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5/25/2016 - "The Mountains"

The summer after my freshman year in college I went to Ridgecrest Baptist Conference Center at Black Mountain, North Carolina to attend a summer conference along with the youth group from my home church. Being from the delta I was always enthusiastic about an opportunity to go to the mountains too. During the week at the center it was announced that one of the summer staff guys Would be leading hiking groups up Rattlesnake Mountain one afternoon and up Royal Gorge one morning to watch the sunrise. I decided that I would do both of the hikes.

The Royal Gorge hike was interesting in that it was done in the predawn darkness so we followed our guide and his flashlight very closely. This was a much smaller group also since not many wanted to get up so early and go see the sunrise. Being young, energetic and enthusiastic, I figured that I wouldnt have many opportunities to see the sun rise over the Appalachian Mountains. I was right about having few chances to see the sight so I can tell you that it was well worth the effort. How do you describe the visual process of darkness giving way to light? Words are simply inadequate.

After that glorious morning hiking experience I was ready to tackle Rattlesnake Mountain on the next days afternoon hike. While this was not climbing the earths highest peak it was a fairly strenuous affair. The climb took about an hour and fifteen minutes and it was fairly steep the entire way. After some sweat and making some new friends along the way up we did reach the pinnacle.

What a view! You literally could see for miles and miles. Our guide even pointed out that we could see Billy Grahams home in the far distance. We hung around for a while to absorb the view and to rest before heading back. The large group of hikers was strung out along the path for a long distance as people arrived at the top at their own pace. As we headed down we were passing others still on their way up and we would tell them of the great sight and that it wasnt much farther and to hang tough because they were almost there. They appreciated the encouragement and the report that they were about to reach their goal.

In many way we at Friendship Baptist are like that group of hikers. Some are far ahead and others are back a ways but we are heading in the same direction. Lets be sure to keep encouraging each other, urging each other on and giving good reports to each other as we head along the path. Just remember that the goal is well worth the effort and what a glorious sight it will be.

3/16/2016 - "There's a Snake in Her House"

Ken, we’ve got to go down the street and give her a hand.”  Of course my ears perked  up and I asked what was going on.  “There’s a snake in her house,” was our pastor’s reply with  wide eyes.  My immediate response was, “Wait a minute! There is nothing about getting snakes  out of houses in my job description!”  Bro. Ben’s answer was matter of fact, “It’s not in mine  either but we’ve got to go.”  He was right.  We had to go.

          Philippians 2 tells us about having the same attitude as Christ and if we are seeking to become more like Christ then we must follow His example.  If He could leave heaven and submit to death on a cross then there should be nothing that is beneath us if it being done for others in love and in ministry to them.

          The end of the snake story was that we phoned a couple of my teenaged student ministry guys as reinforcements,                    collected the implements of war and went on the offensive.  Then we drove to the home and entered on tip toes.  The snake, a rather long and dark creature, was located underneath a china cabinet.  After some frantic moments of playing chase we finally dispatched the intruder. 

          Nobody on that team of snake hunters was particularly enthusiastic about being involved in that adventure but the home owner was in need and we were the only help available.  So we charged ahead.

          On one occasion a few years back I was standing in the doorway of the church office in Booneville, stretched to my almost 6’2” height with my 250lb body taking up as much room as I possibly could.  The young, loud-mouthed man standing outside our church office needed to know that I had seen him throw his girlfriend from the car down the street from the church.  As she was walking by the church in tears, our pastor and I asked her inside to use the phone and to make sure she was all right and out of the street if he came back. 

          The “poor excuse for a boyfriend” did come back and he was now under the impression that he would be welcome to enter our office and continue his uncontrolled temper tantrum.  He had no idea how wrong he was.  In my best master’s in counseling voice I attempted to deal with him.  When logic seemed to be having no effect on the dim-witted fellow a rather loud, baritone voice thundered from behind me declaring to the young man that he had better leave. Our pastor was behind me.  We had to deal with an unpleasant situation.  It wasn’t in the job description but it was the right thing to do.   

          Ministry can take on different looks.  Sometimes it is cleaning up a mess that someone else made, sometimes a hospital visit, sometimes taking out the trash, sometimes sharing the gospel, sometime it is cooking food for a family, sometimes it is doing something in a new way when it has been done in another for years.  Ministry to others is the way of Jesus.  Sometimes it never changes.  Sometimes it means doing things outside of the box.  Sometimes it means grabbing the situation by the horns and doing the job….even if it is dirty and no one else wants to do it.  Sometimes it is killing a snake or staring down a pompous, ill-tempered louse.

          “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:“                                                                                       Philippians 2:4-5a

 

2/17/2017 - Sweet Tea

SWEET TEA - by Ken Griffith - Recently I was in a three day conversation on Facebook with some friends (some Southerners and some from up north) about sweet tea, the best recipe and the proper preparation of sweet tea. Some of the northern guys were taken with the idea of southern sweet tea. But it all starts with the tea bag and what is in it. Ultimately you never really know what is on the inside of a tea bag until it is in the hot water. The same can be said for us because when we get in some hot water (stress, trials) what is really on our inside will come out. The first thing out of us is usually our words. We can use words of anger or hatred. Sometimes we use words to blame others. And sometimes our words are vulgar and curses. Lets talk for a moment about cursing. Someone may already be saying, "Give us a break. Everyone uses those words. Guys will be guys. You hear it all the time." Someone else will quickly point out that we hear these words on TV and in the world all the time. I am not going to point fingers or call anyone out ... all we will do is look at some scripture. Colossians 3:1-11 talks about our old selves, the change Christ makes in our lives, bad things in our lives that must be left behind and putting on the "new self." The list of things to be left behind includes anger, rage, malice, slander and "filthy language." The new you in Christ has no room for cursing. James chapter 3 talks about the tongue in great detail. The chapter tells us that the tongue is a small part of our body but it makes great boasts. The tongue is described as a small spark that can set a forest ablaze, as a restless evil full of deadly poison. Verse 6b shouts a warning to us about our tongue when it says, "It (our tongue) corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." In verse 10 we are told, "Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be." Certainly sounds as though our words are considered to be important and there should be no room for cursing from the mouth of a believer in Christ. I am not here as some prude that doesnt know of what he speaks. As a young man my language would run in contest with any sailor on shore leave. I am not proud of that. One day God called me on my language. I was sitting in the trees of a park near Black Mountain, North Carolina and it is just as real right now as it was then. I am not saying that I heard the voice of God speak from the clouds but He did speak to me in my spirit in a way that was just like He was seated next to me on that bench and He said, "If you are going to call yourself a Christian then live like it….or forget it." I was staggered. With the Lords help my foul mouth stopped that day. My best friend, one week later, rededicated his life to the Lord. I asked him what brought about that decision and he said, "You arent like you used to be. You dont talk like you used to talk. Because of that I knew I needed to change." I didnt preach to my friend. He just saw the change in how I talked and it was an amazing testimony about Gods strength to my friend that helped bring him closer to the Lord. Satan would love to use my old habit to be a bad influence on someone. But with Christs help I am still winning. You can too. If we claim Christ in our lives, whether we are at work, home, or in public we need to live Christ out before others with our actions, our habits, and our words. We need to live as an example for others in a world that is foul. We need to be salt and light for Christ in this world, among our family and friends. When we are stressed and tried our words should speak that we are children of the King of the universe. We should stand out from the crowd with our good words as we live as ambassadors representing Christ Himself. When our lives get into the hot water of life….only good should come out. It works for southern sweet tea and it should be the same for us. The stuff on the inside should be good and give those around us a thirst for the living water of Christ.

1/20/2016 - You Are a Flashlight

You are a flashlight.
Some flashlights are plain and simple. You can get one inexpen-sively at Wal-Mart. Some are expensive and made of super sturdy materi-al, or they can float, or they have a built in radio or all manner of other things that make them special. But bottom line, a flashlight is made to have an energy source and to give off light.
You are a flashlight. You are made to shine with God’s glory, God’s gifting and to shine out His light of salvation. The batteries are “God in you”. When you become a child of God by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior then your energy supply, the Holy Spirit, moves inside you. You are ready to do what you were made to do… Shine!
Some people don’t shine. Here are a couple of possibilities of why not. If they have never accepted the salvation from their sins that Jesus provides then they have no power source and can not shine. Others may have sin in their life that acts like layers of dirt or mud covering the lens and the light can’t shine. The dirt (sin) can be cleaned off and then the light will shine out again. Some folks are just afraid or embarrassed to shine.
If it is dark we don’t get our flashlight out, turn it on and then throw it under the couch. It would do no good under there. No, we hold it up so the light can spread out the best. God’s light in your life is not supposed to be hidden or tucked away out of sight. It is meant to be in a position in your life so that it can spread out the farthest and give the most illumination to people.
As one flashlight to another, do you have an energy source inside you that only comes from God? With-out it you can NOT shine. Is there too much sin for God’s light to shine out through you? Forgiveness of sin is only a sincere prayer away. Are you hiding your light out of fear or embarrassment? It is time to take a stand and let God’s light shine to your friends, family and your world.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
 

1/6/2016 - Winter Storm Goliath

“In case we don’t come back, Craig Strickland and I are going right through Winter Storm Goliath to kill ducks in Oklahoma.” That was Chase Morland’s last update to his Twitter account. Their bodies were recovered days later in the flood. Duck hunting can be dangerous. Not always...but the potential is there. Duck hunters are tough, adventurous folk too and can push the envelope at times. But as we learned on the news of these two duck hunters dying in the midwest floods...we have to ask if they knew they were moments away from eternity? Did they think that day would be their last? Were they ready to meet the Lord? Had they given their lives to Christ? I sure hope so.

"Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment," Hebrews 9:27
Our spiritual/eternal destiny is at stake. We must realize that Jesus has provided a way for us to have eternity with Him.
Please notice in the verse that whether we are ready for death or not that it is coming and after our death comes judgement. Are you sure of your eternal future? If you meet the Lord face to face one second from now... are you ready?
Strickland’s wife, Helen, tweeted on the day her husband’s body was recovered, “#CraigStrickland was found today. He is safe with his Father in Heaven. Thank you Lord for leading us to him today. I will praise you, Amen.” Be sure of your salvation. Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, and the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 10:9-10 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with the heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Romans 10:13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”“In case we don’t come back, Craig Strickland and I are going right through Winter Storm Goliath to kill ducks in Oklahoma.” That was Chase Morland’s last update to his Twitter account. Their bodies were recovered days later in the flood. Duck hunting can be dangerous. Not always...but the potential is there. Duck hunters are tough, adventurous folk too and can push the envelope at times. But as we learned on the news of these two duck hunters dying in the midwest floods...we have to ask if they knew they were moments away from eternity? Did they think that day would be their last? Were they ready to meet the Lord? Had they given their lives to Christ? I sure hope so.

"Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment," Hebrews 9:27
Our spiritual/eternal destiny is at stake. We must realize that Jesus has provided a way for us to have eternity with Him.
Please notice in the verse that whether we are ready for death or not that it is coming and after our death comes judgement. Are you sure of your eternal future? If you meet the Lord face to face one second from now... are you ready?
Strickland’s wife, Helen, tweeted on the day her husband’s body was recovered, “#CraigStrickland was found today. He is safe with his Father in Heaven. Thank you Lord for leading us to him today. I will praise you, Amen.” Be sure of your salvation. Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, and the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 10:9-10 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with the heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Romans 10:13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

 

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