Category Archives: Opinion

The Last Dip’ll Do It by Jimmy Tucker

The Bottom Line

Jimmy Tucker

 

The Bible is full of accounts where God spoke to people and told them to do things that didn’t make sense. For example, the Old Testament tells us that Naaman had leprosy and Elisha, God’s prophet, told the king of Israel to send Naaman to him. So, in 2 Kings 5:9-14 we read the details of Naaman‘s predicament. In order to receive his healing, Naaman had to obey what he was instructed to do. And that’s where the temptation to doubt and disobey came into the picture. Naaman was expecting Elisha to come out and meet him, wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord and heal him. But no, Elisha sent a messenger out to him and the message was: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.”

Naaman didn’t want to wash in the muddy Jordan River. However, he did want to be healed. His officers convinced him to do as the man of God had instructed him. So Naaman obeyed and went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times and his skin became healthy again. I don’t know if Naaman was having doubts by the sixth dip, but he obeyed explicitly — even if it didn’t make a lick of sense to him.

Another time in 2 Kings 6:1-7, we find a bunch of prophets cutting down trees and an ax head came off the handle and fell into the river. This was very disturbing to the wood cutter, because the ax was borrowed. Elisha asked the man where it fell into the water, and he showed him the place. Elisha cut a stick and threw it into the water at that spot. Then the ax head floated to the surface so the man could grab it. That didn’t make sense as far as I understand ax heads and water. But it worked because that’s what the Spirit of God told Elisha to do.

The wedding feast at Cana wasn’t a disaster because the servants obediently filled some jars with water. That didn’t make a lick of sense, but it worked because that’s what Jesus said to do. The blind man washed the mud from his eyes in the pool of Siloam and could then see. That didn’t make any sense, but he was healed because he used his faith and obeyed.

When we come to the end of our time on earth, all the challenges we faced will be forgotten. But before we enter eternity, we’ll want to be sure that we didn’t get distracted from obeying God and fulfilling our assignment.

The Bottom Line: When you need a miracle, do what God tells you to do — even if it doesn’t make sense.

Pastor Jimmy Tucker

620-223-1483

Diamond Community Church

10:45 a.m. Worship

Snakes in the Dark by Pastor James Collins

Snakes in the Dark

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.John 1:5

The great philosopher and thinker, Indiana Jones, once said, “I hate snakes.” I couldn’t agree more. I absolutely hate snakes. I really do. I used to say, “The only good snake is a dead snake.” However, that is not even true. Did you see in the news a while back where a man in Texas nearly died when he was bitten by the severed head of a dead rattle-snake. I hate snakes – big ones; little ones; live ones; dead ones; and rubber ones. I hate them all.

Not long after I moved to Fort Scott, I joined the American Legion. We hold our meetings at Memorial Hall which is two blocks from my house. When we have a meeting, I usually walk there. One night, I was getting ready to leave the monthly meeting when one of the guys in the Legion said, “Hey preacher, I read in your newspaper column that you are scared of snakes. You better be careful out there. The copperheads are crawling tonight.” I just laughed and thought, “What a crazy old man.”

I walked outside, and it was dark, but the streetlights were bright enough to enable me to see the sidewalks. So, I started walking. I was almost home, when I saw the biggest copperhead I have ever seen. He was stretched out across the sidewalk. He looked like a python. He must have been ten-foot long. I swear he looked at me and hissed. My heart was pounding in my chest.

I was stuck. The snake was between me and my house. I had to go around him. Then I thought, “There’s probably hundreds of them in the grass, waiting to get you.” But I had no choice. I ran as fast as I could through the grass around the giant copperhead. I ran into the house and screamed, “There’s a giant snake out there that almost killed me.” My wife, Amanda, rolled her eyes at me and said, “Poor baby.”

The next morning, I looked outside, and the giant snake hadn’t moved. It was still there!

I was shocked and amazed. I couldn’t believe the copperhead was still there. I looked closer. Then I realized it was a tree branch. A limb had fallen on the sidewalk. I nearly had a heart attack running from a tree branch.

The next time we had an American Legion meeting, I just drove the two blocks.

The point is: Things are always worse in the dark. When it is dark, we don’t see things like we normally see them. However, there are some things in the dark that are not a tree branch. Things like doubt, discouragement, and demons.

Often, when darkness comes in our lives, we tend to think, “God, I can’t see You. God, I can’t feel you.” When shadows obscure our walk, we believe we are walking alone. We focus on the gloom and forget God. We may even ask, “Lord, Are You still there?”

Even though you can’t see Him, Jesus has never taken His eyes off you. Even though you are walking in the darkness, He is still with you.

The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Light of the world. He shines in the darkness, and the darkness can’t overtake Him. If you are traveling down a dark path, you don’t have to be afraid of the dark because the Light is with you. In Jesus, we have the only Light that we need to find our way through the darkness of this world.

Are you walking in the Light?

James Collins will be signing copies of his latest book “Don’t Throw The Believer Out With The Baptistry Water: The Best Of The Point Is… Volume 1” today (July 20th) from 10 am until 2 pm at the Fort Scott Public Library’s LibraryCon. For more information about the LibraryCon, please call (620) 223-2882.

Wimbleton by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Wimbledon, the most impressive of all tennis tournaments, is over, and I am sad. For two weeks, Dave and I record the matches so we can watch them together when he gets home from work. Seeing English nobility in the “Royal Box” is thrilling, and everywhere the camera pans, there is no shortage of excellence, including the ball-boys and ball-girls. These are no ordinary ball retrievers.

Over 700 teens apply, and after a written test, 250 are selected and train for five months to perfect their skills of tossing, catching, and rolling the tennis balls as well as learn how to “present” the towel to the sweaty athlete. They scurry like jackrabbits to nab errant balls and return to their assigned position where they stand like robots. Perfection is expected.

The code of professionalism extends to everyone. This year, Serena Williams (the best female tennis player ever!) was fined $10,000 for damaging the grass practice court when she frustratedly threw her racquet to the ground. Three players were fined when the umpire found their coaches giving advice during the match. Bernard Tomic was fined his entire $56,000 prize money when the umpire determined he had not “tried hard enough.” (If fans are going to pay big bucks to watch this level of tennis, they deserve to get their money’s worth.)

This year, Dave and I were especially excited when Saturday’s women’s final round involved Serena Williams (U.S.A.) and Simona Halep (Romania), two of my favorites. I watched the match live that morning but recorded it for Dave who would pick up Chinese food on the way home from the ballpark and we would view it together. (I would need to gag myself not to disclose who won.) It didn’t matter. As Dave left the locker room, one of the other coaches shared the news: “Hey, Roachie, could you believe Serena got crushed?”

So much for our Wimbledon picnic. Dave opted not to watch the game.

Sunday would make up for it. Roger Federer would take on Novak Djokovic (whom I rooted against because he rudely rolled his eyes at one of the ball handlers). Once again, I DVR’d the event, joining the almost-ten million fans who watched on their televisions. Following church, Dave and I would hold our Wimbledon picnic and watch Roger win. I was on the edge of my chair the entire time. Four hours into it, they were tied when Dave’s phone buzzed and he blurted out, “This can’t be right. This lists the years Djokovic has won Wimbledon, and 2019 is listed. How would they know?” I stared at him. In shock. “Because England is five hours ahead of us. That’s why we record it,” I reminded him.

Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Dave just did to me what the other coach had done to him. My day was ruined. The suspense was gone. I now knew the ending. Dave immediately moved to the kitchen so I could sulk alone…which I did well, thank you very much. But then something changed. I found myself relaxing. The “highs” of Federer’s aces and “lows” of his errors were gone because I knew the results.

For most things, life doesn’t work like that…which probably is a good thing. None of us know how our day/week/month/life will turn out. All we have is this moment…except, that is, where the Bible is concerned. From the beginning to the end, we are given the full picture of how life plays out. God created. Satan interfered. Jesus saved and will return again to open Heaven’s doors for all who make him Lord.

Granted, there are earthly, daily, unpredictable issues for all of us (like people who disclose tennis results prematurely), but we can relax and not get too concerned about our “highs” and “lows” when we know the outcome of what really matters. Jesus wins. Satan loses. And we all know that in eternity’s case, the stakes are much higher than those of a tennis tournament.

That’s A Bad Excuse by Pastor James Collins

Pastor James Collins

That’s A Bad Excuse

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Matthew 18:20

My wife hasn’t been good for me.

I realize that making such a bold assertion in a worldwide column like this is not going to benefit my reputation. After all, this column is read by people in major metropolitan areas like Gas, Kansas and Frogville, Oklahoma. Right now, someone as far off as Devon is probably asking, “Say, did you know that Amanda hasn’t been good for James?” Most people believe that preacher’s wives are good for them, and it isn’t going to add any success to my efforts to legendize myself with an assertion that Amanda hasn’t been.

However, notice that I stated: “My wife hasn’t been good for me” – not: “She hasn’t been good to me.” No man could ask for a better wife than Amanda has been to me. She is an incredible woman – smart, funny, beautiful, and most of all patient. Patience is a must when you are married to a knucklehead like me.

Amanda even went to the trouble to learn to cook so I could have something to eat. A few days after we were married, Amanda said that she wanted to make me my favorite meal. Since I am a Baptist Preacher, of course my favorite meal is fried chicken. Fried chicken is the gospel bird. I am pretty sure that Jesus and the disciples ate fried chicken at the Last Supper. Anyway, Amanda made me what appeared to be a delicious plate of fried chicken. It looked great on the outside, but when I took a bite, I discovered it was raw inside. Not wanting to upset my new bride, I ate half a raw chicken. Did I mention getting your stomach pumped is not a pleasant experience? Praise the Lord, Amanda has mastered the art of cooking in all the years she has had my name and my heart.

Still, Amanda hasn’t been good for me. Let me explain. Last week, I reached up on a bookshelf and took down an old photo album. Inside were our wedding pictures. I have changed. My waistline has increased, and my hairline has decreased. My eyes were boyish and bright. Now they are aged. I must wear glasses to see anything. My hair was dark and wavy. Now it is white and thinning. I was young then. Now I am old.

The only difference between the man in the photographs and the man looking at them was the fact that the man in the photographs was getting married and the man looking at them was married. So, obviously marriage and wives are hard on men.

Considering some of the excuses I have heard for not going to church, my blaming Amanda for my looking older twenty some years later makes a lot of sense.

I don’t go to church because the church is full of hypocrites.” Well, the fire department is full of hypocrites too. But if your house is on fire, you will call them. Since your soul is in danger of hellfire, shouldn’t you go to church?

I don’t have the right clothes to wear to church.” Clothes are essential for church. I don’t recommend going naked. But you don’t have to wear expensive clothes to worship the Lord. Come in whatever you have. Just make sure you modestly cover your body parts.

I don’t have to go to church to worship the Lord.” That is true. Christians can worship the Lord anywhere. But show me in the Bible where there is a church of one. Everything I read in the Word of God emphasizes the necessity of being a part of the Body of Christ.

The point is: If you are believer in Jesus Christ, you need to make every effort – not every excuse to worship the Lord in His church. Jesus gave His life for you. Can you give Him just one hour out of your week? Find a Bible believing church and plant yourself there.

Why aren’t you going to church this Sunday?

That’s a bad excuse.

James Collins will be signing copies of his latest book “Don’t Throw The Believer Out With The Baptistry Water: The Best Of The Point Is… Volume 1” next Saturday, July 20th from 10 am until 2 pm at the Fort Scott Public Library’s LibraryCon. For more information about the LibraryCon, please call (620) 223-2882.

Journeys by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Proverbs 10:21 The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense.

We sat at circular tables, approximately 50 of us in all, each with a leader assigned to steer discussions and keep us from rambling. These groups are designed to indoctrinate us in the beliefs of the church Dave and I attend here in Florida so we can be plugged in as volunteers. Every weekend of each month a new “Journeys” group starts, four in total. In April I attended week one and two but was not here the last two weeks of the month. That meant I took the week-three class in May at which time I continued with a new group of people.

Our assignment after week two was to go online and take a test to determine our top three spiritual gifts which we would reveal to our tablemates. That third meeting we were allotted 10 minutes in which to share our findings, a countdown clock visible from where we sat. Sheila, our leader, started with me and asked (1) what I found out, (2) if I was surprised by my results, and (3) if I agreed or disagreed. My answer time: 30 seconds (yes, even I am shocked).

The woman to my right was next. She had not taken the test because her life was “a mess” and she didn’t “have any free time to work on it.” For two minutes, she shared some of the details of her messy life. Sheila was empathetic but encouraged this woman to please take the test. It would be helpful for her to know in what areas God had prepared her.

Bob spoke up. He thought it foolish to ask us to do anything on line because some people might not have a computer. He, of course, did, but did not take the test because he was protesting. Couldn’t Sheila just give him a hard copy? No, she couldn’t, she explained, because the questions were computerized so as to reveal our top three gifts. She was not equipped to determine the results.

Bob thought that was “ridiculous.” After all, he knew his gifts; his “main ones” were compassion and listening. (Surprise!) Sheila shared that sometimes we might think we know what our gifts are but that our ideas aren’t necessarily God’s and Bob might be pleasantly surprised by what he found out if he took the test. Unnecessary, he said. He “knew” his gifts. (Bob’s time: 5 minutes)

I’m not sure what happened next except Bob’s neck veins started to bulge. He turned and whispered something to “messy-life woman” and stared at his notes, fuming. Sheila moved on to the next couple who actually had taken the test and were excited about their results. Hospitality was #1 on their list, and since they love having people into their home, they considered this verification. (Time: 2 minutes)

That’s when Bob erupted, slammed his study guide down, grabbed his things and stormed out of the room, disrupting the class and loudly expressing his disagreement with the volunteer at the door. I stared at Sheila, looking for a response. Nothing. Not even an eyebrow-raise. Impressive. She smoothly moved on to the next two people at our table and was told–yet again–that they had “forgotten” about the test (which actually was fortunate since we now were out of time).

When class was over, I stayed to tell Sheila how much I respected the way she had handled our group, especially Bob. She had “represented Christ in such a loving way while still holding Bob accountable.” Too, she had not gotten upset with those who did not do their homework. Leading, I thought, had to be one of her gifts.

Oh, you have nooooooo idea,” she answered. “I was biting on my tongue the entire time to keep from saying something I would later regret.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “Well,” I told her, “Maybe that’s the best spiritual gift of all.”

One Lump or Two? by Pastor Jimmy Tucker

The Bottom Line

Jimmy Tucker

One Lump or Two?

The phrase “one lump or two” usually refers to how many cubes of sugar you want in your coffee. But in Ecclesiastes 7:9 The Message reads, “Don’t be quick to fly off the handle. Anger boomerangs. You can spot a fool by the lumps on his head.” This verse strikes me as funny, but uncontrolled anger is no laughing matter. Relationships have been destroyed, lives have been lost, and individuals have left the church as a result of anger. The Bible teaches us to control ourselves by being slow to anger and quick to forgive.

Anger has been around since Adam and Eve. When their sons Cain and Abel offered sacrifices to the Lord, God respected Abel’s offering of a lamb, but not Cain’s offering of produce from his crops. Cain became jealous of Abel and his anger led him to murder his own brother.

God teaches us to rule over our attitudes, emotions, and actions. “Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper — it only leads to harm” (Psalm 37:8 NLT). Choose to humble yourself and forgive — we should know how to do this if we’ve been disciplined and taught these things from childhood. If you don’t have the discipline of self-control, your attitude will take you down a path of misery and prevent you from enjoying God’s blessings.

Believers are supposed to live peaceful and quiet lives that are full of love for one another; if we don‘t, then we‘re no different from the world. When we gather into the church to worship, we are to be “… free from anger and controversy” (1 Timothy 2:8 NLT). The only way to do that is to forgive perceived offenses quickly: “…do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26 NLT). If you hold a grudge, you cut off your fellowship with God and the person you think offended you. If there’s an undercurrent of anger in your attitude, you need to get rid of it like a gunnysack full of rattlesnakes because it’s just as deadly to your spirit.

Just one act of anger by Moses, the leader of God’s people, cost him dearly. Instead of trusting Moses and God to take care of them until they reached the promised land, the Israelites were complaining. Because Moses was angry with the people, he disobeyed God’s instructions to speak to the rock to get water. Instead, Moses struck the rock and because of his disobedience, God did not allow him to enter the promised land.

The Bottom Line: Don’t let pride and anger put a lump on your head.

Pastor Jimmy Tucker

(620) 223-1483

Diamond Community Church

10:45 a.m. Worship

Skeeters by Pastor James Collins

Pastor James Collins

Skeeters

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11

The mosquitos were terrible at our house last summer. We don’t call them mosquitos. We call them skeeters.

I don’t know why, but skeeters love me. I guess it is because I’m so sweet. Skeeters buzz, swarm, attack, and bite me. Anytime, I go outside it’s like they have a skeeter spotter flying around that says, “Hey guys, the all you can eat preacher buffet is open at the Collins house. Come on!”

When I work out in the yard, my wife, Amanda, likes to come out and supervise me. She supervises my work. She says things like, “You’re mowing the grass wrong.” She says things like, “You need to fertilize.” She says things like, “I know you worked all day putting in the flower bed, but I really don’t like it there. I want you to dig it up and move it over there.” She supervises me.

Last summer, I was working in the yard. Amanda was outside supervising me. Suddenly, “WHAP!” Something hit me across the back of the head. I saw stars.

I turned around and my wife was standing there with an open hand. She had hit me upside the back of my head. She hit me hard too. I thought I might lose consciousness. I thought I had a concussion. I couldn’t believe it.

I caught my breath and said, “What are you doing?”

There was a skeeter on your head.” she said.

Did you get it?”

No. I don’t think so.”

Amanda started yelling, “There he is! There he is!” The skeeter was buzzing around me. As she was screaming, Amanda started slapping me. She was about to beat me to death. I don’t know what was worse, getting stung by the skeeter or getting slapped around.

Despite Amanda’s assault, the skeeter kept on buzzing around me. He kept dive bombing me. Before long, he found some friends and they swarmed me. I had to go inside to escape their onslaught.

That was a silly story, but it is a picture of the demon dive bombers that come at us every day. Like those skeeters, the devil’s demons are dive bombing us. They are trying to tear your marriage and family apart. They are trying to stop you from raising your children with Christian values. They are trying to keep you from serving Jesus. They are trying to destroy your Christian walk. They are trying to keep you from going to church.

Fortunately, God has given us protection from the devil and his demons. We have the full armor of God. The full armor of God is found in Ephesians 6. It is the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the belt of truth, and the sword of the Spirit. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God, the Bible. When the demonic forces attack, you should use Scripture to slap back at them.

The point is: You need protection from the devil’s assault. Are you under attack? Are you being dive bombed? Are you in a situation that seems hopeless? God has made a way for you to deal with whatever the devil throws at you. Turn to the Father through Jesus, His Son.

The Lord Jesus Christ can squash your problems like a bug.

Pastor James Collins serves at Fort Scott’s First Southern Baptist Church. Find out more about his ministry or purchase his latest books at www.thepointis.net.

Turtles by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

I’ve never given much thought to turtles. Granted, I might think about them when I stop my car to help them reach the other side of the road, and I think of them when I see one smashed on the highway…which I seriously do not understand. I mean, how hard is it to avoid a turtle? Just move your steering wheel a teensy tiny bit, Turtle Torturer. It’s not like it’s an elephant, for goodness sakes.

Montana, my granddaughter, visited Dave and me in Florida last week. Yesterday we visited a “turtle sanctuary” where wounded turtles are treated. From the tiny ones (you know, the ones we purchase and stick in a cantaloupe-size fish bowl and then dump when they become a nuisance) to gigantic 300+ pound ones (there typically because they have been hit by boat propellers or have swallowed large hooks when accidentally nabbed by pier fishermen), they all were being treated in the sanctuary hospital and were on individual plans to heal.

I learned much from our tour guide and was in awe of how God’s design of these reptiles took so many details into account. For starters, pregnant female sea turtles return to beaches where they themselves hatched years before (sort of like a sandy trip down memory lane). The trip is laborious as they seek a nesting spot in the sand high above the sea level mark. (Freshwater turtles like we have in the Midwest will choose moist soil.) Using her back flippers, the mother sea turtle spends one-to-three hours laying up to 100 eggs in a tunnel she created nearly 18-inches below the sand surface. She then drags herself back to the ocean, never to see her babies again. (I think that’s very, very sad.)

We learned how the hatchlings use a temporary tooth to break from their eggs and how they move as a group at night to the ocean (for sea turtles) or leaf litter (for freshwater turtles) which helps the little critters avoid waiting predators. We were told that years ago, when people began to study sea turtles, they noticed that hatchlings would emerge from the sand at night; attracted to light, they would move the wrong direction (“disorientation”) toward street and home lights. None survived unless rescued. (I also think that is very, very sad.)

Now, to protect these animals, laws regulate that during hatching season here in Florida, all street lights and parking lot lights must be turned off. Homes recently built near hatching areas are required to install “turtle protection” windows (tinted to reduce light projection). Because of those changes, baby turtles rely on the reflection of the moon and stars on the water (God’s design). No longer are they fooled by fake light.

We Christians know what that’s like. Sometimes we become “disoriented” and follow one who masquerades as light: Satan (2 Cor. 11:14). You know, the one who works overtime to make us believe we are okay right where we are because we marched down an aisle and asked Jesus into our heart, so grace will cover our sins. But read Jesus’ words found in Matthew 7:21: Not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” Oops! Sounds like there’s a little more to this, doesn’t it? So, what is God’s will? Simple (well, writing and speaking about it is, but doing it? Lord, light our way). We are to love. We are to see all people as Jesus sees them. Only by relying on Him is that possible. He makes that clear in John 8:12: I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

Unlike turtles (of whom only 1/10,000 survive—another sad thing and hopefully one turtle torturers will remember), God wants us all to spend eternity with Him. It’s our choice as to which light we will follow.

Wounded by Pastor James Collins

Pastor James Collins

Wounded

He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

The hood of her jacket was pulled low over her face hiding her eyes. Without exception, she wore the same long-sleeve hoodie, even in warm weather. Juston glanced at her and smiled as she stepped onto the school bus. “Hello, Angelica,” he said. She gripped the handrail tighter and looked up at him from underneath her hoodie. Her face was pale. She didn’t return his smile.

Angelica stepped into the aisle and sat down in the front seat behind him. She always sat in the front seat. All the other high school kids were in the back of the bus, but not Angelica. She sat in front with the kindergarten kids.

Juston closed the door, shifted gears, and pulled the bus out of the school parking lot. He looked up at Angelica’s reflection in the rearview. She never looked up. Her crossed arms wrapped around her body, hugging herself.

“Do you like pizza?” he asked over his shoulder. “You probably think I just drive this bus all day long,” he continued. “But this is not my real job. I only do this to make ends meet. I’m the pastor for students at First Baptist. Our youth group is having pizza tonight. You should come.” He peeked up at the mirror to see her reply, but she still never looked up. So, they drove on in silence.

A few minutes later, the bus pulled up in front of her house. As she was stepping off, Juston said, “Church starts at seven.” She paused, then continued out the door without looking back.

Juston was surprised that night when Angelica walked into church. She sat in the back, away from everyone else. She never looked up as Juston shared the gospel. After he finished speaking, she grabbed a slice of pizza and hurried out the door.

He was surprised again next week when she came back.

Can I talk to you?” she asked. Juston nodded, “Sure.”

Before we talk, I need you to take this.”

What’s this?”

Open it.”

Justin unzipped the small black case to reveal the contents inside – razorblades. It was full of razorblades. Angelica pulled up her sleeves. Scars started at the top of her arms and continued down to her wrists.

Trembling and sobbing, she shared her story. It was a tragedy – a story of abuse. Someone she loved and trusted had done unspeakable things to her. Eventually, her heart numbed. As a way of “feeling” something, she became a cutter.

She reached in her pocket and handed him a piece of paper – a suicide note.

A week ago, I decided to end my life. Then you invited me for pizza. Now, I don’t want to die. I want to live, and I want to know this Jesus you keep talking about…”

That night, Angelica gave her life to Jesus Christ. Today, she and her husband are missionaries in South America. They just had their first child – a baby girl.

Last week, I heard Juston share Angelica’s story at church camp. As I listened, I realized that the world is full of Angelicas. The world is full of scarred, wounded people. But Jesus Christ can bind up your wounds.

The point is: Only Jesus can heal your broken heart. Like Angelica, you can bring Him your disappointments, your griefs, and your wounds. Whatever you are going through, there is healing in Jesus.

On the cross, Jesus bore our sins. By His wounds you have been healed. Step out in faith and place your life in His nail-scarred hands.

James Collins is Senior Pastor at Fort Scott’s First Southern Baptist Church.

Fourth of July by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

In 2002, when Richard Rodriguez was captaining a commercial flight, his lead flight attendant informed him that a soldier’s remains were in the cargo area. Rodriguez asked to meet the soldier’s escort. The captain later wrote of his experience. A perfectly dressed, young, army sergeant entered the cockpit and said, “My soldier is on his way back to Virginia.” After telling the escort that he had the toughest job in the military, Rodriguez and his co-pilot stood to shake his hand before the escort returned to his seat. About 30 minutes into the flight, the lead flight attendant called to say that the father, mother, wife and two-year old daughter were also on the plane. The family was upset because they were unable to see the container that their loved one was in before they took off. They were going to have to wait four hours for the connecting flight home to Virginia. The father of the soldier shared that knowing his son was below him in the cargo compartment was difficult and asked if it would be possible to be outside by the cargo door to watch him being taken off the airplane. Captain Rodriguez listened to the plea of the flight attendant and responded, “I’m on it.” He immediately contacted the air dispatcher, and two hours later, received this text: Captain, sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. There is policy on this now, and I had to check on a few things. Upon your arrival a dedicated escort team will meet the aircraft. The team will escort the family to the ramp and plane side. A van will be used to load the remains with a secondary van for the family. The family will be taken to their departure area and escorted into the terminal, where the remains can be seen on the ramp. It is a private area for the family only. When the connecting aircraft arrives, the family will be escorted onto the ramp and plane side to watch the remains being loaded for the final leg home. Captain, most of us here in flight control are veterans. Please pass our condolences on to the family. Thanks.” Rodriguez wrote that after landing, when they checked in with the ramp controller, they were told that all traffic was being held for them and a team was in place to meet the plane. The captain recognized there was only one problem: when the seat belt sign went off, all the passengers would stand and prevent the family from exiting. Rodriguez asked permission to stop short of the gate to make an announcement. Upon receiving approval, this is what he said: “Ladies and gentleman, this is your Captain speaking. I have stopped short of our gate to make a special announcement. We have a passenger on board who deserves our honor and respect. Also on board are his father, mother, wife and daughter. Your entire flight crew is asking for all passengers to remain in their seats to allow the family to exit the aircraft first. Thank you.” When the family got up and gathered their things, a passenger slowly started to clap. Moments later, more passengers joined in, and soon the entire aircraft was clapping. Words of “God Bless You,” “I’m sorry,” “thank you,” “be proud,” were uttered to the family as they made their way down the aisle and out of the airplane. They were escorted down to the ramp to finally be with their loved one. Rodriguez concluded with this: “Many of the passengers disembarking thanked me for the announcement I had made. They were just words, I told them; I could say them over and over again, but nothing I say will bring back that brave soldier.” For the courageous men and women who fight for our freedom–too many times losing their lives in the process–thank you. May we remember them and their families this Fourth of July and every day.

 

The Runt of the Litter by Pastor Jimmy Tucker

The Bottom Line by Jimmy Tucker

 

I recently watched the movie “Charlotte’s Web” with my granddaughters. The story begins with the birth of a litter of pigs, and one of them was a runt. When the farmer’s daughter saw the little runty pig, she fell in love with him and promised to provide the special attention he needed to survive. She was true to her word and the little pig thrived on her affection and became famous. It didn’t matter that he started as a runt. It’s not how you start in life, but how you finish. Is it possible for your life story to end well? “…with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26 NLT).

In Judges 6 and 7, we learn about a man named Gideon. The Israelites had committed sins and forgotten God, so He handed them over to the Midianites who treated them cruelly. When the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites came in and destroyed them, so Israel was reduced to starvation. Finally, the Israelites prayed to God for help. Then one day the Angel of the Lord came to Gideon and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” (Judges 6:12 NLT). Gideon felt like the runt of the litter, but God called him a mighty hero.

God had a plan that wasn’t based on Gideon’s feelings. The Lord told him to “Go with the strength you have and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I AM sending you!“ Based on the facts, Gideon replied, “My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!“ The Lord replied, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you’re fighting against one man” (Judges 6:14-16 NLT). Your feelings and the bare facts do not faze our Great Creator God. He’ll use you to accomplish His will IF you’ll cooperate with Him.

After Gideon was fully convinced and truly believed that God would help him, he went into action. God gave him an unusual battle plan with specific instructions. Gideon did exactly what God told him to do. God’s Spirit gave him courage and total victory over the enemy.

The meaning of the Hebrew name Gideon is “Great Warrior.” The fact that his parents named him Gideon was no coincidence. Before this child was ever conceived, God knew that he would be a mighty warrior and rescue God’s people from their enemies.

When God needed a man to replace King Saul, he sent the prophet Samuel to Jesse’s house to anoint the next king of Israel. Seven of Jesse’s sons were presented to Samuel, but God had not chosen any of them. Finally, Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?” He found out that there was one more son, David, the youngest, out in the fields watching the sheep and goats. David’s own father hadn’t even called for him to be in the lineup! But God knew all about David and had chosen him over his older brothers. The Lord told Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height…The Lord doesn‘t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart“ (1 Samuel 16:7 NLT).

The Bottom Line: If you feel like you’re the runt of the litter or the butt of jokes, God’s not laughing; He’s wanting to work through you!

Run To The Finish By Pastor James Collins

Pastor James Collins

Run to the Finish

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” Hebrews 12:1-2

“Are you sure that you are well enough to run?” Coach Tracy asked. “Yes,” Holland replied. “I feel great. I’m ready to run.”

Those words were spoken by Coach Jim Tracy and his sixteen-year-old star athlete, Holland Reynolds, back in the fall of 2010. Holland was one of the top cross-country runners in the United States. She ran cross-country in California for San Francisco University High School. Her cross-country team was running to win the state championship for Coach Tracy. He had Lou Gehrig’s disease – ALS. The girls on his cross-country team wanted to win a state title for their beloved coach. They didn’t know how much longer he had to live.

That fall day, Holland was the last runner – the three-mile runner to close out the race. The track meet was the last competition of the season. The team already had enough points to win the state title. Holland did not have to place first, second, or third. She only had to finish. If Holland finished the race, they would win the state title. She wanted desperately to win for her school and her coach.

Holland was a skilled athlete. Normally, she knew how to hydrate her body. However, she had been sick with the flu the week before. She was dehydrated, but she decided to run anyway.

Holland later recalled the race that day in an ESPN interview. She said, “At the two and a half-mile mark, my legs got rubbery.” At that point, she started staggering. She fell 10-feet from the finish line.

One of the officials ran out to help her. He later said he thought she was dead. If he would have touched her, she would have been disqualified – and her team would have lost the state title. However, right before the official touched her, Holland got up on all fours. With every ounce of strength left to her, she crawled over the finish line. She collapsed, and the paramedics came to help her.

After she was stabilized, Holland was loaded in the back of an ambulance. A television reporter climbed up in the ambulance to interview her.

Holland, do you remember falling?” the reporter asked.

No. I just remember finishing.” Holland said.

Do you remember crawling?”

No. I just remember finishing.”

What was your motivation? Do you remember anything?”

All I remember was seeing my head coach on the other side of the line. He was encouraging me to finish the race. I just crawled to him, and we won the state title.”

In the Christian race of life, we are not running to win – we have already won. We are just running to finish. Jesus has already finished the race, and He is standing on the other side.

The point is: Jesus didn’t fail in what He came to do. He said on the cross, “It is finished.” Since Jesus finished for you, shouldn’t you run for Him? Don’t run for your church, your pastor, or to please people. Run to finish the race for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hit the tape with a blaze of glory. Look to Jesus and finish the race.

James Collins is the Pastor at Fort Scott’s First Southern Baptist Church. For more information about First Southern, call (620) 223-2986, go to the website www.fortscottfsbc.com, like us on Facebook, or view past sermons on YouTube.