Category Archives: Opinion

Worrying by Patty LaRoche

I don’t worry about little things. Only big things. Like covering my bald spot and keeping it covered. Or answering a question at bible study correctly. Or keeping my fingernail polish from chipping. Or missing a deal on Etsy. Or honking (when and for how long) at rude drivers. Or forgetting names. Or questioning if the pastor is singling me out with his sermon. (And yes, he is.)

You know, big things.

I hope you get my point. Making a mountain out of a molehill is an area in which I excel, and before I know it, I’ve turned that little hump into Mt. Everest. So, you can imagine what I do with actual mountains… like every one of my family members. People on my bible study’s cancer list. Our country. Being bold in sharing the Gospel.

One person defined worry as “to gnaw.” This is what he said: “Like a dog with a bone, the worrier chews all day long, and sometimes it is a very old bone the worrier gnaws. The bone gets buried and dug up, buried and dug up, as the same old pain gets reworried ceaselessly.” I so get that.

If I give myself permission, I can allow those thoughts to turn into a runaway freight train, and my worries can consume my thoughts until they dominate my moods. That’s why I need to cling to Charlie Brown’s adage: “Worrying won’t stop the bad stuff from happening. It just stops you from enjoying the good.” So true. After all, we all are given X-amount of seconds to live. Why would we spend even one of those thinking of “the bad stuff” and not the “good”?

You and I are surrounded with blessings. Too many to count. This year, because of the giftedness of my step-daughter and daughter-in-law, I will be taking 100 Ziploc bags of lotions, shampoos, etc. to hand out to people who work at the dump here in Mexico. Today at church, three of the praise team members were introduced as coming to Christ through the ministry in the colonias where the poorest of poor live and where our church weekly goes to feed and tell them of Jesus. We learned of a musical conductor who brought instruments from the states and is starting an orchestra with the children in a colonia. Every time our pastor returns to the U.S., we were told, he returns with wheelchairs; to date, he has brought over 100 which he “loans” to the handicapped. Blessings upon blessings!

For 2020, I’m making a pact with myself to stop my runaway, worry-train dead in its tracks. I will focus on what is good and true and edifying. I will hand my concerns over to God and refuse to take them back, and I will remember what Corrie Ten Boom wrote in her book, Clippings From My Notebook: “Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.” And that includes my bald spot.

Think About Your Thoughts by Pastor Jimmy Tucker

The Bottom Line

 

It’s been said that “you can‘t keep a bird from flying over your head but you can keep it from building a nest in your hair.” I can remember being called out in grade school for daydreaming. My thoughts and vivid imagination would take over and I wouldn’t even hear what the teacher was saying. Have you ever been thinking about something other than your driving and miss your turn?

How would you classify your thoughts, imaginations, and attitudes? Are they clean or corrupt; positive or negative? The beginning of a new year is a perfect opportunity to change up some things in your life. A great place to start taking inventory is your thought life. Whatever you think about will profoundly affect what you do. God created us, so He knows our tendencies. God knows all about you but He loves you anyway! “…You know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence!” (Psalm 139:4 TPT). God has given us specific instructions in the Bible to keep our thoughts headed in the right direction for holiness and victory.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8 NKJV). Inner purity is a challenge that requires you to guard your thought life with diligence.

If you have the attitude that your thoughts don’t matter and it’s only what you do that counts, you’re gravely mistaken. What you do outwardly — the things that people see — determines your reputation with man. But God is interested in what’s on the inside of an individual. Even though God knows what we’ll think and do beforehand, He expects those who believe and love Him to line up their thoughts and actions according to His Word. Scripture reveals that your thoughts do matter. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NKJV).

We need to stop an impure thought the moment it pops into our mind. Jesus spoke plainly regarding our thought life. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5: 27,28 NKJV).

In Luke 7:36-50, Jesus was invited to the house of Simon the Pharisee. While there, He was anointed by a woman whose life had been drastically changed by the love of Jesus. “When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!’ Then Jesus answered his thoughts….” Simon did not audibly voice his critical opinion, he simply thought it and Jesus knew what he was thinking. Simon’s thoughts mattered, and so do yours.

God knows if you reject or accept negative or impure thoughts, and He expects you to control them out of respect and love for Him. What you think to yourself counts with God. It’s encouraging to know that God’s grace will enable you to maintain inner purity so that your life will honor Him.

The Bottom Line: Man doesn’t know your thoughts, but God does…if you love Him you’ll walk the line.

Pastor Jimmy Tucker

Diamond Community Church

2591 Jayhawk Road

10:45 a.m. Worship

The Saddest Words In The Bible By Pastor James Collins

The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. Jeremiah 8:20

One of my heroes was the great preacher Dwight L. Moody. One time, Moody was preaching a great revival crusade. As the service was about to start, he looked over and saw a man standing by himself. The still small voice of the Holy Spirit nudged Moody to go talk to the man about his soul. He walked over and said, “Sir, I just want to ask you if you’re saved?” The man said, “No. I know that I need to get saved. But no, I’m not saved. I’m not ready right now. I will get saved another day.” Moody said, “Sir, you need to understand that we have today. The Bible says today is the day of salvation.” Still, the man refused. He said, “No. I’m not ready. But someday I will. Someday I will get saved.”

Several months later, Moody received word that the man had gotten deathly sick. So, he traveled across Chicago and went to his home. Moody asked, “Are you ready to get saved?” The man said, “I’m going to do it, but not now.” He said, “If I get saved now, people will say I got saved because I was sick.” Moody said, “Don’t think like that. Today is the day to get saved.” The man said, “Once I get better, I plan to buy a fruit orchard over in Michigan. When I get there, and I am not sick anymore, I will get saved.” Moody tried to reason with him. He did all he could. But the man refused to give his life to Christ.

The man did get better. He bought the orchard, and he moved to Michigan. However, his illness returned. Dwight L. Moody heard about the man’s condition, and he got in the boat and traveled across Lake Michigan. He went out to the man’s farm, walked into the farmhouse, and went into the back bedroom where the man lay dying.

When Moody walked in, the man said, “You’re too late. I didn’t ask you to come.” Moody said, “Sir, it’s never too late. The thief on the cross got saved in the eleventh hour. It’s never too late.” The dying man said, “But I’m not the thief on the cross. The thief on the cross got saved the first chance he had.” He said, “I’ve had many chances. Each time I was close, but I said, ‘No.’ No. No. No. No.” The dying man said, “I’ve said no one too many times. I’m telling you, for me, the clock is striking twelve. You’re too late.”

Moody got down next to the dying man and he began to pray for him. As he was praying, he heard the man mumbling something. Moody thought, “What’s he saying?” He put his ear down close to the man’s mouth. The man was saying over, and over, and over, to himself as he died, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and I am not saved. The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and I am not saved…”

Those were the man’s last words. Dwight L. Moody later wrote, “We took his Christ-less body and we wrapped it in a Christ-less burial shroud. We put his Christ-less body in a Christ-less casket. We carried him out and buried him in a Christ-less grave. The man went into a Christ-less eternity, all because he said, ‘Tomorrow.’”

The point is: Today is the day of salvation. The saddest words in all the Bible are found in Jeremiah 8:20. They are two simple words, “not saved,” but they are the saddest words in all the Bible. They speak of a tragically missed opportunity.

What if today was your last day on earth? One day, your last day will come. Perhaps you have been putting off accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior until a more convenient day. But that day may not come. Your salvation is only a prayer away. Don’t put it off. For you, the harvest has not passed. The summer has not ended. You can get saved today.

James Collins is pastor of Fort Scott’s First Southern Baptist Church. You can write to him at PO Box 227, Fort Scott, KS 66701 or by email at james@thepointis.net.

Dermatologist by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

My face smells like milk. By tomorrow, my cheeks will curdle. As it turns out, whole milk is the only remedy for a reaction my face is having to a medicine recommended by my dermatologist to destroy “potential” skin cancers (cancers hiding under the freckled, sun-damaged layer of epidermis which was caused 50 years ago when having a tan was my way to feel validated).

Those days are over. OVER!

I’d like to think that in my teens, had there been a warning on the Crisco or Iodine I used to lather my skin, or had I perhaps tanned on the ground and not on the roof, the sun-damage results might be less horrific Then again, being 19 years old and invincible, there is a very strong chance such warnings would have gone unheeded. So, here I am, paying a painful price for something that Crisco should be responsible for.

Three weeks ago, I began my treatment. Within a few weeks, I was told, those surfacing cancers would “scab and flake away.” That’s it. Scab and flake. No biggee.

So you can imagine (and I assure you this came as a great surprise to me) what it was like when it felt as if a porcupine were quilling me 24/7 while a bonfire torched my forehead, cheeks and chin, and a herd of mosquitoes targeted my face to itch like the dickens. Pricks. Burns. Itches. All at the same time.

Bottom line? I might have leprosy, and when I sent a picture to my dermatologist, expecting her to tell me to get to an E.R. “immediately” or I would lose my face, I was astonished when instead she said, “Yep. That’s what it’s supposed to look like,” a message that was reinforced today when I ran into a friend who had gone through the same treatment, sharing that I wouldn’t be successful until my facial sores left blood on my pillow.

Have there been no medical advancements since the 16th century?

Whatever. Today I hustled off to buy whole milk which, after splashing it on my face, gave me some relief. Thank you, Jesus. Of course, I still look like I have a dreaded disease, but at least the pain is gone…at least for now.

I wonder if my face before this treatment is what sin looks like to God. Hidden (denied is probably a better description), and if I don’t deal with it, easy to ignore. But then something happens to bring my sins to the surface (I’m caught in a lie with the I.R.S. or confronted about gossiping or brag about some recent success, for example), and I am forced to deal with the ugliness of how I have displeased my Heavenly Father. Oh, I might find temporary relief if I apply a few milky excuses or blame someone else for my actions, but a heart-glimpse in the mirror shows that the evil is still there, exposed and needing to scab and flake away.

Fortunately, like the cream I used to bring my underlying cancers to the surface, there is a way to expose and deal with my sin: I ask God to reveal areas in my life that are displeasing to Him; I read the Bible to understand what He expects from me; and I ask forgiveness. And how does God respond? According to Psalm 103:12, The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Get that? God’s removal is permanent. See you later, Aggravator. I could only wish to say the same for my skin.

The Three-Legged Chicken by Pastor James Collins

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

Many years ago, a man was driving on a country road when he saw something very strange. A chicken was running beside his car. Suddenly, the chicken ran even faster. The man glanced at his speedometer. He was going 50 miles per hour. Incredibly, the chicken was outrunning his car.

The man pushed on the accelerator and increased his speed to 60 miles per hour. Remarkably, the chicken still outran his car.

He drove faster, 70 miles per hour. The chicken was still faster.

The chicken made a right turn and darted into the driveway of a small farm. The man watched as the chicken disappeared behind the farmhouse. The man was so amazed by the speed of the chicken that he parked his car and knocked on the farmhouse door. A farmer dressed in overalls opened the door and the man said, “Sir, do you know you have a chicken that can run over 70 miles an hour?” The farmer replied, “Oh you must mean our three-legged chicken. Yes, she’s really fast.”

The man said, “I’ve never heard of a three-legged chicken.” The farmer said, “I run this farm with my wife and son. When it comes to eating chicken, each of us loves the drumstick. So, we decided to breed three-legged chickens.” The man said, “That’s amazing. How has it worked out? How does a three-legged chicken taste?” The farmer replied, “I don’t know. We haven’t caught him yet!”

The three-legged chicken is symbolic of the pursuit of happiness in today’s world. If you are chasing anything other than a richer, deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, then whatever you’re after is your three-legged chicken. You will never catch it.

Your three-legged chicken can come in many varieties. Money. Fame. Sex. Pleasure. Success. Instead of chasing after something that you will never catch, Jesus wants you to chase after Him. The road to true contentment is the one where you give your life to Christ and then go deeper into a relationship with Him.

What are you living for in your few fleeting years on this earth? A thousand years from now, some of the things you think are so important – your date for the winter formal, who won the Super Bowl, the make and model of your car, working overtime to make more money – are not going to be so important. There’s nothing wrong with these things, but they are not lasting.

The point is: The only One worth chasing is Jesus Christ. Get to know Jesus better. Grow in His grace. Go deeper in your relationship with Him.

Are you chasing after Jesus or three-legged chickens?

James Collins is the pastor of First Southern Baptist Church. You are invited to come and chase after Jesus with us. Church starts tomorrow at 10:50 am. For more information, go to the website fortscottfsbc.com.

Vince by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Sometimes I’m selfish. You probably are too. We’re born that way, you know. To get our way we cry, pout, throw a temper tantrum and, if not careful, become a teensy bit bratty. That’s because some of us never grow up. We think of ourselves measured only by our needs and desires before thinking of anyone else. And even though some of us (like me) were blessed with parents who demonstrated the opposite side of that self-centered coin, if we’re not careful, our greedy genetic pool will represent a sewer system rather than a stream of living water.

Dave and I have a friend who lives to bless others. He and his family reside in Stilwell, Kansas, but own a house next to ours at Lake Fort Scott. In spite of working full time and having three very active teens and a wife whose job sends her all over the world, he has a knack for hearing of a need and then meeting it. His name is Vince, and if “givingest” were a word, that would describe him. For the months Dave and I are gone in the summer, he mows our yard. A few weekends ago, he gave up a Friday evening and Saturday morning to help Dave with some electrical work. He never complains or reminds us of all he does for us. Ask and we receive. Don’t ask, and our friend will somehow sense what he can do to make our lives easier.

I hope you have such a neighbor. This is a first for us. In the past, “neighborly” would not describe those living beside us. They have borrowed and not returned, helped themselves to whatever was in our refrigerator (even my last piece of cheesecake—seriously put me over the edge!), ignored us, introduced themselves only to ask if we smoke or host loud parties, and talked nonstop about their perfect family. You get the picture. But then there’s Vince. Dave and I don’t know how to reciprocate, for even a pitching pointer for his son or an occasional meal does nothing to move the benevolent pendulum that swings decidedly in Vince’s favor.

I recently heard a disturbing statistic that 75% of Americans don’t know their neighbors. It made me wonder what our country/city/neighborhood/family would be like if we all modeled our giving after Vince. What if we looked for ways to help instead of keeping tabs on how little others have done for us? What if we never guilted anyone into meeting our needs? What if we all tuned our ears to hear a need and then did what it takes to make someone’s life better? Better yet, what if we figured out that need without ever being told about it? Jesus was great at that, you know. He washed his disciples’ feet, a menial job designated for servants. In his day, feet were filthy. Grunge between the toes. Dirt imbedded in the callouses. No hot-rock pedicures for these guys. Still, while dining with his disciples, Jesus got up from the table, took off his outer garments, wrapped a towel around his waist, and washed their feet.

Daily, Jesus allowed himself to be inconvenienced and interrupted and invaded. He made time for others. Ephesians 2:10 lets us know we are to do likewise. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Get that? Our Heavenly Father has gone before us to give us opportunities to bless others, so perhaps 2020 could be the year when we become a little more Vince-like and pay attention to God’s nudgings.

Obituary of Jack Plain

Jackie Leon Plain, age 86, resident of Ft. Scott, KS, died Friday, January 3, 2020, at Guest Home Estates in Ft. Scott. He was born November 2, 1933, three miles east of Mapleton, KS, the son of Arthur and Belle Post Plain. He was the last of five children. He graduated from Fulton high school.

Jack served in the U. S. Army for two years after helping his father farm for several years. He married Pauline Lucille Shadden Davis on May 12, 1967, in Ft. Scott. She preceded him in death on May 24, 2014.

Jack worked for Western Insurance Company for 23 years and later AAA Insurance as a senior underwriter. He worked for and retired from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s department as a corrections officer.

Jack enjoyed fishing, hunting and riding horses. He was a member of the Fulton Masonic Lodge and Community Christian Church.

Survivors include a son, Lynn Plain and wife Kathi, Ft. Scott;three daughters: Candice Duarte and husband Manuel, Spring Hill, KS, Tammy Locke and husband Kevin, and Polly Plain, all of Gardner, KS; two step-daughters, Belinda Richardson and husband Michael, and Donna Galvin and husband Tracy, all of Ft. Scott; five grandchildren, Deidre Hof , Jeffrey Plain and wife Courtney, Levi Locke, Shyan Locke, and Alison Duarte; three step-grandchildren, Donna Wilson, Adam Hayden and wife Missy, and Sunnye Hayden; three great grandchildren, Olivia Hof, Cassidy Plain, and Casen Plain; eight step-great grandchildren, Nicholas Wilson, Kaitlyn Doherty, Kristen McCoy, Cooper, Cole and Cale Hayden, Allison Zerger, and Brooke Garrett; and seven step-great-great grandchildren, Eisely, Crew and Landon Doherty, Drexel and Bennett McCoy, Marlee Ogran and Landry Warwick; and several nieces and nephews.

Besides his wife, he was preceded in death by two brothers, Raymond and Leo Plain; two sisters, Florence Jent and Eva Atherton; and his parents.

Rev. Dusty Drake will conduct funeral services at 10:00 AM Wednesday, January 8th, at the Cheney Witt Chapel. Burial will follow in the Mapleton Cemetery

. Military honors will be provided by the Olson Frary Burkhart Post #1165 V.F.W.

The family will receive friends from 5:00 until 7:00 Tuesday evening at the Cheney Witt Chapel.

Memorials are suggested to Mirza Shrine Transportation Fund and may be left in care of the Cheney Witt Chapel, PO Box 347, 201 S. Main St., Ft. Scott, KS 66701. Words of remembrance may be submitted to the online guestbook at cheneywitt.com.

 

Better Late Than Never by Pastor James Collins

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16

Over the years, I have been blessed to receive many letters from readers. Many of those letters asked questions. One reader wrote, “Dear Pastor James, you are without a doubt the biggest pinhead on the planet. Who told you that you were a writer?” Signed, “Phillis Stein.”

Another reader wrote, “James Collins, you are a narrow-minded bigot. Where do you get off by saying Jesus is the only way?” Signed, “Barry Cuwder.”

Another letter read, “We’ve been trying to reach you about your car’s extended warranty. Why don’t you reply?” Signed, “Otto Matik.”

One of my favorite letters said, “Dr. Collins, I’m sorry that I called you an idiot in my previous letter. I really thought you already knew. I could explain to you how stupid you are, but I can’t understand it for you. What university would be so moronic as to give you a doctorate?” Signed, “Rory Motion.”

This past week, I received a letter from Ladonna (not her real name). She wrote, “Dear Pastor Collins, I write today because I am confused. Many years ago, I made accusations against another person that were just false. It created a crisis that I am ashamed of today. Should I try to make it right after all these years or should I just leave well enough alone… I don’t want to make things worse or dig up old wounds. What should I do?”

This question is one that I have been asked often. Many Christians struggle with this issue. However, the Bible is clear that if you as a believer have wronged another believer then you need to attempt to make things right. God has given us a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19).

A few years ago, a woman named Dee felt something was missing in her life. So, she started coming to my church. Eventually, she gave her life to Christ. It was my privilege to baptize her. Whenever someone gets saved, it is a miracle of God. But Dee’s salvation was truly a miracle considering she was eighty-three-years-old. Most of the time, when someone reaches that age, life has hardened them to the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

One day Dee told me about her daughter, Joy. Dee had basically abandoned Joy when she was a child. They had not spoken to each other for almost fifty years. I encouraged Dee to call her daughter and apologize. Dee said the same thing to me that Ladonna said in her letter, “I don’t want to make things worse or dig up old wounds.” I said, “Jesus Christ can heal wounds even old ones,” as I handed her the phone. She called her daughter and apologized. She shared how Jesus Christ had changed her life. As they spoke, Joy put her faith in Jesus as Savior. She became reconciled with Jesus and with her mother. Now both Dee and Joy have peace with each other and peace with God.

The point is: When you confess and seek forgiveness from someone you have wronged, God provides opportunities for healing (James 5:16). By not seeking reconciliation, you feel sick with unforgiveness, anger, and shame. God through His Son and Spirit can heal you when you seek His help.

Why don’t you lean on God’s strength and reach out to that person and show them the love of Christ today?

Better late than never.

James Collins is pastor of Fort Scott’s First Southern Baptist Church. You can write to him at PO Box 227, Fort Scott, KS 66701 or by email at james@thepointis.net.

Toss out your worries and your leftovers by Pastor Jimmy Tucker

The Bottom Line by Jimmy Tucker

We have a friend who jokingly said, “We think we have to refrigerate leftovers before we can throw ‘em away.“ That’s a fairly-truthful statement for some homes — but not ours. We’re pretty good at eating leftovers down to the last bite. Once in awhile the neighbor dog gets a snack, but not very often. If he had to live on what we threw out, he’d starve.

As we start off the New Year, I highly recommend you toss out something else; and that’s your worries. Some people will even admit, “Oh, that’s just what I do — I worry.“ That’s like saying, “Oh, that’s just what I do — I hurt myself.” When you worry about tomorrow, it steals your peace and joy for today and God‘s blessings for tomorrow. How many times have you worried about something that never happened? Worry doesn’t help you, so why fall into the devil’s trap and be miserable when you can choose to trust God and be blessed?

Let’s review some scriptures to help you realize how important it is to live according to God’s Word. “I tell you not to worry about everyday life…Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? …Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things… These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:25,27,30-34 NLT).

It’s a sobering fact that Christians who worry are not trusting God in that situation. A believer that worries has “little faith.” Ouch! Believers should have big faith. Instead of worry, “seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously.” Righteous living is to submit to Jesus as King and to live according to His ethics.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6,7 NLT).

We need to remember what God has done for us in the past and thank Him for His goodness. If God is your Father, you can be assured that He will take a father’s place and perform a father’s part.

I cast the whole of my care [all my anxieties, all my worries, all my concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for me affectionately and cares about me watchfully (1 Peter 5:7 AMP). The definition of cast is: throw (something) forcefully in a specified direction. The Bottom Line: Cast your cares and your moldy leftovers.

Pastor Jimmy Tucker

(620) 223-1483

Diamond Community Church

2591 Jayhawk Road

10:45 a.m. Worship

Accident by Patty LaRoche

Should 2020 be your year to do a little bathroom remodeling, here’s a tip: You don’t need a vanity. All you need is a metal T.V. tray.

Just take a gander at the picture I took at the motel where Dave and I stayed on our Christmas trip to spend time with his daughter and her family in Henderson, Nevada. Impressive, right?

At least the motel’s reviews were. (I’m thinking they were made by Bedouin sheepherders who dwell in caves and cliffs, but I’m not sure.) Anyway, when I looked for the room’s coffee pot, Dave, who had checked us in, told me that coffee was available only in the morning in the lobby at 7:00 … the same lobby, as he described it, that doubled as the workout room since it boasted a machine with a belt gizmo that jiggled waist-fat while you waited. Sweet Jesus! What kind of motel had we chosen?

I mean, at home I program my coffee pot the night before so there is no lag time between when I wake up at 5:00 and bolt to the kitchen. My brain is programmed to demand Java before I can function. Two hours without coffee might do me in.

Then, as usual, God got my attention. Hadn’t I just last week written an article about not grumbling? And hadn’t I, while driving just a few hours before, had a visual of what really mattered? The story unfolded earlier when I slowed down for an accident in the highway medium where a man appeared to be doing CPR on a victim whose body hung outside a smoking sports car. Pulling onto the shoulder, Dave and I ran to help, asking if someone had called

9-1-1. They had. By then, two other men joined us and, fearing the car would explode, wielded fire extinguishers aimed at the crushed engine. Time was critical.

As it turned out, the Good Samaritan was not doing CPR. His pumping motion was from a crowbar he used to disengage the woman’s leg from the twisted metal. Immediately, I knelt beside the woman’s head, held her hand and began praying. The engine smoke was overpowering, and the victim’s moans were gut-wrenching. I asked her name. “Angela,” she groaned and then begged for help. As a crowd gathered, I called on Jesus, asking for wisdom for the helpers and comfort for Angela.

With each crank of the crowbar, the victim pleaded for help. Through tears I tried to encourage her, saying that the paramedics were coming, but when her leg finally was freed, I couldn’t believe the damage. Her foot went one direction, her ankle another, and her leg still another. When someone said we needed to move her away from the smoking vehicle, I objected. We had no idea what internal injuries Angela had endured. Instead, I prayed that the fire extinguishers would be sufficient.

If the doctors were able to save her leg, no doubt Angela will struggle. A T.V. tray/vanity substitution or a cup of early morning coffee probably will not be on her list of concerns. Instead, she will long for the day when she can walk to the sink unassisted or to the kitchen to make her morning brew.

Somehow when I awoke that next morning, coffee didn’t matter. As it turned out, praying for Angela was the perfect substitute.

Use Me by Pastor James Collins

Use Me

“…but stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God.” 1 Samuel 9:27b

I am lonely for your company. For the past few years, you have promised to spend time with me. This year was no different. Why do you let others take your attention away from me?

Most resent being used, but I don’t. I want you to use me.

Use me and I will be many things to you.

When you are weary, I will be your strong staff.

When you sit in darkness, I will be your glorious light.

When you are hurting, I will ease your pain.

Use me.

When you are discouraged, I will whisper messages of hope.

When you are carrying a burden, I will give you rest.

When you are confused, I will offer clear advice.

Use me.

When the storms of life rage around you, I will be your anchor.

When you are alone, I will be your friend.

When you need knowledge, I will be your teacher.

Use me.

When you are afraid, I will calm your soul.

When you are lost, I will help you find your way.

Take hold of me, I will keep you from stumbling.

Use me.

Use me. I am crying out for you to use me. Use me and I will change your life. Use me and I will change the lives of those around you. Use me and I can change the world.

I am the Bible. Long ago, you put me away. Over and over, you have said that you were going to bring me back into your life. Around the beginning of each year, you come back to me. But in no time, something else has your focus and you neglect me. A day becomes a week. A week becomes a month. A month becomes a year. Until I am no longer really a part of your life.

The point is: I want you to use me. I’m only asking for a few minutes of your time each day. Start now. I am right where you left me.

Pick me up.

Open me.

Use me.

James Collins is the pastor of Fort Scott’s First Southern Baptist Church. You are invited to join him and read through the Bible in a year. For more information visit the website fortscottfsbc.com.

New Years and Complaining by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Do everything without grumbling and arguing, (Philippians 2:14 NIV)

Last month at church we were handed a paper leaf. On it, we were to write a list of things for which we are grateful. The elderly lady who handed it to me said that there was a problem. She had so many things to list, they never would fit into such a small space. She needed dozens of leaves. Author Max Lucado would love her outlook. He wrote this: “We live in an art gallery of divine creativity and yet are content to gaze only at the carpet.” Have you noticed that being thankful appears to be in short supply, while griping is plentiful? Grudgery and gratefulness daily compete for the attention of our thoughts, even though developing an attitude of gratitude has the potential to completely change the way our day will go. Picture two glasses, side-by-side. The larger glass is half-full, the smaller glass is full, and an arrow points from the larger to the smaller glass. The adage underneath speaks liters: “If you see your glass as half empty…pour it into a smaller glass and stop whining.” Ann Voskamp would agree. She wrote the book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, challenging her readers to list 1000 things for which they should be grateful. (I highly recommend her book.) Ann knows that sometimes that is not easy. As a child, she and her mother watched her young sister be crushed under a truck. Her mother ended up in a psychiatric hospital, and her father turned from God. As an adult, Ann stood beside her brother-in-law as he buried his first two sons. In spite of her setbacks, she chose to believe that God is joy, and on that she would rely. So, here’s the New Years’ challenge. At some time during each day, make a list of 10 typically-taken-for-granted things for which you should be grateful. Avoid the obvious like “family,” “health,” “a job,” etc. To make it a little more challenging, make it things from the past hour. Here’s my list, created this morning when I woke up: 1. A working thermostat 2. A morning devotional from my daughter-in-law 3. An indoor bathroom 4. A cup of coffee and a chocolate chip cookie (no comments necessary) 5. A quiet lake 6. A husband who wakes up and makes me laugh 7. A text from a friend celebrating her weight loss 8. A car that starts 9. Janice Allen organizing Pickleball 10. Buck Run

Let’s take it one step further. The next time you find yourself complaining, look for a blessing instead. For example, while shoveling snow, thank God that you have arms and legs, since many don’t. Thank Him that you have eyes to see the path of your shovel, and thank Him that you have a home with a sidewalk. Thank Him for a warm coat and snow boots and hot cocoa waiting for you inside when your job is finished. And thank Him for you being alive to thank Him. In the meantime, I am giving Him thanks for you readers who (most of the time) encourage me to keep writing. To God be all the glory for giving me this opportunity. May 2020 be filled with an art gallery of blessings for us all!