God up on His offer. God offers eternal life to those who believe in His only begotten Son and follow His teaching. Christ Jesus teaches us to repent of our sins and turn to GodThere’s two sides to a coin, and in the message of the gospel there’s two commands in one. Jesus said, “You will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God” (Luke 13:3 NLT). There’s no turning to God without repentance. You can’t have one without the other because they’re like the two sides of a coin.

Repenting of sins is not a politically-correct sermon topic these days. A pastor is constantly under pressure to not offend people. But we have a mandate to preach the gospel message which includes repentance. People don’t like to hear that they need to repent of their sins and turn to God. Believers who practice sin may be socially acceptable, but God says they will not inherit God’s Kingdom. “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people — none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9,10 NLT).

Repentance is turning away from sin and living for God with all your heart. “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you” (Matthew 15:19,20 NLT). Those who think they can repeat the “sinner’s prayer” and be ready for heaven, but continue to live for themselves and enjoy the pleasures of sin, are deceived.

Jesus came as God’s remedy for sin and to make forgiveness possible to all who believe in Him. Those who believe in and know Him will follow His teaching. The fallen sinful nature is to be replaced with His divine love nature. “The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith” (1 Timothy 1:5 NLT).  Are you interested in eternal life? Then consider your two choices: eternal life in heaven or eternal death in hell. Don’t procrastinate in making your decision, because if you wait too long you’re choosing hell by default.

The Bottom Line: What would you do with a valuable coin? Store it in a jar until you die, or cash it in for what it’s worth?

Pastor Jimmy Tucker

(620) 223-1483

Diamond Community Church

2591 Jayhawk Road

Fort Scott, KS

Worship 10:45 a.m.

What Do You See? By Pastor James Collins

Pastor James Collins

What Do You See?

“…For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.1 Samuel 16:7b

My nine-year-old son, John, has quite an imagination. He loves to build things with Lego bricks. The other night he said, “Look at this rocket ship I built.” He held up what looked like a square glob of tiny, multicolored, plastic bricks. To me, it looked more like a toaster than a rocket ship.

John spends hours in his room playing with Legos. He builds everything from tractors to towers, from cars to castles, from submarines to space stations. He has quite an imagination.

When I look at those toy plastic bricks, I see toy plastic bricks. When John looks at them, he sees knights slaying dragons, airplanes flying across the sky, and heroes on a jungle quest. In his imagination, Legos are not Legos at all. They are robots, Batmobiles, and skyscrapers.

What people see in their minds and what they see outside are two different things.

Not too long ago, John saved his money to buy a new Lego set. He saved allowance, birthday, and Christmas money. When he had enough for the set he wanted, I took him to Walmart.

As we pulled into the parking lot, we noticed a family sitting in an old station wagon. The father sat on the hood. He held a cardboard sign that read, “WILL WORK FOR FOOD.”

The station wagon looked to be on its last leg. The family inside looked dirty and disheveled. They appeared to be living in their car.

I looked over and noticed John was staring at the family. Neither one of us said anything.

We went inside and made our way back to the toy aisle, but John didn’t seem interested in Legos. He looked up and asked, “Can I use my money to buy those people some food?” I choked back tears and answered, “Sure.” John said, “I can’t wait to tell them about Jesus.”

There was an excitement in our steps as we filled up a cart with groceries. We hurried through the checkout, loaded up our car, and drove to the end of the parking lot. John leaned out the window with two bags of groceries, and said, “Sir, I want to give you some food.” The man put down his sign, took the groceries, and said, “Thank you.” John said, “You are welcome, and Jesus loves you.”

To tell the truth, most likely, I would not have noticed the needy family in the station wagon. I am proud of my son. He sees things that I miss.

What people see in their minds and what they see outside are two different things.

We need to see people as God sees them.

The point is: God looks at people differently than you and I look at people. We look at people on the outside. God looks at the heart. It doesn’t matter if you are freshly bathed and wearing a three-piece suit, or dirty wearing a t-shirt, and torn jeans, God looks at your heart.

The Bible says that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. God loves everyone, but all have sinned, and come short of His glory. Every person we meet is lost without Jesus. The only cure for the sin-sick heart is the Lord Jesus Christ. Without Christ, even people who look nice on the outside go to hell.

When you look at people, what do you see?

Do you see somebody who needs Jesus?

Tell somebody about Him today.

James Collins is pastor of Fort Scott’s First Southern Baptist Church. He can be reached by email at james@thepointis.net.

Appearances by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

 Jesus is not happy with the Pharisees. He calls them whitewashed tombs, beautiful (“righteous”) on the outside but “full of hypocrisy and wickedness” on the inside. (Matthew 23:27-28 NIV)

When Dave and I first toured the Florida subdivision where we now rent, I envisioned Aunt Bea taking cookies to a neighbor and Opie fishing in a nearby pond. Aside from the Key West-style homes and the pristine landscaping, what impressed me most were the front porches—welcoming, friendly, a return to a once-upon-a-time era when neighbors sat together and caught up on each other’s lives. Rocking chairs, swings, and padded loveseats all seemed to say, “Come on up and chat a while.”

As it turned out, these didn’t.

For six months I have ridden my bike or taken long walks a few times a week, all hours of the day, expecting to find owners relaxing on their porches or strolling through their All-American, Norman Rockwell neighborhood. Two times (2!) I have found porch-sitters…both who ignored me until I greeted them first. When I meet up with dog-walkers, they speak only if I mention their cute canine. No one has asked my name or started a conversation. What am I to make of this? I mean, such a waste of these charming, inviting porches!

Dave says I’m to make nothing of it. It’s their home and they can use whatever part of it they want. No one has to talk to me if they don’t want to. The way they choose to live their lives is their business. I tell Dave that they probably are all sad people who never learned how to make friends, don’t know Jesus, and I probably should take them cookies. That’s what Aunt Bea would do. Then I reconsider. I know these types. They’ll accuse me of lacing them with arsenic or marijuana. Dave says I am making way too big of a deal out of this.

I tell him that I think our neighborhood is an excellent example of “what you see is not what you get.” It appears inviting, but isn’t. Jesus gave us a great picture of that when he addressed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. (See Scripture above.) Remember, the Pharisees were the spiritual leaders, esteemed, pious Jews who knew “The Law” and insisted that everyone live accordingly. They looked the part and played the part and probably even had “Honk if you obey God” humper stickers on their camels, but their outer appearance defied what was going on inside them. Had Aunt Bea been alive during Jesus’ day, I’m convinced that she would not have been part of the Pharisees’ social registry.

Earlier in Matthew 23 Jesus calls it like it is: Everything they (the Pharisees) do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long. (Side note: phylacteries were small cases containing Scripture that these religious leaders attached to their foreheads; tassels were a grouping of loose threads hanging at the hems of their clothes–reminders of the commandments God gave to Moses). To the Pharisees, wide and long meant bigger and better.

Let’s face it. Appearances can deceive. We can paint it, enlarge it, decorate it, even suspend a “Welcome” banner from it, all which reveal nothing about what’s inside. But isn’t that true of all of us? Could Jesus call me a “white-washed tomb” for expecting others to meet my front porch expectations but not working harder to meet theirs? Could I be that hypocrite? Could Dave be right after all? Could this be a problem that a few chocolate chip cookies could solve?

I think it is. I’m just not sure how long I have to sit on my front porch, waiting for someone to deliver them. But when they do, I’ll invite them to “come on up and chat a while.” After all, you have to start somewhere.

I think Aunt Bea would be proud.

Stop Global Whining by Pastor James Collins

Pastor James Collins

Stop Global Whining

Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.Philippians 2:14-15

Uncle Elmer lay in a bed in a darkened hospital room. He was attached to a maze of tubes, wires, and machines. Near the end of his life, he struggled for consciousness one last time. Next to him was my Aunt Maimy, his wife of 55 years. Elmer reached for the hand of the person he had known for more than five decades of marriage.

Maimy, is that you?” he asked.

Yes,” she said. “I’m here.”

Maimy, you have been with me for 55 years of marriage.”

Yes, I have been with you.”

I remember in our first year of marriage when a fire destroyed everything we owned, you were there with me.”

Yes, I was with you.”

I remember when I lost my job and was unemployed for over a year, and you were beside me.”

Yes, I was with you.”

And several years ago, after my first stroke, you were with me then.”

Yes, I was with you then.”

Now, in these final months, as I lay dying in this hospital bed, you’re with me again.”

Yes, dear, I am with you.”

Uncle Elmer paused for a moment and said, “Maimy, you’re nothing but bad luck.”

Do you know someone like that? Do you know someone who finds something to complain about no matter how good things are going?

There is a woman in our church, Lois Steam, who complains about everything. “I don’t know how anybody can praise Jesus in this icebox,” she said two weeks ago. “What is this, a church or a walk-in freezer?” The following Sunday she quipped, “It’s so hot in here that you could poach eggs in the baptistry.”

Lois would complain if her ice-cream was cold.

You shouldn’t talk so loud when you preach. I’m not deaf,” Lois said a while back. When I toned it down, she yelled, “Speak up! You, soft-spoken nitwit!”

I was tempted to rebaptize her and hold her under for a while.

We need more young people around here,” Lois said when I first came to the church. “Why are all these kids running in the halls? Why do we have all these kids in in here?” she said last week.

Lois makes me want to fire the church and form a congregation search committee.

The point is: Complainers can drain the joy not only out of their own lives, but also out of the lives of everybody around them. Clearly, complaining is no laughing matter to God. God hates complaining. The Bible says to do everything without murmurings and disputings. In other words, stop complaining!

The next time you feel like complaining, resist the urge and look for a way to pay a compliment. Who knows, if you do that enough, you may be cured of your complaining?

James Collins is pastor of Fort Scott’s First Southern Baptist Church. He can be reached by email at james@thepointis.net.

Hurricane by Patty LaRoche

Expecting to have no internet service, I am writing this a few days ahead of Hurricane Dorian’s projected arrival near where Dave and I are living in Florida. Yesterday I went to Costco to buy water…as did, it seems, a few thousand other people. Signs in the parking lot gave the bad news: “Out of Water.” So was Walmart. So were all of the grocery stores. Apparently, most people took this warning more seriously than I and shopped early. Today when I ran errands, I was amazed at how the lines at the gas stations circled the block, even though there was no regular gas to be had.

We are learning a lot about being prepared. As you can see from this picture, we installed the hurricane shutters necessary to stop flying debris. We were instructed to back our car into the garage door so the door doesn’t shake, thereby letting in wind and water which can lift the roof off the house. WHAT? We expect to lose electricity, but I must admit I’m not very creative when it comes to making meals without the use of a refrigerator, stove, microwave or toaster. Dave and I will fine-dine on Tostitos, bean dip and tuna fish.

I told Dave we should have rented on a top floor of a high rise, but yesterday the Weather Channel told those residents to evacuate because wet beach sand gets carried into stair wells and elevator shafts and makes it impossible to leave. Guess I’ll be happy to be where I am…three miles from the ocean in a two-story condominium where I can go upstairs if the bottom floor floods…unless, of course, that little roof-lift thing happens.

Good friends have called and texted, offering prayers and warning us to evacuate. Advice from them has included putting our important papers in waterproof containers, filling our bathtub with water and our washing machine with ice. We need to keep our devices charged (grateful for car phone chargers, when we lose electricity).

All of this involves preparation, and as I watch people scurrying around as the clock ticks away, there is an urgency like I have never seen. Living in the Midwest our concern is tornadoes, but we are not given a few days (more like minutes) to get ready. Let’s face it. Tornadoes or hurricanes, when we realize our lives are at stake, we get serious with our planning.

As we should. Still, there is a more critical call for us to be ready. 1 Thes. 4:16-18: For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Talk about an evacuation! A day is coming when no amount of scurrying can help and our eternal destiny will be set, depending on how we have prepared by knowing Jesus and glorifying God. In that split second when Jesus returns, I wonder how many will wish they would have taken his message more seriously when they had a chance.

Maybe this should be a warning for all of us.

Keep Your Antenna Pointed Toward God by Pastor Jimmy Tucker

The Bottom Line by Jimmy Tucker

 

Growing up in Arkansas, my brothers and sisters and I always enjoyed going to see my grandparents in Missouri. During our visit, we liked to watch television shows like “Lassie“ and “Bonanza“ because we didn‘t have a TV at home. Back then, there was no such thing as cable or dish and there were only a few stations to choose from. My grandparents had a big antenna on the outside of the house and it had to be pointed just so-so in order to have a clear picture. Sometimes the television screen would get fuzzy and adjustments had to be made on the set, or by turning the antenna slightly toward the station. Storms, clouds, and wind could affect the reception even though the TV station was still transmitting the signal.

There’s no doubt about it, the storms and winds of this world are blowing strong. God is always transmitting (through His written Word or the voice of the Holy Spirit), but we may not be receiving if our priorities are not in proper alignment with God. If we have allowed the storms of life or other distractions to move our antenna around, we can’t receive what God is wanting us to learn.

You can get yourself sidetracked and in a real jam by just “doing your own thing.” God is a good God all the time, but He’s not pleased when we only give Him our attention on Sunday morning. “So be careful not to break the covenant the Lord your God has made with you. Do not make idols of any shape or form, for the Lord your God has forbidden this. The Lord your God is a devouring fire; He is a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:23,24 NLT). This Old Testament scripture still applies to us today. An idol can be anything we put above God. It’s anything we give our attention to more than the Lord. It could be a person, a possession, or an activity. God deserves first place every day.

Like Daniel in the Old Testament, you have to purpose in your heart that you’ll not let the devil get a foothold in your life. Daniel was determined that he would not defile himself by eating the king’s food or drinking his wine, so he asked to be exempt from the royal diet. He refused to allow anything to compromise his fellowship with God. “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…” (Daniel 1:8 KJV).

We need to review our priorities daily to ensure that God has first place in our life. God never changes — He’s is the same, yesterday, today and forever. So if something has come between you and your relationship with Him, the problem is with you. If you haven’t heard from God in awhile, you need a spiritual checkup. He’s waiting for you to adjust your attitude and your way of living. Jesus said, “…And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 NLT). He longs to have a genuine relationship and close fellowship with you. His awesome holiness and perfect justice requires our whole-hearted attention and prompt obedience.

The Bottom Line: If you love God supremely, keep your spiritual antenna turned to receive His smallest whisper.

Pastor Jimmy Tucker

620-223-1483

Diamond Community Church

10:45 a.m. Worship

What in the World Are You Talking About? by Pastor James Collins

Pastor James Collins

 

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.Matthew 24:14

The frying pan was held high in her right hand as she talked to me. My wife, Amanda, usually holds something in her hand when she talks to me – a rolling pin, a hairbrush, nunchucks. I think she holds something to emphasize her point. Last Tuesday night, she was holding a frying pan.

Amanda opened the dishwasher door, turned around, held up the frying pan and asked, “What in the world are you talking about?” I was sitting at the kitchen table working on my sermon for Sunday. I said again, “I am worried about my message Sunday. I think it’s going to be the worst sermon in the world.” She said, “That’s impossible. That will never happen. You preached the worst sermon in the world last week.”

As soon as Amanda finished boosting my self-confidence, she stepped back. She obviously forgot the dishwasher door was open. She tripped, threw the frying pan in the air, and fell backwards. As Amanda was falling, she reached out to grab the countertop. She missed and slammed her right thumb down on the corner of the open dishwasher door. Somehow, the dishwasher door cut a deep gash in her thumb.

Amanda grabbed her bloody hand and said something spiritual. I think she said, “Oh Lordy!” I grabbed a towel and applied pressure to get the bleeding to stop. Not long after we arrived at the emergency room.

Walking in, holding her bloody hand, Amanda said, “I need to see a doctor. I need stitches.”

The lady behind the counter looked at Amanda’s hand and said, “We just ordered queso dip and chips.”

Another lady, a nurse in the back, said, “I just love the queso from El Charro. It’s a good thing you ordered it before they closed.”

I know, right?”

Do you know what else is good? Their guacamole. I could eat a gallon.”

Amanda was bleeding to death and they were talking about chips and dips.

In the same way, the world is bleeding to death, but Christians are too busy talking about unimportant things. This world is dying and going to hell, and we’ve got the Way to save them, but most Christians act like the good news of Jesus Christ is a secret.

The point is: Jesus commanded us to share the gospel with others (Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8). He ordered us to take the gospel to the world (Matthew 24:14). He will hold us accountable for how we shared the gospel when we stand before Him (2 Corinthians 5:10).

You may be thinking, “I wouldn’t know what to say.” It’s simple. Just tell them that Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth and died to forgive your sins. Everyone who believes in Jesus is saved from the penalty of their sins and will spend eternity with Jesus in Heaven. Believing in Christ means to turn away from your sins and turn to Him. Confess Jesus as your Savior and Lord.

You could be the person that God uses to have an eternal impact in someone’s life, or you could just talk about chips and dips. 

When was the last time you shared your faith? When was the last time you told somebody about Jesus?

What in the world are you talking about?

James Collins is pastor of Fort Scott’s First Southern Baptist Church. He can be reached by email at james@thepointis.net.

Gary Sinise Foundation by Patty LaRoche

While biking in our subdivision the other day, I came across this construction site. A group of donors are making it possible for Sgt. Stefan Leroy and his wife to have a new home. I later Googled Sgt. Leroy and found this article posted on the Gary Sinese Foundation website:

On June 7, 2012 while deployed in Afghanistan, Stefan and his platoon were clearing improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Suddenly, two IEDs detonated and Stefan rushed to aid those injured by the blasts. While carrying an injured soldier to a Medevac helicopter, Stefan was struck by a third explosion. He lost both of his legs immediately.

Stefan was transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where he spent over a month in the hospital. He spent two years learning to adapt to his prosthetics, drawing strength from his friends and the other amputees at the hospital. Sixteen months after his last surgery in September 2014, he ran the Boston Marathon. “Stefan’s current living situation does not accommodate his wheelchair, causing him stress in his day-to-day activities. The Gary Sinise Foundation looks forward to providing Stefan with a specially adapted smart home to ease his daily challenges.” Actor Gary Sinese, most known for his performance in “Forrest Gump,” started this foundation to make dreams come true for our defenders, veterans, first responders and their families. His website claims that over 1,000,000 soldiers have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan “bearing the mental and physical wounds of war.” Thanks to donations to his foundation, fifty-seven homes are completed, and twenty more are under construction. I rode back to the site to talk to some of the workers. Everything in this house will be wheelchair-friendly, from wider doors to lower sinks. The painters praised the efforts of Mr. Sinese who used his public platform to help those in need. When I got home, I looked further into what drove this incredible man to give so sacrificially. I was excited by what I found. Speaking at a Knights’ of Columbus dinner, an organization with which he has partnered, Sinese said this: “When I think about the life and sufferings of Christ, when I think about the stories of the extreme hardships and heavy burdens that our military men and women and their families were willing to, and continue to bare, I can’t help but think about this verse: ‘For greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’” If there is a better motive for sacrificial giving, I don’t know what it is.

 

The Meeting By Pastor James Collins

Pastor James Collins

The Meeting

(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

2 Corinthians 6:2

Satan called a meeting in his office. He invited some of his most notorious residents of hell.

Is it air conditioned in here?” asked Osama bin Laden. “Sure is.” replied the devil. “It’s one of the perks of being the boss.” Bin Laden who was soaked in sweat from another day of the eternal heat of his just reward looked down and frowned.

Satan said, “I suppose you are all wondering why I called this meeting.” A group of history’s most evil men stood before the devil’s desk. Each of them nodded. “There seems to be more and more people choosing Heaven.” Satan continued. “I have been talking with the marketing team and we need to put a positive spin on this place. I am looking for new ideas. I need new ways to catch more souls.”

The loathsome serial killer, John Wayne Gacy, raised his hand. Satan said, “Yes, clown.” “Sir,” Gacy said, “As you know, I loved to kill children. I think we could get more souls down here if we convinced people to kill children.”

You’re out of touch, Gacy.” the devil said. “You’ve been down here a while. You have no idea what’s going on up there. We’ve made killing children a two-billion dollar a year business. Through the abortion industry, we have killed 70 million little boys and girls since 1973. We have just made it more palatable by calling it a choice instead of murder.”

The villainous Joseph Stalin raised his hand and said, “Boss, we will get more souls and ruin their society by starting wars to destroy Democracy and replace it with Communism.”

That won’t work, Joe.” said Satan. “Wars cost too much money, besides we’ve been destroying Democracy from the inside. Don’t you watch CNN? We have gotten Communists elected to some offices. Only we don’t call it Communism. We call it Democratic Socialism.”

The vile terrorist, Osama bin Laden, raised his hand. Satan said, “Yes, you in the turban.” Bin Laden smiled and said, “Mr. Lucifer, If wars won’t work, why don’t we take more souls by use of radical Muslim Terrorists. That always worked for me.”

No.” Satan said. “We have to sacrifice too many of our own guys. I can’t afford to lose anymore minions when they fly airplanes into buildings. Besides, we have managed to get radical Muslim Terrorists elected to their political offices. Those idiots actually voted them in.”

You’re kidding!” Bin Laden laughed.

I never kid.” Satan replied.

The depraved Charles Manson interrupted, “Let’s destroy them and their world through sexual perversion.”

Charlie,” the devil started, “We are already doing that. The world is flooded with pornography. Depravity is running rampant. We got them to okay same sex marriages, and now we are confusing them into letting boys use the girl’s bathrooms. We just repackaged the term “perversion,” and called it an “alternative lifestyle.”

Frustrated, the devil yelled, “Doesn’t any of you scum have any good ideas on how to catch more souls?” A man in the back of the room raised his hand. “Yes,” Satan said. “Who are you?” The man said, “My name is Billy.” The devil snorted, “Billy! I don’t remember you ever doing anything disgustingly evil. Do you have an idea?”

Billy said, “I just wanted to tell you what got me down here. All my life, I knew that I needed to get saved, but I kept putting it off. I was busy with work, cell phones, social media, television, and other important stuff. I thought I had plenty of time. Then one day, I woke up here. I suggest you convince people that there is no hurry. Convince them to wait for a better, more convenient time to accept Christ and live for Him.”

Brilliant!” Satan shouted. “That will work!”

The point is: The Bible says today is the day of salvation. We are not promised tomorrow. Right now, accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Don’t put off your decision.

Tomorrow may be too late.

Pruning by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Hurricane season is nearing, and we who live in Florida are being prepped with expert advice. The latest came from our trash removal service via the neighborhood newsletter. Apparently keeping our yard vegetation trimmed is key. We need to “thin out foliage so that wind can flow freely through branches, decreasing the chance of uprooting trees or plants.” That small step will prevent damage to cars, houses and people. Two years ago, according to the article, because of Hurricane Irma’s vegetative debris left on the ground, it took three months and cost more than $30 million to collect and dispose of all the waste.

Fortunately, Dave and I are renting in an area where the yard work is handled by professionals. That probably saves our neighborhood because my dear husband loves to prune (i.e., shred). He, a snip sniper, believes that plants and bushes need to end up basically at ground level so they can “start over.” Butchering more shrubs than I can count, Gardener Dave claims that his method will help the plant grow, bear better fruit and improve its appearance…which, given 30 or 40 years, is a possibility. Don’t get me wrong. I know that pruning is necessary, but it should be purposeful, not random from a Paul Bunyan wannabe who lights up at the thought of tinkering with an axe.

In the June update of “The Spruce,” the author calls pruning “tough love…(which) keeps (plants) healthy and encourages fresh, new growth and renewal.” Lopping off those sprigs or limbs keeps them from sapping the energy of the healthy part of the plant (you know, the part Dave has mutilated). If not pruned, the dead spreads and kills the entire plant.

Jesus knew all about pruning and used that analogy when instructing his disciples (and us) on what is necessary to thrive. I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:1-2).

Pretty simple. If we are fruit-bearers (bringing glory to God by discipling others), He, as the grand gardener, prunes to increase fruitfulness so the storms of life won’t leave irreparable damage in our lives. Pruning might mean we lose wilted relationships, superfluous possessions, unimportant status, lifeless habits, etc., but if that temporary loss causes us to rely more on God and less on what we think we need, we will bear more spiritual fruit.

One way God prunes is through His word, the Bible, where we learn of behaviors that sap our energy and keep us from maturing in our Christian walk. Removing the undesirable sin- branches frees us to grow. Hebrews 4:12 explains the importance of allowing the Bible to dictate how we live: For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The questions remain: What in your life needs to be pruned? Perhaps there is something that creates a drain on you, and even though “good,” it is not “best.” Aleasha Morris of “Leadership Vision” wrote of the benefit of spiritual pruning: “Finding and removing what chokes our life can help us to breathe deeper, spread wider, and grow higher than we ever thought possible.”

Sounds like a plan to me. I just pray it doesn’t take 30-40 years to get there.

The Bottom Line by Pastor Jimmy Tucker

There’s No Monkey Business in Forgiveness

Recently, my wife and I got to keep our five and three-year-old granddaughters for nearly a week. We enjoyed being able to spend that much time with them. I noticed how easily and quickly they forgave each other after having an “episode.” In just a few short minutes (after throwing what seemed to be a very serious and carnal fit of anger), they forgot all about it and played together like sweet little angels.

When we’ve been hurt by someone, we need to forgive quickly and never hold a grudge. Jesus repeatedly commands us to forgive; so forgiveness must be a lifestyle for the believer. If you think it’s too hard to forgive, just remember what Jesus said as He was dying on the cross: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus experienced the worst hatred and cruelty from mankind, yet He forgave. Jesus is the ultimate example of love.

Forgiveness is a vital part of being a born-again Christian. However, a lack of forgiveness is a major problem among believers. There’s a serious scripture in the Bible that tends to be ignored: “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too“ (Mark 11:25 NLT). Another sobering reference is: “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14,15 NLT). Notice that neither of these scriptures indicate that the person you’re to forgive has asked for forgiveness. So whether the offender asks or not, we are to forgive.

When we refuse to forgive someone, we’re letting Satan outsmart us and keep us in a rebellious position. We can’t receive all the good things God has planned for us when we continue to live in a state of unforgiveness. When we forgive quickly, it’s for our own benefit. When we miss it and sin, we repent and ask God to forgive us. He doesn’t wait a month or two, He forgives immediately. We’re to forgive in the same way. Shake it off, drop it, leave it, let it go, and pray for the person that wronged you.

Unforgiveness acts as a poison in your life, so why would you want to hang on to it? The longer you allow resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness to grow, the more potent these poisons become.

When you forgive, you’re extending mercy. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7 KJV). So if you extend mercy to others, you’ll receive mercy from your heavenly Father. Mercy is something you can’t earn and don’t deserve. Perhaps you’re thinking your offender doesn’t deserve to be forgiven. Just remember that when you withhold forgiveness you’re hurting yourself, not the other person.

The Bottom Line: If you want to receive mercy and have your prayers answered, then forgive anyone you‘re holding a grudge against. Forgiveness is serious business.

Pastor Jimmy Tucker

(620) 223-1483

Diamond Community Church

10:45 a.m. Worship

A Fish Story by Pastor James Collins

Pastor James Collins

 

And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.Matthew 4:19

Last month, I volunteered to take twenty middle school kids to church camp. When I arrived at camp, one of the organizers came up and whispered, “You need to know that some of the boys in your cabin have… behavior challenges.” I later discovered, behavior challenges meant trying to escape the camp, treating me like a human piñata, and setting fire to my sleeping bag. At least I wasn’t in the sleeping bag when they burned it up. Oh well, boys will be boys.

“Fishers of men” was one of the camp lessons. On that day, we took the children fishing. There was one little boy named Caedmon. He came up to me and said, “Pastor James, I have never been fishing. I have never caught a fish. Can you help me?” Thinking it would be easy, I said, “Sure.”

 

Two hours later, Caedmon still hadn’t caught a fish. He had lost his bait about a hundred times, but he had not caught a fish. He was very upset. Through tears he sobbed, “I really wanted to catch a fish.” I determined to make sure he caught one.

We cast out again. I helped him hold his pole. He said, “It feels like I’ve got something.” I helped him reel him in. We had caught a good-sized bundle of moss. As we lifted it from the water, Caedmon was very excited.

“What kind of fish is it?” he asked.

“That’s a legendary mossy fish,” I replied, “It’s very difficult to catch. Good job.”

“Can we have it for supper?”

“Yeah, but this mossy fish is kind of small. Let’s try one more time.”

Caedmon cast the line out again. I said a prayer. As soon as the bobber hit the water, it went under. I jerked the pole and screamed, “Reel him in Caedmon.” He was elated as he wrangled with the fish on the other end of his line. His laughter echoed across the pond.

“What a whopper!” I exclaimed as he held up his catch. It was only a tiny bluegill, but to Caedmon it was a twenty-pound bass.

“Can we have it for supper?” he asked again.

“You bet.” I answered.

That night, the camp cook came to my rescue. We had fish sticks.

If only we got as excited about fishing for men as Caedmon did about fishing for mossy fish and bluegills.

The other day, I saw a bumper sticker on the back of an old pickup truck that read, “Life’s Short: Fish Hard.”

There is much wisdom in that bumper sticker. As Christians, we are “fishers of men.” We have been commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ to share the gospel, and we only have a limited time to do it. Life is passing. How quickly 10, 20, 30 years pass. All too quickly those friends and family members we always wanted to talk to about Jesus Christ are no longer with us.

The point is: Life’s short: Fish hard. As obedient followers of Jesus, we should “fish hard” to bring others to Him.

When was the last time you went fishing? When was the last time you told someone about the love and salvation we have in Christ? Have you reached out to your neighbors with the good news? How about people at work? Friends? Family?

Time is running out. Get busy fishing.

James Collins is senior pastor at Fort Scott’s First Southern Baptist Church. He can be reached at (620) 223-2986, or through the website thepointis.net.