Category Archives: Opinion

The Hope That Matters by Patty LaRoche

I don’t know who wrote this, but I love the optimism, the encouragement, the hopeful side to this pandemic. We need that confidence, don’t we? Bret Baier, a news anchor, daily offers a message of expectation when he ends his television program with this: “We are one day closer to putting this all behind us.”

I envision the day when Baier’s statement will be our reality and we can learn powerful lessons from it…lessons, I pray, we never forget.

We all know that this silent killer has sneaked in unnoticed, and as we battle this foe, I am mindful of another enemy we are warned about in Scripture. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) See any similarities?

Could there be a more frightening warning to those unaware of our enemy’s attempts to destroy? If we compare Covid-19 and Satan, we can’t help but recognize likenesses: Both prey on the weak; both remain unseen; both are contagious, and both appear intent on destroying humanity.

Still, if we remain vigilant, we can remain hopeful by understanding a few more things about these enemies:

  • They sneak in unannounced. (“So what if I run a few errands I probably should postpone?”/“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13.)
  • They come through friends (“There’s nothing wrong with hanging with our pals at the beach.”/Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Prov. 13:20.)
  • They come when we ignore the warnings. (“Wear masks”/“Put on the full armor of God.” Eph. 6:11.)

Yet as contagious as this virus is, as contagious as sin is, the antidote is simple. We must isolate ourselves from anything that causes us to fall victim to their death traps. We must be mindful that there are bad things seeking to destroy us, both in the physical and the spiritual world. We cannot allow ourselves to so much as sniff these deadly evils. Instead, we must do what is smart…what is hopeful. Trusting in our medical professionals is one way to do that, but to be eternally careful, we must turn our lives to Jesus Christ and know that he is the ultimate hope.

So, as the meme above says, “Hang in there, World.” How do we do that? The answer is found in Deuteronomy 31:6: Be strong and courageous… for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. One day we will “put this all behind us.” The choice we make now will determine what will lie ahead.

That, Readers, is the Hope that matters.

Shining The Light by Pastor James Collins

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Matthew 5:14

Joe was anxious as he walked into the jewelry store to shop for an engagement ring. He had been saving for months to buy the perfect ring to give to Carol. Joe and Carol had been dating for years. He did not doubt that she was his forever love. Still, he was concerned about the ring. He thought, “It must be perfect.”

As Joe looked through the glass counter at a tray of beautiful rings, a salesman walked over and said, “I see you are looking for an engagement ring. I have a fine selection of diamond rings.” He reached behind the counter and handed Joe a ring. The young man held it up to the light. The diamond was a quality stone, but Joe wasn’t impressed. The salesman handed him another ring, and then another, but none of them caught his eye.

The salesman pulled a black velvet pad out of a drawer and placed it on the counter. He took one of the rings out and delicately laid it on the black backdrop. When he did, all the light in the room seemed to pour through the stone causing it to shine as it had never shone before. Joe was dazzled. He had seen this very diamond ring moments earlier, but not like this. All the beauty of the precious stone was now dramatically enhanced and showcased for him to behold. Joe smiled and nodded his approval to the salesman. “That’s the one,” he said.

What changed Joe’s view of the ring? Why did the diamond, which only moments before had appeared so unimpressive, now sparkle like the stars above on a moonless night? In the jewelry business, the dark background makes the difference. When placed on a glass counter, the black velvet causes the light overhead to radiate brilliantly through the diamond, revealing its true beauty and causing it to sparkle and shine more brightly. Take away the black backdrop, and it is hard to see the diamond’s splendor. It is the darkness that causes the stone to burst forth with dazzling light.

We are living in dark days. The COVID-19 outbreak has the world in a hysteria. The death toll has been climbing around the world. People have now been diagnosed with the coronavirus in all fifty states. Schools and businesses are closed. The stock market has crashed, and the country is on the verge of a recession. The public is in a state of panic and many have resulted to hoarding. As a result, there is now a major toilet paper shortage in the United States. Many in the nation have become isolated and are living in fear. The days are dark indeed.

But if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, now is your opportunity to shine in the darkness. How should you shine? Let me suggest a couple of ways. First, you can pray. In this time of trouble, the world needs bold prayer warriors who will get on their faces and cry out to the Lord. Second, call and check on people, especially the elderly, those who have health concerns, and shut-ins. Many are feeling alone. A phone call from you will brighten their day. Third, if you can get out, take supplies to someone living in isolation. Take a bag of groceries to your neighbor. A small act of kindness like that means a lot in desperate times. Finally, share the Gospel. The answer to the darkness is the Light of the World. People need the Lord Jesus Christ.

The point is: The darker the night, the brighter the light shines. Pastor A.W. Tozer once said, “A scared world needs a fearless church.” Now is the time to shine like a diamond on a black backdrop. You and I should reflect His light in this dark world. Unless we tell others about Jesus, people will continue to wander in the darkness.

How bright are you shining?

James Collins is the senior pastor of First Southern Baptist Church where “Drive-In Church” will be held this Sunday. Find out more information at www.fortscottfsbc.com.

Lift Up Your Head by Pastor Jimmy Tucker

The Bottom Line

Pastor Jimmy Tucker

 

Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His ways!” (Romans 11:33 NLT). There are many things in the Bible that we can’t explain or even understand. Satan tries to use these things to shake our faith, but it helps to know that we’re not expected to understand, but to believe. God has given enough evidence for us to believe if we want to. But God never removes the possibility of doubt.

It’s impossible for us to fully comprehend God and His ways. Even for the smartest and most-highly educated, God remains behind a cloud of mystery. We can only understand as much as He reveals to us. Beyond that, we continue to trust His Holy Spirit, Who is full of love and wants us to know Him better.

The Apostle Peter says “…Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction” (2 Peter 3:16 NLT). 

Skeptics use the hard-to-understand portions of Scripture as arguments against the Bible and the God who authored it. But if the Bible could be easily understood and God’s greatness and majesty could be grasped by finite human beings, then the Bible would lose its divine authority and God’s great glory would be diminished. So, the skeptic’s arguments intended to show the Bible false, actually provide a strong evidence of the Bible’s divine inspiration and God’s greatness.

God has made the plan of salvation plain enough for us to take the necessary steps of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is for those who will humble themselves as a child and obey His Holy Spirit. Behind these simple truths are mysteries that overwhelm human understanding. Such as Jesus being born of a virgin, the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I say with Mary the mother of Jesus, “How can these things be?” But also like Mary, I believe.

Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12 NLT). The more I read the truths of the Bible, the stronger I am convinced that it is the Word of the Living God. I am aware of a certain pride that wants to be able to understand and explain every portion of Scripture. But when this pride crops up, I need to humble myself and acknowledge the impossibility of such a desire.

Pride and unbelief are more dangerous than a gunnysack full of rattlesnakes. In all eternity we will be ever learning and yet never exhaust the treasures of His wisdom and goodness. God intends for truth to be constantly unfolding to His people through the Holy Spirit of Christ Who dwells within us.

The Bottom Line: As you meditate on His Word, the truth will lift up your head and elevate your mind as no other study can.

Pastor Jimmy Tucker

(620) 223-1483

Diamond Community Church

A Matter of Life and Death

But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 2 Timothy 1:10

“Am I going to die?” he asked. I looked up from where I was sitting at his bedside and locked eyes with the doctor who was standing in the doorway. The expression on the doctor’s face told me his answer. “Yes,” I said.

The young man’s expression didn’t change. The doctor turned and left, his footsteps echoing down the hallway. The hospital room was silent except for the noise of the machines that were keeping the young patient alive.

For a moment, I thought he was asleep. I was startled when he asked, “What will happen when I die?”

That depends.” I answered.

On what?”

On your choice. There are two options for where you go when you die: heaven or hell. You make that choice.”

I don’t understand.”

Well, you see, we have all done things wrong. We are all sinners. Our sin separates us from God. If we don’t do something about it, we will be separated from God forever in a place called hell. The Bible calls hell the ‘lake of fire.’”

What can I do?”

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, God became a man in the person of Jesus. He lived a perfect sinless life. He willingly sacrificed His life on the cross for you. His death paid the price for your sins. They buried Jesus and three days later, He rose from the dead. Because of what Jesus did, God offers you salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life as a gift that you must receive by faith. Just believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

Will I then go to heaven and not hell?”

Yes.”

My mom believed that. She used to tell me that I needed Jesus. Do you really believe?”

Yes.”

I do too.”

I took his hand and prayed with him. The next morning, he left this world.

In my years as a U.S. Army Chaplain, hospital chaplain, and pastor, I have witnessed many scenes like the one described here. I have watched as many people have died. I am familiar with the reality of death.

For perhaps the first time in the history of our nation, the reality of death is on everybody’s mind. The hysteria surrounding the coronavirus, or COVID-19, is causing most Americans to consider their own mortality. Our country is confused and scared.

As Christians, we have the answer to the fear that surrounds death. Right now, we have an opportunity to have conversations with nonbelievers about death and what happens when you die. We have an opportunity to share the truth of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The point is: Death is a reality we must all face. Whether we face death with fear or with confidence depends completely on if we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. So, let me ask you: If you died tomorrow, would you go to heaven?

You had better be sure.

It’s a matter of eternal life and death.

James Collins is the pastor of First Southern Baptist Church. He can be reached at (620) 223-2986 or through the website www.fortscottfsbc.com.

Caronavirus Ideas By Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

A friend emailed me to say how bored she is. Covid-19 has forced her to become a recluse, and she has nothing to do.
“Nothing to do?” I respond. Really? Nothing? I ask her a few questions.

Have you checked your spice rack? If yours is like mine, your basil, sage, tarragon and thyme expired in 2016. How about your photos? Do you seriously recognize the people in each picture? (No, you don’t.) And why do you need multiple snapshots of the same redwood tree—yes, we applaud you using multiple angles–from Yosemite National Park? Trust me, these are not slides your friends want to watch at the next get together. Correction: make that ANY gathering. What about tax statements held hostage since 2010? (According to the IRS: “Keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later…”) Buy a shredder. On line. But don’t bring the package inside.

For those of you who are Amazon freaks and daily are visited by UPS, pretend your gift is filled with bed bugs. Open it with plastic gloves. Outside. Discard the box immediately. In your rude neighbor’s trash can. (I’m funny.) Clean your file cabinet. (My kids would have gone nuts, had I died and they had to deal with all the irrelevant paperwork I’ve accumulated.); clean out the garage (although this virus will have to last a decade for me to finish this task); dance to praise music; smash old hard drives from laptops you have replaced but not discarded; rake those leaves you ignored since last spring; and pray. More than you ever have.

Don’t waste an opportunity. Wash your hands multiple times a day to the tune of “The Lord’s Prayer” (exactly 20 seconds, unless you try to break the speed of sound like I did when I was in elementary school). Or be creative. One of my friends is keeping entertained by pretending to do lawn work every time a realtor brings a possible buyer to her next-door neighbor’s house. (Hey, don’t judge. You know, that “sin” thing.)

Each evening, our California friends are staying in their front yards, playing charades with their neighbors across the street. Should you want to remain inside, check out your accumulation of unread books. And then read them! Recommend great ones to friends. Send an encouraging email or text to someone who is alone and discouraged. The other evening, one of my friends texted five of us a great Netflix movie to watch: The Shadows of Motown. Then we group-texted, sharing our fun memories of that era as we danced to the greatest songs of all time (my opinion, yes). As for those puzzles long overlooked, start one, and if pieces are missing, work on another to see if the runaways have relocated (spoken from experience). Should the prodigal pieces not appear, bid your puzzle goodbye. Trust me, the pain is short-lived.

Pack up clothes that last fit in 1995. If you haven’t lost those 45 pounds by now, chances are slim—even if you aren’t—that you will benefit from them before the moths do. Join the local group of ladies who are making masks for the health care workers. Stop calling your financial planner asking for advice; he/she has no crystal ball. Thank those people who stock the shelves with needed supplies—you know, the ones we all have taken for granted. Support local restaurants and businesses that are offering curb-side service in order to survive. Go through your church directory and make calls to those without a support system. Offer to pray for them. And then, do it.

Anyway, you get the point. God has given us this time to reevaluate our priorities. We all must use this time for good. I hope this article has given you some ideas, should you be one of those claiming to be “bored.” And if worse comes to worse, come to my house to de-weed my yard. I promise to keep a six-foot distance.

Social Distancing By Pastor James Collins

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7

Cavalier! Irresponsible! Crazy! Nose-picking Moron! Those are just some of the adjectives that people used to describe me this past week because I refused to cancel church services in the light of the corona-virus outbreak. A pastor, who I thought was a friend, said, “James, it is extremely stupid and reckless of you to continue with church services.” Then he added, “Don’t you know one out of every four people are going to die from this virus?” I was shocked by his statement and asked, “Where did you get that statistic?” He said, “From Facebook…” Are we really starting to believe everything someone posts on social media?

Perhaps I am being naïve. I have never had to pastor a church through a pandemic before. It seems no matter what I do, some people will be upset. If I close the church, people will say I should have stayed open. If I stay open, people will say I should have closed. Changes beyond our control are forcing me to wrestle with difficult circumstances that have no easy solutions. Answers only raise more questions.

Last Tuesday, Kansas Governor, Laura Kelly, issued Executive Order 20-04 which prohibited mass gatherings to limit the spread of COVID-19. However, “religious gatherings” are exempt from this order as long as “attendees can engage in appropriate social distancing.” I told one of my deacons that we could have church if we engaged in social distancing. He shouted, “Glory! Halleluiah! I don’t have to sit by my wife!”

Anyway, as I have thought about it, I have realized that only atheists and the devil will be happy with church closing. I don’t have a friend in either of those camps. So, after much prayer and consideration, I have decided to continue having Sunday Services. I fully understand that government officials are telling us the circumstances are bleak. However, if you think federal, state, or local governments can deliver you from anything, just consider the current situation. Politicians are ineptly trying to solve issues that God can solve if we would just call on Him.

Am I too naïve? Well, have you asked Jesus Christ into your life? If not, don’t knock it till you try it.

The point is: Thank God, Jesus didn’t engage in social distancing. God entered into history in the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus went to an old rugged cross where He bled and died for your sins. He was buried and laid dead in a tomb for three days and nights. But He rose from the dead. He defeated, death, hell, and the grave. And if you turn from your sins and turn to Christ as Savior and Lord, you can have eternal life. You can have a peace that passes all understanding. You can have a spirit of power, of love, and a sound mind.

I believe that people need Jesus now more than ever. So, I will continue to preach Jesus. This Sunday in church, I will preach Jesus. Until the Lord comes back or calls me home, I will preach Jesus. Even if the government declares martial law (which they might) and locks me up, I will preach Jesus. Even in jail, I will preach Jesus.

I wonder if the jail guards know the words to “There’s power in the blood.”

Don’t keep a social distance from Jesus. Come to Christ today and be saved.

James Collins is the Senior Pastor at First Southern Baptist Church. Find out more about First Southern at the webpage www.fortscottfsbc.com.

Toilet Paper Hoarders by Patty LaRoche

Hint for the week: A couple of corn tortillas make a splendid substitute for a few squares of toilet paper. Fortunately, there are other options. Just ask Howard, my friend who is known as one who never lets inconveniences upset him. Recently he emailed his take on the Covid-19 toilet paper rush.

What is this all about?  You don’t need toilet paper.  The origin of the item “wipes” comes from history.  Every cowboy carried a wipe.  Every wagon in the wagon train had multiple wipes.  The “wipe” was a twelve-inch square piece of flannel that you used to “wipe” with.  Afterward at some point you washed it in a stream and let it dry.  In the old West the wipe was scented with crushed sage.  Today you get the same odor from Sage after men’s shaving lotion, a cheap version.  After drying, the “wipe” was ready for use again… In an emergency you could use your flannel shirt tail and then rinse it in the stream.  Flannel “wipes” were an early way to control waste paper refuse. Of course, one had to be careful you didn’t drink the water if someone was rinsing their “wipe” upstream from you. To dry them, you simply hung them on a wheel spoke to dry at the end of the day.

Howard, Howard, Howard,” I say aloud as I bang my head on my computer table.

So why this rush on toilet paper? It makes no sense. There’s no shortage. Most of it is made in the U.S.A., so we are not at the sharing mercy of some foreign power. There is just a shortage of kindness.

One saleslady told me that she hoped her employer would refuse to buy back the hundreds of rolls a few hoarders will try to return once this pandemic is over. She shared that several buyers bought up enough toilet paper to fill their garages. (Thank you, selfish people. It is because of greedy ones like you that my family will be digging through the rag bag to find some tattered flannel.)

When Dave and I drive from Mexico, occasionally we encounter “toilet paper ladies” (“señoras de papel higiénico”) at gas stations. Their job is to hand us a roll of three or four squares as we enter the restroom. In an emergency, I guess we could beg for more, but thankfully I’ve never been that desperate. I’ve always been grateful our country does not have to rely on such measures. But could that be our future?

Maybe the message for us is the same delivered by Moses as he led his fellow Israelites from a land of poverty to a land of prosperity. “Remember how the LORD your God led you the entire way in the desert these forty years.” There had been miracles aplenty, but Moses knew his follower’s history of forgetfulness. This journey into the Promised Land could be the same. The Israelites could forget to thank God for His blessings. They could become entitled. The same is true for us.

We need to remember—and be grateful for– how God provides. Maybe this time of going without will cause us to never again take little things (like toilet paper) for granted. Then again, maybe it simply will make us more grateful for flannel.

Pastor Jimmy Tucker: God is the Way Maker

 

The Bottom Line

by Pastor Jimmy Tucker

God is the Way Maker

I know of two great songs with the same title, one written by Don Moen and the other by Janet Paschal. The title is simply “God Will Make a Way.” Many times we’ve heard the phrase, “God has a good plan for your life.” We nod our heads in agreement, and then stress out with what’s going on in our life.

God’s promise of victory is recorded in the following passage: “I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19 NLT). You might think, “Well, that was then and this is now.” But scripture reveals that God never changes. “I am the Lord, and I do not change…” (Malachi 3:6 NLT). “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NLT). “If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is” (2 Timothy 2:13 NLT).

In a world that changes from day to day, we can trust God to remain faithful to His Word. Janet Paschal writes: “God will make a way when there seems to be no way. Forever He is faithful. He will make a road when you bear a heavy load. I know God will make a way.” And we can add a portion from Don Moen’s lyrics: “By a roadway in the wilderness, He’ll lead me. And rivers in the desert will I see. Heaven and earth will fade, but His Word will still remain. He will do something new today.”

If you’ve got a mountain in front of you, or a wilderness surrounding you, take heart. Have hope. You’re not alone. God is waiting for you to call on Him. No matter what circumstances you’re dealing with, God has the solution. He will make a way and will go through it with you. Not only will He be there for you, if you call on Him, He will use the situation to strengthen your faith and patience.

The Old Testament account of Ruth and Naomi is one of the best examples of God making a way in a dire situation. Naomi, her husband and two sons had left Israel during a drought. Later, her husband and both sons died, leaving Naomi and her two daughters in-law without support. Naomi and Ruth went back to Israel together. God helped them and Ruth married Boaz. She became the great-grandmother of King David and an ancestor of Jesus.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NKJV). When you’re in a challenging situation and your faith is weak, it’s hard to trust in God’s promises. But God is able to meet your every need if you’ll trust Him and obey His voice. If help fails to come, it‘s not God’s fault because He never fails. The fault must be somewhere on our part. In God’s kingdom everything works by faith, and faith works by love.

The Bottom Line: Don’t know which way to go? Just follow the Way Maker — He’ll get you through.

Pastor Jimmy Tucker

Diamond Community Church

Worship 10:45 a.m.

What, Me Worry? By Pastor James Collins

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10

The stock market is crashing, and the world is on the verge of a pandemic. People are refusing to leave their homes over fear of the coronavirus. The stores are out of hand sanitizer and toilet paper. If you turn on the news, an “expert” will tell you how this plague is spreading and will soon infect you. I received a letter this week from a woman who was genuinely concerned about the coronavirus. She asked me for some advice on what she should do in this time of worldwide panic. Since this virus has so many people worried, I decided to address it here.

First, I personally am not at all concerned about the collapse of the stock market. I have been preparing for Wall Street to bottom out by having no money in the market. In fact, I have no money at all. My wife, Amanda, has all of it. I’m not sure what she does with it. But she doesn’t give any to me, and she doesn’t give to a stockbroker. So, I’m not worried about the exchange.

Second, I refuse to lock myself away and not interact with people. I had a meeting with my church deacons on Tuesday. I shook hands with everyone. Since they are all men, you know they weren’t all washed hands. Besides, the odds are greater that I will catch a cold, the flu, scabies, or rabies from one of my deacons than the coronavirus.

Third, I am not going to hoard supplies. Nobody has been able to make me understand how having ten cases of toilet paper is going to help your immunity to the coronavirus. I suppose that people are concerned about running out of toilet paper. Well, if that were to happen, I still have that box of Joel Osteen books that my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas… I also saw that people are asking $75.00 per bottle for hand sanitizer on Amazon and eBay. I don’t know about you, but elephants will roost in trees before I pay that kind of money for hand sanitizer. I will just stick to soap and water.

Fourth, I refuse to listen to the doom and gloom coming from the “experts.” They are the same bunch that said that all the computers were going to blow up at Y2K. In 2004, they told us that SARS would destroy the world. In 2008, it was the bird flu. The swine flu was going to kill us all in 2010. Zika was the bad bug in 2016. I’m beginning to think the “experts” are only experts at getting things wrong.

Now understand that it is not my intention to make fun of an epidemic. Thirty-one people have died in the United States from the coronavirus, and I am saddened for their families. But I am even more heartbroken over the 1.6 million lives that were lost to abortion last year. However, I don’t hear any outrage from any “expert” over the murder of 1.6 million babies.

It seems to me that people’s reactions to the coronavirus are based totally in fear. Over and over in the Bible, God says, “Fear not.” Additionally, God also says hundreds of times, “…for I am with you.”

The point is: As Christians, we fear not, for Jesus is with us. I don’t know about you, but I refuse to live in fear. Instead, I will live in happiness, security, and with a peace that passes all understanding. None of these are possible without the one thing that is the opposite of fear… FAITH.

What about you? Are you facing each day with fear? If so, know that the Lord Jesus Christ is with you and He will strengthen you.

Have faith instead of fear.

James Collins is the pastor of First Southern Baptist Church. He can be reached through the website www.fortscottfsbc.com or by phone at (620) 223-2986.

Coronavirus by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Counting the dozens of toll booth workers’ hands I touched over our three-day drive home from Mexico, I began thinking about how easily the Coronavirus could pass from one person to another. Hadn’t I made contact with the gas station attendant when I tipped him for washing our car window? And how about those motel rooms were Dave and I stayed? Was the television control infected? Our room key? Germ magnets, for sure.

I had hugged our staff good-bye when we left Mazatlán. Did one of them feel a little warmer than normal? What about the four couples we had over Friday night for our “clean out the refrigerator” party before starting home the next day? One of them was over 80 years old, the age when we are the most susceptible.

Yesterday I went grocery shopping. Besides mine, how many other fingers had squeezed the avocados before choosing a ripe one? Had the lady who bagged my groceries washed her hands for twenty-seconds in warm water upon exiting the bathroom? Perhaps I should begin wearing disposable gloves. Perhaps I should wear disposable gloves to pick out a box of disposable gloves since someone’s ungloved hands had placed them there on that shelf. Or are those just as useless as the white masks that have been sold to those who don’t realize the virus molecules are small enough to filter through the covering? Maybe I should check Amazon.smile for a hazmat suit and stay under my bed. (Can dust bunnies be lethal?)

As I write this, I am looking at autographed letters ready to be mailed. Last night Dave sat down to sign his baseball cards and insert them into self-addressed, stamped envelopes. He did not know one person who had mailed those requests. This morning it dawned on me: some envelopes he licked to seal. Yikes! Perhaps I should Clorox his tongue.

We easily can panic over this outbreak, become paranoid about our activities and live in fear. Our friend Charlie and his wife recently attended a concert in Las Vegas. Charlie said that the crowd sat mesmerized by the orchestra…until, that is, he sneezed, at which point all 1,000 in attendance turned to glare at him.

The problem is that paranoia leads to conspiracy theories such as these that are proliferating: eating in Chinese restaurants is dangerous; the virus is linked to HIV; or COVID-19 escaped from a Chinese research lab. Some shops have installed signs banning Chinese people from entering. What’s next?

What message do we send when faced with a threat? Instead of reason, we scream “Panic! Take care of #1! Over-react!” Granted, we must take precautions, but there’s something else we need to do. Pray. Pray to the One who can do something about our concerns. Pray to the One who tells us not to worry. Jesus said, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:27) We need to pray for God to comfort those affected and to keep us diligent and mindful of ways we hopefully can prevent becoming a target. Martin Luther offered advice we all should remember: “Pray as if everything depends on God, then work as if everything depends on you.” Because it does.

The Clock Is Ticking by Pastor James Collins

Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away. Psalm 144:4

“I like 6 o’clock being 7 o’clock a whole lot better than I did its being 5 o’clock.” I said.

“What?” my wife, Amanda, asked with a look of bewilderment on her pretty face.

“I said, I like 6 o’clock being…”

“I heard what you said, but what did you mean?”

“I just simply meant that I like slow time better than I do fast time.”

“You have lost me. I have no idea what you are talking about.”

After living with her for over two decades, I should have remembered that mine is the scientific mind in the family. Amanda is more romantic than scientific. So, I carefully explained. “Remember we have to turn the clocks forward tonight. When we do that, 6 o’clock, which had become 5 o’clock when we had to turn the clocks up last spring, became 7 o’clock because we turned them back this fall.”

“I don’t think you know what you are talking about.” she said.

“Let me try again. You see,” I started slowly because I could tell this was going to take a while for me to explain. “You see, cold air is heavier than warm air and in the winter months it presses down on the earth. The cold air slows the rotation of the earth down and that’s why scientists must turn the clocks back so we can keep time in pace with the slower rotation. But, then in the spring when the air becomes warmer it doesn’t press down on the earth and the earth spins faster. Therefore, the government makes us set our clocks forward. We have to adjust our clocks to keep up with the fast time.”

“Honey, time is time. An hour is an hour no matter if it’s hot or cold.” she said.

I smiled at her and said, “Okay.” It was pointless to continue. Since she is not scientifically minded, I should not have been surprised that she didn’t understand my reasoning.

Flawed logic is everywhere. Take, for example, the logic of a lost person. Someone is reading this right now, and you are lost without Jesus Christ. Your life is focused on things that perish with the passing of time. You are busy chasing money, possessions, and pleasures while the days are flying off the calendar.

Last week, I was visiting with an eighty-seven-year old man. At one point in our conversation, he said, “It seems like I was a young man just yesterday. The years have passed by me so quickly. I feel like I wasted so much of my life.” My heart hurt for that man as he looked back on a life filled with regrets.

Your time on this earth is limited, but you are eternal. If you are not careful, you can let the passing dominate the permanent. You can spend your life pursuing things that will pass away and ignore your eternal soul.

The point is: Your life on earth is like a shadow that passes with time. Even though your days on earth will end, you will not. You will spend eternity in either heaven or hell. There is only one way out of hell and into heaven and that is salvation through Jesus Christ. If you have never received Christ as your personal Savior, do it today. Believe that Jesus shed His blood on the cross to forgive your sins, and that He conquered death by rising from the grave. Ask Him to save you today.

Don’t wait. The clock is ticking.

James Collins is the senior Pastor of First Southern Baptist Church. He wants to remind you to think scientifically and set your clocks forward one hour tonight before you go to bed. For more information on his ministry go to the website www.fortscottfsbc.com.

Mexico Drive by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

The drive home from Mazatlán, Mexico, to Kansas is not easy. The three-hours on the toll road that began our first leg included 61 tunnels and two suspension bridges over deep gorges. Semi-truck drivers many times must creep along in order to make the steep mountain climbs. Because of that, about ninety-five percent of them have created a kind gesture for those of us who get stuck behind them on the numerous curves.

As we near them, they move to the shoulder and wait for there to be no vehicles coming towards them. They put on their blinkers when it is safe for us to ignore the double yellow lines and pass. It is not uncommon in the oncoming lane to have one semi straddling the double yellow while passing another semi. That is our clue to be kind and move to the shoulder.

Or get squashed.

Add to that unmarked potholes, an occasional cow crossing the highway, and men in black working in the tunnels, and it’s no wonder we pray the entire time we navigate this stretch. By the time we reach Durango, Mexico, Dave and I both have white knuckles and sweaty palms.

This past Saturday we were four-and-a-half hours into our journey when Dave realized that we would need more pesos to cover the $100+(U.S.) in tolls. Pulling over to the side of the road, he opened the back door to get into his backpack for the money. That’s when I heard the words that made me want to throw myself in front of the next semi that approached.

Patty, where’s my backpack?”

It should be right where you always put it. On top of your small suitcase.”

Seriously. Where did you put it?”

Why would I put it anywhere? It’s your backpack.”
“But you double-checked our condo to be sure we loaded everything in the car.”

And so did you.” Let the blame game begin.

After hyperventilating for a few minutes, I had a brilliant idea. “I may have some pesos. Let’s count all the money we’ve got and see if we have enough to get to the border.”

Patty, my passport is in my backpack. We can’t get into the U.S. without it.”

Of course, that wasn’t true. I could get into the U.S. Dave could be left on the side of the road to figure out what he needed to do. It crossed my mind.

Or I could be forgiving, laugh it off and drive back to Mazatlán with him. (The only part of that sentence that actually happened begins with the word “drive” and ends with “him.”) I was not laughing. I tried to be forgiving (especially since Dave was blaming me for this blunder), but having to retrace our drive through that mountain—making it nine hours of driving and about $15,000 in pesos only to end up where we started—made me homicidal.

Then Hubby dropped another bombshell. “We don’t have enough pesos to get back to Mazatlán.” I began making plans to jump from the first suspension bridge we crossed.

Dave presented our options: (1) “I can ask for mercy from the toll booth operator.” (No chance since Dave speaks about 10 words in Spanish, and none of them are in that sentence.) (2) “I can leave my watch with her as collateral and get it back tomorrow on our return trip.” (Same “No chance” reason as above.) (3) “We can get off the toll road, but that will add four hours of drive time.” (Sweet Jesus, please, NO!) (4) “Or we could find an ATM.” Which was the first sensible thing he said.

I think God knew that my unChristlike ideas were about to become a reality and I would end up in a Mexico prison because the first exit said “Aeropuerto.” Airports have ATM’s! There was hope. Dave and I both were surprised when I actually exited the airport with pesos and the machine had not eaten my credit card.

Sometimes we just have to be grateful for the little things.