Category Archives: Opinion

Book It To Jesus by Pastor James Collins

 

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3:17

I am a member of a group of pastors in Southeast Kansas that meet once a month for conversation, prayer, and accountability. Recently, someone in our group suggested that we start reading several Christian books together. Then we could discuss the books at our meeting. Of course, I immediately and wholeheartedly agreed to this idea. I thought that I could build up trust among the group members and then slip my latest book into the lineup. Just think about it. I would absolutely dominate the discussion. “No, no, no. I’ll tell you exactly what the author meant!”

Sadly, my plan probably won’t materialize. Prophets (and authors) have no honor in their hometowns.

Or in their homes.

The other day, I caught my wife, Amanda, reading a book by David Jeremiah.

I said, “I see you are reading the new book by Dr. Jeremiah. What do you think of it?”

It’s incredible!” she answered.

Why?”

He’s brilliant.”

You don’t think he’s smarter than me, do you?”

Well…you’re different…”

Like the theologian and philosopher Rodney Dangerfield once said, “I get no respect.”

All joking aside, I don’t write books, columns, or sermons to impress anyone but the Lord Jesus Christ. A few years after Jesus saved me, He called me to ministry. He gave me a purpose. My purpose in life is to be an effective communicator of God’s Word. My life is complete because it is focused on Jesus.

The great composer Johann Sebastian Bach would write on the bottom of his musical manuscripts the letters INDNJC – which stood for the Latin word, “In Nomine Domini Nostri Jesu Christi.” Translated into English that means, “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Every piece of music Bach composed, he composed in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

You and I are not great musical composers. We are just ordinary people. However, everything we do should be done “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

If you are a teacher, you can prepare lessons and grade papers in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you are a construction worker, you can cut wood and drive nails in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you are a homemaker, you can prepare meals and do laundry in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you work in the retail business, you can stock shelves and run a cash register in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Even if you are a hack writer like me, you can pound a keyboard in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The point is: Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord. Even a small act of kindness such as giving a cup of cold water has eternal value when done in Jesus’ name. Little is much when done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Do you long for purpose and significance? The first step is to trust Jesus as your personal Savior. Then, do everything for Him.

James Collins is a pastor at First Southern Baptist Church. His latest book, “The Nativity” is available through the website www.thepointis.net or by calling (620) 223-2986.

Jack By Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Over 40 years ago, Jack, a friend of Dave and mine, decided to get his doctorate in divinity and enrolled in a renowned D-1 university. Part of his interview process was to read and critique a book explaining the book of Mark that was written by one of the divinity professors. Jack would be given 30 minutes in which to present his oral criticisms to the renowned scholar.

The book was no easy read. Each chapter had at least 140 footnotes, and the end explanation was that nothing happened after the two women encountered an angel at the tomb where Jesus had been buried. The interviewer based that on Mark 16:8:  Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

For a little background, most of today’s Bibles include another 11 verses in Mark which add that Jesus then talked with several people before he was raised into Heaven, but footnotes explain that these verses were not in the original manuscripts and were added later. The professor’s book stopped at 16:8.

At this point in Jack’s story, I interrupted to counter with the obvious: No matter where Mark ended his writing, Matthew, Luke and John all addressed Jesus’ resurrection and appearance to others. We need to look at the entirety of scripture and not just selected sections. Jack assured me he had used that same critique (which was dismissed because each book, according to the professor, should stand on its own). Jack presented several other arguments to which the professor stated that Jack could have gotten those positions from one of several journals and that none of them were original. He wanted something unique.

Our friend came up with a brilliant defense. The women obviously did talk and share their story or else no one would know that “they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” How could Mark have come up with that if the women hadn’t told someone that’s what happened? (Like I said, brilliant.)

Refusing to be outdone, the professor responded, “Yes, but how do we know they were real people?”

WHAT??????

That’s right. The accomplished, theological master-mind in the Divinity department was an atheist. To him, the Bible was a myth. Jack about fell out of his chair.

It wasn’t until later that Jack came across a quote from atheist-turned-Christian C.S. Lewis’ that might have stymied the professor: “Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”

What would the prof have said against that? (Probably that C.S. Lewis wasn’t a real person.)

In case you are wondering, Jack was accepted into the School of Divinity but chose to pastor a church instead. Another brilliant move, if you ask me.

God’s Special Forces by Pastor Jimmy Tucker

The Bottom Line

by Jimmy Tucker

God’s Special Forces

After graduating from high school I was given a white beat-up 1967 Chevelle. The transmission wasn’t working and it looked like it had been sideswiped. My dad helped me restore it. We fixed the dents, added transmission fluid, and had it painted blue. I put wide tires and air shocks in the rear to make it look cool. I had it reupholstered and bought an 8-track/cassette player with powerful speakers. However, the car just had a stock 283 engine and I wanted more power.

So I sold it and bought my brother’s 1973 Gran Torino which had a powerful 351 V8 engine. I decided to transform it into a muscle car. By definition, a muscle car is a high-performance automobile with a powerful V8 engine designed for maximum-speed driving. So I souped up the ‘73 with a Holly four-barrel carburetor, aluminum manifold, dual exhaust, a new set of wide tires in the back, jacked it up in the rear with air shocks, and added a stabilizer bar. Then I let my brother test drive it. I think he was impressed because he scared both of us by taking an S-curve faster than he intended as he slid the car through the corner like a pro.

God has blessed America with a military that’s got a lot of muscle. He’s blessed this Nation above other nations because we support Israel. God’s Word tells us that He curses the nations that are against Israel. In Genesis 12:3, God told Abraham: “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you.” Our Special Forces successfully completed a dangerous mission recently, letting the world see the power God has given the USA. Our veterans are America’s best and they lay their lives on the line for freedom. Our veterans represent “the land of the free and the home of the brave;“ they’re our heroes, and they deserve our respect, honor, and support.

There’s another kind of muscle that believers tend to forget about — the spiritual muscle of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has been working on this planet since the beginning of time. “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2 NKJV). As believers, it’s amazing to realize that the Holy Spirit is residing IN us. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16 NKJV). We have access to His power by using the name of Jesus in faith.

God’s muscle men of the Bible demonstrated the Holy Spirit’s power. Samson single-handedly killed one thousand Philistine soldiers with a donkey’s jawbone. He was just a man who became God’s muscle man when the Holy Spirit came on him.

The prophet Elijah was also a man. But when the Holy Spirit came on him, he became a powerhouse. In one day, he called down fire from heaven, killed 450 prophets of Baal with a sword, and outran the king’s chariot (possibly drawn by the fastest horses in Israel)! Elijah was a powerful prophet because the Holy Spirit was on him.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refused to serve King Nebuchadnezzar’s gods or worship the image set up in Babylon. They were told that they’d be executed in a furnace of fire if they didn’t fall down and worship the image. At the conclusion of the King’s threat, he asked, “And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” He would soon find out. The three Hebrews responded with a bold declaration of faith: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He WILL deliver us from your hand, O king“ (Daniel 3:16,17). These boys were God’s spiritual muscle men and testimonies of God’s power, and God was not about to fail them. So the King had them thrown into the fire. Then he looked and saw four men in the fire, and One looked like the Son of God. The three Hebrew boys walked right out of the fire and they didn’t even smell like smoke. However, the men who threw them in the fire were killed by the heat.

The Holy Spirit is your power source too. Develop an awareness of the Holy Spirit in you and meditate on the power of the One inside you. Build up your faith in the mighty name of Jesus.

The Bottom Line: Join God’s Special Forces and let the muscle of the Holy Spirit do mighty things through you.

Pastor Jimmy Tucker

Diamond Community Church

Fort Scott, KS

Worship 10:45 a.m.

The Bird by Pastor James Collins

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23

A lonely lady lived alone, and she didn’t like it. Finally, she decided to do something about her loneliness. She went to a pet store and looked at all the dogs, cats, hamsters, turtles, and goldfish that were for sale, hoping to find a pet that would be good company. None of the pets really made the woman happy and she was ready to give up when the pet store owner showed her a very expensive parrot.

“Does it talk” she asked. “Yes ma’am,” the owner replied, “He’s a genuine chatterbox.” The woman was thrilled. Excitedly, she paid $2000 for the parrot and his cage.

A week later, the woman came back to the pet shop and said, “I want my money back. I paid $2000 for my talking bird and he doesn’t talk at all.” The pet store owner said, “Ma’am, he will talk if you just entice him a little bit. Put some things in his cage with him.” She agreed and the pet shop owner sold her a mirror for the bird to look at himself and a ladder for the bird to run up and down. When the items were totaled up, it cost the lady $50.

A week later, the woman returned to the pet store. She was madder than a hornet. She said, “My talking bird still will not talk.” The pet shop owner said, “Ma’am, you have to entice him a little more. What you need to do is get him a bell to ring and a swing to swing on. He will get so excited, he will talk.” She said, “Okay.” By the time she left the pet store, she had paid another $50.

A week later, the woman stomped back into the pet store. She was visibly angry.

I want you to know that my talking bird is dead. He is dead, dead, dead and I’m out $2100,” she huffed.

You’re kidding. That bird was healthy when I sold him to you 3 weeks ago,” the pet store owner said.

Well, he’s dead now. He’s deader than a hammer. He swung on his swing. He rang his bell. He looked at himself in the mirror. He ran up and down his ladder. Then he fell on his little back in the bottom of the cage. He kicked his little legs up in the air and he blew out his last breath. He’s dead. My talking bird is dead.”

“I am so sorry.”

Well, if it makes you feel any better, he finally said something before he died.”

Really? What did he say?”

Right before he died, my bird looked at me and said, ‘Hey dummy! Don’t they have any bird seed at that pet store!’”

The point is: You can have all the bells and whistles this world has to offer, but without Jesus, you will be dead. We have all sinned. As far as God is concerned, we deserve the death penalty, but He provided a way to have life. God gave His Son to die in our place, and all who believe on Him are saved.

Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, is food for your soul. There is no need to let your hunger for spiritual nourishment go unsatisfied. All you need is abundantly available in Jesus.

Don’t starve to death.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.

James Collins is a pastor at First Southern Baptist Church. He can be reached through the website www.thepointis.net or by email at james@thepointis.net.

When Rules Don’t Apply by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

There were five tennis courts, all occupied, and usage was limited to one hour if other players were waiting. As we signed the board for an open court, Ted approached. “See those four ladies over there on Court #1?” he asked. “The rules don’t apply to them.” He shared that a few weeks ago he gave up his court to that foursome. When he returned two hours later and they still were playing, he told them their time was up. They not-so-kindly said they had been on the court only 10 minutes. Ted reminded them that it was he who had given them his court two hours before and he did not appreciate being lied to.

I like Ted.

Fast forward a month. My son, Andy, his wife Kristen and I unluckily ended up on the court next to the four dishonest women who thought they were prepping for Wimbledon. We, on the other hand, were there to have fun and laugh. When the inevitable happened and Kristen’s ball landed on the enemy’s court, my family stood frozen as, with great flair, the women played out their point and then dramatically retrieved our ball.

Fifteen minutes later, when it happened again, we were grateful they had racquets and not guns. This time, they all yelled “Let” loudly enough for everyone on all five courts to know they had been inconvenienced. That’s all it took. I knew what I needed to do. As more people arrived looking for a court, I periodically announced—rather loudly– how much time we had left. “We have twenty minutes before our hour is up.” “We have only five minutes left.” You get the point. The ladies had no choice but to exit their court since those waiting knew they had been there longer than we had. V-I-C-T-O-R-Y!

There are two treadmills in our community center gym. This is the sign hanging above every piece of equipment:

Simple, right? After 30 minutes, I am to GET OFF and let someone else use my machine. Apparently, two individuals don’t get it. The other day, I used the elliptical while they spent an hour on their treadmills. When one finally stopped, I pointed to the sign and asked her if, since I had used the elliptical for 30 minutes, I now was allowed to get on a different machine. (Yes, a little manipulative.) She became defensive. “I was only on my machine for 30 minutes.”

I repeated my question. She looked at me like I didn’t have the I.Q. to even push the start button. What she failed to realize was that she had accidently left her “Summary” on her machine–how many calories burned, maximum heart rate, etc., including her 63!!! minute time.

Where was Ted when I needed him?

Why is it some people think the rules don’t apply to them? Police arrest people who violate the law, but what do you do on a tennis court or exercise room? And yes, I know that as a Christian, whatever I do needs to be done in love. Is it possible to hit people with my tennis racquet in love or drag exercise freaks off their treadmills in love? Would Jesus appreciate that response? Uh, probably not. Even if they lie? Uh, probably not.

What Jesus wouldn’t do is ignore the offense, especially if that selfishness caused other people to be inconvenienced. When James and John requested a special place in Heaven, Jesus put them in their rightful place: “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” The message was clear. At the cross, Jesus would drink from the bitter cup of wrath in order that ALL his followers would make it to Heaven. Trying to elevate themselves above the other disciples was not Jesus’ way.

He, like Ted, just managed to do it without manipulating.

Next time, I’m going to try that.

Colder Weather by Pastor James Collins

Colder Weather

Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.” Isaiah 38:17

It snowed last week. The forecasters are calling for temperatures in the 60s this week. If you don’t like the weather in Southeast Kansas now, just wait a few minutes.

Before my family and I moved to Fort Scott, we lived in a place known for sunny skies, low humidity, and mild temperatures. We were not used to snow an ice. Our first winter in Kansas was so cold, we pulled everything out of the freezer and huddled inside to warm up.

A couple of winters ago, it snowed for several days straight. So, I bought a snow shovel and learned to clear the sidewalks and driveway. Since I knew it would continue snowing, I thought I would be better off waiting until it stopped and remove all the snow at one time.

When I finally got around to shoveling snow, several inches had piled up. At first, the snow was easy to move – scrape, toss, scrape, toss, scrape, toss, the snow flew. Suddenly, I hit a snag. When I got through the top level of snow, scrape, toss became scrrraaaa…scrrraaaa… the snow shovel would not move. There were three inches of compacted solid ice underneath the top layer of snow. It would not budge. Super glue had nothing on the ice attached to my sidewalk.

I tried chipping away at the ice with the snow shovel. Didn’t work.

I tried chipping away at the ice with a steel digging shovel. Didn’t work.

I tried chipping away at the ice with a crowbar. Didn’t work. It bounced off the ice and hit me in the head.

I got the fifty-pound sledgehammer from the garage. Chip, chip, chip. A little ice gave way. Chip, chip, chip. A bit more came off. Three hours later, my arms ached, I was sweating, and I had made hardly any progress. The ice won. It finally melted in April.

Snow removal is much easier if dealt with before it settles, gets compressed, and turns into unmovable ice.

Unforgiveness can build up like ice and snow on my sidewalk. You can become frozen in unforgiveness by pretending the hurt doesn’t exist, and go on with life, but your heart will turn bitterly cold. The ice of unforgiveness will get a death grip and kill your relationships and your soul. If it happens, it takes work, a lot of work, to chip, chip, chip away at your anger and resentment.

The point is: Deal with the hurt and pain in your life now. Don’t let them settle any longer. Forgive instead of ignoring the pain. Work with God to remove the ice around your heart. Allow God to love you and help you love again.

In Isaiah 38:17, we read, “Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.” In other words, Isaiah is saying, “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such heartbreak.” God can release you from your unforgiveness and make you into a stronger person. If you let Him, the Lord Jesus Christ can bring you from bitter to better.

There is hope and healing in the name of Jesus. Reach out to Him today.

Don’t wait.

The forecast calls for colder weather.

James Collins is a pastor at First Southern Baptist Church. He can be reached through the website www.thepointis.net or by email at james@thepointis.net.

Hope For Freedom by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

As part of our Florida church’s “Hope for Freedom” team, I am in training to be part of the speaker’s group that warns middle and high schoolers of the dangers of human trafficking. This past weekend, our group joined with the A21 anti-trafficking organization to hold a silent, single-file walk in support of the millions of men, women, and children who are trapped in slavery today.

Over 600 carried signs to bring attention to what is going on in our communities, and even though Florida ranks 3rd amongst states in which trafficking occurs, our Midwest towns are not immune. Hand-held signs explained the urgency: “Only 1% of trafficked individuals are ever rescued.” “Human trafficking generates an estimated $150.2 billion-dollars annually.” “There are millions enslaved in the world today.”

Hope for Freedom has been a huge blessing for me. Krysten, the head of our team, works tirelessly to fight this ongoing battle, no matter what size the venue. Last month we spoke at two sessions (one for boys aged 10-17 and one for girls age 10-16) for a Christian organization called “I Am Royal.” My job as a “newbie” was to pass out material and listen to our speakers reinforce the powerpoint and answer questions. I was thrilled to do that much.

I Am Royal” is run by mothers who are determined to save at-risk youth. The event culminated in a celebratory, semi-formal gala to which Hope for Freedom was invited. Renee—a veteran of our group—was the only one who could attend, and since they needed someone to take Renee’s picture accepting our group’s certificate, they reached out to me.

The participants, dressed in frills and bowties (furnished by the group leaders), walked the royal blue carpet to receive their certificates and crowns for completing the class. There were speakers, singers, dancers and presenters, all there to encourage the participants to stand apart, know who they are in Jesus Christ and live for him.

That evening I learned that Terra Kennedy, a woman who saw a need to help boys and girls lead a violence-free life, started “I Am Who I Am,” an organization with this motto: “Violence and Abuse is Never Your Fault.” “I Am Royal” is only one of the groups with whom she has partnered to inspire youth to make good decisions.

Kennedy, like Krysten, is passionate about making a difference…one person at a time. They know that none of us can tackle all of abuse’s horrors, but we can do…something. They have inspired me to question what would happen if we all were the “somebody” who started to do “something” “somewhere.”

Could we co-op to take a meal to those who protect our community or help fund-raise for benefits to serve those in need? Could we volunteer as a reader to pre-schoolers, plant a tree, paint a public trash can or pick up litter? How about driving a cancer patient to his/her treatment, clean up a river bed or meet a neighbor? Or at a deeper level, what if we asked God to show us where we can be used…and then do what He lays on our hearts?

One person at a time.

What Are You Waiting For? By Pastor Jimmy Tucker

The Bottom Line

Jimmy Tucker

 

Several weeks ago, my wife invited her family to celebrate Thanksgiving with us. She’s happy and excited to find out that all sixteen of the Haywards will be attending — not one will be missing! Some, realizing the importance of the occasion, even went to the effort of making special work arrangements in order to come.

Jesus sent out invitations to the greatest celebration that will ever be given — “the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9). This is an occasion you and your loved ones will not want to miss! These invitations didn’t go to just a few prominent people. They were sent, and are still being sent, to the entire world. “Whosoever will” may accept and come to the feast. There are only two responses: whosoever will and whosoever won’t. Unfortunately, there are many who are not interested, don’t believe it, or are too busy with their lives to accept His invitation.

Jesus gave a parable recorded in the book of Luke 14:16-23 NKJV: “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses.” When God’s invitation arrives, we should accept it immediately because He deserves our highest priority. Procrastination is one of the devil’s best tools. If we make excuses and put off responding until it‘s too late, we’ll miss our opportunity to receive an inheritance in the Kingdom of God. There’s no such thing as a self-sufficient person because everyone has an appointment with death. Everyone has sinned and needs to be forgiven — that‘s why Christ Jesus died a sacrificial death so that sin could be forgiven.

Any reason you have for not responding to Jesus’ invitation will be nothing more than a pathetic excuse when you’re facing Him at the judgment. Anyone who winds up in hell is there because of his own foolish and selfish choices in life. Don’t ignore Jesus’ call to eternal life. You may try to dismiss Him, but you’ll find that He’s everywhere. He’s in the sunrise and the sunset. He’s in the first breath of a newborn baby and the last breath of the saint. If you want to enjoy the awesome supper in heaven, RSVP to the invitation now and accept God’s only Son as your Lord and Savior.

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Past tense — He’s already done it! The ball is in your court; what will you do with it? “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20 NKJV).

The Bottom Line: Make sure you’ve sent an appropriate RSVP to Jesus’ invitation ASAP.

Pastor Jimmy Tucker

(620) 223-1483

Diamond Community Church

4 miles east of Hwy 69 on Jayhawk

10:45 a.m. Worship

No Ice by Pastor James Collins

Pastor James Collins

 

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8

When Amanda and I first got married, we bought an old used refrigerator. It was the kind with a freezer which we had to defrost regularly. It lasted only about a year. It would have lasted longer, but one time when I was defrosting it, I used a sharp knife to chip away at the ice…

We needed a new one anyway.

Amanda hated that refrigerator, and the one we bought to replace it, because of no ice-maker. We had to use plastic ice-trays. It was a hassle to get ice from the trays, fill them back up with water, and put them back in the freezer. It wasn’t so much a hassle for me because I never refilled the trays. I had a habit of getting ice and putting the empty tray back in the freezer which infuriated Amanda.

Last year, we remodeled our kitchen. We went to the appliance store where I embarrassed the life from my wife in my effort to bargain with the salesman. Finally, after I noticed a small scratch on the back, I got the store to discount the price on a brand-new side-by-side refrigerator-freezer with a built-in ice-maker.

To save money, I opted to install the refrigerator myself. I spent the better part of a Saturday running the new water line. After everything was hooked up, I pushed the refrigerator into place and announced to Amanda that her fantastic husband had given her the ice-maker of her dreams.

The next morning, there was no ice.

No problem,” I said, “I know what’s wrong. I will have it fixed in no time.” After “no time” hours, I confidently pushed the refrigerator back into place and informed Amanda that her wonderful husband had done it again.

The next morning, there was no ice.

It must take time for the first batch to make, that’s all,” I assured her and started working on it again.

The next morning, there was no ice.

I went back to the appliance store and the salesman said, “Mr. Collins, you need a new what-you-may-call-it, but they are on backorder.” Six weeks later, the what-you-may-call-it showed up in the mail. I pulled the refrigerator from the wall, reached up to turn the water off, and made an incredible discovery. I had never turned the water on in the first place.

No water, no ice. No wonder, no ice.

If you think I looked foolish there, it is nothing compared to what God sees when He looks at people and our efforts to make life work without His power.

The point is: A Christian who forgets the Holy Spirit is like an ice-maker with no water.

How can we forget the infinite, personal Holy Spirit lives within us to guide us and give us power? The answer is regretfully clear. The power is off. When we are preoccupied with the pleasures of the world, we miss the power that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. His Spirit enables us to fulfill His purposes, but we must stay plugged in through prayer, reading God’s Word, and having complete reliance on His power – not our own.

Is the power flowing in your life?

James Collins is a pastor at First Southern Baptist Church. He can be reached through the website www.thepointis.net or by email at james@thepointis.net.

Jesus With Cell Phones by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Had smart phones been around in Jesus’ day, I think he wouldn’t have been too keen on them, especially if those spending time with him used them like people of today. This week I heard a speaker discussing how inconsiderate we are when it comes to our phone addiction, prompting me to wonder what Jesus would have done, had his disciples chosen their phones over him.

Picture, for instance, the Last Supper with the apostles reclining at the table when Peter gets buzzed (and no, not on wine, on his phone.) “Oops! Gotta take this one, Gentlemen. ‘Tis the fishing report for tomorrow.” Or how about when the paralyzed man was lowered through the roof so he could hear Jesus speak? “Horizon” network would have blown up as the crowd Instagrammed photos to their pals instead of focusing on Jesus forgiving the man’s sins.

Jesus was all about one-on-one relationships. Physical relationships. He touched people, no matter how homely or dirty or poor. He made them feel important. He heard their stories and never was too busy to make them know they mattered. He recognized that meaningful communication was/is more about body language than voice-tone or words, something that’s missing in this new age of technology.

How would he have reacted had his listeners held up their index finger as in “Just a minute” or “Hold that thought” while they accepted a buddy’s call, gossiping about nabbing the adulterous woman instead of hearing Jesus speak about eternal life? Would they have been so preoccupied with the latest weather forecast that they would have missed his Sermon on the Mount or his triumphant entry into Jerusalem or his disappearance from his grave? Today, predictably that would happen.

Texting while someone is talking is an offensive way to let the speaker know that what (s)he is saying isn’t important. Granted, there are exceptions, but far too often when we choose our cell phones over our company, we are just plain RUDE. Should we be incapable of dining with friends or family without our phones lying beside our dinner plate, we are rude. And spare me, please; placing our phones upside down on the table does not make us less guilty.

(But, nice try.)

When we put our guests on hold rather than put fellow texters on hold by refusing to immediately read their messages and make a response, we are rude. (Let’s save the “emergency” objection because emergencies are calls, not texts.) When we stand at the cashier’s counter fumbling for our credit card as we gripe about a neighbor’s dog while balancing our cellphone between our ear and shoulder, we are rude.

Granted, cell phones have their place and can be useful, but making them our idol and going through withdrawals without them, we have a problem. Christians, beware. If we are spending more time on non-critical issues with our phones rather than more significant, eternal issues, we need to deal with our addiction. In Deut. 6:6-9, God instructed his people that their communication with Him was what mattered most.

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. 

If I didn’t know any better, I would think that in today’s world, that Scripture describes our time spent on cell phones…and not in God’s Word.

For Sinners Only by Pastor James Collins

Pastor James Collins

 

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

Several years ago, we had an extra bedroom that I used as a home office. One day, I came home and discovered someone had colored the walls and the office door with a red magic marker. The suspect that first came to my mind was my four-year-old son, Timothy, because little red handprints were on the wall and door.

I turned around to go up to Timothy’s room, and my six-year-old daughter, Abby, was standing there. Abby is the informer. If you have more than one child – one of them is the informer. Abby could not wait until I got home to tell on Timothy. She had both hands on her hips. She looked at me and said, “Dad, he’s in the bedroom.” She had this little smirk on her face as if she was saying, “Go beat him, Dad.”

Abby followed me up to Timothy’s room. I turned around and said, “Abby, you wait out here.” She was heartbroken.

When I walked into the room, Timothy’s back was to me. He was playing with some toys. I said, “Son.” He turned around. Red marker was on the bottom of his mouth. His hands were red. His shirt was red. His face was red.

I looked at that sweet little boy and said, “Son, did you mark on the wall and the door?” That little liar looked at me and said, “No, sir.” I asked him again, “Did you color the wall and the door with a marker?” He said, “No, sir.” I picked him up and took him in the bathroom and held him up to the mirror. You should’ve seen the look on his face when he realized he was caught.

Timothy was a sweet, innocent, precious little boy. He never murdered anybody. He was a pure little child, but he was covered in his sin.

You may not have murdered anyone, but you have harbored hate and bitterness. You may not have committed adultery, but you have lusted in your heart. You may not have uttered perjury, but you have lied. You may not have ever stolen anything, but you have coveted. All of us are sinners. The Bible says all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. That means everybody.

Sin separates you from God. God is perfectly pure and holy. So, one little sin – one thing we would call tiny – one little sin is an offense to a holy God. One little sin and you cannot get into heaven. For that little sin, you will go to hell.

Have you ever heard the expression, “older than sin?” Sin has been around since Adam and Eve and will be with us as long as we live on this earth. But there is something older than sin – something that outlasts it. It is the marvelous grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s grace is greater than all our sin.

The point is: Grace is what God gives that we, as sinners, don’t deserve.

I received an email last week from the library. Apparently, I had a book that was overdue. Fortunately, I was still in the “grace” period and did not have to pay a fine.

We are currently living in the age of grace. God is withholding His judgment because He does not want anyone to perish. Soon the grace period will be over, and it will be time to “pay the fine” for sin.

Have you received His grace? Have you asked Jesus Christ to forgive your sins and be your Savior? Don’t wait. No one know when the grace period will end.

James Collins is a pastor at First Southern Baptist Church. He can be reached through the website www.thepointis.net or by email at james@thepointis.net.

Mental Illness by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Dylan Bennett recently was arrested for the murder of his parents, former NFL player Barry Bennett and his wife, Carol. Last December, Barry told the Todd County Sheriff’s Office that Dylan had expressed thoughts about killing his parents while he was in a mental health treatment facility.

The problem of mental illness is escalating. Research shows that one in five people will face some sort of mental illness or brain disease in their lifetime, one in fourteen live with major depression and one in six with an anxiety disorder. It is a potential cause blamed for Connor Betts’ murderous rampage in Dayton, Ohio, as he had posted on his Twitter bio that he was going to hell and not coming back. Who in his “right mind” would brag about such a claim?

Last year I wrote about Agnes, a mentally ill woman I tried to help in Jacksonville, Florida. She knew enough to show up at the homeless shelter to eat but not enough to bathe, change her clothes or make sense when she spoke. The shelter knew her well, but the supervisor told me that there are some people who are “too far gone” to accept the kind of help to get them off the streets. Agnes is one of them.

An article written by Kimberly Amadeo entitled “Deinstitutionalization, Its Causes, Effects, Pros and Cons” claims that because of the closings of state hospitals, 2.2 million severely mentally ill patients receive no psychiatric treatment. Nearly 200,000 of those who suffer from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are homeless, and more than 300,00 are in jails and prisons. Others like Dylan Bennett are released too soon or not adequately treated.

I know two families who have attempted to have their sons committed to institutions but were told that until they were an actual threat, nothing could be done. Psychiatric hospitalizations ended after three days, and judges, by law, could not order their adult children to stay in treatment, even though research indicates that a combination of that and medication has the greatest chance of helping those in need.

The Church has remained silent on the subject, even though our pews are filled with individuals that no pot luck or mission statement can fix, and counseling them to “pray harder” or “have more faith” only heaps condemnation on their emotionally-damaged spirits. For years, mental illness was blamed on sin, but we now know that is not typically the case. Granted, there is drug-induced mental illness, but much is caused by the interconnections of environment, genetics and brain abnormalities. The real tragedy is that many sufferers fail to reach out because they feel judged and rejected. Where is the Church?

I recently read a sermon series by Rev. Tim Ahrens of the First Congregational Church in Columbus, Ohio, entitled “Mental Illness: The Journey In, The Journey Out” which, when delivered, filled the pews to overflowing. He asked that we speak to these people, not as “crazies,” but as people with a mental challenge. “Just as I don’t say about a person with MS or cancer that they ARE ‘MS’ or call them ‘that cancer person,’ so I should not label someone as schizophrenic or depressed. Always a person first. Always!”

The apostle Paul gave us advice on how we can reach out to those suffering around us. He writes of his own mysterious illness (guesses range from his eyesight to depression): “Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself.” (Galatians 4:14)

May we come alongside these hurting individuals and be that welcoming angel.

Christians have a responsibility to care for the vulnerable and not shun those who suffer. They need us to open our eyes and fight for change. They need our presence. They need our prayers. They need our grace.